Understanding the Difference Between a PAR 30 and BR 30 Bulb

This post has been updated from it’s 2012 version

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 light 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)

One of the most popular is models is the BR30 LED 2700k

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 light bulbs, 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.

Shop for LED PAR30 and BR30 Bulbs>>>

11W Dimmable Par30 Short Neck 2700K
Greenwatt 11W Dimmable Par30 Short Neck







18 thoughts on “Understanding the Difference Between a PAR 30 and BR 30 Bulb

  1. Lou Gallo says:

    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?

  2. Conservation Mart says:

    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.

  3. Douglas Graham says:


    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.

  4. Grahme says:

    Douglas is right on about the brightness of the LEDs. I love lots of light, but my wife prefers less so my resolution to the brightness issue was to purchase dimmable LEDs and install a LED compatible dimmer. Everybody is happy.

  5. Larry Couch says:

    Replacing PAR38 incandescent lamps with BR30 LED lamps in outdoor security fixture. Is that ok?

  6. C Johnsons says:

    You absolutely can do this. The wattage is simply a measurement of electrical power consumed. If the fixture says that it can handle up to 60 watts, then that’s the maximum it can handle, regardless of the type of bulb installed. If you look on the bulb package it will tell you the “equivalent” wattage. This simply means that the LED light produces the same LIGHT OUTPUT (lumens) as halogen or incandescent bulb. The package will also tell you the ACTUAL wattage of the LED bulb (probably around 7-13). Because LEDs are much more efficient than halogens or incandescents, they can produce more light and less heat than the others. In theory, you could use an LED bulb up to 60 watts (they don’t make these as it would be a very large and very bright bulb). Wattage is an absolute measurement, “equivalent” wattage is somewhat subjective. “This bulb will be as bright as…” Keep this in mind when doing retrofits. LEDs draw less current per lumen of light, so you can add more.

  7. Jackie says:

    I have recessed lights without baffles. They produce a lot of glare . I hate to go through the trouble of replacing the flush trim with baffle trim. Is there any kind of light bulb that will produce less glare than a 60 watt Led bulb(BR30)so I don’t have to change to trim withbaffles?? I’m looking for an easy solution here! Any suggestions ?

  8. Chris D Curtis says:

    So, I have down-facing spots all throughout my home. Most were BR45 incandescent, I replaced the majority with BR45 florescent for a time, and now started replacing those with BR30 LED bulbs gradually.

    I’m a tech enthusiast, and working slowly toward smart-home style implementations. I’d really like to have dimmable, color-changing LEDs throughout at least my main living areas so that I can create and utilize a variety of lighting themes, when desired. I can buy E26 base Alexa/Google Home compatible LED bulbs relatively cheaply these days, but not sure about how those would project light in my spot fixtures. Trying to do this on a budget, so have to watch the cost. Any guidance or suggestion you can make as to how I should pursue this?

  9. Armand Kapp says:

    What is the best bulb to use for outdoor, under soffit, down facing, LED bulbs? Should it be a special bulb for outdoor use? Recently, we experienced a “brown-out”. When full power resumed, we were left with only one working bulb out of four. How can we avoid the bulb loss in the future? I’d appreciate any suggestions you might propose. Thank you very much.

  10. Tim Beeson says:

    I have 14 recessed dimmable lights in recessed fixtures in my home that work great with PAR30L Philips EcoVantage 50W (75W equivalent) bulbs. These are incandescent bulbs. I want to replace them with LED bulbs. I just tried that with six BR30 GE Relax 10W (65W equivalent) bulbs and I ran into a problem.

    If you lay each one of these bulbs on a desk, the GE bulb sticks up 1 inch higher than the Philips bulb. As a result, the GE bulb sticks out of the fixtures in my house just far enough to be blinding, as though you’re staring at a naked bulb (which, in effect, you are). Does anyone know of a shorter necked, warm, BR30 LED flood bulb? Is there a specification regarding this measurement I can search on?

    Thank you.

  11. Tim says:

    Does a long neck version of the R 20 LED lightbulb exist? I currently have the 45 W LED soft white bulbs and have one recessed light that needs to be about an inch longer in the neck.

    Thank you, Tim

  12. Conservation Mart says:

    Hi Tim. Unfortunately, an long neck R20 LED isn’t a product that we currently carry.

  13. Evan says:

    I currently have Satco BR 30, LED 9.5W, 27K, lamps in my kitchen that dim to warm. I recently bought a Halco LED BR30, 3000K, 9.5W that will dim but not to warm. Do I need a different dimmer switch?

  14. Priscilla Jackson says:

    I currently have PAR30 in my recessed fixtures. One burned out so I went shopping but could not find PAR30. I was sold BR30 as replacement. I notice that the BR30 will not totally dim to zero vs. the PAR30 will dim to equivalent a “light off”. Is this normal?

  15. Gary Philipsen says:

    Priscilla, I just looked up the specs on my Greenlite BR30-Ds and under dimmable it says: ‘Down to 10%’, so it appears some brands if not all may not dim down to zero.

  16. A. P. Stevenson says:

    Our original bulbs are Sunco PAR38.
    Angle 110. Where can I find these?

  17. Johnson Michael says:

    I have read your post, it’s very informative and helpful too for readers. Thanks for sharing your knowledgeable content with us. I experienced Outdoor light bulbs for my home and in result, got appearance, safety and security, I recommend you to experience these Outdoor light bulbs.

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