Stage Lighting Equipment

PAR 64 Bulbs – A Guide to PAR 64 Lamp Sizes

For years the PAR Can has been the great workhorse of the stage lighting industry, particularly in band/DJ lighting. The 1000w PAR 64 Can is the daddy of the PAR family and PAR 64 lamps (the bulbs that go inside the Can) are available to buy in different beam widths. On Stage Lighting takes a look at the different PAR 64 lamps available and their uses in stage lighting.

PAR Cans are transported in awful conditions
It is disgraceful in the 21st century,we are still treating our PAR cans this way!
Thanks to Alex__w for keeping the lantern welfare issue alive.


The PAR 64 Can is still popular because: a) It provides a good 1000w of punchy light; b) A PAR Can (the lantern body shell) and PAR 64 Lamps are still fairly cheap to buy.

PAR actually stands for Parabolic (the shape) Anodised/Aluminised (the shiny bit) Reflector (the reflector!)and you can buy PAR Lamps them in 240v or 110v supply voltages. To alter the size of your PAR Beam, unlike most other stage lighting lanterns, you need to put a different PAR bulb in. PAR lamps also do not have a very circular beam but produce a light beam that is quite oval, particularly the wider bulbs.

Guide To PAR 64 Lamps

Here is a brief rundown of PAR 64 lamps, the beam angles are approximate and are the most “useful” largest part of the ellipse due to the nature of the PAR lamp beam shape:

  • CP60 VNSP PAR 64 Lamp – Very Narrow Spot. Beam Angle 12° approx. This PAR 64 lamp is good for really tight spots, thin light beams cutting through smoke or streaking across stage set/cloths. Also used on large music stages to provide spotlights to hightlight individual band members. The CP60 PAR lamp gives a really intense “splat” of light that can be a bit striated (streaky) across flat surfaces.
  • CP61 NSP PAR 64 Lamp – Narrow Spot. Beam Angle 14° approx. The CP61 is the general spotlight of the PAR 64 family producing a tight beam of light that has more uses than the CP60. This lamp is a useful tage spotlight and makes fairly good beam structures in smoke. Could be used to for colour washes with a large throw distance ( further than 8m) although you would need a fair few CP61 PAR lamps to do this.
  • CP62 MFL PAR 64 Lamp – Medium Flood. Beam Angle 24° approx. CP62 PAR lamps are pretty much everywhere doing jobs such as colour washes onstage, uplighting bits of set as well as spotlighting people onstage. These bulbs are great for washing intense colour around a stage or lighting up columns or architecture. The beam of this PAR lamp is extremely elliptical and their orientation, like other PAR bulbs, is set by spinning the bulb inside the PAR Can.
  • EXG PAR 64 Lamp – Wide Flood. Beam Angle 50°(?) approx. A wider flood PAR that can be used to colour washing with shorter throw distances though it can lack intensity. Used with a short nosed PAR Can. This PAR lamp is not too useful.
  • CP95 WFL PAR 64 Lamp – Wide Flood. Beam Angle 70°(?) approx. This PAR lamp is pretty darn wide, meaning that is lights all over the place but lack the punch and intensity of other PAR lamps. The CP95 is only useful when you needed a good sized beam of light, lit from very close. To get full width of this PAR bulb, use a short nose PAR can.
  • Raylight Reflectors – The Devil In PAR lamps. Beam Angle – Who cares? The raylight reflector is a cheap parabolic reflector with no front lens, designed to accomodate a quartz halogen “standard” stage lighting bulb, often 500 watts. These PAR lamps produce a messy “splot” of light that is both horrible and burns out gels like anything especially in short nosed PAR cans. OK for beams in smoke (until the colour burns out, that is). Don’t buy.

Testing PAR Lamps

PAR lamps are simple incandescent light sources, using a heated metal filament in a glass envelope.  This means you can test them using a multimeter in the same way as an ordinary light bulb.  Set the meter to Continuity (Beep) or Resistance (Ohms) and put the meter probes on the two terminals on the back of the lamp.  A ‘Beep’ or a low resistance reading indicates that the PAR lamp is working.  No beep or a resistance more than a few ohms shows that the lamp is dead.  It’s common practice to bend the terminals of a dead PAR lamp back flat against the ceramic terminal housing once tested as not working, to stop yourself and other picking the lamp back up as a working one.

