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A sealed beam is a type of unitized lamp with a parabolic reflector, one or more filaments, and a glass or polycarbonate lens all permanently attached together and sealed. Originally introduced for road vehicle headlamp service, sealed beams have since been applied elsewhere. Halogen sealed beam lamps have an inbuilt halogen lamp with the filaments contained in a quartz or hard glass envelope.
Sealed beams are technically known as parabolic aluminumized reflector or "PAR" lamps. Round PAR lamp diameter is expressed in non-metric units of measurement equal to one eighth of an inch, so a PAR56 lamp, for example, is 56/8" (i.e., 7 inches) in diameter. Other popular sizes are PAR30, PAR36, PAR38, PAR46, and PAR64. Rectangular PAR lamp size is expressed in millimeters, so a PAR200×142 is 200mm wide and 142mm tall.
Sealed beams are available in a variety of nominal voltage ratings, most commonly 6, 12, 24, 28, 120, and 230 V. The actual operating voltage may differ from the nominal rated voltage; for example, "12 volt" sealed beam headlamps are meant for use in automobiles with typical line voltage of 13.5 to 14.2 with the engine running.
Sealed beam headlamps were introduced in the United States in 1939, and became mandatory from the following year until the 1984 model year. Cars prior and subsequent to that date could have a variety of shapes of headlamps, using any of a wide variety of replaceable bulbs. Halogen sealed beam headlamps appeared on U.S. cars in 1978 to enable halogen technology under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108, which at the time required all headlamps to be of sealed beam construction; eventually halogen sealed beams came to dominate the sealed beam lamp market.
The limited range of standardized sealed beam headlamp sizes and shapes restricted styling options for automobiles. Replaceable-bulb headlamps provide the regulated light distributions while allowing greater design and engineering freedom.
Building and stage lighting
In stage lighting, sealed beam lamps are often used. A common size, also used in rock concerts, as well as outdoor architectural lighting, is the parabolic aluminumized reflector 64 (PAR64). PAR64 sealed beam lamps are typically available with 250, 500 or 1000 watt power ratings. The fixtures that such sealed beam lights go into are called "PAR cans". Beam spreads are designated as FL (flood), SP (spot), NSP (narrow spot), and VNSP (very narrow spot), as stamped on the back of the lamp's reflector.
- Horst Bauer Bosch Automotive Handbook 4th Edition Robert Bosch GmbH, Stuttgart 1996 ISBN 0-8376-0333-1 page 710
- "The lights in Lighthouses". photographers-resource.co.uk. Retrieved 9 January 2011.