Why Is It Important to Match Beam Angles When Replacing Flood and Spot Lighting?

Flood Light on Dark Background

At some point it will become necessary to change out old light bulbs, and for many lighting situations this does not pose a problem. Where a problem does occur is when bulbs in directional lighting such as track lights require replacement.

Matching the bulb style when purchasing replacements is simple enough, but it is important to ensure that the beam angle enjoyed with the previous bulbs is maintained, as not getting it correct will alter the quality of the lighting. A special item of wall art may need a focused narrow beam of light to highlight it, while a large collection of photographs on a wall will be best viewed under a wide flood of light.

While this may be obvious to many, it is too easy to purchase the wrong bulb and not take into account the spread of the beam. The part number printed on the bulb box will provide an indication of the beam spread. For example, a part number of 50PAR20/NFL will provide a narrow flood light, with the letters NFL indicating this beam spread.

Here is a guide to the standard abbreviations for beam spread:

FL (flood with between 30 and 40 degree beam angle)
NFL (a narrow flood that is usually 25 degree beam)
SP (spot with 10-15 degree beam)
NSP (narrow spot with 8-9 degree beam)
WFL (a wide flood that is wider than 40 degree beam)

When considering the purchase of replacement bulbs for directional lighting it is important to consider how you need it to work for a specific application. Once this is recognized it is simply a matter of choosing the beam spread that will provide optimum results. This is also true when installing new lighting fixtures or replacing older fixtures with modern ones.

If uncertain about what bulbs to purchase or which types of lighting best suits a particular application, we provide a wide range of quality LED PAR bulbs, LED reflector floods, and halogen floods and spots, as well as the familiar incandescent reflector floods and PAR flood/spot lights. Give us a call and our knowledgeable lighting experts can assist you with your lighting questions and requirements.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.