How Do I Tell Which PAR 64 Lamps Are In My PAR Cans?

PAR Bulb Up Close
Great pic of a MFL Par Lamp. Thanks to VeldaZ

Have a look down the front of your PAR Can with the unit switched off. If the lens (glassy front bit) of the PAR bulb is completely clear, then it is a CP60. If the lens of your PAR lamp is frosted, a CP61 and if the glass separated into small squares, then it is one of the larger floods, probably a CP62. If your PAR can has a Raylight Reflector in it (a shiny dish with a small quartz bulb sticking up, and no glass) then “step away from the PAR Can , sir” and go and find something else to light your gig with. Like a cigarette lighter.

  1. Ian Grey

    Maybe you are giving Raylights a bit of a hard time here.


    No, you are right, they are pretty awful. Maybe they make a passable Howie Batten though, if you want it open white.

    …and don’t have a Howie Batten or a budget.

  2. Hank Tang

    I like this passage.It give me a full known about the par 64.It help me kick off the puzzle about that.Thak you! I am from china.I am a worker of lighting equipment company.

  3. Dave

    I am here to stand and wave the flag for the Raylite… I would agree that you wouldn’t want to keylight anything with them… but for rock beam work, no PAR Lamp comes close! I went through the burnt out lamp holder blues and put them to the back of the wharehouse.. but two months ago after about 10 years of non use, I dragged them out for a Rock video shoot that needed a bit of a Beam feel.. relamped 16 of them and spread them around the rig.. Wow.. Brighter and punchier than Areos.. and if a lamp goes you only loose 1 lamp not 8 or 4!!… and you can flash them individually.. Oh yes they falsh much much faster than a PAR lamp too… Since then, I have put them back into another couple of riggs and have not yet had to replace a lamp!! althought the offical life is only about 80 hours… So yeh not a PAR work horse.. needs to be treated a bit more like a classic car.. but in the right place you can touch them…
    Use the 500W lamp not the 650W… Yours Re converted of Sheffield!

  4. Rob

    Thanks for your points, Dave.

    All lampie religions are welcomed here (possibly with exception of The Followers Of The Masterpiece – tee-hee).

  5. Rob

    Hi Con,

    Know what you mean about the newer PAR lamp holders!!

    Grelcos don’t last as long these days either.
    — Old Man Grumble Mode Aborted —

    You can still get old style PAR lamp holders from suppliers of PAR spares. If you are searching you might try using the term “PAR ceramics” as that type are sometimes called.
    They are still available as a single rewirable ceramic and a rewiring kit that is a pre-wired bulbholder with a tail of silicon cable that you just need to wire a plug onto.

    Penn Fabrications are good place to start.

  6. Cliff

    I haven’t been too involved in the nitty gritty of lighting for a while… but I seem to recall that there’s an issue with the Par lamps when they blow? Don’t they have a tendancy to … well…. explode … and send shards of hot glass shooting about the place?

  7. Rob

    Hi Cliff,

    You’re right, sealed PAR lamps can explode although it happens pretty irregularly. The burning out of the filament, which is inside a quartz capsule in the PAR lamp, causes the capsule to explode and that shatters the front lens of the PAR.

    Because PAR cans don’t have a lens of their own, the result is a shower of hot glass onto whatever is below them. Some designs of PAR Can have a fine mesh covering the lamp.

    Thanks for bringing the subject of exploding PAR lamps up.

  8. Charlie

    You talking about the masterpeice reminded me of what happened a while ago for the company i work for. Basically, we were using the desk, had it all ready to go and then literally 2 minutes before the show started we had the show manager come and put their metal clipboard down on top of it. O deary me, the touch panels really did not like that, so, now, its been re-named “The Disaster Peice” lol.
    Great website Rob, Cheers

  9. Rob

    Charlie, thanks.

    Stories of show cock-ups seem to be overweight in the “something made my Masterpiece go crazy” stakes, so it could be argued that the metal touch sensitive pads on the control were a definite design flaw.

    My heart always sinks if ever I am presented with a moving light controller (?) that has a joystick. That’s never a good sign.

