When you turn on a light, the beam angle is the angle at which that light is emitted or distributed.
Let’s look at that concept in a different way. This is an image of four lights in a darkened room with four different beam angle sizes.
The smallest light beam spread (30-degrees) is on the left and the widest light beam spread (120-degrees) is on the right. The narrow light beam might be referred to as a spot light, while the wider one could be referred to as a flood light. There are nuances to this, as shown in our leading graphic.
A common misconception is that a wide flood light is a brighter light than a spot. Analyzing the brightness of a light is separate from the measurement of a light beam. Brightness is measured in Lumens.
Let’s examine a single light in a darkened room, like the one shown below:
If you look at only half of the light beam, you can see that the light creates a sort of triangle shape from the light source (at top) directly down from the center point, then spread out to one side where the pool of light lands on the ground.
In the world of lighting, the beam angle is measured at the points on both sides of the light spread, where the intensity drops in half from the center point (remember our triangle). Say you have a 40° light spread. At 20° on either side of that central point, the light intensity is half the intensity of what appears directly beneath the bulb.
After 40°, some light continues even outside of this range.
Where that 40° light beam lands on the floor is the beam radius (sometimes discussed as light spread). The larger the beam radius or beam width, the less spot-like and more flood-like the light becomes.
We want to help in your decision-making process for selecting the right beam angle for your project. If you install lights at a certain height, how much light will appear on the surface area of your floor?
Here is a sample chart showing Beam Angles (shown in degrees) and Light Spread (feet) for five different ceiling heights.
Want to do this yourself for your unique space? Simply follow this equation:
BEAM WIDTH = ANGLE x .018 x DISTANCE