Review: CREE™ A19 BA19 60w LED Soft White 2700k Dimmable Light Bulb for Indoor or Outdoor Use

We have a couple of the soft white CREE™ LED dimmable 60w light bulbs in the A19 form factor, situated throughout our dwelling.

If they last as long as CREE™ predicts they will, they’ll pay for themselves at least several times over by the time they light for the last time.  We’ve used two 9-watt (60-watt incandescent equivalent) units as kitchen counter lights on and off for several years now.  These bulbs have run in that time, at least ten hours per day, without burning out, and cost us only $11 apiece at Home Depot in 2014.  No bulb failures have occurred for us so far.  But a conventional incandescent light bulb would have required replacement several times in that same period, and cost way more to run!

Cree™ LED bulbs 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.

While a bit harder to clean when used in enclosed fixtures, dust exposure can be minimalized by operating the bulb in approved enclosures.  This keeps the dust away in the first place, preventing overheating and premature burnout.

But though still somewhat pricey, these CREE™ 60-watt 2700k LED light bulbs are fast-assuming the most sensible lighting choice for small and large homes alike.  Finally!  They make a light bulb that you may never have to replace again.  That’s not only awesome for the consumer, but better for the planet too.  Win-win.

Like the 5000k bulbs reviewed earlier, these 2700k bulbs sport a substantial metal finned heat sink just above their bases as shown in the pictures.  So they indeed operate with substantial heating.  But they don’t become nearly as hot to the touch as the traditional filament bulbs, although you should still be careful handling them; particularly when they’ve been operating for over a half-hour (the heat sink does grow too hot to handle.  Even these 60-watt versions still become too hot to touch, especially on the heat sink.

Benefits, Features, Advantages, and Pros

Popular 60 watt power size available.  These bulbs come in 40, 60, 75, and 100 watt (we’re reviewing the 60-watt soft white version here) incandescent equivalent outputs.  Note that this rating IS NOT the amount of energy that this LED bulb actually draws from the power line.  Rather, it expresses the amount of equivalent incandescent lamp light output that you get with this bulb.

Soft white light output.  The color temperature of this CREE™ LED bulb is 2700k, which is the sort of light you get from a standard incandescent light bulb, running at full brightness. In fact, we looked at this bulb and an incandescent one side-by-side, and the difference in light hue was virtually indiscernible. Unlike the “stark, harsh, and clinical white descriptions often attributed to the cool white, 5000k LED bulbs, this 2700k version creates a cozy feel about it, for an inviting, intimate space.  So it’s great for living rooms and bedrooms.

Way more light per watt.  For the CREE™ 60-watt bulb, you get the same amount of light that an incandescent light bulb emits.  Yet you only pay for 9 watts!    This CREE™ gives 60 watts of “incandescent” light, while drawing just 9 watts.

Cooler operation.  With so much more of the consumed power going into 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.  The globe part appears to be made of a thick glass or very heavy plastic.  And of course, you have that hefty heat sink just above the base.

For indoor as well as outdoor use.

Suitable for damp locations.

Instant-on, full brightness.  You get full brightness almost instantly upon LED turn-on.  No need to “warm up” this bulb.

Near flicker-free light.  At full brightness, we detect no perceptible flickers or blinks, no matter the ambient room temperature.  Even when dimmed to very low output values, flicker is a bit noticeable but by no means severe.

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

Less light output decrease over time.  As incandescent bulbs acquire more hours of operation, the hot internal filament evaporates over that time, with the metal depositing 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 their end of life.

Dimmable.  This line of CREE™ LED bulbs is fully compatible with standard leading-edge and rheostat type dimmers, remaining silent no matter how dim you set 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™ dimmable LED bulbs do not change their color output nearly as much.  Even when dimmed to 10 percent of full brightness, you still get mostly a warmer white (2700 K).  With these bulbs, you get just less bright 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 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.

Nearly omnidirectional.  The radiation characteristics are 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, although they radiate noticeable more from the sides than from the top; not a big deal when used in most lamps.

Lightly frosted exterior.  Softens shadows and helps spread the light more evenly.

Ten year warranty.

Easy to find.  Home Depot, 1000 Bulbs, and numerous other stores and online vendors carry the CREE™ brand of LED bulbs.

Disadvantages, Cons, Problems, Limitations

Cleanup can be difficult.  Due to the tackiness on the globe 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.

May not fit in EVERY light fixture.  The extra width of the heat sink near the base may prevent proper fitting of this bulb into some light fixtures and lamps.

NOT for use in enclosed fixtures.  This particular bulb may overheat or cause heat damage to an enclosed fixture if operated inside it.

Heavier than incandescent light bulbs.   Due to the internal support electronics and the rather massive finned heat sink, these bulbs can weigh up to several times as much as a traditional incandescent bulb.

Should not be just pitched 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 roughly $10  per bulb may still turn away many consumers.  But the pricing is improving.  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.

Suggested Improvements

Get rid of the heat sink.  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.  Many 60w LED bulbs these days cost less than half of what you pay for the CREE™ bulbs.

Our Rating

We’re pleased that CREE™ has created an affordable yet highly energy efficient 60w replacement light bulb product, that looks almost just like an incandescent bulb,  but consumes way less power.  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 $10 price tag per unit, and shock-resistant construction, we’ve found the CREE™ bulbs highly durable.  Plus, given that warranty, we fear that we’ll break them.

It’s great to see LEDs finally entering the mainstream lighting arenas.   We believe that CREE™ has done a second-to-none job bringing forward this technology into mass consumer markets.  They’ve indeed convinced many, by offering such an effective and reliable lighting 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 97 out of 100, and if the price drops per unit drops several more dollars, our rating will certainly rise.

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Revision History

  • 2018-02-27: Updated the tags list and title, and added some content.
  • 2017-02-15: Originally published.