Picture of the Cree™ 100w LED soft white 2700k dimmable A21 light bulb, original package front.

CREE 100w LED Soft White Dimmable Bulb Review

We have several of the soft white CREE LED dimmable 100w light bulb throughout our home. So if they last as long as CREE™ predicts, they’ll pay for themselves at least three times over.

We’ve used two 18-watt (100-watt equivalent) units as nightstand lights in the bedroom for over two years now.  These bulbs have run in that time, at least two hours per day. They have not burned out. Plus, they cost us only $13 apiece at Home Depot in 2013.  But an older light bulb would have failed at least a few times by now!

These bulbs are  harder to clean up. But they don’t get very dusty when put in enclosed fixtures. These fixtures limit dust exposure, and prevents overheating and early failure.

Still somewhat pricey. But these CREE™ 100-watt LED light bulbs are fast-becoming the sensible lighting choice for small and large homes.  Finally, they make a light bulb that you may never have to replace again.  It’s good.

These bulbs sport a substantial metal finned heat sink just above their bases.  So they indeed operate with SOME heating.  But they don’t become nearly as hot to the touch as the incandescent bulbs. But be careful handling them though when they’ve been operating for over a half-hour. The heat sink does grow too hot to handle as the bulb runs.

They run silently, without buzzing, even when dimmed.  On radios, they’re also very quiet; generating no detectable interference on the AM shortwave frequencies most vulnerable to interference.

Picture of the Cree™ 100w LED dimmable A21 light bulb, held in hand.
Cree™ 100w LED dimmable A21 light bulb, held in hand.

Benefits, Features, Advantages, and Pros of the CREE 100w LED Soft White Light Bulb

Soft White Light Output

The color temperature of this CREE™ LED bulb is 2700k. This is like the light you get from incandescent light bulbs at full brightness. In fact, we looked at this bulb and an incandescent one side-by-side.  But the difference in color output was quite hard to see.

We often hear the stark, harsh, and clinical white descriptions about the cool white, 5000k LED bulbs. Bu this 2700k warm white bulb creates a cozy feel about it. It augments an inviting, intimate, and relaxing space. So it’s great to use in living rooms and bedrooms. It provides an excellent incandescent look.

Popular 100 Watt Power Size

These bulbs come in 40, 60, 75, and 100 watt (reviewed here) incandescent equivalent outputs.  Note that this rating IS NOT the amount of power that this LED bulb actually draws from the mains.  Rather, it expresses the amount of incandescent lamp light output that you get with this bulb.

The CREE 100w LED Soft White Bulb Offers Much More Light per Watt

For the CREE™ 100-watt bulb, you get the same amount of light that an incandescent light bulb emits.  Yet you only pay for 18 watts!    The 100-watt equivalent CREE™ gives a hundred watts of “incandescent” light, while drawing only 18 watts.

Cooler Operation

With LEDs, so much more power goes into useful light. Less of it goes to wasteful heat. Thus,  these LED bulbs give off much less heat.  CREE™ says that their bulbs are up to 82 percent more efficient than hot filament bulbs.

Long Life

They rate these at 25,000 hours average life.

Rugged Build

Does not break easily when dropped.

The CREE 100w LED Soft White Bulb has No Warm-Up Time

You get full brightness almost instantly upon LED turn-on.

Near Flicker-Free Light

At full brightness, we detect no perceptible flickers, no matter the ambient room temperature.  Even when dimmed to very low output values, flicker is a bit noticeable but not severe.  Further, how much the bulb flickers is also a function of the quality of the light dimmer itself.  If your dimmer is cheap, or produces a very choppy power waveform, you’ll get more flicker.  But these LED bulbs minimize that effect while still being dimmable.

Instant Full Brightness, Even in the Cold

Like incandescent lighting, but not like compact fluorescent lamps, LED bulbs operate efficiently even in very cold temperatures.  The CREE™ units are no exception. you get full luminosity even when the room is freezing cold.

Less Light Output Falloff Over Time

As incandescent bulbs operate, the filament inside evaporates. Then, the metal builds up on the inside of the glass.  So, by the time the bulb burns out, its light output has decreased a bit due to the darkened.

But LED bulbs do not experience this source of light output reduction.  They keep much more of their new-state brightness, even when near end of life.

The CREE 100w LED Soft White Lamp is Dimmable

This soft-white line of CREE™ LED bulbs works with standard light dimmers. Plus, it does not buzz while dimming.  It stays silent no matter how low you set the dimmer.

