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I bought a lamp that I see needs a 3-way bulb. I don't really know what that means, but I see that the switch turns three times. Is using a regular bulb in it dangerous?

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  • By the way, GE makes a most exceedingly excellent 3-way bulb. It is LED and is "150W equivalent" at the high setting. The trick is, it switches Low-High-Medium, which means if you put it in a simple 1-way socket, you get full brightness. Not cheap but the quality is so good that you only have to buy it once. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 17 at 19:36
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Most of the time, with most 3-way sockets and most "one-way" light bulbs, it's fine, other than you click a few extra times to turn it on and off.

Some of the time, due to manufacturing tolerances and the like, there can be a problem with the contact for the intermediate ring shorting out as you switch through the 3-way settings. It's not terribly common, but I have seen it happen more than once.

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  • But other than shorting you have not seen any fires or anything of that sort? – Burt Jan 17 at 13:44
  • I've used single filament bulbs (one way) with no problem...but why not just buy a 3 way bulb and take full advantage of the fixture? – George Anderson Jan 17 at 14:18
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    @GeorgeAnderson, because sometimes you need a working lamp right now, and can't wait for the store to open so you can buy a three-way bulb. – Mark Jan 17 at 17:26
  • @GeorgeAnderson sometimes you just want to use what you already have :) – Burt Jan 18 at 2:16
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a three way bulb has an extra filament and provides 3 brightness levels, if you use a regular bulb it will work ok, but only give one brightness level.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-way_lamp

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    Sounds like a brake light lamp for a car, where there is one ground and two live connections, each connected to a filament of different brightness. – Criggie Jan 17 at 11:43

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