What Does Beam Angle Mean?

In recent posts, we explained two LED lighting specifications: lumens and color temperature. Here we cover another we're often asked about: beam angle.

Light beams are shaped like cones, narrowest at the light source and spreading wider as they travel outward. While all light sources produce cones, not all light sources produce the same cone. Picture a spotlight highlighting a single person on stage, versus a floodlight illuminating an entire area. The spotlight produces a very narrow cone, the floodlight a very wide one.

Light cones aren't limited to "very narrow" and "very wide." They exist in a whole range, which we describe this range in terms of "beam angle." Beam angle is simply a measurement of the degree of angle of the cone.

A very narrow beam angle, say 10 degrees, creates a cone that nearly resembles a column. As the beam angle gets larger, the cone spreads wider, so that it resembles a pylon or an ice cream cone.

Wide beam angle vs. narrow beam angle

The maximum beam angle available is 360 degrees. This type of light provides illumination around the full circumference of the bulb. A popular 360-degree product we carry is tube lights for signs. Their 360-degree beam angle allow them to illuminate both sides of a sign box at once, so that passersby can read the sign from whichever direction they approach it.

One thing to keep in mind, as well, is how far the light source will be from its target (the area you need to illuminate). Because light forms a cone, any point higher up in the cone will have a narrower area of coverage than any point below it. Also, as the light spreads wider, it diffuses, so the closer the target is to the light source, the more bright and focused the light will be. You can witness this with a flashlight. Point it at the ground by your feet, and you'll see a small, concentrated circle of brightness. Shine it at distant trees, and you'll brighten a much wider area.

Distance affects light intensity and spread

If you're ever unsure which lighting would produce the effect you need, ELEDLIGHTS.com offers a free, no-obligation lighting simulation service that specifies LED lights based on your room size, ceiling height, work area requirements, and end goals. It takes the guesswork—and risk—out of purchasing new lighting.

You can get your free simulation by contacting our West Coast facility at 858.581.0597, our East Coast facility  at 215.355.7200 or by emailing sales@eledlights.com.