the words PAR38 vs PAR30 on the left with a PAR38 light fixture on the right attached to the siding of a house

Say goodbye to confusion and hello to clarity with our comprehensive guide on PAR38 vs. PAR30 light bulbs – including LED options.

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to update your lighting or a business owner seeking to upgrade your commercial space, this piece will surely enlighten you.

PAR38 vs. PAR30 Light Bulbs: No More Confusion (LED Too)

PAR stands for parabolic aluminized reflector. A PAR bulb has a reflective coating inside to help direct the light where it’s needed.

Notably, the number that comes after PAR is significant too. It denotes the diameter of the bulb in eighth-inch increments.

So, a PAR38 bulb has a diameter of 4.75 inches, and a PAR30 has a diameter of 3.75 inches.

me holding up a white par38 bulb in my kitchen with a colorful abstract painting in the background
This is a PAR38 LED Bulb, which is a little bigger than a PAR30. When I had my previous energy efficient lighting company, customers would get confused with the difference all the time!

People often use these bulbs for spotlighting inside and outside, floodlighting, and recessed fixtures.

Does it now make sense? Well, if not, don’t worry. We’ll break down the technical differences and help you understand the unique characteristics of each type of bulb so you can make an informed decision for your home or business.

Let’s first look at LED technology.

LED Technology

LED or “light-emitting diode” technology is a kind of lighting that has been around for a while. Still, it’s getting increasingly popular these days.

True to its name, LED lights feature a diode (a tiny chip that emits light when electricity passes through it). Manufacturers encase the chip(s) in a small bulb and then screw it into a fixture.

One of the major benefits of LED technology is that it’s incredibly energy efficient. LEDs use significantly less electricity than traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs and last much longer.

In the context of PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs, you’ll find that LED alternatives are becoming more standard. In addition, they produce a brighter, cleaner light.

The Advantages of LED Technology in PAR38 and PAR30 Bulbs

In summary, LED technology offers several advantages over incandescent and halogen options, including:

  1. Greater energy efficiency
  2. Longer lifespan
  3. Better color rendering
  4. Durability
  5. Withstanding frequent switching and dimming

PAR38 vs. PAR30 Physical Characteristics and Typical Uses

Concerning PAR38 vs. PAR30 light bulbs, the main difference is their physical characteristics and application.

PAR38 bulbs are slightly larger than PAR30 bulbs, as we discussed.

Here’s the main difference in application:

Keep in mind that you can find both PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs in incandescent, halogen, and LED options.

● PAR38 bulbs are better suited for larger fixtures or use in outdoor settings where a larger coverage area is needed.

● On the other hand, people use more compact PAR30 bulbs in smaller indoor fixtures such as track and recessed lighting.

an old outdoor flood par38 in a white fixture on the side of a building
You can see the housing and reflector design of this common PAR lamp fixture and bulb.

You might choose the PAR38 bulb for floodlighting and spotlighting outdoors while using the PAR30 bulb for indoor track lighting and recessed lighting.

PAR38 vs. PAR30: Energy Efficiency and Lifespan Comparison

To compare the energy efficiency and lifespan of PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs, you must consider the types of bulbs available.

As mentioned earlier, you can find both PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs in incandescent, halogen, and LED forms.

So how does each of the options compare in efficiency and lifespan? Let’s take a closer look.

  1. LED lighting options are the most energy-efficient and have the most extended lifespan. They use less energy, about 75 percent less. LEDs also have a much longer lifespan, lasting up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulb.
  2. Halogen options are slightly more energy-efficient than incandescent lights but still less efficient and have a shorter lifespan than LED options.
  3. Incandescent options are the least energy-efficient and have the shortest lifespan.

The above comparison shows that size matters least when comparing PAR38 and PAR30 bulbs for energy savings and longevity.

Instead, the bulb type (LED, halogen, or incandescent) determines the efficiency and lifespan.

LEDs are the way to go if you’re on an energy modeling plan.

What To Consider When Choosing PAR38 vs. PAR30 Light Bulbs

Primarily, you must consider the size of the size of the light bulb as it’s the main difference between PAR 38 and PAR30 lights.

Are you looking for a large light bulb to illuminate a relatively large outdoor area? Or do you simply want a relatively small PAR fixture for considerably less space?

Size aside, the following are other critical considerations when choosing between PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs.

  1. Consider what type of light fixture you will use. The PAR38 or PAR30 light bulb you choose must be compatible with your type of light fixture and control system. This will ensure that the light bulb functions with dimming and control settings as desired.
  2. Secondly, what is the desired brightness you’re looking for? You must consider the number of lumens of the respective lighting fixtures you have at your disposal.
  3. Color temperature matters. If you’re looking for a color temperature suitable for outdoor lighting, a range of between 2000K and 6500K is ideal.
  4. Cost matters too. The initial cost of PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs can vary depending on the type of bulb and the technology used. LED options are more expensive than incandescent and halogen options. Still, they can save you money in the long run due to their energy efficiency and longer lifespan.
  5. Also, consider the environmental impact of PAR38 and PAR30 Bulbs. The energy consumption and carbon footprint of PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs vary depending on the type of bulb and the technology used. LED options tend to have the lowest environmental impact, while incandescent options have the highest environmental impact.
  6. Lastly, the dimmability of the light also matters, as not all lights have this property.

Installation and Maintenance Tips for PAR38 and PAR30 Light Bulbs

PAR38 vs. PAR30 light bulb installation in a white room
When working with PAR bulbs, use a light-handed approach.
  1. To install PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs, handle them carefully to avoid damage.
  2. Choose a light bulb compatible with the light fixture before installing it.
  3. Clean your light bulbs regularly and dispose of them properly.

Final Thoughts

PAR38 and PAR30 light bulbs may look similar but have unique characteristics. For example, PAR38 bulbs are slightly larger and are better suited for larger fixtures or outdoor settings.

Conversely, we often use more compact PAR30 bulbs in smaller indoor fixtures.

To make the best choice for your lighting needs, consider the energy efficiency and lifespan of the different bulbs available.


  1. if Trim type specifies the following bulbs, what is acceptable LED power (watts) substitute?
    65W BR30,
    60W PAR38,
    75W PAR30,

    Thanks, Jim

    1. Hi Jim! A good rule of thumb is to multiple the old incandescent bulbs by 10-15% (.1 to .15) and that gives you about what an equivalent LED will use. So you’ll save 85-90% energy. Hope this helps!

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