Friday, October 2, 2009

RIP 120-watt BR40 Flood

Written By: Steve Roudebush

In countless theatres and auditoriums hang rows of R40 borderlights. These titans of area lighting are often lamped with a general lighting mainstay - the 120W BR40 flood lamp. As our country “goes green”, the BR family of lamps (in select wattages) is being legislated into the National Museum of Inefficiency (one might argue there are countless items that should go in such a fictitious museum ahead of BR lamps, but that’s another post…).

So, supplies of 120 BR40 Flood lamps are dwindling…and they can’t be offered for sale into certain states. Most major lamp manufacturers have ceased producing them. For owners of R40s, what are the options? Well, there are plenty, including one we’ve tested here in the BMI Studio that should suit a broad range of users and doesn’t cost twice what a BR40 did.

Let’s start with our top option:
90-watt PAR38 Wide Flood 50° 120V – Ushio – BMI Price: $4.75 each

25% lower wattage than a 120W BR40 Flood, less heat, more lumens, longer life! The primary drawback is the PAR38 lens vs. the simple frosted glass of a BR flood. Even with the wide 50° lens, the PAR38 cannot match the wide dispersion of a BR flood. The tighter control, however, may be ideal in some circumstances. Also, the PAR lens creates a more uneven pool of light compared to the BR flood. In a borderlight scenario, this is mitigated by the multiple lamp outputs blending and smoothing each other out. Light frost gel can also help smooth and widen the pool of light.

Here are key specs side-by-side:

 120W BR40 Flood 120V90 PAR38 WFL50 120V
Watts120 watts90 watts
Voltage120 volts120 volts
Approx. Lumens1150 lm1300 lm
Center beam candlepower1000 cd1500 cd
Color temperature~ 2750°K~ 2925°K
Average life2000 hours2500 hours

We fired up the above 90W PAR38 WFL50 alongside a 120W BR40 FL here in the Studio. See the picture below (PAR on the left, BR40 flood on the right).

Note the BR40 (on the right) spreads out much faster (bright spot on the wall) and fades out towards the bottom (see bottom right corner of wall). The PAR, however, is providing better center beam brightness and overall lumen output (see even brightness along bottom of wall). Note the PAR edge streakiness, which would be reduced in a borderlight by the individual lamp compartment sides.

We used to sell the 120W BR40 Flood at $3.45 each. PAR lamps, as you might guess, are inherently more costly. But, at just $4.75 each, the 90W PAR38 WFL50 is a good value. You gain 25% improvement in longevity, 25% energy consumption savings, and 13% improvement in output.

Other options:

  • 300 BR40 Flood – Oddly enough the legislation doesn’t care about much over 250-watts. So, you could actually use more energy and you’re fine. We don’t necessarily recommend that, but wanted you to know the options. Beware your dimmer capacity, however.

  • Other PAR38 Lamps – There are other PAR38 flood lamps in a variety of wattages (75W, 90W, 120W, 250W, etc). However, most of these flood lamps max out at a 30° beam spread. Again, these might work for some situations, but represent less than half of the spread of a BR40 lamp. We’re happy to discuss options if you are interested.

Hope this helps! We welcome your thoughts and/or suggestions.


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