If you don’t have enough sockets in your house, and you don’t want to rely on extension cords, you should consider using light socket adapters, especially if you have light sockets that don’t get much use. Though, as you will soon see, you have to take certain precautions to avoid disaster.
How Safe Are Light Socket Adapters?
For the most part, light socket adapters are safe. However, your success is going to depend on the location of the light socket as well as the load you want it to carry
1). It Mustn’t Carry Excess Load
Light sockets are not meant to carry as much current as ordinary sockets. They are normally designed to handle roughly 60 watts.
This is why placing a 100-watt bulb in a 60-watt socket is so dangerous. Because the socket is transmitting more current than it was designed to handle, it may generate enough heat to melt the components inside the socket.
This creates fire and electrocution hazards. A light socket adapter may replicate this same issue. You cannot use a light socket to power a space heater, a washing machine, or any other heavy-duty appliance.
The wires and connections cannot handle the load. On the other hand, if you want to use the light socket to operate devices such as computers, phones, and lamps that do not consume that much energy, the light socket adapter is perfectly safe.
Some people unintentionally overwhelm their light sockets because the light sockets are connected to 15-Amp circuits. Because the devices they want to operate are not strong enough to overload a 15-Amp circuit, they erroneously conclude that the light sockets on the circuit can handle the load of those devices.
But in such a situation, the rating of the circuit doesn’t matter nearly as much as the rating of the wires in the light socket.
2). Use It In The Secure Location
Most people use adapters to turn light sockets into outlets because they don’t have enough wall outlets in the area. In other words, they are desperate. They have to make do with the light sockets in the vicinity.
This isn’t a problem if your light sockets are located in a secure location along the wall or even close to the ground. It becomes a problem when a consumer attempts to convert a light socket on the ceiling into an outlet.
To be clear, you can use an adapter on a light socket on the ceiling. Many adapters are designed to accommodate electrical plugs as well as light bulbs. You don’t have to sacrifice the lighting in a given room to turn the light socket on a ceiling into an outlet.
That being said, gravity is an issue in such cases. Electrical plugs that are attached to light sockets on the ceiling are more likely to fall out. Even if they remain in the outlet, the plugs may become loose, falling partially out of the outlet and creating an arcing problem. You have to ensure that the plug is properly secured and supported.
Can You Get Electrocuted From A Light Socket?
A light socket can electrocute you. When you screw a bulb into a socket, the contact points in the socket funnel electricity into the bulb. The bulb turns that current into light. If you remove the bulb and touch those contact points, you will get a shock.
Is It Safe To Leave A Light Socket Empty?
I discourage people from leaving light sockets empty because of the dangers they pose.
Light sockets have contact points that transmit electricity. Outlets have similar contact points but they are hidden. It takes effort to access them. The contact points in a light socket are exposed.
If the light socket is on the ceiling, you have nothing to worry about. But if the socket is closer to the ground, a child that doesn’t know better will touch the contact points and the socket will electrocute them.
An empty light socket on the ceiling isn’t an electrocution hazard but it can start a fire. Any dust and lint that touch the contact points could ignite, starting a fire. The same problem can occur if an insect is electrocuted by the socket. If it falls on flammable material such as a newspaper, it could burn your home down.
Homeowners can avoid such problems by leaving a dead bulb in the socket. Dead bulbs are unsightly but it is better than leaving the socket empty. You should also consider covering it with tape.
How To Safely Convert A Light Socket Into An Outlet?
If you have some experience with electricity, you can turn a light socket into an outlet without hiring a professional. All you need is a suitable adapter:
- Start by disconnecting the light socket from power. Don’t stop at turning the light switch off. Flip the circuit breaker to the ‘OFF’ position. Use a tester to ensure that the socket doesn’t have power.
- Remove the bulb and install the adapter. In many cases, you just have to turn the adapter clockwise as if you are screwing a bulb into place. You have the option of removing the light fixture completely and replacing it with a receptacle.
You will realize that the process is longer and more complicated. You may require the services of an electrician who can re-wire the light fixture into an outlet. A lamp holder-to-outlet adapter such as the Leviton 1403 or the GE Polarized Handy Plug is more convenient.
Are The Light Socket To Outlet Adapters Safe For Outdoor Use/Christmas Lights?
If snow and rain never touched the light socket before you converted it into an outlet, it should be safe for your Christmas lights. Otherwise, some people use tape to protect their outdoor light sockets from snow and rain.
You can safely use light socket outlets to operate Christmas lights outside. Christmas lights are unlikely to overload the socket. Though, the NEC expects outdoor receptacles to use GFCI protection. The elements are an important consideration.
Are Light Socket Adapters Grounded?
Light socket adapters are not grounded. Light bulbs do not require grounding. This is why electricians discourage consumers from using light socket adapters to accommodate devices with 3-prong plugs, especially if the devices in question use a lot of electricity.