I recently had PAR30 50W Halogen light bulbs installed. I would have gone with 75W, but 50W is the max wattage supported by my light (shallow 6" can). I'm very disappointed with the how dim the lights are. They should be about 600 lumens and I don't have a meter but they are just not very bright. I took out one of the lights and noticed they are 130V rated. So, why 130V when in the US our line voltage is 120V? Best I can tell, voltages can fluctuate and the 130V are designed to be more durable, but at the cost of less light. One source indicated that 130V lights are 25% less bright at 120V. This makes sense since the filament needs 130V for peak brightness. They also save energy but only about 14%, so really you are trading durability and some energy savings for a lot less light. So, now to my question: are there reasons other than what I've mentioned for installing these?

  • update: I purchased 120V par30 and they are much brighter and produce whiter light. Much happier.
    – Andrew
    Dec 10, 2012 at 3:23
  • I replaced all my halogens with 3000K leds. The leds put out way more light have superior light distribution. I calculated they will pay off in 1.5 years of use. Interestingly the leds don't turn yellow when they dim like the halogens.
    – Andrew
    Mar 26, 2015 at 4:04

4 Answers 4


Are there reasons other than what I've mentioned for installing these?

Not really. This was the answer before fluorescent and LED. Places that had a lot of incandescent would save more money using 130V lamps when brightness is not a great factor by saving energy and having to change bulbs less than 120V lamps, like an apartment complex.

Another reason is that when an electrical system is close to being at capacity after all the air conditioners come on in the day and then as the night cooled air conditioners would be turned off and the voltage would spike up for a moment. Sometimes the spike would blow the bulbs. Now with updates power companies give better power and spikes are not that bad anymore.

If you really want to use 130V lamps, then on the halogen PAR lamps you might pick a beam spread that suits your task better. Area lighting would be floods or wide floods but task areas, like for reading or hobbies you might want narrow floods or spots. The tighter the beam the more lumens you get.

  • 1
    That must be a substantial spike. I've had spikes up to 150 volts due to a phase to ground fault on another phase in the MV distribution. Lights went way bright, and an old analog TV expanded the picture, for an instant. But the bulbs all survived. Of course maybe if this happens regularly it will cut back their life.
    – Skaperen
    May 17, 2012 at 4:47

130V bulbs, sometimes known as "rough service bulbs" are designed for areas where the quality of electrical service flucutates and can go over 120V or for use in places that are frequently bumped or have frequent vibrations or shocks. These bulbs have a more durable lighting fillament.

  • 3
    130V bulbs can be 'rough service bulbs' but most 130V bulbs are not rough service. 'Rough service bulbs' have beefier filaments and more filament supports than regular bulbs, even 130V. While most of the most recognized names in bulbs get more life from 130V, cheap imports offer nothing, except for longer life from their own 120V and rarely what the life of a bulb is. @Steven is correct on 130V lamps and on voltage fluctuations, as long as it is a quality lamp from a quality company. Remember quality companies still put junk out too.
    – lqlarry
    May 17, 2012 at 0:25
  • I live in a very small town very close to the substation. We get 126V coming in to the house. 120V bulbs last at best a couple months for me. Apr 16, 2015 at 4:50

YUK I abhor 130V stuff. It always looks brown.

If looking to save coin on electric bill, its better to use 120V but lower wattage. Much better quality of light.

Down with BROWN!

  • Even better quality of light from lower voltage. 12V bulbs run from 12V will have even higher color temp due to filament thickness using higher current ... at the same wattage. But 60 to 75 watts is about the limit for this.
    – Skaperen
    May 17, 2012 at 4:55

130V bulbs are also used in locations that are hard to access, like extremely high ceilings, because of the labor saved by not having to replace them as often.

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