At some point somebody installed 6 can lights that accept PAR20 bulbs in my kitchen.

It appears that PAR20 bulbs are for spot lighting, which means focused lighting, which means shadows everywhere. Shadows are not what you want when you're chopping up food, it's really hard to see in there.

The widest beam angle I can find on these bulbs is 50 degrees. I don't know if I can even go wider because of the housings.

I tried to fit a PAR30 bulb in there but it wouldn't fit. I could get it to fit if I removed the trim, but then it was impossible to re-attach the trim.

What are my options?

3 Answers 3


What are my options?

More light sources illuminating the work surfaces from a much greater variety of angles.

In the pre-LED era, a good way of illuminating a room like a kitchen was to have a 6 foot / 2 meter long fluorescent tube on the ceiling parallel to the main worksurfaces and a series of linked fluorescent tubes underneath every wall-cabinet. This arrangement ensures that light reaches the work-surfaces from both front and back and from a wide variety of angles.

You can buy LED strip-lights that duplicate this sensible arrangement.

I think it will be very hard to create something as effective over a large area if you are using only six typical PAR20 or MR16 bulbs.


E26 is 26 mm diameter Edison Screw (ES).


PAR "20" is the diameter of the bulb. The unit is eights of an inch, so 20/8= 2.5".

Focal spread of a bulb is a parameter of the bulb. They vary from 8 degrees (spotlights) to 120+. Naked bulbs are a 360 degree sphere in all cases except LED, those are a 160 degree cone. It only takes a little lensing to make LEDs kick any angle you want.

Whereas with halogens, they require a reflector to focus. You get two lights, the unfocused direct light from the filament, and the focused light bouncing off the reflector.

You shouldn't have any trouble getting LED PAR20s of an angle of your choice. It can't spread any wider than the enclosure allows, that is to say, blasting light on the inner ring of the enclosure is not useful.

If your base is E26 (26mm diameter), that is the classic Edison base that is universal in North America. That, or E10 candelabra, are the only two bases I would consider using. Any other base, the lamps will be expensive and of limited selection. However, that said, going with another base will allow you to use an adapter which will take space, allowing the bulb to hang lower, clear the enclosure and let you use a wider arc. They make E26 to E26 adapters, they typically have pull switches on them.


When searching for "bulbs with housing attached", I found that this actually exists! For a PAR20 bulb, the housing is a 4" housing. They sell a product called "LED Recessed Retrofit Downlight." You would remove the trim that's already installed, plug in a pigtail then shove the new housing retainers either through the gap between the drywall and the existing housing, or directly into the existing housing if there's enough spring tension. Hopefully it lands flat? enter image description here

I also started looking into adapters so I could put other format bulbs in. It seems like the name of the thread on the PAR20 bulb is called E26. There are adapters that will go from E26 to GU10, which is the plug with the 2 little prongs. The bulbs that would fit that would be called MR16. The adapter ends up pushing down the bulb by about 1", and the beam on MR16's go as wide as 60 degrees. I think this would be the cheaper option, but slightly less effective in reducing shadows.

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