Light Bulb Shape Guide: MR-Shape Demystified

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Are you feeling puzzled by the world of light bulb shapes, particularly the MR-shape? Did you know that “MR” stands for multifaceted reflector; a term used to describe how these bulbs help direct light purposefully.

This guide is designed to demystify MR-shaped bulbs, helping you understand their characteristics, types, specifications and most importantly – how to choose one best suited for your needs.

Get ready as we illuminate this shadowy corner of home lighting!

Key Takeaways

  • MR – shaped light bulbs have a special shape and send light out in one direction, making them ideal for certain types of lamps like flood lights and track lighting.
  • Common applications of MR – shaped bulbs include accent lighting, track lighting, spotlights, and landscape lighting.
  • There are three main types of MR-shaped bulbs: MR11 (smaller diameter), MR16 (2-inch diameter), and MR20 (2.5-inch diameter).
  • Important specifications to consider when choosing an MR – shaped bulb include wattage, voltage, beam angle, color temperature, and dimmability.

What is an MR-shaped light bulb?

An MR-shaped light bulb is a type of multifaceted reflector bulb that is commonly used in various lighting applications. These bulbs have a distinctive shape and are known for their directional beam of light.

Definition and characteristics of MR-shaped bulbs

MR-shaped bulbs are special. They send light out in one way. This makes them good for certain types of lamps, like flood lights and track lighting. “MR” stands for “multifaceted reflector”.

It means the bulb has a shiny cover on the inside that helps push the light out. MR bulbs come in many sizes: MR8, MR11, MR16, and MR20. The size tells you how big across the bulb is in bits of an inch.

Each bit is called an eighth because it’s one piece out of eight equal pieces that make up an inch. So, if you split an inch into eight parts equally, each part would be one eighth of an inch! These bulbs also have different beam angles for different amounts of spread or focus to the light they give off.

Common applications of MR-shaped bulbs

MR-shaped bulbs have a wide range of applications in both residential and commercial settings. They are commonly used for accent lighting, track lighting, and spotlights. These bulbs are great for highlighting artwork, sculptures, or architectural features in your home.

In retail stores or galleries, MR-shaped bulbs can be used to draw attention to specific products or displays. They are also popular choices for landscape lighting to illuminate pathways or highlight garden features.

With their directional light output, MR-shaped bulbs provide focused and bright illumination in various settings.

Different Types of MR-shaped Light Bulbs

There are three main types of MR-shaped light bulbs: MR11 bulbs, MR16 bulbs, and MR20 bulbs.

MR11 bulbs

MR11 bulbs are a type of MR-shaped light bulb. These bulbs have a diameter of 1.375 inches, which is smaller than other MR bulbs. They are commonly used in small fixtures and appliances that require directional lighting.

MR11 bulbs are often found in track lighting systems and landscape fixtures. They provide focused and precise lighting, making them suitable for accent lighting or spotlighting specific areas or objects.

MR11 bulbs come with different beam angles to control the spread of light, allowing you to adjust the level of brightness and coverage as needed.

MR16 bulbs

MR16 bulbs are a type of MR-shaped light bulb that you can use for your DIY projects. They have a diameter of 2 inches and are often used in track lighting and spotlight fixtures. MR16 bulbs have a built-in reflector that helps direct the light in one direction, making them perfect for accent lighting or highlighting specific areas.

These bulbs come with different beam angles, allowing you to choose between narrow spotlights or wider floodlights depending on your needs. You’ll be happy to know that MR16 bulbs are energy-efficient and easy to replace without any extra modifications needed.

So if you’re looking to add some focused illumination to your home or workspace, consider using MR16 bulbs!

MR20 bulbs

MR20 bulbs are a type of MR-shaped light bulb that you might come across. These bulbs have a diameter of 2.5 inches, and they are commonly used for track lighting and spotlighting purposes.

The “MR” in their name stands for “multifaceted reflector,” which means they have a special reflective coating inside the bulb to help direct the light in a specific direction. MR20 bulbs usually have a wattage between 35 to 75 watts, and they come with different beam angles to control how wide or narrow the light spreads.

They are energy-efficient options compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, saving you money on your electricity bill while still providing bright illumination for your DIY projects.

Understanding MR-shaped Bulb Specifications

MR-shaped bulb specifications include wattage, voltage, beam angle, color temperature, and dimmability.


The wattage of an MR-shaped light bulb refers to the amount of power it consumes. It is important to choose the right wattage for your needs, as higher wattage bulbs will produce brighter light, while lower wattage bulbs will be more energy-efficient.

For example, MR bulbs typically range from 20 watts to 75 watts. Consider the level of brightness you desire and ensure that your fixture can accommodate the chosen wattage. Additionally, keep in mind that higher wattage bulbs may generate more heat, so make sure your fixture can handle the heat output.

Choosing the appropriate wattage will help you achieve optimal lighting while being mindful of energy consumption and safety concerns.


When choosing an MR-shaped light bulb, it’s important to consider the voltage. Voltage refers to the amount of electrical power needed for the bulb to operate properly. Different MR bulbs have different voltage requirements, so it’s crucial to check the specifications before purchasing.

Using a bulb with the wrong voltage can lead to poor performance or even damage. Make sure that the voltage of the MR bulb matches the voltage of your lighting fixture for optimal results and safety.

