We have several of the cool white CREE LED Light Bulbs situated throughout our home, and if they last as long as CREE predicts, they’ll pay for themselves at least three times over by the time they burn out. We’ve used one 9.5-watt (60-watt equivalent) unit as a night light in the bathroom for over two years now. This bulb has run in that time, constantly, without failure, and cost us only $13 at Home Depot in 2013. So far, that’s approximately 17,520 hours of continuous glowing; a conventional light bulb would have required placement over 17 times!
These bulbs operate with SOME heating. But they don’t become nearly as hot to the touch as the incandescent bulbs. They run silently, without buzzing, even when dimmed. On radios, they’re also very quiet; generating no detectable interference on the most susceptible frequencies. While a bit more troublesome to clean up, when used in enclosed fixtures, dust exposure can be minimalized, preventing overheating and premature burnout. But though still somewhat pricey, CREE LED lighting is fast-becoming the sensible lighting choice for small and large homes alike. Finally, we have a light bulb that you may never have to replace again. It’s good.
Benefits, Features, Advantages, and Pros
- Popular power sizes available. These bulbs come in 40, 60, 75, and 100 watt 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.
- Way 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 13 watts! The 60-watt equivalent CREE gives 60 watts of “incandescent” light, while drawing only 9.5 watts from the mains.
- Cooler operation. With so much more of the consumed power going into actually producing useful light, and less to wasteful heat, LED bulbs radiate far less heat. CREE says that their bulbs can be up to 82 percent more efficient than incandescent bulbs.
- Long life. They rate these at 25,000 hours average life expectancy.
- Durable construction. Does not break easily when dropped.
- 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.
- Full brightness, even in the cold. Like incandescent lighting, but not like compact fluorescent lamps, LED bulbs operate efficiently even in very cold temperatures. You get full luminosity even when the room is freezing cold.
- Less light output decrease over time. As incandescent bulbs accrue more hours of operation, the internal filament evaporates over that time, and the metal deposits itself on the inside of their glass envelopes. So, by the time the bulb burns out, its light output has significantly decreased due to the darkened glass that results from these metal deposits. However, LED bulbs do not experience this source of light output reduction. They retain much more of their new-state brightness, even when they’ve neared the end of life.
- Dimmable. This line of CREE LED bulbs is fully compatible with standard leading-edge type dimmers, remaining silent no matter how dim you make them.
- More constant color rendition index (CRI) while dimming. Unlike incandescent bulbs, whose color output changes from bright white to light yellow, to yellow-orange, to orange, to orange-red, and finally to deep read as you dim them down from full brightness, CREE LED bulbs do not change their color output nearly as much. Even when dimmed, you still get mostly daylight (5,000 K) or room light (2,700 K). With these LEDs you get just dimmer but same-colored light. The spectral output remains nearly unchanged, no matter how much dimming is applied.
- Less radio interference. Even during dimmed operation, since these LED devices draw less current through the dimmer, any leading-edge switching interference normally produced when dimming incandescent lamps, is way reduced with LEDs.
- Less dust accumulation. With the lower heat output of LEDs, these bulbs 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.
- Omnidirectional. The radiation characteristics of these LED bulbs 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.
- Frosted exterior. Softens shadows and helps spread the light more evenly.
- Ten year warranty.
Disadvantages, Cons, Problems, Limitations
- May not fit in EVERY light fixture. The abrupt taper of the heat sink
- Heavier than “Edison” light bulbs. Due to the internal support electronics and the rather massive finned heat sink, these bulbs can wwigh up to several times as much as a traditional incandescent bulb.
- Cleanup can be difficult. Due to the tackiness on the bulb part, dust can be harder than simply wiping off, to remove. Also, the interior portions of the heat sink fins can accumulate dirt, particularly when these bulbs are deployed in dusty locations. Too much “clogging” of these channels can spell premature bulb failure because when dirty, the sink does not as efficiently dissipate the component-damaging heat. Improved heat sinking design (wider and fewer channels) may ease bulb cleanup problems.
- Should not be just tossed into the trash. These bulbs, due to the electronics they contain, should be properly recycled.
- Initially expensive. Though CREE bulbs usually pay for themselves several times over throughout their entire lives, the initial cost of over $10 per bulb still turns away many consumers. However, over the past few years, prices have fallen, with quantity deals becoming widely pushed. So, we expect the higher single-unit prices to be temporary.
- Get rid of the heat sink 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 wipedown.
- Lower the price.
We’re pleased that CREE has created an affordable yet highly energy efficient product. It’s now possible for the average consumer (our biggest population segment) to go green, without breaking the bank. With the decade-long warranty, sub $12 price tag per unit, and shock-resistant construction, we’ve found the CREE bulbs highly durable, and given that warranty, we fear little over accidental failure due to excessive vibration. The bulbs provide a decently full, natural-looking daylight in most situations, or for the 2,700 K version, an accurate, incandescent-looking illumination. It’s great to see LEDs finally moving into mainstream lighting markets (they sure took their time getting there). We believe that CREE has done an outstanding job ushering this technology into mass consumer markets. They’ve helped convince many, by offering such a great product, that it really is worth the cost to upgrade from filament- and fluorescent-based lights to LED. We’d therefore, rate this product at 94 out of 100, and if the price drops per unit drops several more dollars, our rating will certainly rise.
- CREE LED Bulbs Official Product Web Site
- Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) on Wikipedia
- Where to buy CREE LED Light Bulbs
- 2017-02-01: Updated tags list. Changed post title to: CREE LED Bulb Review.
- 2016-01-16: Added more appropriate tags.
- 2015-09-27: Added tags.
- 2015-07-26: Originally published.