Home » General Lighting » Is It Safe To Leave A Light Bulb Socket Empty?

Is It Safe To Leave A Light Bulb Socket Empty?

We all know what it is like to have bulbs burn out. In the US, the average incandescent light bulb burns out after 2,000 hours or less.

Although LED bulbs last much longer, sometimes working for as long as 50,000 hours, they also inevitably run out.

And sometimes, for some reason, you may not be able to replace the bulbs immediately.

Do you just leave the bulbs in their socket, or do you remove it and throw it in the trash immediately?

Which of these options is safe?

It is not safe to leave light bulb sockets empty. They pose an electrocution risk and a fire hazard because of high enough voltage to cause serious electrocution injury. Also, debris could get into the socket, get ignited, and start a fire, although this is an unlikely scenario.

For every homeowner, safety is a top concern. Especially when it comes to electricity. You don’t want to live at risk of electrocution or lose your house to a fire caused by an electrical spark.

How do they pose such a risk? How do these products work? Continue with me as I explain the answers to all these questions.

Should You Leave Or Remove ‘Dead’ Bulb From The Socket?

You should absolutely leave dead bulbs in their sockets.

You may be wondering if dead bulbs still use some electricity.

The answer is no.

All the electricity they draw is converted to light energy. And when a bulb no longer does that, it no longer draws electricity.

If you want to be extra careful, you can unscrew the bulb a little bit.

However, if you want to remove the bulb, there are several ways to fill the socket up until you can get a replacement bulb. I will be discussing those further in this article.

Is Leaving An Empty Light Bulb Socket A Fire Hazard?

Empty light bulb sockets are a fire hazard.

You wonder how?

Light sockets are essentially openings in your house’s circuitry that are closed by the light bulbs.

When you leave the socket empty, you will be going an exposed spot in the circuit.

Now, how is this dangerous?

You might have children, your little bundles of joy, and you know how curious they get.

They may touch the exposed points in empty bulb sockets and get electrocuted if the socket is in the reachable location.

Apart from the physical harm, electrocution will disrupt the circuitry, possibly causing a spark somewhere, resulting in a fire.

What about sockets high up in the ceiling, beyond the reach of the children?

Well, in our homes, there is usually dust and lint floating around in the air.

Any of these things can contact the exposed points in an empty bulb socket and ignite a spark.

Also, pesky bugs can fly into empty sockets, get electrocuted, fall out, and then set a table cloth, newspaper, or curtain on fire. Although it seems very unlikely, it’s better safe than sorry.

Is It Safe To Turn The Switch On Without A Light Bulb In The Socket?

Light switches do not use up electricity on their own. They simply close the circuit, allowing the light bulbs to draw power from the circuit.

When you leave power switches on, electricity gets delivered to the empty socket but does not get used up.

But, the question here is whether it is safe.

It depends on the location of the socket. A socket high up in the ceiling is only in danger of moths or other bugs flying in.

However, leaving the switch of a table lamp or bedside lamp on is a greater danger.

For the regular power sockets to which you plug your phone, the contact points are buried deep in the ceramic, out of reach.

But for bulb sockets, there is no such protection.

Your children or pets, oblivious to its dangers, could poke their fingers or paws in empty sockets.

Even adults could be at risk. You could be feeling around for your phone when you wake up in the morning and touch an exposed light socket on your bedside lamp mistakenly.

Now, these sockets carry a solid 240V of electricity.

Voltages between 100 and 250V are regarded as highly lethal.

While there are other factors, including the length of time of exposure and amount of amperes, 240 Volts of electricity is no joke.

Related: Is It Safe To Leave A Light Bulb Partially Unscrewed?

How To Fill An Empty Socket Safely

Now that you are fully appraised of the dangers of leaving empty power sockets open, I’ll talk about the several creative ways to cover them.

Leave a Dead Bulb

You could leave the dead bulb in to serve as a filler. Dead bulbs consume no electricity, so it will not increase your electricity bill in any way.

As long as the bulb’s glass is not broken, they are entirely safe to use.

Use Electrical Tape

Sometimes, bulbs go bad, not because they burned out, but because someone threw something in its direction and broke it.

While they do not exactly pose a safety hazard, it is advisable to remove broken bulbs.

If, in a situation like this, you do not have a replacement bulb, you can simply put some electrical tape (Amazon) over the open socket.

Use Socket Fillers or Adapters

I recommend that you get non-metallic safe socket fillers (Amazon). They are simply plastic caps that you can screw onto the empty bulb socket.

Apart from their insulating function, they are more aesthetically pleasing than strips of electrical tape.

The bulb to outlet adapter (Amazon) is even better, for bulb sockets in reachable areas. You can simply remove the bulb and screw it on, converting your empty bulb socket to an outlet to plug your phone.

Final Words

Dealing with burnt-out bulbs and sockets is just another inevitable aspect of our lives. At least, until scientists invent indestructible, eternal bulbs.

For such a small, usual feature, I know you might have been surprised to learn how much of a hazard it could be.

If there is one thing that I want you to take out of this article, you always need to cover the empty socket with anything you have. Even a tape is the right solution.

If that isn’t possible, you should switch off the electricity supply to the socket. Your safety should always come first!

What experiences have you had with empty sockets? How did you handle them? Do you have any additional tips?

Please, share them in the comment section.

Looking for an LED bulb but not sure what type you need?

Check out my free bulb picker and select the right bulb within few clicks.