Can You Bring Lightbulbs on a Plane?

According to the TSA, lightbulbs can be brought onto a commercial flight inside a carry-on or checked luggage.

The TSA doesn’t mention the type of lightbulbs you are allowed to bring on the plane, meaning that all types of lightbulbs are allowed, even the CFL and fluorescent ones, although they contain small amounts of mercury.

Related: Can you bring glass bottles on a plane?

However, as you keep reading, you will find that there are rare instances when TSA agents stop people because of the lightbulbs they are carrying.

Why doesn’t the TSA allow all types of lightbulbs inside the airplane?

Lightbulbs are not on the TSA prohibited item list, yet not all lightbulbs can be brought on board an aircraft.

From what I could tell, it is all about the shape and size of the lightbulbs.

TSA agents will not give it a second look if you bring a regular lightbulb.

Yet when you want to bring with you odd-shaped lightbulbs or lightbulbs that are bigger than normal, airport security might ask you to place them in your checked luggage.

If you have larger lightbulbs or artisan ones, place them in your checked luggage and avoid the carry-on.

TSA agents don’t have a specific dimension in mind when they look at a lightbulb.

Their problem is the amount of glass your bulb contains. If airport security assumes that the shards could be used as a weapon, they might ask you to place the lightbulb inside your checked bag rather than in your carry-on.

Although you are allowed to bring glass items in your carry-on, the TSA doesn’t want you to bring glass items with sharp edges or that can be broken into parts big enough that could potentially be used for cutting or stabbing.

TSA agents always have the final say because there are no written rules about bringing glass items onto an airplane.

Is it wise to bring lightbulbs onto an airplane?

Frequent flyers will tell you that bringing breakable items inside your carry-on or checked luggage is not the best idea.

If you determine that you need to bring them, regardless of your packing skills, I suggest bringing them inside your carry-on and avoiding packing them in your checked luggage.

If you think that air turbulence is a problem, then you should know that according to, severe turbulence occurs in only about 0.0001 percent of flights. Severe turbulence means that the plane is thrown around violently.

Usually, the only “severe turbulence” your checked baggage will encounter is when it gets thrown by baggage handlers.

What would happen if the lightbulb broke inside the luggage?

The majority of lightbulbs manufactured nowadays do not contain any dangerous chemicals.

The only issues arise with the ones that contain mercury. If you have this type and it breaks over your belongings, you should know that mercury is toxic and when a lightbulb breaks, it releases toxic vapors that should not be inhaled.

If you believe that your lightbulb broke inside the baggage, resist the urge and don’t open it.

Accordion to, “If a mercury-containing lightbulb breaks, everyone should exit the room for about twenty minutes and give the elemental mercury a chance to dispel throughout the room”.

This might be a problem if you are on an airplane since you cannot open the door or exit.

If you are on an airplane, I advise you to ask the flight attendant for a big trash bag to accommodate your luggage.

Then, place the carry-on inside the bag and close the bag tightly. 

It’s preferable to open the trash bag and the luggage outdoors and wait half an hour for the vapors to clear out.

Next, you will need to wash your belongings in a washing machine to remove any mercury residue.

Can you take string lights on a plane?

String lights, such as decorative house lights or Christmas lights, are allowed inside an airplane in your carry-on or checked luggage. 

However, if your lights contain hundreds of bulbs, I advise placing them inside your checked luggage.

TSA agents will not give you a hard time if you bring it in your carry-on, but they will ask you to remove it for closer inspection.

Can you take a desk lamp on a plane?

You can bring a desk lamp onto an airplane inside your carry-on or checked luggage.

The TSA doesn’t mention any restrictions on desk lamps. However, not all desk lamps can be brought inside your carry-on.

One of the TSA’s many rules is “no club-like items”.

If you have a desk lamp with a long metallic neck, it would be best to place it inside your checked luggage.

Nobody will be able to tell you what’s inside a TSA agent’s mind, but if you have a metallic long-neck lamp that weighs over five pounds, you should expect trouble if you try to bring it inside your carry-on.

Can you bring a portable book light in a carry-on?

Yes, portable reading lights are allowed in hand luggage.

The rechargeable battery they contain is not powerful enough to be considered dangerous by the TSA.

People bring them onboard frequently, especially on long and tedious flights.

Remember that not all planes have seats with powered USB ports. Therefore, the portable reading light should be fully charged before boarding the plane.

Can you take solar garden lights on a plane?

Solar garden lights can be brought inside your carry-on or checked luggage, although some types are not allowed.

TSA agents don’t allow solar stake lights inside a carry-on.

They consider the stake to be a sharp object that could be used to hurt someone.

Therefore, you must place solar stake lights in your checked baggage only.

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Sorin Susanu
Sorin, the primary writer for this site, launched it in 2019 as a hobby and a means to refine his English. With a passion for travel ignited by a trip to Italy at age twelve, Sorin has been exploring the world and sharing his adventures ever since.