Release date: July 29, 1996
Release number: 96-174

Release Details

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff today issued a warning to consumers that the tubular light bulbs in most torchiere-style halogen lamps can reach very high temperatures and could start a fire if they come in contact with curtains, clothes or other flammable material.

"Many people don't realize that these tubular halogen bulbs operate at temperatures much hotter than the incandescent bulbs we are all used to," said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "We want people to know about the difference between regular bulbs and tubular halogen bulbs so they can handle lamps with these hotter bulbs safely and prevent injuries or fires."

The CPSC has received reports of at least 30 fires associated with torchiere (or pole) lamps containing tubular halogen bulbs. Two deaths were associated with these fires. Approximately 35 million to 40 million torchiere lamps with tubular halogen bulbs are owned by consumers in the United States. The torchiere or pole lamps are free-standing lamps with the light fixture mounted on top of a pole about six feet tall. These lamps first became available in 1983 and sales have grown significantly in the 1990s.

Tests conducted by the CPSC showed that tubular halogen bulbs of 250 watts, 300 watts and 500 watts installed in torchiere lamps could start a fire in nearby combustible materials. These bulbs can reach temperatures ranging from about 970 degrees Fahrenheit for a 300 watt tubular halogen bulb to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit for a 500 watt tubular halogen bulb. In contrast, a 150 watt incandescent bulb operates at a temperature of about 340 degrees Fahrenheit and a 75 watt bulb operates at about 260 degrees Fahrenheit. Other types of halogen bulbs operate at lower temperatures than the tubular halogen bulbs.

"It is important for consumers to know that lamps with tubular halogen bulbs are much different than lamps with incandescent bulbs, and therefore have to be treated with greater care," Brown said.

Brown offered the following tips for safer use of torchiere lamps with tubular halogen bulbs:

- Never allow torchiere halogen lamps to be placed where the tubular bulb could come in contact with curtains or other cloth window treatments;

- Never leave a torchiere halogen lamp on when you leave the room or are not at home;

- Never drape clothes over a torchiere halogen lamp;

- For torchiere halogen lamps equipped with a dimmer switch, operate the lamp at a setting lower than the maximum whenever possible;

- Keep halogen torchiere lamps away from elevated beds like bunk beds where bedding may get too close to the tubular bulb.

Media Contact

Please use the below phone number for all media requests.

Phone: (301) 504-7908
Spanish: (301) 504-7800

View CPSC contacts for specific areas of expertise