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What is a GU10 Spotlight Bulb?

Visit any home or business that has spotlights in the ceiling, and chances are those recesses are filled with a GU10 spotlight bulb. Sometimes, this is also known as a PAR 16 bulb. This is the most common type of spotlight bulb around today, and is specifically designed to fit into spotlight or downlight fixtures and produce a directional beam.

It’s so popular because of its simple ‘twist and lock’ base, which means that the bulb can quickly and easily be fitted into the recess - and changed - without an electrician.

History & Evolution

Originally, GU10 spotlight bulbs were energy-hungry halogens.However, while the overall design has remained the same, the bulb itself has undergone some dramatic changes over the past few years, both in terms of technology (more on that later), and features and functionality. Once known for their warm glow, today’s modern LED GU10 bulbs come in all sorts of temperatures and colours, and some are even smart-enabled, too.

What Does a GU10 Bulb Look Like?

The name ‘GU10’ comes from the two pins that extend outwards from the base of the bulb, which are spaced 10mm apart. These pins are pushed into the fixture to secure the bulb in place. The standard GU10 bulb is around 50 - 55mm in length, which fits into most spotlight fixtures perfectly, without protruding from the ceiling, or sitting too far into the recess. However, there are some long barrel options available, at around 75mm.

Where are GU10 Bulbs Used?

As a spotlight fitting they can fit into small spaces and produce a wide yet focused beam.They produce a bright, directional light where needed. This means they are often used to create greater levels of light in areas that may need a little more than a standard ceiling light can deliver on its own. GU10s are often found above kitchen work surfaces, over desks in the home office, above bathroom mirrors, and over decorative items.

Commercially, it is very common to find GU10s above seating areas in restaurants and lounges, in offices and meeting rooms, and in showrooms to highlight specific products.


Older GU10 spotlight bulbs were designed for use with halogen or CFL lighting technologies. However, with growing demand for longer lasting, environmentally-friendly alternatives, the LED GU10 is fast becoming the standard. The LED GU10 brings energy efficient LED technology into the standard GU10 bulb shape, which makes it quick and easy to upgrade older GU10s to the latest LED bulbs.

Created by Steve Ellwood on 18th February, 2021


Steve Ellwood

Steve Ellwood

Qualified as an Electrician, founder of BLT Direct