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What Is Beam Spread in Lighting? A Guide to Beam Spread and NEMA Types

Is it time to update your exterior lighting? The latest trends and technology in exterior light design have made great advancements over the years. For safety, curb appeal, and nighttime visibility, it may be time to invest in new exterior lighting for your home.

Beautiful and effective exterior lighting is attainable through a combination of different exterior lights. One type of exterior lighting that can enhance your home is the LED floodlight. LED floodlights rely on beam spread for the perfect distribution of light.

What is beam spread in lighting? We have the answer to this question and more in this comprehensive guide to beam spread lighting and the NEMA types to go with it.

What Is Beam Spread in Lighting?

Because there are many popular types of exterior lighting, it’s difficult to understand all the differences and benefits of each. Beam spread is a unique type of exterior lighting that uses advanced technology to evenly illuminate a large area.

So, what is beam spread in lighting and how does it work?

Beam spread measures the spread of the beam from its reflected light source. This type of lighting is designed to optimize light efficiency through careful calculations.

The distance between the light and its reflected light source determines how wide and intense the light will be.

If the distance is great, the light will look less intense while the illuminated area will be wider. If the distance is small, the light will be more intense but offer less coverage.

The greatest benefit of beam spread in lighting is an even distribution of light in a large area without an excessive amount of lighting fixtures and lightbulbs.

The Difference Between Floodlights and Spotlights

Floodlights and spotlights are both types of exterior lighting that use beam spread. They serve similar purposes and looks for exterior lighting. Despite the similarities, however, there are a few key differences.

Floodlights

Floodlights are ideal for broad illumination are a large area. They are often used to light areas such as parking lots and patios for bright light and big coverage. While floodlights are effective practical lighting, you can buy colored floodlights for a fun look in your yard.

Floodlights have a wide angle of beam spread to accommodate the large area of coverage. As a result, most floodlights from about 60 to 120 degrees, though some stores will offer more extensive angle options.

Spotlights

Spotlights are more concentrated beam spread lighting that is ideal for small areas. While spotlights are usually used for the stage, people commonly choose residential spotlights to illuminate a specific area of their yard like stairs or gardens.

The beam spread angle for spotlights is much narrower than floodlights. Most spotlights will have a flood angle of 25 degrees or less.

NEMA Types

Now that you have an explanation of lighting beam spread, let’s talk about the NEMA types for beam spread lighting.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has organized different types of beam spread lighting to understand the approximate area of illumination. NEMA has categorized seven standard types of beam spread by angle range.

See this chart for a supplemental illustration of NEMA’s beam spread categories.

Very Narrow

The very narrow beam spread category ranges from 10 to 18 degrees.

This extremely narrow angle is best used for concentrated areas of light via spotlights. While the width of the beam is limited, the intensity of the beam can illuminate long distances.

Narrow

Narrow beam spread in lighting ranges from 18 to 29 degrees.

While this still falls into the category of spotlights, lights with a narrow beam spread have a slightly wide reach. As a result, this type of exterior lighting is a great fit for illuminating specific areas of landscape for a lovely glow around your flowers and trees.

Medium Narrow

The medium narrow beam type can be anywhere from 29 to 46 degrees.

While this type of lighting is versatile, it has similar uses to the narrow beam spread type. However, in addition to illuminating gardens and stairs, you can also use the medium narrow type for exterior side lighting to create a bold lighting design.

Medium

The angle for medium beam spread ranges from 46 to 70 degrees.

As you can see, the medium beam spread rides the line between floodlights and spotlights. Because of this, medium beam spread lighting has a good balance of intensity and width, which makes it useful for a variety of areas.

Medium Wide

The medium wide type of lighting ranges from 70 to 100 degrees.

Medium wide lighting officially crosses the line from the spotlight category to the floodlight category. As a result, this type of lighting prioritizes area over intensity. People often use medium wide lighting to light large, open tents and signs.

Wide

A wide beam spread ranges from 100 to 130 degrees.

A wide beam spread in lighting covers a very large area. Many homeowners choose this type of wide lighting for wide exterior side lighting and large areas of their landscape.

Very Wide

The last and largest type of beam spread lighting is very wide with an angle of 130 degrees and up.

A very wide beam spread lighting is rarely used for residential areas. This type can be used for lighting large signs on mounted poles and other very large areas.

Update Your Exterior Lighting

Don’t sacrifice style for practicality. Beam spread offers a sleek design with effective light distribution for the perfect exterior lighting experience.

What is beam spread in lighting?

Hopefully, our guide and advice about lighting beam spread have answered all your questions. Need more information? Visit our blog for everything you need to know about the best exterior lighting and more.

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