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Modern Light Bulbs: Shapes And Sizes

Modern light bulbs will come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and, needless to say, it can get pretty confusing. Typically, there are eight different light bulb shapes that one might find in use around their home. Why so many? Modern light bulbs are used in a variety of different fixtures, and each fixture has its own unique set of requirements when it comes to the size, shape and the way the light bulb projects its light. As a result, selecting the proper light bulb has become more like finding a needle in a haystack. In order to help you understand which shapes and sizes you’ll need, we’ve come up with the following guide: 

These are the eight most common light bulb shapes you’ll find in your home:

  • Arbitrary (A)
  • Bulged Reflector (BR)
  • Candle (C)
  • Globe (G)
  • Quartz Reflector Lamp (MR)
  • Parabolic Aluminized Reflector (PAR)
  • Blown Reflector (R)
  • Twist

It’s important to note that while these names are fairly common throughout the industry, there is no universal set of terms to describe the shape of a light bulb. For example, a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) will be described as a “twist” or “spiral” shaped bulb. Because of this, we recommend that you bring your old light bulb with you so you can compare it with your new light bulb to ensure it’s the proper shape and size. The graphic should help to give you a better idea of what these bulb shapes look like.