Light Bulb Buying Guides, Light Bulb Specs, Lighting 101

A Buyer’s Guide To Comparing 12volt Low Voltage MR8, MR11 And MR16 Light Bulbs

12volt Low Voltage MR8, MR11 And MR16

Buying the correct light bulb isn’t always as easy as it sounds. The numbers and letters can be quite confusing if you are not an expert. There probably have been times when the bulb you bought didn’t fit the holder or provide the light you desired.

Multifaceted Reflector bulbs, particularly MR16 and MR11, are the most used bulbs for track lighting. You must learn the differences between the common options to ensure you are choosing the correct size. The basic function of MR16, MR11 and MR8 lamps is the same, and the differences are slim albeit notable.

A Brief Knowledge On Multifaceted Reflector (MR) Bulbs

12volt Low Voltage MR8, MR11 And MR16

First, let’s get an understanding of a multifaceted reflector (MR) bulb. The standard original MR bulb is a Halogen bulb designed with a reflective coating to control the direction and spread of light.

MR bulbs are great for directional lighting purposes. An MR bulb is made of multiple facets using a highly reflective coating to boost the bulb’s lighting. The reflective coating can be made of dichroic or aluminium. Check out our standard dichroic MR16 lamp collection here.

A typical halogen MR bulb has a dichroic coating. These lamps, also called cool beam spotlights, project light to the front and heat backwards. The aluminium versions of these lamps reflect heat forwards.

The reflectors regulate the flow of the light from the filament and produce controlled directional beams. A range of beam angles available in MR light bulbs make them ideal for hospitality and retail spaces. The common beam angles are 10/12-degree spot, 24-degree flood, and 36/38-degree wide flood. A 60-degree very wide flood beam angle is also available but that is pertinent to only the MR16 bulbs.

With the advancement of technology, Infrared (IR) coated energy saving MR lamps were produced. For instance, a 20watt IR lamp will generate 35watts light output. The latest upgrade has been Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs with a considerable reduction in energy consumption, enhanced lighting, and improved lifespan. Find our LED MR11 bulb collection here and LED MR16 bulbs here.

MR bulbs are found in several sizes, including MR8, MR11, MR16.

MR8, MR11 And MR16 - The Differences

Today, we will compare MR8, MR11 and MR16 bulbs and guide you on how to tell them apart.

The Size

12volt Low Voltage MR8, MR11 And MR16

The number at the end of the name of each MR bulb reflects the size of the bulb. This number stands for the bulb measurement by the same sum of eights of an inch width. For instance, MR8 is 8/8 inches (2.5cm or 25mm) in diameter, MR11 is 11/8 inches (3.5cm or 35mm) in diameter, and MR16 is 16/8 inches (5cm or 50mm) in diameter. The difference may not seem significant, but you will end up struggling to fit an MR11 bulb into a ceiling light or track meant for an MR16 bulb as they are not interchangeable.

Base Numbers

The base of MR bulbs is the next most important factor to consider after you’re done checking the size. GU5.3 bi-pin base is the most common, this is the base for the MR16 50mm lamp. The MR8 and MR11 both have a GU4 bi-pin base.

The number mentioned in the names signifies the millimeters of space between each pin. For example, there is a 4-millimetre gap between each pin in the GU4 base.

Dimmable Lights

The perfect level of lighting makes a space more comfortable. All of the halogen MR spotlights are fully dimmable, this is not the case with all of the LED upgrades. Therefore, when using LED you need to choose between a dimmable bulb and a non-dimmable one as per your requirement. This factor might not seem significant to you right away. But having the dimming feature available when you want to save energy by having just enough light for the task at hand can make a huge difference in your lifestyle.

The Wattage

Typically, 10watt, 20watt, and 35watt are commonly available for MR8 and MR11 halogen bulbs. For MR16 halogen bulbs, 20watt, 35watt, and 50watt are the most common wattages.

These are the basic differences between an MR8, MR11 and an MR16 bulb. Hope that helps you find the right lamp next time you visit the shop!


About Nicky Walker

Nicola is a lighting specialist at The Lightbulb Company with a keen awareness of the important role lighting plays in our everyday lives. She enjoys discovering new ways in which lighting can affect science, mental health and of course, most of all, reduce our carbon footprints.