Outdoor PAR Flood Light Cans




Don't you hate it when your outdoor color flood lights loose their color coatings. Once the coatings get hot and start to flake off, they are pretty much useless.  Depending on where you buy them, they cost around $6 each to replace. Typically, I usually only get two holiday "uses", Halloween and Christmas, before the coatings start flaking off.

For just a few dollars more up front, these outdoor lighting cans can save you a bunch of cash in the long run.

Step 1: What You Will Need

I found all the materials at my local home improvement store. I purchased the gels online (http://www.ebay.com).  I buy them in bulk, it's cheaper per gel.

5" x 4" Heating / Ventilation Taper Reducer
Lighting Gels (color as desired & high heat rated)
5" Screw Drive Hose Clamp
High Heat, Flat Green (or Flat Black) Spray Paint, RUST-OLEUM brand
100 watt Clear Flood Light Bulb
Outdoor Flood Light Base Assembly

Tin Snips
Standard Screwdriver
Safety Razor Blade (not shown)

Step 2: Paint

Paint the Taper Reducer and the hose clamp. 

This will take about 4 coats. The paint tends to "fish-eye" on the first coat, but will start to cover on the second.  I forgot to paint my hose clamp in this photo, but got it later.

Step 3: Cut, Trim & Bend

Now, to make some tabs which will be used to hold the CAN to the BASE & BULB assembly.  Use the tin snips to make a series of cuts starting from edge of the 4" diameter end (the smaller of the two ends) of the reducer. Stop cutting when you reach the crimp.  As shown in the photos, make two cuts to produce one tab.  I experimented here with a few different patterns.  On my first CAN, I only cut two tabs, which worked great. This CAN, I decided to cut 4 tabs. Two is plenty fine, 4 is better.

After cutting the  tabs, bend them outwards a little to help with the next step.  Once bent outward, trim about 3/4" off the tabs. Once you have completed trimming the tabs, bend the tabs back inward towards the center of the reducer. Go ahead and bend them a little past 90 degrees, so they are starting to point "downwards" as shown in the last photo.

Step 4: Assemble the Base, Can, and Bulb

AND NOW FOR THE INFAMOUS DISCLAIMER.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.......... Since you are working with 115 vac, at the very least, getting shocked hurts and worst, may kill you.  Do not screw the bulb into the base with the base plugged into an electrical outlet.  Take note and care to be certain that THE TABS DO NOT COME IN CONTACT WITH THREADED PORTION OF THE LIGHT BULB.  The tabs shouldn't even come close. IF THEY DO, trim a little bit more off the tabs until you have made sufficient clearance. 

Insert the bulb into the CAN, through the newly formed tabs, and screw the bulb into the light base.

Step 5: Adding the Color Gel

Choose your gel color. Place your gel over the large end of the can and slide the clamp over it. Tighten the clamp, and trim the excess gel with a safety razor.  Depending on the size gels you purchase, its possible to get two filters from the larger gels sheets.

Tip: Don't toss away the gels scraps.  Combine left-over pieces sandwiched between two clear gels, to make a gel mosaic.

Step 6: Choose Your Base

In the side by side comparison, you can see a vast difference between the standard store bought color coated flood light on the left, verses the improved PAR lighting can on the right. 
All thats left is to choose which type of base to use, the ground spike or the surface mount.

Some Points of Interest:
If need be, you can attach a short length of 5" heating / ventilation tube to the reducer, and mount your gel to it, effectively reducing the heat to the gel. Painting the inside of the extension flat black will help mask the lights location to viewers from the "front" side. 

A plastic FOLGERS coffee can is what I use to store the different Gels which have already been cut and formed.  Depending on what holiday it is as to which gels I use.

Experiment with the gels.  One green, vs two green gels stacked changes the depth of green. I have found for halloween, stack a green and blue gel will give a creepier dark green.

Less bulb inventory. No need to buy all those different color bulbs.  A Multi pack of clear is all you'll need, at a third of the price each, and you can use them until they burn out, not just until the coating starts to flake off. 



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    11 Discussions


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Very cool. What a simple trick to get a clean look for a little money.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome, very helpful! Suggestions on where to obtain the gels? I checked Sam Ash online (we have one locally), and they have assortments, but I want only blue and green (and I'm cheap ;-).


    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    In the past, I've seen some sellers on eBay offer single color gel sets. Good luck.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    These work very well. I make a few more each year to expand my "collectin". If you do make one, I think you will be very satisfied with the results. Thanks for leaving a comment.


    I have make some (before I saw ths instructable)
    I am using them For DJ lighting.

    I used a 60w 240v bulb. My housing is made from golden syrup tins (becuase they are reflective and insuferable to heat)
    This is covererd by a cardboard tube which I am going to paint

    Picture below

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool idea.  A 240v bulb huh, now that will require some upgraded wiring.  They should only be used indoors it looks like with the cardboard sleeve. Thanks for the feedback and comment.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    So I have to say they were pretty easyto make.....
    We did a little something at our house and it came out really good


    9 years ago on Introduction

     neat project, nice "ible"  Couldn't you bend the tabs around the socket after the bulb is in place reducing almost all possible contact with the bulb base? 
     For those who really want the labels removed, WD40 works wonders, just spray it on, let sit a couple of minutes and off it comes

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    As with anything, there is usually more than one way to skin a (insert your favorite skinned animal here, I don't want to offend any cat lovers).  I know I made it sound dangerous, and it would be, if it ever were to happen.  The tabs I've made have never came close. I wanted to get folks attention, just to be sure they understand.

    Thanks!, for the WD40 tip. I'll use it next time.   Anyone who uses WD40, do clean all traces of it off your reducers and clamps so the paint will stick. Thanks for the feed-back.