Me holding up a BR40 LED bulb with two paintings in the background and the words BR40 LED across the middle of the photo

Trying to keep track of the different kinds of light bulbs can be confusing. All bulbs are labeled by numbers and letters, which define their shape, size, and function. So, what exactly does BR40 mean?

BR40 light bulbs are 5 inches (127 mm) in size compared to BR30 light bulbs, which are only 3.75 inches (95.25 mm). The BR stands for the bulged reflector, and this shape allows it to illuminate an area beyond 45 degrees. The shape ensures good coverage and even lighting.

I’ll walk you through everything you need about this bulb type in this article. I’ll also highlight how it fares to its sister bulb, the BR30, and how the LED variety compares to the incandescent, so let’s start!

BR40 Traits

Large and Has Good Coverage

Man installing a BR40 LED light bulb into a recessed ceiling lighting fixture
BR40 LEDs make a fantastic choice for recessed ceiling lighting because they offer such expansive coverage.

If you seek recessed light in your rooms, go for the BR40. Recessed lighting in itself was designed for good coverage.

The bulged reflector shape and beam angle of the BR40 only amplify the perks of recessed lighting.

The shape of the BR40 is what sets it apart from the R40 bulb, which is shaped more traditionally.

The beam angle primarily differentiates BR40 bulbs from PAR30 or PAR38 bulbs used outdoors. Most PAR bulbs have a limited beam angle, offering more focused lighting than BR40 bulbs.

In contrast, BR40 bulbs typically offer beam angles over 100 degrees, casting the light over a wider area.

The number 40 stands for the bulb’s diameter expressed via the amount of an eighths inch (3.175 mm).

For example, the BR40 has a diameter of 40 eighths of an inch (5 inches or 127 mm). However, some prefer saying that a BR40 has a diameter of 4 inches (101.6 mm).

So the BR30 is a similarly shaped bulb with a smaller diameter of under 4 inches.

Suitable For High Ceilings

The BR40 eats up a good chunk of electricity. In fact, it has a higher wattage than the BR30.

Additionally, given its shape and large size, it’s better placed in high ceilings.

Currently, there are wide BR40 varieties with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in them, but traditionally, they have been powered by incandescent light.

Efficiency and Benefits of LED BR40

Me holding up a white BR30 and BR40 LED bulb in the same hand
BR40 bulbs are a little bit bigger than the BR30 bulbs, mean to be brighter and also spread the light out more.

LEDs are powered by diodes that skip the heating when producing light.

Within LED BR40s are electroluminescent diodes that light up whenever an electrical current passes. From the power source, it enters the microchip, which holds the diodes.

LED BR40s are often long-lasting and provide a decent amount of light. However, they tend to be quite expensive.

Still, the expense is worth it because BR40 bulbs reduce your power usage by more than half compared to an 85W incandescent bulb.

This efficiency means you can light more extensive areas with much less power.

Another good thing about them is that they come in various colors and temperatures. So you can achieve varying moods using the BR40 for stage lights.

Popular temperatures include the 2700K for warmer tones and the 4100K and 5000K for cooler tones.

Generally, the LED BR40 does not heat as much as the incandescent, which gives you greater control over the ambient temperature.

It also does not transfer as much heat to the glass as the incandescent, so touching the bulb shouldn’t give you a problem.

Where Can You Use a BR40 Light Bulb?

The lighting of a BR40 tends to be soft and does not produce well-defined shadows. This makes the colors of humans and objects appear more vivid without aggressive darks.

As such, the BR40 is suitable for general purposes. This may be a good option to light up offices, stores, and schools.

Another selling factor of the BR40 is its wide coverage.

Generally, it can expose broad areas while occupying little space due to the beams it produces, which accords with the shape.

This makes them excellent outdoor floodlights for your gardens and backyards.

Using this for your living room and study may not be wise, as the light can get too aggressive with the BR40.

The beam angle will not provide enough direction, especially if you want the light to focus on a particular object. This is where the BR30 is a better bet.

Choosing the Best BR40 Light Bulb

a BR30 and BR40 light bulb next to each other on a light wood table with their boxes that they came in. The BR40 is slightly larger
When shopping for BR40 light bulbs, consider wattage, beam angle, and base compatibility. The BR40 is the bigger bulb on the right.

Wattage is one of the first things you must note when shopping for a BR40. Lower wattages usually mean lower levels of light. Try to base the wattage on how you will use the product.

Some products also claim how much the lightbulb is expected to last. Of course, it goes without saying you should go for the longest-lasting ones.

Another thing to take note of is the beam angle. Some products have angles that go above 100 degrees, ideal for floodlights.

Look at the base to see if it’s compatible with your fixture. No amount of forcing it onto the fixture will make it work. Most bulbs are labeled E26.

Additionally, if you plan to use the bulb for recessed cans, try to ensure they fit. The opening of six inches (152.4 mm) is good for the 4-inch (101.6 mm) BR40.

Another feature you should look for is whether the bulb is dimmable. Check if the label says the bulb is dimmable. Ensure it’s also compatible with the dimmer switch you have at home.

From there, you can decide on the color temperature.

Consider Smart BR40s

Light bulb brands try to outdo one another with the number of features they offer.

For example, many on the market offer smart BR40 bulbs that can change color with just the flick of your phone via the provided app.

You can also explore voice-activated varieties to make the experience more convenient.

The best smart bulbs are compatible with Alexa or Google Home.

However, these advanced bulbs might be more expensive than standard B40 to account for the advanced technology.


BR40 light bulbs are geared for soft and wide coverage. They are best used for floodlights and stage lights due to their 4-inch (101.6 mm) diameter base.

The best lights, however, are the ones that unite suitable wattage, good beam angles, and optimal lumens output while still remaining affordable.


Philips Lighting: Recessed | Science Direct: Incandescence | Energy Star: Learn About LED Lighting | LEDified AU: What Is The Difference Between Wattage And Lumens | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: A Review of the Reflector Compact Fluorescent Lights Technology Procurement Program – Conclusions and Results

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