Cree has done it again. This evaluation is early but so far the LED standard incandescent, type-A, Edison base bulb looks like a winner.
I’m trying the “60-watt replacement” (I wonder how long we’ll stick with that terminology, labeling lamps in terms of an equivalent output from an incandescent bulb). I am very impressed. Flick the switch, and it is on, at full brightness. This is very different that the “instant on” CFL it replaced which did come on fast, but not bright. It’s rated at 9.5 watts and 800 lumens, and it’s certainly brighter than the 24 watt CFL it replaces in the test fixture. The color is a warm 2700K, great for residential applications. It’s also available in a 5000K version if that’s your preference. A quick dimmer test seems to support the CREE dimmability claims—I plan to try it with a few other dimmable switches. And I‘ll certainly be interested in how it functions over time, although it will take me a while to get anywhere near the 25,000 hour rating. The CRI is 80, not as good as the Cree recessed lighting products which top 90, but again it sure beats the CFL in my naked-eye comparison.
As you can see in the picture above, the bulb looks pretty “normal” making it a bit of an anomaly in the sector. It doesn’t have the big heat sink fins of other competing products. Personally, I don’t care much about that either way, but many homeowners might. Another thing that sets it apart—the price! I picked up the “60W” for $12.97 at Home Depot online, and the “40W” version is $9.97.
The bulb has a high-friction outside coating. Cree calls this “safety coated glass”. I’ll be curious to see how it’s impacted by dust over time, and whether the impacts light output. Also, while there is great 360-degree light distribution around the long axis, if your fixture needs light to come out of the “top” of the bulb (opposite the screw-in base), this isn’t the bulb for you. As you can see in the picture at the right, with the bulbs oriented along the long axis in the fixture, the ends of the glass are not illuminated well.
That said, at first blush, I love this bulb. And for recessed applications, I’m a fan of Cree’s CR6. Two years into the testing and it’s still doing great (After trying about a dozen models, this was the clear winner, and I have about 20 in my home–see my old review of the CR6). It sure looks like Cree has another winner with this bulb.