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If you have ever replaced a light bulb and realized that it is too bright—or not bright enough, you probably wished you understood the difference between the names of each bulb. While you might be tempted to choose the cheaper version, LED bulbs have a much longer lifespan and use far less energy.
Still, even if you opt for LED, there is a massive range. We are going to go over 2 similar bulbs, the Par16 and the Par38. These bulbs are good for places that need a narrow, focused beam of light. They typically have a beam angle of 45º. As they are Par bulbs, they have the same shape. The numbers mean they are a different size.
|Height||2.6 inches||5.22 inches|
|Width||1.97 inches||4.72 inches|
This chart shows the average specifications of the Par16 and the Par38. Each brand may have a bulb with some variations. The first noticeable difference is the size. With a 1.97-inch diameter, the Par16 is best for 2” and 3” recessed ceiling cans. The Par38 will fit in 5” and 6” cans. They are both most commonly found with an E26 base, so the connection is not a problem.
There is also a significant difference between the average power and brightness. The smaller Par16 is a 4W LED bulb, the equivalent of a 35W incandescent bulb. The average brightness is between 300 and 400lm. The Par38 is a 15W bulb, a 75W replacement. Most have a brightness of 1200 to 1400lm. The Par16 and Par38 can be dimmable or non-dimmable.
Another thing to consider is the Kelvin. You will find the Par16 and the Par38 with different Kelvin. For a warm light, you can choose the lower 2700K. If you are looking for a brighter, white light, the 5000K are better.
To understand the specific differences, we compared the Philips Par16 and the Philips Par38.
The Philips Par16
The Par16 from Philips is a 5.5W LED bulb, a 50W equivalent. It’s a dimmable bulb with 400lm and 3000K, so a warmer light is good for relaxing areas. The beam angle is 40º. The lifespan is incredible at 25,000 hours. If using the bulb for 3 hours a day, it will last 22 years.
The Philips Par38
Here we have an 11W LED bulb, the equivalent of a 90W incandescent lightbulb. It’s a 3000K bulb but brighter with 850lm. The beam angle is the same at 40º. But the lifespan is quite a bit shorter at 10 years. Even still, for an 11W bulb, the annual cost is still only around $1.32 for 3 hours of use per day. These are non-dimmable.
The Final Verdict
If size is not an issue and you don’t need the higher lumens, we would choose the Par16 LED bulbs. This is because they are more cost-effective. They are approximately a couple of dollars cheaper per bulb and the lower wattage means they will cost even less to run.