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Using European Light Bulbs in NA

  1. Mar 21, 2012 #1

    I'm in Canada, and the regular household voltage used is 120V. There is a differently shaped 240V socket at my work used for higher power appliances, and I was wondering how I can work an incandescent light bulb from that. If I'm not wrong, Europe uses 220-240V range. Would it be possible for me to get a 240V bulb from Europe and put the 240V socket on the fixture to work the incandescent light bulb? Would I still be able to use a regular light fixture to do this?

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Are you sure that 240v bulbs are not available near you?

    I expect that you could operate a 240v bulb, but safety would require that you use a plug and socket and power cord rated for 240v also. Note that incandescent bulbs are very voltage sensitive, so if the bulb was intended for operation on 220v it would glow very brightly and have a short life if operated on 240v.

    It sounds as though you have an unused power outlet just where you'd like extra light?

    An alternative might be to connect a pair of identical 120v bulbs in series. You would still need the plugs and sockets and wires rated for 240v operation, and the life of the bulbs would be a little shortened due to unequal aging. With time, one would gradually hog the power and get slightly brighter (and hotter) as the other lost out, until the brighter one eventually died.

    But good quality 120v bulbs might do what you need, and would surely be cheaper than importing a 240v bulb. Make sure you get hold of 240v power cable and plug and socket, and make sure their shape and geometry match your outlet. I'd be very surprised if a local electrician couldn't tell you where to buy local bulbs and parts for 240v operation.
  4. Mar 23, 2012 #3

    jim hardy

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    On this link is a chart of standard outlets.

    Click it and see what yours is rated before going further.

    Don't mess with a source that's capable of more than about twenty amps. It can produce quite a fireball.

    http://en.allexperts.com/q/Electrical-Wiring-Home-1734/2010/8/eletrical-1.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Mar 23, 2012 #4


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    Getting a light bulb to work on 240 volts would be pretty easy, but the legal minefield may make you reconsider the project.

    It would be worth ringing the power company to talk to someone about who is legally entitled to wire up such a connection and what regulations apply to exactly how it can be done.

    If there was a fire and, even if you didn't cause it, an insurance company could seize on an illegal wiring job and refuse a payout.
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