The Ultimate Guide to PAR and BR light bulbs by VIRIBRIGHT (Charts, Tables, and more)

We get it, not everyone is a light bulb expert. It’s fairly simple, after all. You screw it in and expect it to omit joyous light into the intended room or area. Although PARs and BRs sound fairly similar, they have both many differences and similarities. This guide will help you to understand the primary differences and best applications for each bulb in a respective setting.

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BR PAR MR Light Bulbs - Viribright

What does PAR and BR and MR stand for?

PAR stands for “parabolic aluminized reflector” and is best used in settings that require a focused, narrow beam of light. Most PARs do not exceed a beam angle of 45 degrees in most cases. BR stands for “bulged reflector” and is considered a wide-angle floodlight often exceeding 100-degree beam angles. MR means “multi-faceted reflector” and the most narrow of the bulb types mostly used as a spotlight.

What’s the main difference?

The primary difference between the three bulbs aside from the internal engineering is really just the angle of the beam. See the example below:

BR PAR MR Comparison Illustration Diagram Image

Size comparison of PAR vs BR floodlights

It’s actually even easier grasp than you might think. The difference between a BR20, BR30, and BR40 is actually the size or diameter of the light bulb. The number represents increments of an 8th of an inch. For example, a BR30 is 30/8ths of an inch or 30 divided by 8 which equals 3.75″ in diameter. The same example applies to a PAR38. Divide 38/8ths of an inch or 38 divided by 8 which equals 4.75″ in diameter. Check out the comparison chart below. Don’t worry… we’re visual learners too.

PAR comparison chart

PAR38 PAR30 PAR20 PAR16
Image Par38 E26 LED Light Bulb - Viribright PAR30 LED Light Bulb - Viribright PAR20 LED Light Bulb - Viribright PAR E26 LED Light Bulb
Size Par38 E26 LED Light Bulb - Viribright PAR30 GRAPHIC PAR30 LED Light Bulb Graphic- Viribright PAR16-E26 Graphic Drawing LED Light Bulb
Brightness 1200 – 1400lm 800 – 1100lm 500 – 700lm 300 – 400lm
Watts Incandescent – 75W
CFL – 35W
LED – 15W
Incandescent – 65W
CFL – 22W
LED – 9W
Incandescent -40W
CFL – 15W
LED – 7W
Incandescent -35W
CFL – 8W
LED – 4W

BR comparison chart

BR40 BR30 BR20
Image BR40 E26 LED Light Bulb BR30 LED Light Bulb PAR20 LED Light Bulb - Viribright
Size BR40 E26 LED Light Bulb BR30 LED Light Bulb PAR30 LED Light Bulb Graphic- Viribright
Brightness 1200 – 1400lm 800 – 1100lm 500 – 700lm
Useage Incandescent – 75W
CFL – 35W
LED – 15W