All light fixtures have a maximum wattage rating for bulbs (i.e. 60 watt, etc.). What most consumers don’t realize is that the maximum wattage rating for the fixture no longer applies once a shade is put on a chandelier or wall sconce.
When using shades on light fixtures you need to ensure they can withstand the heat produced by the bulb. If the shades are not designed for the maximum wattage of the bulb they attach to, the amount of heat generated by the bulb can create a fire hazard for the shade material.
For instance, Currey & Company has several dozen chandelier shades to choose from. They all have a maximum rating of 25W. So what are you to do if you want shades on your chandelier or wall sconce, yet want the light output greater than your decorative shade will allow?
The answer could be Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs). While regular (incandescent) light bulbs work by heating a tungsten filament or wire until it glows, a fluorescent bulb creates light using an entirely different method that is far more energy-efficient; in fact, 4-6 times more efficient. This means that you can buy a 14-watt compact fluorescent bulb that produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt regular incandescent bulb. Because the wattage of a CFL bulb is much lower than that of an incandescent, you can use a lower wattage CFL giving you the equivalent light of a higher wattage incandescent.
When comparing the light output of the two types of bulbs, remember that it takes CFLs a few minutes to reach their peak light output.