Household electricity used for lighting is responsible for about 20 percent of energy consumption. With rising electricity costs, shifting to energy-efficient lighting alternatives like LED light bulbs is necessary. Can you replace old lights with LED PAR light bulbs?

Why yes, in fact. You can replace your old incandescent, halogen, or CFL PAR (Parabolic Aluminized Reflector) light bulbs with LED counterparts. LED PAR light bulbs are energy-efficient versions that use up to 75 percent less energy. Moreover, these bulbs have longer lifespans.

In my previous life when I owned an energy-efficient lighting company, we actually did tons of PAR lamp swaps from old technology to the new LED since it’s such a popular bulb format.

Ahead, I’ll discuss the basics of LED PAR light bulb versions like the LED PAR38. I’ll also go over how to replace your old incandescent, halogen, or CFL PAR38 light bulbs with LED versions.

Let’s get started!

What Are LED PAR Light Bulbs?

LED Parabolic Aluminized Reflector (PAR) light bulbs are a type of flood light that emits light based on solid-state lighting (SSL) technology.

SSL lighting is an energy-efficient technology that generates light using semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The SSL technology differs from conventional lighting technologies that entail heating a tungsten filament or relying on halogen gas.

Since it doesn’t involve heating a filament or gas, the SSL technology used in LED PAR light bulbs has the potential to generate light with almost 100 percent efficiency.

Unlike their conventional counterparts, LED PAR light bulbs are environmentally friendly.

These bulbs don’t contain toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, or cadmium. Also, they don’t produce ozone and carbon dioxide.

What’s more, LED PAR light bulbs are recyclable and, as a result, can significantly reduce your eco-footprint.

The Working Parts of LED PAR Light Bulbs

LED PAR light bulbs are sealed beam lamps with the following parts:

● Light source

● Reflector

● Lens

Semiconductor light-emitting diodes are the light source in LED bulbs. These devices emit visible light when an electric current passes through them.

The reflector and lens direct the light emitted by the LEDs to create a uniform beam of illumination. The reflectors are typically parabolic or elliptical.

The lenses are glass, acrylic, or polycarbonate material with various refraction angles that determine the emitted light’s intensity and beam angle.

The reflectors in LED PAR light bulbs produce different beam spreads by concentrating light in a single direction.

This phenomenon is responsible for the following light beam spreads, such as:

● Wide flood light (WFL)

● Medium flood

● Narrow spot (NSP)

● Very narrow spot (VNSP)

The reflector has a soft aluminum exterior to regulate the beam’s distribution for efficient functioning.

Types of LED PAR Light Bulbs

Like any other light bulb, LED PAR light bulbs come in different sizes, beam angles, and light intensities for various applications.

Therefore, knowing the different types of LED PAR bulbs will help you make an informed decision in choosing one that meets your needs.

LED PAR bulbs are categorized based on their diameters in eighths of an inch. The categorization makes choosing an appropriate bulb easier.

For instance, while a smaller-sized bulb is suitable for spotlighting, a bigger one is ideal for floodlighting.

The naming of LED PAR light bulbs adheres to the Federal Trade Commission’s convention. Bulbs are named with letters and numbers for easy identification.

While the letters “PAR” signifies the bulb’s shape, the number after these letters shows the diameter in eighths of an inch.

The table below shows the types of LED PAR light bulbs based on FTC’s naming convention:

PAR Bulb NameDiameter in InchesDiameter in Centimeters

Table 1: Types of LED PAR light bulbs

I’ll use the LED PAR38 light bulb to explain how to calculate the bulb’s diameter. All these bulbs have their diameters calculated in eighths of an inch.

Therefore, the diameter of an LED PAR38 bulb is 38/8 or 4.75 inches (12.07 centimeters).

Base Types for LED PAR Light Bulbs

A bulb’s base is the part that facilitates electrical and mechanical connection. It connects the bulb to the lighting fixture and holds it in place. Your bulb will only work if you choose the right base type.

