Everything You Need to Know about LED PAR Bulbs

By david_chiodo on 07/31/2018


So, you're looking to purchase LED PAR Bulbs and can't figure out what that even is-don't worry; HomElectrical has you covered.  We will break everything down from bulb sizes and base types to uses and applications for you.  You will become an expert and know exactly what LED PAR bulb you need and how to purchase them.

What is a LED PAR Bulb?

An LED PAR Bulb is a highly intensified type of LED light that produces up to 4X the amount of concentrated light than traditional incandescent bulbs.  LED PAR bulbs are energy efficient, cost effective, and require very little maintenance.

LED Par Light bulbs are so versatile that they are the bulb of choice for most LED Downlight, Recessed, and Track Lighting applications. The most common sizes of PAR bulbs vary in size from PAR16, PAR20, PAR30, PAR36, and PAR38. 

LED PAR bulbs provide a dimmable, bright light that requires less energy to operate.  Find the best prices on all your energy efficient LED PAR bulb for every situation here.

Breaking Down the Terms

Image of LED or Color Diode

LED- Stands for Light Emitting Diode which is a specialized semiconductor that can pass a current in its forward direction but block or restrict the current in the reverse direction.  LEDs are the most commonly used type of semiconductor and will always have polarity to work (1).


PAR Reflector Fixture

PAR- Stands for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector which is a self-contained light bulb where the lamp, the reflector, and the lens are combined in a single unit.  These lamps are often used for beam lighting, such as movie set lighting, due to its ability to project directional lighting while only requiring a fraction of the power to operate (2).


Picture of a Semiconductor

Semiconductor-In LEDS, semiconductors are two-lead diode light sources.  A positive and negative junction diode is used to activate the lights.  The different materials and impurities result in different colors for the LEDs (3).

What is Polarity

.Polarity- Unlike incandescent light bulbs that automatically turn on or emit light regardless of the electrical polarity, LEDs will only illuminate with the correct electrical polarity.  This means when the positive-negative junction is in the correct direction from the semiconductor, a significant current will be created and the device (bulb) is forward biased.  Since LEDs restrict the reverser direction, this is what causes the bulbs to produce light (4).

What Does the Number After PAR Mean?

The number on a LED PAR Bulb refers to the diameter of the lamp (not the base size) measured in terms by eighths of an inch.  The PAR number can be easily converted to inches by multiplying the PAR number x 1/8 (0.125).  A PAR16 bulb, for example, has a diameter of 16/8ths or 2 inches.  The dimensions for the most common PAR Bulbs are below: 

PAR Bulb Number

Bulb Diameter


2 inches


2.5 inches


3.75 inches


4.5 inches


4.75 inches

What does MOD mean?

Maximum of Diameter is the measurement of a lamp’s diameter expressed in inches or millimeters. 

*Actual measurement may vary from different manufacturers.

What does MOL mean?

Maximum overall Length is the measurement of a bulb’s length from end to end, expressed in inches or millimeters.

*Actual measurement may vary from different manufacturers.

What does LCL mean?

Light center length is the distance between the center of the filament or arc and a reference plane usually at the bottom of the light base. Actual measurement may vary from different manufacturers.

What are the Base Types for LED PAR Bulbs?

List of Different LED PAR Bulbs

The base type (light bulb socket) of LED PAR Bulbs will vary based on the size of bulb.  It is important to know that the base type is not the same thing as the base size.  Base type refers to the style and how the bulb fits into a socket.  The base sizes refers to the actual size measurement.

Most LED PAR bulbs come with a standard medium E26 base, while larger bulbs generally feature a bi-pin socket. LED PAR16 Bulbs are the smallest in diameter of all the PAR Bulbs, and the largest LED PAR bulb is a PAR64 lamp.  The bulb’s base types are more limited in application and are typically used for very specific applications, such as display lighting. 

Most Common Base Types

  • Edison Series
  • GU Series

In a rare case that your LED PAR Bulb requires a specialty base, make sure to check the manufacturer’s specification sheets for compatibility.

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Some pretty awesome LED PAR Bulb blogs you won’t regret reading.

1. Anatomy of an LED Light Bulb

2. Light Bulb Fitting Guide: Bulb Types and Sizes

3. What is the Beam Angle of an LED PAR Bulb?



  1. https://startingelectronics.org/beginners/components/LED/
  2. https://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/lighting/guide
  3. https://startingelectronics.org/beginners/.../beginners-shopping-list/
  4. https://startingelectronics.org/beginners/components/diode/