Unlike R or BR bulbs that offer general area lighting, PAR shaped bulbs have more sharply focused light to help highlight specific areas or objects. This can be done creatively indoors to emphasize one area of a room over the rest of the room, or to highlight a piece of art or furniture. They're also used to feature retail items in commercial settings.
These bulbs or lamps come in a variety of "beam angles" or "beam spreads" to meet these highlighting needs; the smaller the beam angle, the smaller an area the light will cover. Of course this will also be affected by the distance of the bulb from the area or object being focused on.
PAR bulbs are also commonly used in outdoor fixtures as either spotlights (narrower beam angle) or floodlights (wider beam angle). Some of them come sealed and "wet location rated" for this purpose, and you can look for this rating in their specifications when purchasing PAR bulbs if you'll be using them outdoors. You can also choose "damp location rated" bulbs if they will largely be protected from the elements and will only be exposed to humidity, fog, or the occasional wind-whipped snowflake.
When you choose PAR LEDs, you not only get the traditional benefits of LED lighting -- like extremely long life ratings and low energy usage for big savings -- but you also get a technology that emits almost no heat with the light. This doesn't make much difference outdoors (unless you need the bulbs melting snow), but when used as highlighting bulbs, you can help to protect art and furniture by minimizing the heat directed at them. Unlike fluorescent lighting, LED also emits little to no UV, offering another level of protection.
We'll discuss three primary sizes for PAR bulbs and, as with other types of bulbs, these sizes determine what we call them. These sizes and their common uses are described below.
At 2.5" across, these are the smallest of the PAR lamps we're discussing. They're more frequently used to highlight smaller pieces of art, objects on a single shelf, specific products in retail, etc. They're most often used in track lighting.
At 3 3/4" across, these are mid-sized PAR lamps useful in 4" recessed cans or track lighting fixtures. In recessed cans, they provide floor lighting in more specific areas of a room than reflector bulbs do; in track lighting, you might feature larger pieces of art, an entire bookcase or shelving system; or a larger product display.
PAR30 lamps are unique in that they come with both short neck and long neck options. This gives you flexibility in terms of how you want the lamp sitting in a recessed can (hidden further inside or extending a bit). Traditionally, though, long neck PAR30s are used in recessed cans while short neck PAR30s are used in track lighting.
At 4 3/4" across, these are the largest of the PAR lamps we're discussing. Especially in the case of those with a floodlight beam angle or beam spread, these would provide you with the closest thing to general lighting while still being more focused than true reflector bulbs. Still, these do offer spotlight options and can still be used as a highlighting tool.
PAR38 LEDs also come in the highest wattage options, making them useful anywhere you need the light reaching further -- from two-story ceilings for instance, or in outdoor floodlight fixtures.
We hope this provides an easy way to understand PAR LED bulbs and their uses. You can click on any of the categories above to visit that type of bulb on our site. We offer same business day shipping for in-stock items, and our customer care team is here to assist with your purchase if needed.