Most LED PAR light bulbs, including PAR38, use the Medium E26 bulb base.

Several LED PAR lights against a blue background
LED PAR lights traditionally use an E26 bulb base.

The bulb’s size is crucial in determining the appropriate base types. In most cases, larger bulbs use bi-pin bases.

When looking for a bulb’s base, you must know the difference between base type and base size.

While base type denotes the style and the way the bulb fits into the socket, base size entails the actual size in millimeters.

The most common base types for LED PAR light bulbs are the Edison and GU series.

Check out this article for the four most energy-efficient options for buying lighting fixtures.

Crucial Features of LED PAR38 Lights

Before buying any light bulb, you want to know if it meets your lighting needs. The best way to gauge this is by looking at the bulb’s features.

For example, LED PAR38 light bulbs come with the following features.

Color changing: RGB LED PAR38 bulbs have color-changing capabilities that allow you to choose various colors for your lighting needs.

Moving head: LED PAR38 lights are fitted with a moving head, making them ideal for events and stage lighting.

DMX control: The DMX protocol makes it possible to control LED PAR38 light bulbs wirelessly from a distance or through a controller.

Dimming options: Unlike incandescent bulbs that flicker when dimmed, LED PAR38 bulbs provide smooth dimming. However, you must choose a compatible dimmer switch for seamless dimming.

Sound-activated: LED PAR38 bulbs for events usually activate their internal effect programs based on the music’s bass beat.

Don’t miss this article to learn how to insulate your lights and save energy.

me holding up a white par38 bulb in my kitchen with a colorful abstract painting in the background
You can see the reflector design of this PAR38 bulb I got for my own house. It’s designed to emit light out in one direction as efficiently as possible.

Uses of LED PAR38 Light Bulbs

LED PAR38 lights are among the standard flood lights on the market today. Like any other flood light, LED PAR38 light bulbs produce high-intensity, broad-beamed light suitable for outdoor illumination.

As the name suggests, these bulbs will flood a larger area with light.

Due to their wide-angle coverage, LED PAR38 lights are also ideal for stage lighting.

In addition, with their wide range of color selections and various dimming options, these bulbs are perfect for creating the desired ambiance at any event or in your home.

It’s also common to find these bulbs as security lights in residential and commercial places.

Finally, you can use LED PAR38 lights to illuminate gardens, pathways, and driveways.

How to Replace Your Old Bulb With LED PAR Lights

Incandescent, halogen, and CFL PAR38 light bulbs are not energy efficient. Therefore, replace them with the latest LED PAR38 version. Where do you start the replacement process?

Replacing your old PAR38 bulbs with the latest LED option narrows down to choosing the correct version for your needs.

Here are the factors you should consider to get the right LED PAR38 bulb.

Lumens: This measures the amount of light the bulb generates. The amount of lumens you need depends, to a larger extent, on the area where you want to use the bulb. For example, you’ll need more lumens for security purposes than you would to light up a garden.

Color temperature: This refers to the color the bulb produces and is measured in Kelvins (K). The higher the Kelvin ratings, the colder the colors.

Base type: Your LED PAR38 bulb must have a compatible base type to fit in the existing socket. You’ll most likely have to go for the medium E26 base.

Beam angle: LED PAR38 lights usually have beam angles ranging from 10˚ to more than 45˚. If you’re using your light for security or as a spotlight, go for the narrowest beam angle. Otherwise, choose a wider beam angle if you need to illuminate a larger area.

Once you’ve decided on the right replacement bulb, you can unscrew the old one and replace it with the new LED PAR38 light.

Final Thoughts

LED PAR light bulbs are your go-to option if you’re looking to save on energy costs.

However, before buying an LED PAR bulb, consider where you want to use it. This way, you’ll go for the correct bulb in terms of light intensity.

Now that you know all about LED PAR light bulbs, check out this article for budget efficiency tools to help you save energy.

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