I was recently asked to troubleshoot a kitchen light in a home.  It was a flush mount ceiling fixture with two sockets and it was controlled by a dimmer switch.  The homeowner said light bulbs were not lasting very long over a period of years and that the bulbs would intermittently cut off.  After replacing the bulbs again, the lights would come on for a while then stop, and finally they wouldn't come on at all.

            First I checked the dimmer switch, it was fine.  Then I checked the breaker outside. It was tripped.  Next stop, the fixture on the ceiling.  When I opened it up I found two blackened light bulbs and a scorched fixture.  The bulbs were completely different from each other.  One incandescent and one LED.  Upon more careful examination I discovered that the incandescent bulb was 200 watts!  The heat from that bulb had melted the wiring and the insulation and burned the fixture itself. It was pure luck that there was no fire.

            When a light bulb goes out, we sometimes tend to head for the junk drawer and grab the first bulb we see.  This is not a good idea!  The old style incandescent bulbs are not just inefficient, they can be downright dangerous.  Light fixtures are all rated for a certain wattage; home fixtures are usually 60 watts.  In a situation where you aren't sure what the fixture is rated for, err on the side of caution and don't choose a bulb over 60 watts.  Of course, another solution is to use LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs.  LED bulbs generate much less heat and much more light than similarly rated incandescent bulbs.  If we use a bulb with a higher wattage than what the fixture is rated, it will overheat, most likely destroying the fixture and possibly even starting a fire.  Many house fires have been caused by choosing the wrong light bulb!