me holding up a white par38 bulb in my kitchen with a colorful abstract painting in the background

Imagine this: you’re browsing the light bulb section in a home improvement store when you glance at PAR38 bulbs. Since it’s your first time coming across such light bulbs, you’re left with more questions than answers–what is a PAR38 bulb? Will this bulb meet my lighting needs?

A PAR38 bulb is a type of flood light with a 4.75-inch (12.07 cm) diameter. PAR is an acronym for a parabolic aluminized reflector–the bulb’s shape. The number “38” denotes the bulb’s diameter at the widest point in eighths of an inch, which translates to 38/8 inches.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the PAR38 flood light, including its lighting fixtures and dimmability. I’ll also delve into the bulb’s typical wattage and lumen output to help you make an informed purchasing decision.

So whether you want to know if a PAR38 light bulb will fit into your lighting fixtures or want general knowledge about the bulb, I’m here to enlighten you.

a white par38 led lamp with a frosted clear lens sitting on a light wood table

How Was the PAR38 Bulb Named?

Like other bulbs, a PAR38 flood light bulb was named to depict its shape and diameter at the widest point. “PAR” stands for parabolic aluminized reflector, denoting that the bulb takes on a curved shape. On the other hand, “38” means that the bulb has a diameter of 38/8 (4.75 inches or 12.07 centimeters).

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the body in charge of enforcing the Energy Labeling Rule. By their standards, all bulb labels must give consumers the information they need to buy light bulbs that meet their lighting needs.

FTC devised a combination of letters and numbers for naming light bulbs. While the letters are coded shorthand for the bulb’s shape, the numbers indicate the size.

According to the FTC, this labeling technique helps consumers buy the right light bulb.

Consequently, all light bulb manufacturers adopted the FTC’s naming convention.

The FTC’s naming convention also applies to other bulbs, such as A19, BR30/BR40, R20, and PAR20.

What Are Flood Lights?

As mentioned, PAR38 is among the top flood light bulbs in the market today. What are these lights?

Flood lights are high-intensity bulbs that flood an area with broad-beamed light. The lights include wide reflectors that illuminate broader areas than typical light bulbs. As a result, these lights are suitable for accent and spotlighting indoors and outdoors.

an old outdoor flood par38 in a white fixture on the side of a building
Flood lights are suitable for outdoor uses like in the garden.

In an outdoor setting, flood lights come in handy for security purposes–illuminating dark places where unwanted visitors or strangers may lurk.

Moreover, these light bulbs work well in landscaping and holiday decor.

In ab indoor setting, flood lights are suitable for task and accent lighting. In addition, they can light up areas that need more intense lighting than usual, such as a garage or home library.

All in all, flood lights are suitable for almost any indoor or outdoor application that requires bright, intensive light for either security or aesthetic purposes.

Categories of PAR38 Light Bulbs

PAR38 light bulbs are different in energy efficiency. These bulbs come in the following types that differentiate their efficiency.

Incandescent PAR38 Bulbs

Incandescents were the original form of electric lighting invented in 1879. Since they’re the first lighting technology, these bulbs could be more energy-efficient.

Incandescent PAR38 light bulbs rely on incandescent technology for operation. Incandescence technology involves emitting light by heating a tungsten filament.

The heating of the filament to emit light makes incandescent PAR38 lights inefficient since the process also generates heat.

In fact, only 10 percent of the energy used in these bulbs generates light–the other 90 percent is lost in heat.

Check out this article for ways to tell if your bulbs are energy efficient.

Halogen PAR38 Bulbs

Halogens are an enhanced version of incandescents–they have a higher energy-efficiency rate.

These bulbs have quartz capsules containing a combination of iodine, bromine, halogen, and tungsten filament.

When you switch on the power in a halogen PAR38 bulb, the capsule begins to heat up, causing the filament to emit light.

The halogen gas within the capsule reacts with this heat and redeposits the burning material onto the filament’s surface through a halogen cycle. The particles are reused, resulting in higher luminous efficacy.

Moreover, reusing the burning particles means that halogen PAR38 bulbs have a longer lifespan than their incandescent counterparts.

CFL PAR38 Light Bulbs

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) are more energy-efficient as they use argon and mercury vapor.

