Par Can lights are widely used where the requirement is for strong, bright colored lighting over a loosely focused area. They are often used in combination with smoke or haze machines which make the path of the beam visible. They are also often used as top, back, or sidelights to provide colored lightening of the space. PAR cans are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, either with parabolic aluminized reflectors or LED source of light.
A parabolic aluminized reflector lamp (PAR lamp or simply PAR) is a type of electric lamp that is widely used in commercial, residential, and transportation illumination, as well as for event and stage programs. It produces a highly directional beam. Usage includes theatrical Lighting, locomotive headlamps, aircraft landing lights, and residential and commercial recessed lights (“cans” in the United States).
Many PAR lamps are of the sealed beam variety, with a parabolic reflector, one or more filaments, and a glass lens sealed permanently together as a unit. Originally introduced for road vehicle headlamp service, sealed beams have since been applied elsewhere. Halogen sealed beam lamps incorporate a halogen lamp within a quartz or hard glass envelope. sealed beam lamps come in a variety of standardized sizes and nominal voltage ratings.
Historically, Par Cans were named for the fact that the fixture, the “can,” held a Parabolic Aluminum Reflector. It was the lamp that gave the fixtures their namesake. Some lamps would be wide flood, while others might be a narrow spot. Some were circular in output, while others were oval. The oval ones could be rotated to adjust which way you wanted the light to go. Today, while we still call these conventional fixtures “par cans,” similar-use LED fixtures have also been wrapped into this category. All in all, “par cans” are simply wash lights that can be colored.