  10. Darren

    Hi all
    has anyone tryed the raylight with the R7 lamp holder? DTS make them
    the lamps are the same you get in the garden security lights so they are very cheap.
    I already own 4 minuette asymetrical floods and they give a nice wash using the same lamps.
    Plus the lamps are held in the right burning posistion unlike the normal raylights.
    your thoughts please

  11. Rob

    Hi Darren, I can’t really work out what exactly the DTS lanterns are supposed to be (they look like a fresnel box with no lens on the front) but the idea of putting a linear halogen strip with a parabolic reflector seems counter intuitive.

    Your asymmetrical floods (“scoops” in the US) are a more standard housing for such lamps and give a wide floodlight. Let us know your thoughts on the light quality from those fixtures.

  12. Darren

    Hi Rob
    I bought some to try as they have a 30 day money back offer..
    and… they aren’t that good the effect you get is an oval beam of light which is ok but it also reflects the pop rivit holding the fitting to the parabolic reflector and sends out lines of light which have bounced off the back of the reflector.
    looks like i’ll return these and purchase some normal PAR 64 lamps Have you ever used Omnilux?
    my other concern is the apparent exploding PAR lamps is this because they are miss treated or de rigged before they have cooled properly?
    I’m not sure how I could explain the possibility of hot glass showering down on the performers or audience
    or would GE be a better make to buy?
    Look forward to hearing from you


  13. Rob

    Thanks for letting us know your thoughts on the R7 Raylights.

    We normally use GE PAR 64 lamps and I know there has been a bit of talk over the years about different makes being better/worse for exploding. I had a GE CP62 explode on a gig last week during performance – hot glass rained down behind the band but noone hurt (pretty surprised though. It doesn’t happen that often though.

    The interesting thing is that, with mesh in the front of the PAR Can, the front lens cracked and fell to bits while the blast forced the internal halogen envelope back through the hole (no PAR safe) in the rear of the Can – still intact with filament. This is where the glass escaped from. Not seen that happen before.

    It’s the sort of situation that noone really wants to think about. But it does happen and I don’t think that anyone has the exact answer as to what causes a PAR lamp to explode.

    Good to hear from you again.

  14. Matt

    Hi Rob,

    More advice please if you would be so kind! I am having the eternal debate about the correct lamps for PAR 64 fixtures. I have read about Raylights and taken on board the advice about NEVER using them! I am told that some of the FIXTURES we have here are Raylights – is that right? Is there such a thing as a Raylight Fixture or is that misinformation? They look a lot like our Silver PAR64 Fixtures but they are black and shorter. Is there anyway I can know for sure? There are lots of pictures on Google but they are not very definitive! Help please!!

    Also, don’t suppose you know of anyone who has an old lighting desk that is able to control intelligent lighting that they would like to donate to a charity!


  15. Rob

    @ Matt

    A PAR can is a PAR can – the metal bit that holds the PAR lamp. However, the electrical wiring set for a Raylight reflector is not the same as the “ceramic” used for standard PAR lamp connections inside the can. Perhaps that where the idea the your fixtures are for Raylights comes from. You can fit standard PAR lamps to the cans, you might just need to modify the lamp base and wiring to accept the new lamps. Some designs of PAR can have a meshed/solid rear lamp housing (for Rays or ACL fittings) which might stop you from spinning the lamp.

    BTW, Most “old” intelligent lighting desks are museum pieces and are probably worth a little bit to someone. Why don’t you take a look at cheap/free PC software lighting control instead?

  16. Chris

    Can anyone help me??? I have 40 64 long nosed PAR Cans and need to lamp them all, whats the cheapest/most cost affective way? the lights will be used for band gigs mainly.



    if you have 40 par64’s to be used for a band gig then u have two options for lamping them
    1) You can opt for GE bulbs which come in three types Very Narrow,Narrow and medium flood,they also come in wide flood but dont use those. You must use wide for your side lighting and very narrow for your back lighting. For FOH if you want to use pars from very close then use wides at a agle of 45’to the stage from a height.If you want to use your Foh from a distance then Narrows are recommended. If you wish to use your FOH from very far then use very narrow. For Foh no matter what you use try for a height since eyelevel or lower will hurt the performers.The best are Narrows for FOH since you can use it from anywhere that is “not too close”.
    2)Option 2 is go for Ordinary bulbs which are more flood lights. They just hit all over the place. These are dirt cheap but i do not recommend them for serious lighting guys or serious work.
    Hope this helps