More Constant Color Rendition Index (CRI) While Dimming

Unlike incandescent bulbs, these CREE™ dimmable soft white LEDs do not change color output as much.  But older bulbs’ color output shifts a lot as you dim them.  It goes from bright white to light yellow. Then to yellow-orange, to orange, to orange-red, and finally to deep red.

But even when dimmed to 10 percent of full brightness, you still get the same warm hue (2700 K).  With these LED bulbs, you get just less bright but same-colored light.  The spectral output stays the same no matter how much dimming you do.

Less Radio Interference

During dimming, these LED devices draw less current through the dimmer. So any switching noise you normally get when dimming incandescent lamps, is way lower with LEDs.

Less Dust Build Up

With the lower heat output of LEDs, these bulbs run cooler, and so attract less dust and dirt.  The fine dust particles that do accumulate, do not stick as much to these, as they did on incandescent bulbs.

Puts Out Light in Almost All Directions

The radiation characteristics is very much like traditional incandescent lighting.  They give off light in nearly equal amounts in all directions except for directly underneath the bulb, toward the socket. Yet they they give out more light from the sides than from the top.  No big deal though in most lamps.

Lightly Frosted Shield

Softens shadows and helps spread the light more evenly.  This frosting blurs the image of the LEDs inside, but you can still make them out.

Ten Year Warranty

Picture of the Cree™ 100w LED soft white 2700k dimmable A21 light bulb, original package back.
Cree™ 100w LED soft white 2700k dimmable A21 light bulb, original package back.

Disadvantages, Cons, Problems, Limitations of the CREE 100w LED Soft White 2700K A21 Bulb

May Not Fit in EVERY Light Fixture

The extra width of the heat sink near the base may cause poor bulb fitting into some light fixtures.

Heavier than “Edison” Light Bulbs

The heat sink and electronics inside and the massive heat sink weigh down these bulbs a bit.   Indeed, they often weigh some ounces more than a 20th century bulb.

Cleanup can be Hard

Due to the tackiness on the globe part, dust can be harder than simply wiping off, to remove.  Also, the heat sink fins can pick up dirt when you place these bulbs in dusty spaces.  Too much “clogging” of these channels can spell early LED failure. Why? Because when dirty, the sink does not cool the bulb as well.  And too much heat shortens LED life.  But better heat sink design, with wider and fewer channels, may ease bulb cleanup.

Should Not be Just Tossed into the Garbage

These bulbs, due to the electronics they contain, should be properly recycled.

Costly to Buy

CREE™ bulbs usually pay for themselves at least a few times over their lives. Yet the cost of over $10 apiece still turns away many buyers.  But over the past few years, their prices have fallen, with quantity deals becoming widely pushed.  So, we expect the higher single-unit prices to disappear.

Suggested Improvements for this CREE 100w LED Soft White Bulb

Get Rid of Cooling Fins

Removing dust and debris from the small heat-flow channel spaces between each fin can be grueling.  Wider channels, or no channels, would allow for more complete and probably more frequent cleaning.  Hopefully however, increasing LED efficiency will reduce the need for such heavy metal radiators in future generations of this product.

Remove Exterior Tackiness

This would facilitate rapid bulb wipe down.

Reduce the CREE 100w LED Soft White Bulb Price

Many soft white 100w LED bulbs these days cost less than half of what you pay for the CREE™ bulbs. But  CREE™ makes their bulbs like tanks. It’s quite a hefty feeling product when you hold it in your hand.

Our Rating on the CREE 100w LED Soft White Light Bulb

We’re pleased that CREE™ has built an affordable yet highly energy efficient light bulb.  This soft white lamp really looks like an incandescent lamp.  It’s not too pink, and not too purple.  They indeed took care to get the light color just right.  It’s now possible to go green with bulbs that look like the filament bulbs of the past.  So we have the ten year warranty, sub $12 price tag, and rugged build. This makes CREE LED bulbs of high quality for the money.

It’s great to see LEDs finally moving into mainstream lighting market.  They sure indeed took their time getting there.   We believe that CREE™ has done a great job moving this technology into consumer markets.  They’ve convince many, by offering such a good product, that it really is worth the cost to upgrade to LED.  We thus rate this bulb at 95 out of 100.   If the price drops five or six more dollars, our rating will go up.

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References for CREE Soft White 100w LED Light Bulb

Revision History

  • 2019-08-18: Added key phrase targeting for ‘CREE 100w LED Soft’, removed ad code, and added more links and tags.
  • 2017-02-14: Originally published.