Par20 vs Par30: 7 Main Differences You Need to Know

When finding the correct bulb for your home, knowing which one suits your intended application the best can be challenging.

A popular kind of bulb that people use to spotlight or highlight objects around the home is called Par, or Parabolic aluminized reflector bulbs.

These can come in a few different sizes depending on your needs.

The main difference between a Par20 and Par30 light bulb is their different sizes. A Par20 bulb is 2.5 inches across, the smallest size available.

Then the next size up from that is Par30 which is 3 ¾” inches across and is the second biggest size available.

You can also find Par38 bulbs, but they are far less common, and we won’t be discussing them today.

The differences are not just in size. Their wattage, lumen (output) brightness, and intended application are also very different.

So it’s essential to understand these differences to pick the most appropriate light bulb for your home.

What is a Par20 bulb?

So while other lightbulbs such as BR or R are intended for more general lighting, having that larger and softer projection.

PAR-shaped bulbs have a much more focused light beam, making them excellent spotlights for highlighting specific objects. They’re also suitable for emphasizing a particular room section, such as highlighting a doorway in a more commercial setting or a countertop in a kitchen.

They can come in a range of different ‘spreads’ depending on whether you are highlighting a small object like a piece of art or a larger area such as a commercial display.

In addition, they also come in varying bulb sizes, which we assign a number to commonly Par20, 30, or 38. As par20 has the smallest available bulb size is commonly used to highlight a smaller specific object.

At the same time, a Par30 has a wider and brighter beam and can help to highlight larger objects and areas.

What is a Par30 bulb?

A par30 bulb is essentially the same thing as a par20. You get all the same benefits, including the long-lasting LED light that produces very little heat, and if you purchase the right ones, they can survive the dampness and rain when placed outside too.

The main difference here is the bulb is larger than par20. This allows you to highlight things like a larger piece of art or product display when perhaps a par20 led bulb couldn’t quite do it justice.

In addition, because of its larger size, it’s also offered two different neck lengths depending on whether you want the led bulb to be exposed or not.

Long neck Par30s are usually used in recessed light ‘cans’ (a recessed lighting fixture fitted into the ceiling to the led lighting flush with the surface).

Ultimately which one is better will come down to what you’re trying to highlight and how much light you need to do it.

What are the differences between Par20 and Par30 bulbs?

Sometimes it can be challenging to know which par bulb size will be best for your particular application. Many small differences between them should be considered to ensure which one will serve your needs the best.

1. Dimensions

The most significant difference between them is their led lighting sizes.

The Par20 has a 2.5″ bulb  (63mm L, 63mm W, 88mm H) which produces a narrowly focused light ideal for highlighting small objects, pieces of art, or store display items.

The Par30 bulb is quite a bit bigger at 3¾” (95mm L, 95mm W, 123.5mm H) and is better suited to lighting larger objects or even highlighting particular areas of a room.

2. Wattage

The difference in lightbulb sizes is not just for fitting. They are also rated for different wattages, with the Par20 being rated for 7w (50w equivalent wattage) and the Par 30 being rated for 12w (75w equivalent).

3. Lumen output

A standard par20 par bulb produces roughly 500 lumens, ideal for smaller objects requiring more subtle lighting. Par30 bulbs produce approximately 840 lumens meaning they will blow out smaller objects and are best reserved for more important items placed a little further away.

4. Indoor and outdoor usage

While technically, both bulbs can be purchased unsealed, intended for indoor use, you can also buy sealed versions, which are better for outdoor lighting use.

You will need to check if the seal is ‘damp location rated,’ which means it can be placed outside, and the dampness/humidity will not affect the light, but it cannot be placed under direct rainfall.

If you need the light to withstand direct rain, you must purchase a ‘wet located rated’ led light bulb. Generally, a Par30 led light bulb is more commonly used outside as the higher lumen output is usually required in outdoor lighting settings.

5. Lifespan

One of the most significant benefits of using LED Par bulbs is that they use very little energy and produce so little heat, giving them an incredibly long lifespan.

A Par20 bulb is commonly rated for 25,000 hours of continuous use, while a Par30 bulb is rated at 30,000. Although this can vary depending on the manufacturer, the timeframes here are so long that you shouldn’t expect to replace them very often.

6. Neck options

A par20 bulb is only offered with a short single-neck option. However, Par30 bulbs can come in two different versions: long neck or short neck.

The intention is to give you as much flexibility as possible when mounting Par30 bulbs, as they often light larger objects. You may need alternate or movable fittings to position the light correctly.

Be sure to research which kind of neck length you need beforehand. These are often indicated by an ‘s’ or ‘l’ at the end of the bulb name to represent the neck length—for example, Par30S or Par30L.

7. Cost

Because of their larger size and current draw, Par30 bulbs are slightly more expensive than the smaller Par20 bulbs. Although this cost difference is relatively small, and you should pick which one is most appropriate for your intended application.

But it’s something you will need to factor into your budget.

Par20 vs Par30: Are they the same?

As you can see, while these are effectively the same kind of bulb, many minor differences between them might make one type better for your intended application over another.

So be sure to put some good thought into which one is best for you.

  • Par20 bulbs are slightly smaller at 2.5″ across, whereas Par 30 bulbs are larger at 3 ¾”.
  • A Par20 bulb is rated for 7w (50w equivalent), while a Par30 bulb is rated for 12w (75w equivalent).
  • The lumen (brightness) output of a par20 bulb is 500lm, while a par30 bulb is significantly brighter with a rating of 840lm.
  • Both bulb types can be purchased as ‘damp location rated’ or ‘wet location rated,’ which means they can be used outside without risk of shock. However, you will more commonly find Par30 bulbs used outside.
  • Both bulbs are LED lights with an exceptionally long lifespan thanks to their low energy consumption. You’ll get about 25,000 hours for a Par20 bulb and 30,000 for a Par30 bulb.
  • Par 20 bulbs are only available with a ‘short’ neck. But Par30 bulbs may come in a long or short neck, depending on your needs.
  • Par30 bulbs are a bit more expensive than Par20 bulbs, but this difference is not a lot, and you should choose based on your intended application rather than price.
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