    Hi Chris,
    if you have 40 par64’s to be used for a band gig then u have two options for lamping them
    1) You can opt for GE bulbs which come in three types Very Narrow,Narrow and medium flood,they also come in wide flood but dont use those. You must use medium for your side lighting and very narrow for your back lighting. For FOH if you want to use pars from very close then use wides at a angle of 45?to the stage from a height.If you want to use your Foh from a distance then Narrows are recommended. If you wish to use your FOH from very far then use very narrow. For Foh no matter what you use try for a height since eyelevel or lower will hurt the performers.The best are Narrows for FOH since you can use it from anywhere that is “not too close”.
    2)Option 2 is go for Ordinary bulbs which are more flood lights. They just hit all over the place. These are dirt cheap but i do not recommend them for serious lighting guys or serious work.
    Hope this helps
    Just remember the further your narrows go the more they will cover.If you really want a good FOH then dont use Par’s use profiles. 26 DEGREES from close or 10′ from far. You can use 10 degrees from close but it will be very bright. So if you want to highlight any one band member you can use those from close and use 26 on the rest. You will need two for each band member. You will also need it to be from up close.


    I have a question can somebody please post a picture of a raylight on this site. Theres a lot of talk, but ive never used a raylight, so Im not sure what it looks like. If someone can tell me where i can see a picture of one id like to try them out.

  20. Dyl


    In DESPERATE need of help.

    1) I have 2 P64 long nose PAR cans. I’m intending on using these in a Drama Studio but when I tried one it started to smoke from the lamp. Is there any explanation why this could’ve happened. I’m plugging them into a 15A 250V socket…Could this explain it maybe?

    2) I can’t seem to fit the lamp base onto the lamp comfortably The ceramic bit should plug all the way around but it’s just not happening for me!!!

    Any help would be appreciated!


    Hi Dyl,
    Are the par cans new? Then its probably the Paint, its normal leave it on for a while. If it’s old still leave it on for a while but keep sand ready incase something catches fire.
    Dry sand mind you not wet.

  22. Dyl

    Hi Sharukh,

    Yes, they’re brand new, only a few weeks old! If it’s the paint i’ll be relieved! Still no able to fit the lamp base comfortably onto the lamp though…

  23. Phil k

    Hi Ppl the drama group i help out are buying par 64’s 4 long nose and 8 short. The stage itself is pretty small approx 5m wide x 5m depth. the lighting grid is only 4m from the stage floor pretty low for a show i know. my question is what bulb to go for eg 1000w or 500w and the other thing is what type med flood or wide.. any help greatly takin on board

  24. Dyl

    Hi Phil,

    The Drama Studio where i work has similar dimensions as your’s. I would go for the 500w and med flood. The med flood gives you more flexibility as to where and how you’re intending on lighting the space as oppose to a wide which will light bits you want dark. Alternatively, if you’re intending on lighting large spaces/areas of the stage go for the wide. Another option would of course be buy BOTH lol! Just so you’re ahead of the game when you’re lighting a play etc…

    Hope that helps.


  25. Darcy Cook

    Hi Phil,

    My Recommendation would be to get a few MultiPARS, which are similar to par cans, except you can get interchangeable Lenses, however they don’t take a PAR Lamp, rather a capsule lamp, similar to what you put in a Profile or Fresnel.

  26. Coolgrot

    So now I know NOT to blame the crew for hitting my Par 64 with a flat. It exploded all by itself! And if you think a 4 metre grid is low ours is 3.4m! For the current show half the stage has been raised 40cm so it’s only 3m! And the tallest actor is 5′ 7″!(Don’t know what that is in metric but I do know it’s hard to light that high). Who can suggest the best light for that job? It’s complicated by the headers being low so the angle is awful. Yeah, I know, pull it down and build another one, not going to happen.

  27. LampieTheClown

    Just thought I’d add a bit to the knowledge above on Par lamps.

    Pars are measured in 1/8″ increments. Therefore a par 64 is 64/8 of an inch, or 8″ A Par 56 is 7″. This also works for the R-40, the par 38 and 36, all the way down to the MR-16 (2″).

    Depending on who you talk to (and which coast you are nearest to) either Chip Monck or Bill McManus invented the “par can” as we know it.

    R.A. Roth manufactured the only square par cans I know of.

    Ray light kits suck. Oh wait, you said that. They came over from England as part of the Thomas invasion. You could put 4 on a 2.4K dimmer, and with the Thomas Aluminum, the rig became amazingly light.

