BR30 Vs. BR40 LED Light Bulbs: What Are The Major Differences?

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf
Lighting makes all the difference in the tone of a room, and choosing between BR30 and BR40 LEDs can be tough. You can get brighter tones out of BR40 LEDs, but BR30s are nice for a dim lighting setup. Whether you want a bright or dim tone, let’s explore the difference between BR30 and BR40 LEDs.

Eventually, even the best light bulbs burn out, thus forcing you to buy new ones. These days there are more light bulb choices than you could possibly fit on the shelves of a hardware store.

Lightbulbs have come a long way, and making the switch to LED might be a good place to start if you haven’t already. However, when you see names like “BR30” and “BR40” you may find yourself wondering what the difference is between all these light bulbs names. Also, which type is the best fit for your needs?

Budget Reflector (BR) lights are LED lightbulbs whose shape is designed to evenly disperse light throughout a room. BR30 and BR40 LED bulbs are both great at effectively lighting rooms and also lowering energy costs. BR30 lights work better for soft and directional light. BR40 bulbs have higher wattage and are better for filling larger rooms with high ceilings.

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BR30 And BR40 Bulbs Defined

BR30 and BR40 are designed to best fit in recessed ceiling cans to provide well-dispersed lighting. Both types are LED lights with a cone-like shape. This signature shape is what helps them evenly spread light throughout a room.

Although both lights have similarities, the two types of bulb do have distinguishing characters. Knowing more about what makes these two types of bulbs unique will help you determine which type works best for your space.

The Shapes and Sizes

The first thing to understand is what the numbers 30 and 40 refer to. These two numbers refer to the bulb size in 1/8-inch increments. So, a BR30 is 30/8 inches while the BR40 is 40/8 inches. Or to put it more simply, the BR30 bulb is about 3.75-inches wide while a BR40 bulb is about 5-inches wide.

If you have recessed cans, you should measure them to ensure both types of bulb will fit. When it comes to general lighting, most of the cans out there are going to be in the 4-inch to 6-inch range. If you have 4-inch cans, you can’t pick BR40 bulbs because they are simply too big.

Should you opt for a BR30 light, however, you have a little more room to work with. They will fit with just a little space in 5-inch cans while they may leave far too much space in 6-inch cans.

Brightness And Wattage

Two other standout differences between the BR30 and the BR40 bulbs are brightness and wattage. Although both bulbs are fully capable of lighting up a room, they each have unique attributes that favor some room types over others.


BR40s generally have higher wattage options. This makes them more capable of spreading more light across the room. Both bulb types may have the same beam angle, but the BR40 has a wider lens due to its size. This helps them spread light across greater distances.

Ultimately, you can select either bulb and they will both work. However, the BR40 bulbs will likely do a better job if your ceiling were to be raised at a higher level.


While the BR40s provide better coverage, you may want to go with BR30s for directional light with softer edges. Think your general light fixtures, though they would work fine for track lighting and recessed lighting as well.

BR30s are particularly great for fixtures that have dimmer switches. They can be used for most of the same purposes as BR40s but might not be great in rooms that have higher ceilings and need more lighting power.

Ceiling Height

You must also consider the ceiling height when you are selecting between the BR30 and BR40 bulbs. For the most part, you would want to use BR30 bulbs on lower ceilings while BR40’s would be used on higher ceilings. It comes down to the wattage. When they are the same, they don’t make much of a practical difference.

Reasons To Choose LED Over Incandescent

One major selling point of the BR30 and BR40 bulbs is that they are LED light bulbs. LEDs are superior to incandescent light bulbs in many ways. Even if you ignore the long-term cost savings that LED light bulbs have, there are still several more benefits that make it a superior option over incandescent.

1. Lifespan

A major selling point for both of these options is that they have a superior lifespan. Here’s a comparison to think about. Most incandescent light bulbs have a rating of about 1,000 hours of life span. Comparatively speaking, most LED light bulbs are rated for 25,000+ hours.

