Why Do Desk Lamps Get So Hot & How to Prevent It

Light fixtures like desk lamps are known to be one of the major causes behind house fires across the globe. Don’t let it dissuade you from investing in one though. Desk lamps offer high-quality illumination, boast of a long shelf-life, are energy-efficient, and have proven to be extremely durable. These are some of the reasons why desk lamps continue to be so popular worldwide.

Another reason that makes them so popular is the fact that they are extremely easy to maintain. However, they tend to get very hot at times and if they come in contact with another material when they are at a very high temperature, they can even cause a fire.

The reason desk lamps overheat is mainly the cause of the lightbulb being used with the lamp. For example, CFL and incandescent bulbs become warm very quickly while Halogen bulbs are actually well known for exploding from overheating. The best way to avoid most of these concerns is to invest in a high-quality LED bulb.

You need to take certain precautions and be careful about a few things when you buy a desk lamp. Before delving deeper into safety precautions, let us first try and understand why desk lamps tend to get so hot.

Why Do Desk Lamps Get So Hot?

Why do Desk Lamps Get so Hot & How to Prevent it

The light bulbs present inside the desk lamps are responsible for them getting overtly warm at times. The type of bulb you choose to use plays an important role in determining how hot your desk lamp will get. When you buy a bulb for your lamp, you must enquire about the material it has been made of. 

Desk lamps that feature CFL or incandescent bulbs become warm very quickly and could cause a fire if they come in contact with an object for very long.

Halogen bulbs are known to explode because of overheating. If you are concerned about your desk lamp getting overheated, you could use LED bulbs. They are widely renowned for absorbing excessive heat and don’t heat up quickly.

Despite being prone to getting overheated, a lot of incandescent and halogen bulbs are still in use because of the steady color temperature they provide. It is ideal for students and for those who spend long hours reading books.

How To Prevent Desk Lamps From Getting Overheated?

Here are a few important tips that will help you prevent your desk lamps from getting overheated:

Limit the Use of Incandescent Bulbs to Avoid Overheating (Other tips as well)

Incandescent bulbs are made up of filaments. These filaments are present in a large vacuum filled space within the glass shell and play a major role in producing light. The filaments are heated up using electricity which, in turn, leads to the bulb lighting up.

These bulbs could prove to be hazardous because they can reach a temperature of 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit and more. If you use the lamp continuously or for a very long time, there is a very high chance of the bulb getting extremely hot or even exploding.

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If you are using an incandescent bulb in your lamp, don’t use it for several hours at a stretch. Ideally, after every three hours of using it, you should switch it off and let it cool down for some time. You must also check whether your lamp and the bulb are in good condition or not.

If either of the two has become old or if there are cracks anywhere on their surface, you must get it replaced immediately. Having wirings that are in bad shape is even more dangerous. If you realize the wirings are in very bad condition, it would be wise to get rid of the desk lamp altogether.

Another useful tip is to keep the desk lamp away from plastics, paper, and cloth-based material which have combustible properties. You must keep an eye out for warning signs like the bulb flickering constantly.

Some of the other warning signs include a humming or buzzing sound emanating from the bulb. An average incandescent bulb has a life expectancy of 1,500 – 2,000 hours. It is important that you keep a track of time and do not use the bulb longer than its expected life.

How to Ensure that Halogen Bulbs Don’t Cause a Fire

Similar to incandescent lamps, even halogen bulbs can explode when they are used for a long period. Though they do not heat as quickly as incandescent bulbs, they could still prove to be dangerous if you are negligent while using them. Despite this, their popularity has increased over time largely because of the color they tend to produce along with the light being very vibrant. The vibrancy increases as you increase the brightness levels.

Just like incandescent bulbs, you should ensure that halogen bulbs are at a safe distance from combustible solids. This will ensure that even if the bulb explodes at some point in time because of overheating, it won’t set anything on fire. The desk lamp should not be placed anywhere near a curtain or a carpet.

As compared to incandescent bulbs, halogens have a longer shelf life. They are known to last between 2,000 – 2,500 hours. When you buy a halogen lamp, it is advisable to have a good look at the label. That will give you a lot of important information about the bulb. If you are using your desk lamp containing a halogen bulb for reading, remember to switch it off whenever you take a break.

This will ensure that both the quartz glass and the bulb will get sufficient time to cool down. Following these simple steps will ensure that the halogen bulb fitted inside your desk lamp never gets overheated or explodes.


There are many advantages to using desk lamps. They come in different shapes and sizes and are known to be very long-lasting. As is the case with any electronic appliance, you have to be well-aware of their functioning and follow certain precautions while using them.

If you are worried about your desk lamps getting overheated or causing house fires, you can opt for LED bulbs which are considered to be safer than other kinds of bulbs.

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If you wish to use a halogen or incandescent bulb, then following the precautions or preventive measures mentioned above will help you keep the device and yourself safe.

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