    Before Thomas, par cans were steel. A steel can with glass par 64 in it weighed easily 5X what a Thomas can with a ray kit did. That meant the British could hang a much bigger rig under the same grid, and power it with the same service. American lighting companies ate it up, and the Thomas truss, cans, ray kits, coupled with the Avo 72 way dimmer rack and a QM 500, became the standard touring rig.

    Then everyone wised up and threw away the ray kits, LMI (now ETC) came up with their L-86 rack, and Tomcat copied the Thomas truss. Later, ETC developed the Source 4 line and got the fixtures to fit 4 to a dimmer again, but at this point Vari-lite put an end to the “how many pars can you hang in a day?” contest.

    Pars have not changed since.

  28. Lighting Newb

    Sorry but I’m a complete lighting newb, We have 12 par64’s and we’ve blown 10 bulbs in the last 2 months. I’ve been told I should be warming them up. Does this make a difference to bulb life? How long should a bulb typically last?

  29. Dyl Patel

    As with all lamps and not just PAR’s they should be warmed up prior to use. The moment you power up your rig a surge of energy travels to all the lanterns that are plugged in and this is evident by the orange glow in the lens of the lantern. Depending on your board, i suggest moving all the faders to 10 (100%) and gradually brightening them all up together using the Master Fader/Grand Master in increments of two over ten minutes. That way your lanterns have had a moment to aclimatise to the working conditions. Admittedly, i no longer do this and instead i power up the rig a while before i start teching a show. This may seem pointless and silly but it’s been tried and tested and helps everytime with the amount of lamps you have to replace when it comes to Maintenance. I have 6 PAR cans and i have not had to change these lamps in over a year since i fitted them. The only ones that get used a lot are the Floors and they seem to be holding up nicely at the moment. A typical lamp life for a PAR is usually around 300 hrs but this depends on how much you use them, and in your case you seem to be a hardcore user of PAR cans! The same applies for a T26/T27 halogen that fits into a Fresnel, Profile, and Prism Convex lantern.

    Hope this helps!

  30. eagletat

    I wonder why the cost of a new wiring set for a parcan is about the same as buying a brand new fitting?
    I have a store with loads of good fittings all in need of wiring sets.

  31. Kjetil

    I usually tell people that CP62 looks like the headlights of a VW bus from the 60s.
    CP95, the flood bulb that spreads like a water balloon but gives very little light, looks about the same but finer.

    And CP62 spreads 12*24 degrees, I believe.

    LampieTheClown: I’m not sure they haven’t changed since then… I come across some old parcans now and then that are either an old design and we’ve had some bright ideas since then or they’re not old but just impractical.
    -Most cans have three colour frame holders (both sides and at the bottom) with a spring to prevent the colour frame from falling out at the top, or a fourth spring-loaded holder at the top. These just have four holders, forcing you to bend the frame in and out with brute force and uncivil language.
    -Instead of putting the bulb in the “tube,” placing a ring behind it to keep it in place, these have the bulb in the “lid”, with a ring in front of it. …Which makes the lid heavy when you’re on a ladder, and the lid has probably been dented at some point so you can’t get the bulb out. Or in.

  32. Neil Hunt

    The information regarding ray lights is completely innacurate.

    Raylights are NOT designed to run with any standard theatre lamps – they are designed around specific projector class lamps (A1 / 244 in the UK) They work even better with the 120V version which has a tiny element.

    If used with the wrong bulb (EG a T18) the beam is messy and will burn gel.

    If used with the right bulbs the beam is much cleaner and does not burn gel

    I suspect the author of the article has never seen them with the right bulb as he/she describes all the sypmtons exhibited when a T18 is used!

    The main advantage of them is that the A1 244 has a MUCH lower thermal inertia than a standard PAR so they come on and go off MUCH more quickly allowing more rapid, sharper chases and dynamic effects

    In their heyday they came in as wide a varity of beam angles as the PAR itself – but the most popular were about 10 degrees as they gave much better punch.

  33. Rob Sayer

    Hi Neil

    Thanks for your fervent concern. Having well over 20 years in the professional stage lighting business, I have seen and used plenty of raylight reflector PARs with the A1s and also seen T18s and all kinds of things jammed in them. At no point did I suggest that they were designed for use with a T18, only that they used quartz halogen bubbles that are in a familiar theatrical form and not sealed beams. So perhaps you would like to revisit your assertion that a few cheeky sentences on the Raylight is “completely inaccurate.”