The BR30 is rated for a slightly lesser lifespan than the BR40 but the difference is ultimately going to be negligible. There are factors that can impact the lifespan of LED lights, however. If your bulbs are exposed to cold temperatures or frequent on-off cycles, it could bring down the light quality.

That said, you can expect to get at least 10,000 hours out of either option on the conservative end. Compared to the 1,000 hour rating for incandescent, you can see how there is a major difference in lifespan.

2. Dimming and Color Rendering

In terms of versatility, there is no comparison between incandescent and LED. For starters, LED lights are much better at dimming though they need to have compatible dimmers. The BR30 might also get warmer when you dim them but just check the packaging before buying them.

The big selling point is coloring. We tend to perceive colors differently based on how the object is lit. LED does a great job of providing accurate colors and also renders many more colors than incandescent. If you want accurate and versatile color options, LED is the superior option.

3. Durability

We know what the lifespan is for these light bulbs but how do they hold up so long? Incandescent bulbs tend to be on the delicate side because of the thin filament and glass bulb. You can pay more to have shatter-resistant glass and a better-supported filament, but they can’t hold up compared to LEDs.

LED bulbs are made of plastic and have no filament. Both are durable right from the start. For the BR30 and BR40, there is little difference in durability levels because they both have the same construction. And since there is no filament burning, you won’t have to worry about either of them burning out as incandescent lights would.

4. Heat

Both the BR30 and BR40 bulbs will stay cool to the touch, at least at the bulb portion. Incandescent, on the other hand, will get extremely hot. Like, hot enough that it could burn your hand if you were to try to unscrew one that is on.

The heat sinks on LED lighting are what gets hot. BR30 and BR40 may have different air flow requirements, however, so make sure that you check the packaging before using them on enclosed fixtures. Overexposure to heat could reduce the life span of your LED bulbs.

Find out if LED bulbs can be used in ceiling fans.

5. Brightness

This is where the real difference is between the BR30 and BR40. So far, they are quite similar except in size, shape, and usage. But how bright are they? Is there a noticeable difference in the brightness level of one versus the other?

The simple fact is that BR40’s, with 1100 lumens, burn anywhere between 40 to 70 percent brighter than their BR30 counterparts. For a two-story space, they will cover both the ceiling and the walls much more brightly than the BR30.

6. Color Temperature

The term “color temperature” refers to how cool or warm the bulb appears to your eye. It is measured in Kelvins with 2700K to 3000K being considered warm or more yellowish. Neutral, or white, is about 3500K to 4100K, while anything above 5000K is considered to be cool, with a blueish hue.

To put it into reference, incandescent bulbs are generally warmer; about 2700K. Most LEDs can mimic that incandescent look but they have a far ranger temperature range. LEDs can also be cool or neutral temperatures based on the room, providing a different setting based on the room and the user.

Why LED Lighting is the Best Option

Ultimately, the BR30 and BR40 LED lights are about the same. You can’t go wrong with either one, really, though you should pay attention to ceiling height and can size as mentioned above. But the simple choice to make is switching from incandescent to LED.

The latter is superior in just about every way. Though LED can mimic the warm lighting of incandescent, it can also provide more neutral or cool tones as well. The life span of LED bulbs is anywhere from 10 to 25 times that of incandescent and LED bulbs give off far less heat in comparison.

If you want to improve the efficiency of your bulbs, lowering energy costs along the way, there is no better choice than an LED bulb. Whether you go with the BR30 or BR40 depends on you and the setting it will be used in.

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So, What are the Major Differences?

Now that we’ve covered everything there is to know about the BR30 and BR40 light bulbs, you may be asking: what’s the difference? After all, their construction is the same, their lighting capabilities are the same, and their life span is about the same.

The biggest differences between the BR30 and BR40 LED light bulbs are size and brightness. The BR40 is about 1.25-inches bigger than its counterpart. This means that, if you are using canned lighting, you have to be a little more specific in the size of the bulb you choose.

The BR40 is also brighter by a substantial amount. At 1100 lumens, it has the ability to “wash” larger rooms in light in a superior way to the BR30. The decision of which one to use comes down to the size of the room, the height of the ceiling, and the size of the cans.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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