How to Select the Right Lamp Socket

The lighting in your home has an enormous impact on the way it looks – especially at night. When you’re shopping for a new bulb, however, things can get a little bit confusing. There are dozens of different shapes to choose from, and different technologies and socket styles to make life that much more confusing.

Here, let’s see if we can break down lamp sockets, and why they matter. We’ll look at how to choose the right socket for your circumstances.

lamp socket

Why Choosing the Right Socket is Important

If you mismatch the bulb and the socket, then you might end up with them not attaching properly. In some cases, you might cause an electrical short – which can result in a damaged bulb or even a fire-hazard.

You might find that even if you choose the right socket, you lose a little bit of functionality. Putting a dimmable bulb in a non-dimmable socket will mean losing your ability to dim the bulb from the wall.

Diferent types of lamp sockets

Lamp socket terminology

It’s worth clarifying a few critical pieces of jargon.

The material that makes up the shell of the socket can be either metal, porcelain or plastic. They all perform the same, but they might look a little bit different.

The ‘cap’ is the socket’s exterior base, while the ‘shell’ is the enclosure into which it locks. A ‘push through’ toggle switch is one that turns both on and off by pushing a rod, while a ‘pull-chain’ switch works by pulling on a chain.

pull chain light

Things to know before choosing

For the most part, you’ll need to consider three factors. These are the size, style, and material.

The size of your socket will range from candelabra, which is reserved for fixtures with lots of smaller bulbs, to mogul, which tends to be used in reflector-style floor lamps. If you buy a socket that’s the wrong size, then you can always compensate with the help of the right adaptor. 

When it comes to style, most sockets are either keyed or keyless. A key is basically a turnable knob on the side of the socket. This can be changed in order to alter the look.

There’s also ‘push through’ styles which come with a plastic shaft in the centre, which allows for greater wear and tear before failure. It’s worth bearing in mind that the majority of sockets are medium-sized, with either a standard or ‘Edison’ socket.

If you elect to invest in a socket of this kind, then you’ll have an easy time when it comes to shopping for replacement bulbs. The Edison Screw has been around for more than a hundred years. And it isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon.

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