NEMA Beam Angle Types: What Are They All About?

What Are NEMA Beam Types All About?

Our customer service team gets asked this question all the time: what does a NEMA Type 6×5 Beam Angle mean?

In short, it refers to the horizontal and vertical beam spread of a luminaire. But before we get into the details, let’s look at why it was developed and how the NEMA system got its name:

The NEMA Beam Angle Type is a fixture light distribution classification system established by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. A universal way to classify light distribution is important, especially for contractors and lighting specifiers who work with outdoor fixtures such as flood and sports lights. When planning an outdoor lighting project, it is crucial to know what the distribution of light is within the beam produced by a fixture. The NEMA Beam Angle classification helps to standardize these measurements so that you can correctly calculate the number of fixtures you need and the spacing required between them.


Narrow Spot or Wide Flood?

When you want to highlight an architectural feature, you would need a fixture with a narrow angle; but if you want to wash a large stone wall to showcase its features, a wider angle would be appropriate. By using the NEMA Beam Angle classification, you can safely select the best fixture for your application. The classification system identifies seven beam types. These seven beam types indicate the two planes of light (asymmetrical) where their intensity is 10% of the maximum candlepower emitting nearest the center beam of the light (a.k.a. the “field angle”).


 Beam SpreadNEMA TypeDescription 
10° - 18°1Very Narrow Spot
18° - 29°2Narrow Spot
29° - 46°3Medium Narrow Spot
46° - 70°4Medium Flood
70° - 100°5Medium Wide Flood
100° - 130°6Wide Flood
130°+7Very Wide Flood


Based on these 7 beam types, if the fixture you are considering has the specifications of NEMA Type 6×5, then its horizontal beam spread would be 100°-130° and its vertical beam spread would be 70°-100°, classifying it as a wide flood.

As you can see, it’s really simple to use the NEMA Beam Type classification system. No guessing. No inconsistencies. (Note, if only one number is given in the fixture’s specifications, then the beam distribution would be symmetrical).

Imagine facing a job where you’re required to use different fixtures made by several manufacturers all in the same area. By referring to the NEMA Beam Angle classification, you’ll know what to expect.


Never Guess NEMA Beam Angle Types Again

We’ve made it easier for you to reference NEMA Beam Angle Types. Download this infographic and you’ll never find yourself guessing at what the numbers mean again!

NEMA Beam Angle Type Cheat Sheet Premise LED

Next time you are planning a project with outdoor floods, stadium or sports lights, you’ll already have the answer to understanding NEMA Beam Types. Hope this helps!