Can You Use A Regular Light Bulb In A Refrigerator? All You Need To Know

You should not use regular light bulbs in your refrigerator. These bulbs cannot last in the cold conditions of the refrigerator, and they contain harmful mercury, a substance that can affect the quality of food items in your fridge. 

Most modern refrigerators come with custom light bulbs which are particularly helpful if you want to sneak a midnight snack! But what happens if the light bulb gets burned out? Can you use a regular light bulb in the house as a replacement?. 

It might seem like a no-brainer, but the answer is NO! 

In this article, I’ll explain why using regular bulbs in your refrigerator is a bad idea and walk you through alternatives that will save you money on energy bills.

can you use a regular light bulb in a refrigerator

Why You Shouldn’t Use A Regular Light Bulb In Your Fridge

Regular bulbs are specifically made for a single purpose; to light up the house. If they are fixed to do any other thing, they cannot work optimally and effectively. Below are reasons why regular bulbs are a terrible idea for your refrigerator


A regular light bulb will break easily either because of the extreme temperature in the fridge or due to the persistent opening and closing of the fridge door. When it breaks, it lacks a plastic proof (present in an appliance bulb) that would prevent it from shattering on your foodstuffs.

Harmful Substance

The bulbs currently on the market for regular use contain harmful chemicals like Mercury. If the bulb breaks, the harmful substance may affect the quality of your fruits, vegetables, and snacks.

So what type of bulbs can you use? 

Ideally, appliance light bulbs are the best option for your refrigerator. They are designed to withstand extreme temperatures and have a long life span. Below are common types of appliance bulbs used in refrigerators:

Types Of Appliance Light Bulbs – Best Alternatives To Regular Light Bulbs

correct lightbulb fitting in fridge

Halogen Bulbs

These bulbs are usually found in the freezer compartment and are more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. However, they are expensive and require frequent replacement.

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb

Also known as CFLs, these bulbs are compact and energy-saving. They don’t produce much heat and consume less electricity, but they need to be replaced after about 10 years.

LED Bulbs

Led bulbs are very bright and energy efficient and are available in different sizes and shapes. They are also durable and last longer than traditional bulbs.

Why Should You Use An Appliance Light Bulb?

fridge with working light

An appliance light bulb is custom-made to work optimally in devices like ovens, fridges, freezers, and even microwaves. This means that they can do their work effectively without being limited, unlike a regular light bulb.

Here are three benefits of using an appliance light bulb instead of a regular one. 


The vast majority of refrigerators are designed to use a specific type of bulb with specific dimensions. A regular bulb would hardly fit into the socket base and, even if it did, would be under a lot of stress. On the other hand, an appliance light bulb is usually made to specifications and would work perfectly in the fridge.

Temperature Adaptation

Although most bulbs can work at a minimum temperature, it is good practice to use a customized bulb that wouldn’t feel the impact of the cool condition.  That way, your bulb would last longer without fear on your side that it might stop working when it matters the most.

Light Hours

How long an appliance light bulb in a refrigerator will last depends on how often you use your refrigerator. But you can be assured that a good one can continue to be useful for close to 2000 light hours.

How To Fix The Bulb In The Refrigerator?

electrician fixing light bulb in fridge

After getting the bulb from your local store or online, inspect it for damages and ensure it’s in good shape. If it is, follow these steps to fix your new bulb in the fridge.

To get started:

  • Unplug the refrigerator from the power.
  • Then, open the fridge and use a screwdriver to open the covering of the socket base.
  • Remove the old light bulb slowly to prevent a part from getting stuck in the socket base. To remove the bulb, simply unscrew the bottom part of the light bulb until it comes off completely. 
  • Now take the new light bulb and screw it into the same hole where the old one was. Ensure that the bulb is facing the right direction and screw horizontally into the socket base.
  • Next, make sure that the wires are correctly connected and close up the covering of the socket base.
  • Finally, plug the refrigerator power cord back into the outlet and check if your bulb is working right.

Precaution: Lightbulbs used in refrigerators shouldn’t be changed unless they are burned out or otherwise defective. 

What Should I Do If the Fridge Light Does Not Work?

Ideally, you should contact a professional electrician if you notice that the light inside your refrigerator is not working. However, you may be able to diagnose specific problems quickly and fix them using DIY methods.

man opening fridge with broken light

Check The Refrigerator Power Connection

If the light bulb isn’t switching on, it could be because of a faulty connection to the power. You would notice this right away if the fridge isn’t staying cool. Make sure the plug is inserted correctly into the socket to fix the problem. However, If the socket is the issue, you may need to repair it.

A Damaged Or Burned Out Bulb

Sometimes, even though the socket base works fine, your bulb still won’t illuminate. This usually happens due to a burnt-out bulb. Replace the bulb as soon as possible.

Scourge The User Manual

Every fridge manufacturer wants you to get the utmost satisfaction from their products. So they give the user manual to brief you on usage and maintenance tips. These guidelines may reveal why your refrigerator bulb isn’t working and what could have caused it.

If neither of these troubleshooting tips works. It is most likely your fridge needs a professional electrician.

FAQs On Can You Use A Regular Light Bulb In A Refrigerator

Will A Fridge Work Without A Lightbulb?

You don’t need a lightbulb in your fridge for it to work. The light is for convenience, so you can easily see what’s inside when you open the door. If your fridge doesn’t have a lightbulb, you’ll have to be a little more careful when looking for that last piece of cake or that slice of pizza.

Do Appliance Light Bulbs Use More Energy?

No! In fact, they use less energy. This is because most appliance light bulbs are made specifically for household items. So the power consumption is reduced to the barest minimum, making it effective and energy-saving.

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