Beam angle

The beam angle of an MR-shaped bulb determines how wide or narrow the light is spread. A smaller beam angle, like 15 degrees, provides a focused and more intense beam of light for highlighting specific areas or objects.

On the other hand, a larger beam angle, like 60 degrees, spreads the light over a wider area and is better for general room illumination. When choosing an MR-shaped bulb, consider the desired lighting effect you want to achieve.

If you need to highlight something specific, go for a smaller beam angle. For overall room lighting, opt for a larger beam angle to cover more space with light.

Color temperature

The color temperature of an MR-shaped light bulb refers to the color appearance of the light it emits. It is measured in Kelvins (K). Lower color temperatures, around 2700K, produce a warm and yellowish light similar to traditional incandescent bulbs.

Higher color temperatures, around 5000K or above, produce a cool and bluish light that mimics daylight. The choice of color temperature depends on personal preference and the desired ambiance for the space.

For example, warmer tones are often used in living rooms and bedrooms for a cozy atmosphere, while cooler tones are preferred in kitchens and workspaces for better visibility.


MR-shaped bulbs are also available in dimmable versions, allowing you to adjust the brightness level of the light. This can be useful for creating different moods or adjusting the lighting according to your needs.

Dimmable MR bulbs use technology that allows them to work with standard dimmer switches, giving you control over the intensity of the light. When choosing a dimmable MR bulb, make sure to check if it is compatible with your existing dimmer switch and follow any installation instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Enjoy customizing your lighting experience with dimmable MR-shaped bulbs!

Choosing the Right MR-shaped Bulb

Consider the desired lighting effect, determine the appropriate beam angle, select the right wattage and voltage, choose the desired color temperature, and check for dimmability if needed.

Consider the desired lighting effect

To choose the right MR-shaped bulb, you need to think about the effect you want to achieve with your lighting. Do you want a bright and focused spotlight? Or maybe a softer and more diffused glow? The desired lighting effect will help determine the beam angle of the bulb.

A narrower beam angle, like 25 degrees, will create a concentrated spotlight. On the other hand, a wider beam angle, such as 60 degrees, will provide a broader spread of light for general illumination.

So consider what kind of atmosphere or task you want to enhance with your lighting before selecting an MR-shaped bulb.

Determine the appropriate beam angle

To determine the appropriate beam angle for your MR-shaped light bulb, you need to consider the lighting effect you want to achieve. The beam angle determines how wide or narrow the light spreads.

If you want a focused spotlight effect, choose a smaller beam angle like 15 degrees. For broader coverage, go with a larger angle like 60 degrees. Keep in mind that smaller angles create more intense light while larger angles provide softer and more diffused illumination.

So, think about the area you want to illuminate and choose the beam angle accordingly.

Select the right wattage and voltage

To select the right wattage and voltage for your MR-shaped bulb, consider the specific lighting needs of your space. The wattage of a bulb determines its brightness, so choose a higher wattage for areas that require more light and a lower wattage for areas with less lighting needs.

As for voltage, make sure to match it with your fixture’s voltage requirement to ensure compatibility. It’s important to note that LED MR bulbs have lower wattages compared to traditional incandescent bulbs while providing the same level of brightness.

So if you’re looking for energy efficiency, opt for LED MR bulbs.

Choose the desired color temperature

The color temperature of a light bulb affects the mood and ambiance of a room. It is measured in Kelvins (K). Lower Kelvin values, such as 2700K, produce warm yellowish light that creates a cozy atmosphere.

Mid-range colors around 3500K to 4000K offer neutral white light that is suitable for everyday activities. Higher Kelvin values, like 5000K or above, provide cool bluish-white light that simulates daylight and enhances visibility.

Consider the desired lighting effect when choosing the color temperature for your MR-shaped bulb.

Check for dimmability if needed

If you want to dim your MR-shaped light bulb, make sure it is compatible with dimmer switches. Not all MR bulbs can be dimmed, so check the packaging or product specifications to see if it is labeled as “dimmable.” Dimmable bulbs give you more control over the brightness of your lighting and can help create a cozy atmosphere.

Remember, using non-dimmable bulbs with a dimmer switch may cause flickering or damage to the bulb. So, always double-check for dimmability if that’s something you need.


In conclusion, understanding the MR-shaped light bulbs doesn’t have to be complicated. By knowing their characteristics and specifications, you can easily choose the right bulb for your needs.

Whether it’s for accent lighting or track lighting, MR bulbs offer energy efficiency and versatility. So go ahead and confidently illuminate your space with the right MR-shaped bulb!


1. What is an MR-shaped bulb?

An MR-shaped bulb is a type of multifaceted reflector bulb, used in spot lamps and track lights.

2. How do I recognize different light bulb shapes?

Understanding light bulb shapes requires knowledge of the light bulb codes like BR for Bulged Reflector, R for Reflector bulbs or Globe bulbs and more.

3. How can this Light Bulb Shape Guide: MR-Shape Demystified help me?

This guide can help you understand different types of light bulbs such as household bulbs, candle bulbs, quartz reflector bulbs etc.

4. Do vanity lights use special types of bulbs?

Yes! Vanity lights often use specific shaped-bulbs like globe bulbs due to their size and shape needs.

5. Is the halogen lamp another name for any special type of multifaceted reflector (MR) shaped-bulbs?

No! While some types of Halogen lamps may have a form similar to MR-shaped lightbulbs they are not synonyms.

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