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I have a chandelier that holds 18 lights bulbs. The bulbs I have are non-dimmable 4 watt LED bulbs. I really only need 12 bulbs working at a time. Would it cause any harm only using 12 and hollowing out 6 old bulbs to use as place holders?

Or, is there a way to tape a bulb so that it doesn't light up and doesn't present any electrical issues?

I'm more worried about electrical issues than anything.

Thanks for the responses so far. I may try using an plastic/rubber/fiber insulator at the bottom of the bulb.

  • I think that would look odd. Why not simply install a dimmer? – Speedy Petey Nov 17 '14 at 1:11
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    I fully agree. Install a dimmer - particularly if the bulbs are low wattage incandescent type. – Michael Karas Nov 17 '14 at 1:26
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    Dimmer is certainly a valid option. That would lengthen the life of the bulbs too. (For my own 16-bulb fixture, I went with LED bulbs which add up to 300W-equivalent, but normally dim it down to half or a third of that.) Another option is just to get lower-wattage/less-bright bulbs, which -- like the dimmer -- will save power about as well as using fewer bright bulbs would. – keshlam Nov 17 '14 at 2:15
  • Assuming a standard candelabra base, any sort of insulator placed in the bottom of the socket would work. You can perhaps get plastic or fiber washers at a hardware store, or cut small circles of plastic from, say, a "blister" package. – Hot Licks Nov 17 '14 at 3:40
  • With regular incandescent bulbs a dimmer results in redder light, which is often considered less satisfactory. And keep in mind that many LED lamps do not work with a dimmer (and there is a small threat of damage if you try). Be sure to read labels carefully before using LEDs with a dimmer. – Hot Licks Nov 17 '14 at 3:44
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I'm not sure "hollowing out" makes any sense. Start by just not completely screwing in the bulbs you don't want lit (or leaving them out entirely). As bulbs burn out, you can switch to using the dead bulbs as your placeholders.

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    I'm not so sure that simply unscrewing a bulb part way is such a good idea. A bulb that was screwed part way in could very well lead to arcing and sparking that could cause over heating or even a fire in the bulb socket. – Michael Karas Nov 17 '14 at 1:29
  • @Michael: Perhaps. I've used this trick many times, but I've been careful not to screw it in far enough for that to happen. And I've had bulbs come unscrewed enough to flicker often enough and never had that cause a worse problem. But yes, in theory it's possible. On the other hand, I can't think of a good way to "hollow out" a bulb which wouldn't have its own hazards. – keshlam Nov 17 '14 at 2:12
  • I am surely not recommending the hollowed out light bulb concept either. The use of lower wattage bulbs or a light dimmer is the correct solution here. – Michael Karas Nov 17 '14 at 2:16
  • I wouldn't worry about a poor contact causing a fire such as @MichaelKaras describes. A flickering bulb can be annoying, but that's probably the worst of it. – Hot Licks Nov 17 '14 at 3:41
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    FWIW: If the bulb is incandescent (including halogen), the worst case heating from poor contact is 1/4 of the bulb's wattage rating; this occurs when the resistance of the contact is equal to the resistance of the bulb, so the current is halved and half the power is still going to the bulb. (This does not necessarily apply to anything with internal regulation like CFL or LED.) Of course, that heat is going directly to the contact inside the socket, unlike the output of the bulb which is split among visible light, thermal radiation, and convection as well as thermal conduction to the socket. – Kevin Reid Nov 17 '14 at 4:47

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