Introducing Typical Bulb Shapes and Sizes
A Series (Arbitrary)
A series bulbs are the most commonly seen and used bulb types, which have the conventional look of what people refer to as Edison bulbs. An A Series bulb has a pear-like shape and is typically fitted to an Edison screw base. An A bulb, according to IEC TR 60887:2010 definition, have "a spherical end section that is joined to the neck by a radius that a) has a centre outside the bulb, b) has a magnitude greater than the radius of the spherical section, c) and is tangent to both the neck and the curve of the spherical end section.".
The number that follows the "A" designation indicates the bulb’s diameter, either in one-eighth inch units (in the US) or in millimeters. For instance:
A14 bulb: 14/8 = 1-6/8” diameter
A19 bulb: 19/8 = 2-3/8” diameter
A60 bulb: 60mm diameter
These bulbs are ideal for most household scenarios, such as ceiling lights, lamps, closet lights, kitchen lights, as well as lighting for workplaces, restaurants, hotels, and bars.
BR Series (Bulged Reflector)
BR bulbs are descendants of R-shape bulbs. However, the “Bulged Reflector” bulb includes an extra reflector in the neck of the bulb to better capture and cast light forward. This extra reflector in the neck creates a “bulge” before the socket base begins.
BR-series bulbs are considered as directional flood lights, which means that they provide more than 45° (normally 120°) angle when lighting up an area. This helps to light up a broad area in a room or to create a wall-washing effect. BR bulbs are longer than PAR bulbs and also produce less shadows compared to PAR bulbs.
The number that follows the “BR” indicates the bulb’s diameter in one-eighths of an inch.
BR bulbs provide the best wide-angle illumination, and are typically used in applications when a broad pattern of ambient light is needed such as recessed lights, display lights, track lights or can lights.
C Series (Candle or Conical)
C shaped bulbs are also known as Candelabra bulbs. They are defined as “a bulb consisting of a conical or near-conical end section, which is joined to the neck by an approximately hemispherical section”, and have a bulged base that leads to a round or pointed end. In some bulbs the end is bent presenting a flickering flame effect.
The number is the diameter of the widest part of the lamp in eighths.
C series bulbs are used as accent lighting and decorative lighting, such as on chandeliers, night lights and string lights.
G Series (Globe)
G series bulbs are bulbs of “essentially spherical shape”. These bulbs perform well in fixtures where the globular shape of the bulb can visually a wider beam spread. These bulbs are usually used for decorative scenarios, such as bathroom vanities and chandeliers.
These are decorative bulbs that light up a lot of bathroom vanities.
G series bulbs can be used for many applications throughout the home, such as wall sconces, kitchen lights, chandeliers, and makeup vanity lights.
MR Series (Multifaceted Reflector or Quartz Reflector)
The MR bulb is a “curved focusing reflectorized bulb which may have a multifaceted inner surface that is typically dichroic or aluminum coated”. These bulbs are used in many track lights and high end kitchen lamps, and provide focused lighting for things that need to draw attention to, like kitchen islands and dining tables. MR bulbs were originally designed for projectors, but are now more applied in residential lighting and retail lighting.
PAR Series (Parabolic Aluminized Reflector)
PAR bulbs stand for parabolic aluminized reflector and are bulbs that “formed by the sealing together during the lamp-making process of a pressed glass parabolic reflector section and a pressed glass lends section”. While for LED lamps nowadays, the PAR description is used to define only the shape rather than the materials, as most are not made of glass any more. They have reflective surface to make the light concentrated. PAR bulbs have a parabolic aluminized reflector which redirects the downward light to the front and form a in a highly concentrated beam.
The main difference between BR and PAR bulbs is the beam. BR bulbs tend to be more spread out, whereas the PARs are more focused. Moreover, PAR series bulbs provide more lumen output and are normally higher power bulbs (more watts).
The number that follows the “PAR” indicates the bulb’s diameter in one-eighths of an inch.
PAR series bulbs are ideal for outdoor landscape lighting, track lighting, spotlights as well as indoor applications such as bathroom or kitchen lighting.
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