    Perhaps readers of this article will now benefit from your thoughts on the raylight too. The tongue-in-cheek end to an article for beginners, with mine and many other professional lampies feelings on the raylight, should not diminish your love for them.

    Stay in touch.

  34. Paul

    Just to add my ten penneth re. Raylights.

    I love them. Nope they are neither fresnels, profiles nor washlights. What they are is a wonderful, really fast and narrow effect light.

    There is nothing to compete with them. ACL’s may have a great punch effect, but you are stuck with 8 and they are slow as hell.

    And just to clarify the point of view that Raylights blow bulbs. That is complete nonsense. A theatre lamp such as the A1 244 is designed to burn at a certain angle which is fixed in theatrical luminaires and you will get the full lamp life if that luminaire is hung correctly. The exact same thing can be said of the raylight – only difference is you can rotate the reflector and therefore burn the lamp at the wrong angle hence massively reducing lamp life. If you put the lamp in correctly in the first place you will get what the manufacturers promise.

  35. Rob Sayer

    To be fair, Paul, this assumes that only you have control over what happens to your Rays. I have never owned any, just like I have never owned any other kit as a professional lampie. We just get to use the hire company stock that has been out on lord-knows-what Weekend Warrior disco truss.

    But I’m afraid the angle argument argument isn’t entirely valid. A Raylight in a PAR pointing straight down is pointing straight down, regardless of what angle the reflector is at.

  36. Paul

    Hate to disagree with you but the argument is totally valid and there is no issue if the lamp is pointing straight down, which also frequently happens with theatre lamps.

    What users don’t understand is that the filaments run parallel to each other and the lamp needs to operate so the parallel filaments are flat towards gravity. The reason most most raylamp bulbs blow is because the reflector is rotated from that position and gravity ends up pulling the filaments towards each other. As they heat they expand and gravity does the rest. Two filaments then touch and bang the bulb blows.

    Happens again and again – well like you say did. Hard to get raylights nowadays – though I think Clay Paky has done a good impersonation with the Sharpy – they just need to match the price

  37. Neil Hunt

    Hi Rob

    A cheeky article it may have been – but it was still innacurate.

    You did say to be used with a ‘standard’ stage lighting bulb – and they are not. They were always designed to be used with projector bulbs.

    The distincion may seem trivial – but it’s important – they don’t exhibit any of the flaws you refer to when used with the correct bulb – only when used with incorrect ones (I gave the T18 as an example as it the most common incorrect lamp used)

    you ended by saying ‘Don’t Buy’ which seems very harsh. Raylights are a specific tool that does a specific job better than other options. ‘beams in smoke’ that flash quickly being the primary one. Why deny the use of that tool just because some people don’t use it properly.

    They were never a cheap option as the A1/244 has 25% of the lamp life of a PAR64 but costs more than 25% of the price. most of the misuse is derived from people trying to use T18 to save money. If anyone still has them and wants to save money – the M50 is the right solution – although very fragile when hot.


    The main reason raylights blow is that the A1/244 has a silly short lamp life – but you are also right about using them in the right plane. Using them with the fillaments stacked up one above the other also means the bottom heats the one above etc. so they don’t cool evenly and then when gravity steps in – poof!


  38. Rob Sayer

    As stated, the A1/244 has a short lamp life. Fresnel lamps and other non-axially mounted lamps are generally not designed to be burned base up with is why the manufacturers of the time suggested that the limits of the luminaire were straight up or straight down. This left the lamp burning parallel to the deck at worse.

    A Raylight in a Can pointing straight down burns base up so there is no real use in the comparison with a theatre fresnel. Many fixtures use axial lamps now, so it’s all immaterial.

    Anyway, after 5 years of good humour among the majority of readers of this article, I continue to maintain that I don’t like Raylights and haven’t seen one for nearly 10 years. Some people do, I don’t and I wrote the article. In the interests of acting like a grown up, I think I’ve said all can be bothered to about this piffling non-subject. Thanks for your interest.

