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?

  • 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. Jan 17 at 19:36

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.

  • 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? Jan 17 at 14:18
  • 1
    @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

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.


  • 1
    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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.