Cree LED Light Bulb Review

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Cree LED Light Bulbs
Grade: A
Teachers’ Comments: I look forward to the day when I can replace all my incandescent and CFLs with LEDs

During the 2013 Open Championship, you probably saw a series of advertisements for a new LED lightbulb from Cree.  It seems a strange product placement until you begin to consider the golfing community’s recent emphasis on sustainability. Because I’ve written about sustainability in the past, Cree sent a couple of their LED bulbs for testing at GolfBlogger World Headquarters.

As you probably know, the incandescent bulbs that we’ve been using for well over a century are pretty inefficient generators of light. Most of the energy they consume is thrown off as heat. Compact Flourescent Lights (CFL) and LED lights, on the other hand, are vastly more efficient.

I’ve installed CFL lights in several places around the house and frankly found them wanting. They take forever to warm up and generate their full illumination. The light they create has a funny cast. They don’t last nearly as long as advertised. And worst—for a product supposed to be environmentally friendly—the ballast contains an amount of mercury.

LED lights, on the other hand, have a much higher light quality Technically speaking, they also should last much longer than other light technologies. LEDs light up instantly. And they don’t have that nasty heavy metal problem.

But… and there’s always a but, isn’t there—the have until recently been quite expensive.

Cree has broken the price barrier by offering a 40 watt equivalent for $9.99 and a 60 watt daylight bulb for $13.99.  That’s significantly lower than anything I’ve seen offered to this point.

The Cree LED is supposed to save 84 percent on energy compared to regular bulbs. It is also supposed to last some 25,000 hours. That’s nearly three years running 24/7. I suspect that with normal use, they would last eight to ten.

Some numbers I’ve run (I won’t bore you with the details) suggest that—even considering the cost of the bulbs), the cost of running an LED is half that of an incandescent. I for one woldn’t mind seeing a significant reduction in my electric bill.

I think a good illustration of the energy efficiency is that you can touch the bulb’s surface without burning your hand.

Thing One, the teenager, is the household’s resident expert on all things electric. When he was just two, he would ride in his stroller or a grocery cart through a store and point out lights that were flickering or burned out. When he was five, we took a trip to the Henry Ford museum in Dearborn and he begged for an electrical experiment kit that we saw in the gift shop. I got him the kit, figuring that we could work on it together. The next morning, we found him on his bedroom floor, with all the experiments completed. He could not yet read, but had figured out all the circuits. Thing One’s interest and command of electricity and light have only increased over the years.

Given Thing One’s innate expertise, I turned the bulbs over to him for an evaluation. He tested a standard bulb in one of our sockets with some infernal device, then tested the Cree LED. He recorded a few numbers and then judged the Cree LED to be “excellent.” He especially liked how well they worked in the dimmer.

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I don’t know by what scientific means Thing One arrived at his conclusion. What I do know that that I can’t tell the difference between the Cree LED in the kitchen light and the incandescent. It lights up instantly, throws light evenly, and has a nice, warm look. I hated reading by CFL. It si much nicer with the LEDs.

Here’s another thing that Cree LCDs have over most incandescents and competing LEDs: They look like regular bulbs and fit perfectly into a relatively tight space designed specifically for standard bulbs. Other LED bulbs I’ve seen have strange looking flanges or overly large bases that limit their usage.

Cree is a multinational LED manufacturer formed in 1987 by researchers at North Carolina State University. The are headquartered in Durham, North Carlina. While you can’t underestimate the profit motive, the company also seems to be on a mission:

Cree’s mission is to obsolete energy wasting light bulbs and drive 100% adoption of LED
lighting. Engaging the consumer as an ally is an important factor to realizing this mission. In our relentless efforts to innovate and improve LED lighting, we developed a breakthrough that allowed us to overcome fundamental obstacles to consumer adoption of the LED light bulb – great light quality in a simple design at an affordable price.

Cree has a long and successful history of pushing the LED lighting market when it isn’t moving fast enough. The new Cree LED bulb showcases innovations across LED chips and components, optics technology, systems and overall bulb design. The result is a high quality, long lasting, affordable LED bulb that consumers can trust to replace their existing incandescent.

The Cree LED bulb gives consumers a reason to switch. We believe this breakthrough LED bulb will, for the first time, motivate consumers to upgrade the billions of energy-wasting light bulbs installed in their homes.

I hope that this is just the beginning of things to come for Cree. The 60 watts equivalents are nice, but I could definitely use a 100 watt equivalent. Some three-way bulbs would be great. And to completely outfit my house with LEDs, I’d need some other odd sizes that fit into chandeliers and bathroom light fixtures.

I look forward to the day when all this is possible. My bank account will be grateful for the reduced electric bills. And I’ll be doing my part for a more sustainable world.

You can find Cree bulbs at The Home Depot

2 thoughts on “Cree LED Light Bulb Review”

  1. I am interested.  I started getting a few CFLs a few years back and really didn’t like them.  When I had one of them burn up and ended up with this putrid smoke smell in a bathroom for about a week, I took them all out and put back in incandescent. 

    My house has two types of lights – recessed flood lights and dimming fan lights.  Every room, every hallway.  Last year I tried a recessed flood LED in one of the bathrooms, and other than the 65W-equivelent LED was brighter than the 65W regular flood it was paired with – it was great.  My wife checked it off as ok to replace throughout the house, but we would wait and do all lights in a room or hallway together – no mis-matched sets.  We have just put that bulb in full use in a hallway—everyone is happy.

    As for the dimming fan LEDs, I got some Lowes brand (made by Sylvania) for the main TV room which mostly has some level of dimming.  The bulbs were a complete fail.  The pair did not put out the same amount of light at various dimming levels (but did at 100% on) – but then one of the two would no longer have any light when it was not 100% on after about 2 months.  Now at 8 months, the other bulb is doing the same thing. 

    I am going to try this CREE – because I want this room in particular to have dimmable LEDs.  The lights are on at about 50% most of the time in this room – but if I am really going to do the LED thing, the bulbs HAVE to last years.

  2. I love LED lighting. I am intrigued by the fact that LED’s give off very little heat for the amount of light that they emit. Like the author of the above article, I’m waiting for LED’s to invade all aspects of the lighting market.

    I’ve noticed that some of the street lights in the city of North Las Vegas, Nevada have LED street lights and they are definitely the way to go. You can’t see any of the LED’s until you’re very close to them. They are very bright but are not obtrusive and do not contribute to light pollution like the mercury vapor, or the sodium based lighting.

    LED’s have come a very long way in a short time but have yet to come into their own. However, with more public awareness of just how much money can be saved by using LED’s for all types of lighting, I believe that could change very rapidly.

    Cree, Inc. is definitely a leader in the LED research/development/manufacturing industry. Any lighting product you purchase that employ Cree LED’s is going to be a cutting edge, top notch product, and well worth the asking price.

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