Naming Conventions for Light Bulb Shapes

beam angle

Definition of Light Bulb Beam Angle 

The beam angle is the degree of width that light emits from a light source. In specific terms this is the angle between the opposing points on the beam axis where the intensity drops to 50% of its maximum.

LED lamps come with a variety of descriptions for the beam angle. A wide beam angle ‘floods’ an area with light and is called a flood light where as a narrow beam angle is a ‘spot’ of light, hence spot light. LED lamp beam angles are not used consistently by light bulb manufacturers. Not all lamps use the same terms.

Names and Examples of Light Bulb Beam Angles


Code Typical MR16 Beam Angles Typical PAR Beam Angles Description
VNSP <7 degrees <15 degrees Very narrow spot
NSP 5-15 degrees 15-30 degrees Narrow spot
SP 16-22 degrees 30-60 degrees Spot
NFL 23-32 degrees 60-90 degrees Narrow flood
FL 32-45 degrees 90-120 degrees Flood
WFL 45-60 degrees 120-160 degrees Wide flood
VWFL 60+ degrees >160 degrees Very wide flood

The actual angle assigned to each of these names differs from one bulb shape to another. For example, as you can see in the above table, an MR16 flood light is normally not as wide a beam angle as a PAR lamp so this has to be noted when choosing an LED lamp.