One of the effective ways to keep burglars at bay is to make the home appear occupied even when you might be miles away on vacation.
The flicker of the TV through the curtains or lamps that never goes off can be confusing to anyone outdoors.
Whether that’s your plan or something close, you should think twice before leaving any electrical device unattended for a long time.
So, Is It Safe to Leave a Lamp On for A Week?
Generally speaking, lamps are safe and can be left on for an extended period without an incident. While the fire risk is real, it is too low, especially if the lamp is more modern. The fire risk increases with age and poor maintenance.
Whether A Lamp Is a Safety Hazard Depends On the Type of the Bulb
Some bulbs overheat after a few hours of operation, but others take longer or never.
A simple test involves leaving the lamp on for slightly over an hour and touching lightly with a finger — if it feels warm, it’s a safe bulb.
If it feels too hot, there may be risks.
A fire outbreak is almost inevitable if the lampshade or any flammable material comes into contact with an overheating bulb.
Incandescent and halogen bulbs are more prone to heating than LED bulbs.
Why? The former uses outdated filament technology to produce light.
The filament can generate immense heat within hours, which sets it up for an explosion in the event of a power surge.
Because halogen/incandescent bulbs accumulate more heat, their lamps carry a considerable fire risk.
LED Bulbs Are the Safest
Most bulbs in the market today are LED type. They don’t overheat as much as their halogen/incandescent counterparts.
Watch out, though! Some of them are equipped with a tiny transformer tasked with scaling down the mains voltage of your home to a small voltage perfect for the LED.
The little transformer sometimes overheats, especially when it comes into contact with insulation in which a fire is likely.
LED bulbs stay cool for extended periods and draw less power than incandescent/halogen bulbs. For that reason, they are safe for your property and economical in the long run.
The Condition of the Whole Fixture Has a Say On Safety
A total absence of cracks/damages means the device is in near-perfect working conditions.
If you are planning to leave it on for a long time, ensure the décor shades are firm and tight as they should be.
Loose shades that come directly with the bulb may overheat and ignite. A well-maintained lamp carries very minimal risk, even if it contains old halogen or incandescent bulbs.
Consider completing a quick risk assessment before leaving to determine if the lamp is safe to stay on unattended. Let it stay on for about 24 hours, and study the behavior.
You know you can’t leave it like that if you hear sounds or see smoke residues.
The wiring is poor if the lamp has metallic parts, and you feel a mild shock when you touch it.
If the cables are bare or worn out, that’s a clear red flag, even if the bulb is not flickering. A flickering bulb should make you extra cautious as it could signify loose connections or other serious issues within the fixture.
The wattage of the bulb and the lamp need to match. Lamps come with tags or stickers reminding the user about the correct replacement wattage.
The worst thing you could do is use a bulb with a wattage higher than what the lamp was designed for.
The prospects of a fire accident are high in such a case, even if everything else is in order.
It is common to remove these stickers, so they don’t mess up the appearance of the device.
But if you forget and replace it with the wrong bulb and leave for a week, you might return to a burnt home even if you took all other precautions.
Is Your Lamp Up to Safety Standards?
Whether a lamp is safe to run unattended for long can depend on whether the manufacturer kept the safety standards set by regulatory authorities.
That’s why you should avoid knockoffs and poor-quality lamps.
Manufacturers – and sometimes installers – of the luminaire are required by regulators to factor in the interaction of the fixture with nearby objects.
The radiant energy from the lamp lands on nearby objects through convention, inflicting damage on them depending on the material.
Fabric and paper are very delicate materials, so you don’t want to leave your important documents near the lamp for a whole week.
These points are normally considered during the manufacture of luminaire:
- The maximum amount of power dissipated by the lamp
- The fire-resistance capabilities of the likeliest material to be nearby
- The minimum distance that should be kept between the fixture and any nearby combustible materials
Check if the device is genuine and compliant with the relevant regulations and product standards.
Also, ensure it is installed according to the instructions of the manufacturer.
If the fixture is up to standards and installed according to the manufacturer’s directions, and the bulb is LED, you shouldn’t worry about leaving it on for days.
Consider Fireproofing Your Home If You Must Leave Lights On
While it is unlikely your device might start a fire while you are away and raze down the home, it is wise to have it fireproof just in case.
Losing a property to fire is an imaginable tragedy. The idea of fireproofing may sound misplaced, but imagine losing critical documents to fire just because you left an erratic lamp on for a week.
Generally, fireproofing is everything you do to your home to render it harder to destroy by fire.
However, the whole objective behind fireproofing is not to make the home impossible to burn but to prevent the fire from spreading widely if it breaks out.
Although automatic sprinklers are more effective, a simple wall paint with fire-retarding properties is a great way to get started for anyone on a tight budget.
Provided the device is modern (with LEDs), up to standards, in good working conditions, and your home is fireproofed, it should be OK for you lamp to be on for an extended time.