Understanding the Difference Between a PAR 30 and BR 30 Bulb

Par30 and R30 LED Light Bulbs

Par30 and R30 LED Light Bulbs

Being namesakes of their halogen and incandescent counterparts, PAR 30 and BR (or R) 30 LEDs are the green solution to outdoor and indoor lighting. Though they bear some similarities, understanding their differences will help you make better decisions about which one of these bulbs works best for your needs.

BR (for bulged reflector) bulbs are lamps with “wide flood” beam angles, which means that they provide more than a 45 degree angle when lighting an area.

PAR (short for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector) bulbs are available in these angles:

  • Narrow spot, 5-15 degrees
  • Spot, 16-22 degrees
  • Narrow flood, 23-32 degrees
  • Flood, 33-45 degrees
  • Wide flood beam, over 45 degrees

Though PAR 30 bulbs offer more options for lighting, both PAR and BR LED lamps are made to easily replace the energy-stealing halogen and incandescent lights. Because of this, both bulbs have the same medium (E26) base for North American sockets.

The numbers after PAR and BR, like 30, stand for 1/8th of an inch. To find the diameter of the lamp, just divide the number after it by 8: e.g., the diameter of a BR 30 bulb is 30/8ths of an inch, or 3.75 inches in diameter.

Lighting and Application
BR30 bulbs deliver soft-edged, directional light and can typically be found in general household light fixtures, recessed can lighting, and/or track lighting. Their lighting is less precise and produces less shadow than PAR bulbs, but they are great for fixtures that use dimmer switches.

PAR lamps deliver strong, narrow to wide, directional light. They are traditionally used outdoors as aircraft landing lights, security lighting, or indoors for concerts, movie production, and theater.

PAR and BR bulbs share the same voltage of 120VAC and have the same Kelvin degree color code as all light bulbs:

  • 2700K (warm white)
  • 4100K-5000K (cool white)
  • +5000K (daylight color)

Energy Savings and Average Bulb Lifetime
Some LED PAR 30 bulbs offer nearly 90% in savings in comparison to halogen bulbs. They emit low heat, and can last for up to 70,000 hours.

BR-shaped LED lamps are much cheaper than PAR LED lamps, but they have a lower average lifetime of 25,000 hours.

Up to 25% of your energy bill is being burned with traditional lightbulbs, and though the specifics may differ, switching to energy efficient lighting throughout the home can save you tons off your energy bill.

Further, with longer bulb life than their halogen and incandescent friends, both the PAR and BR LED light bulbs last longer and therefore require less changing.

These differences and similarities are also applied to other Par/R combinations as well, such as the Par20 and R20 LED bulbs. When searching for the perfect PAR or BR light bulb for your fixture, be sure to keep in mind the different angles, lighting, cost, and average bulb lifetime.

3 comments to Understanding the Difference Between a PAR 30 and BR 30 Bulb

  • Lou Gallo

    I have halogen par30, 60 watt bulbs in my recessed lighting fixtures in the kitchen ceiling. The socket suggests not using in excess of a 60 watt bulb. Can I replace this halogen 60 watt bulb with an led BR30 bulb that is a 75 watt replacement bulb but uses 15 watts?

  • Conservation Mart

    Hi Lou,
    Thanks for your question. To be absolutely sure, I suggest contacting the manufacturer of the fixture that you would be placing the bulbs into. Oftentimes, manufacturers place these specific restrictions on light wattage to avoid short-circuiting the fixture. Also, as long as the base is the same, the BR30 will fit, but the light just may look small in the fixture, as the BR30 bulbs are not as wide as the PAR30 bulbs.

  • Douglas Graham


    Yes, you can! The maximum wattage rating of your fixture is controlled by the heat that’s generated by the bulb. Your fixture is spec’d at 65 watts maximum. You could put an incandescent bulb of 65 watts in there, and it would consume 65 watts of power, dissipating most of it as heat. If you substitute an LED bulb, the power consumed is much less…typically 7 to 11 watts. The “equivalent” figure given for the LED refers to the LIGHT OUTPUT…a “65 watt equivalent” LED puts out as much light as a 65 watt incandescent bulb, but consumes only 7 watts of power to do it…and therefore produces a lot less heat. So yes, you can put in a 75 or 100 watt “equivalent” LED in your 65 watt fixture.

    HOWEVER: You might not want to do this! An LED bulb typically looks brighter and harsher than an incandescent bulb. I’ve found that I can use LEDs with a LOWER light output, in lumens, than incandescents, and get a more pleasing effect. If I use the same “equivalent” wattage LED or greater, the light often seems TOO bright and harsh.

    Buy an LED, take it home and experiment…but save the packaging and return it to the store for a different one if it does not produce the light you want.

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