  39. Lampie The Clown

    Filiment design aside, the base of the lamp / fixture was of poor design, and they were notorious for arcing, which pitted both the socket and the contacts of the bulb. If the pitted bulb was moved to a new fixture for some reason, it would arc in the new socket, making it pitted as well. Any socket that was pitted would arc and cause pitting on any new bulb put into it. It was like an STD for pars.

    Also, the first rays I remember had wire leads off the back, with staycons crimped on. The idea was that you would stick the staycons into the slots of the par porcelain, and tape it together. Not a great idea, but at least when you got sick of ray kit problems you could drop a real par bulb in without having to rewire.
    I have to agree though with one point. They were fast, especially with a bit of “preheat”.

  40. christian ascione

    I have a intresting question to ask,

    I know what par stands for, but i dont know what the lamp code CP stands for
    can you please help
    thank you

  41. Rob Sayer

    In lighting, ‘cp’ often refers the rather obsolete measurement Candle Power.

    However, I understand that the LIF (Lighting Industry Federation) CP to stands for Colour Photography and relates to the 3200K colour temperature BUT I have yet to find a manufacturer/trade body source that states this explicitly.

  42. Sharon

    Hi Rob, your expertise is in need please tell me what you would recommend is a salon roughly 400sf as id like narrowish spot lights in four corners of the roof space. Where could you direct me to or do have any suggestions please. I was hoping instead of chrome perhaps a golden or black finish instead?

  43. Russell gwynn

    I want to change my par64 cans to leds. I light a stage from a balcony about 40 feet away. Because of the distance is that a practical change. I’m looking at 3 watt leds.

  44. Gautam Bhattacharya,

    Hi Rob, thanks for all this information. What i have been trying to know for a long, long time is – what does the CP stand for in identifying the different beam widths for PAR Lamps ? i haven’t yet found any satisfactory and logical answer to this. I found somewhere that it stands for Colour Photography but I didn’t find it very convincing. Could you please illuminate me on this aspect ?


    Gautam Bhattacharya,
    Delhi, India.

  45. Rob Sayer

    Hiya Gautam,
    I understood that to be the basis of the LIF code too, but can’t recall the source of this information. I’m afraid I’m no wiser than you on this at the moment. 🙂

  46. Andy Cook

    Hi Rob
    A useful piece of information. Google comes good again.
    Having read your article, and most of the comments after, I too seem to fall into the category of reborn lampies( or lampies assistant)I stopped using par cans when I finally found logical, and effective LED DMX cans. The reduction in the amount of electrical current was the selling point.
    Recently I have been working with a rock tribute band and lighting larger venues I started to re-use the redundant 64’s. Stunning! Now having to return to the drawing board and rethink tactics for future events


  47. Rob Sayer

    Hi Andy,
    LED has many virtues which I would never deny but in fact am happy to embrace. However, in my heart of hearts, I don’t actually like the properties of the light that comes out of even the most expensive LED units. But their other benefits make them an attractive proposition in many ways.

  48. Kevan Shaw

    How can you have talked about PAR 64 without talking about Aircraft Landing Lights! These are 28V PAR 64, the most common was the 4552 at 250W and ridiculously narrow angle. The first that came to the UK were with the band Little Feet in 1975. We ran them 8 in series usually in groups of 4 series wired together and these were paired in the dimmer patch as we were using 120V PAR64 series paired back then. Shortly after, the 1 Kw landing light from theBoeing 747 turned up again 28V so 8 in series needed an 8Kw dimmer, first used by Genesis in 1976. hugely powerful and about half the beam angle of a PAR64/1 or CP60 Check out the cover of “Seconds Out” to see the effect. Finally there was the 650W Tungsten Halogen version. Rarely used, neither as narrow as the 4552 or as bright as the 1 Kw so never found great favour even though they could work on a 5Kw dimmer, just!

    Raylights were originally from Australia and developed to be cheaper than PAR64 over there. In the UK they were handy to get a single aircraft light effect. At one point someone came up with a sectional reflector like an iris that changed the beam angle when you twisted it! I never remember thin king that the weight saving was that helpful but the 500W rather than 1Kw for pars was useful in small venues with limited power and for installations.

    PAR 64 are in effect 1Kw electric fires aimed by a reflector. Too close to the person on stage is at best uncomfortable. There was a video of Herbie Hancock having his afro being burned flat by par cans about 1 meter from his head, it was a BBC show and I knew the guilty designer very well at the time:)

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