When electricity flows through these components, it generates invisible ultraviolet light that converts into visible light when it comes in contact with the fluorescent coating on the bulb.

CFL PAR38 bulbs are suitable for indoor and outdoor lighting as they have excellent color rendering and energy efficiency.

In addition, these bulbs produce more light with fewer watts than their predecessors, making them a cost-effective choice for homeowners.

Besides using bulbs that consume a lot of energy, check out this article for other reasons your electric bill is so high.

PAR38 LED Light Bulbs

PAR38 LED light bulbs are the most energy-efficient option on the market today. LED bulbs produce light by applying a current to semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

The LEDs emit electrons that generate visible wavelengths, producing bright and efficient lighting.

a closeup of a silver led par38 bulb sitting on a black reflective table
Not all PAR38 LED look like this, but you can see that the housing and shell around the outside of the diodes in the center are also used as a heatsink. LED’s are much more efficient than other lighting technologies, but they still get very hot.

The main reason LED light bulbs are the energy-efficient option is that, unlike their incandescent counterparts, they use most of their energy to generate light.

They don’t waste energy in generating heat by heating a filament. Due to this, these bulbs use 75 percent less energy and can last 25 times longer than conventional bulbs.

LED PAR38 lights are suitable for both indoor and outdoor lighting applications because:

● They generate minimal heat

● They have a high luminous efficacy

● They have a long lifespan

● They provide an excellent color rendering

The table below shows the common PAR38 light bulbs with their wattages and lumen outputs:

Bulb NameWattageLumen Output
Sunco PAR38 bulb2502,800
Explux PAR38 LED bulb3505,200
High-power PAR38 bulb1701,700
GE PAR 38 light bulb801,600
Energetic PAR38 LED bulb11 (90W equivalent)900

Table 1: PAR38 bulbs, their wattages and lumen output

Uses of PAR38 Light Bulbs

Like other flood lights, PAR38 bulbs have a high intensity and wide beam angle, making them suitable for outdoor lighting.

They’re also ideal for indoor uses that need a focused beam of light.

These bulbs have a beam angle between 30 and 45 degrees for focusing objects. You can use them to light up gardens, driveways, and carports.

Moreover, you can rely on flood lights for stage and indoor accent lighting.

The bulbs install easily since they’re compatible with the medium E26 light fixture. You can use them in conjunction with wall dimmers and light switches.

The dimmable feature of PAR38 LED bulbs makes them an excellent choice for creating a perfect atmosphere in restaurants, lobbies, and hotels.

A point worth mentioning is that although PAR38 LED bulbs are dimmable, you must be careful when choosing the dimmer switch. Ensure the switch is compatible with your specific PAR38 LED bulb.

me holding up a white par38 bulb in my kitchen with a colorful abstract painting in the background
You can see the shape of the PAR38 LED bulb here, which perfectly forms to cast a lot of light in a single direction (out and to the front of the lamp).

Factors to Consider When Choosing PAR38 Bulbs

When looking for a PAR38 bulb, here are some essential factors to consider.

Energy efficiency: If you’re going for the LED version, ensure the bulb is Energy Star-certified.

Dimmable or non-dimmable: A dimmable bulb is best if you need light for tasks requiring frequent brightness adjustments. If not, you can go for the non-dimmable option.

Light color: The color of the light has to do with its temperature (warm or cool white). While a warm white light bulb will make the environment cozy and inviting, a cool white bulb will make the area look brighter.

Lumens: Lumens are a measure of the brightness of a light bulb. The higher the lumens, the higher its brightness level.

Color rendering index (CRI): The CRI measures how accurately a light bulb renders colors. A higher CRI of 80 or more is ideal for task lighting, while anything below 80 is suitable for accent and decorative lighting.

Final Thoughts

PAR38 flood lights make an excellent choice for outdoor lighting. For instance, this bulb is perfect if you want to light up your driveway, carport, or garden.

LED PAR38 bulbs for indoor lighting applications make sense as they’re energy-efficient with longer lifespans.

Consider the above factors when choosing a PAR38 bulb to get the most out of your purchase!

Now that you know what a PAR38 bulb is, check out these 39 ways to save up to 30 percent on your energy bill.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *