Today’s LED light bulbs are showcasing some bright ideas (pun intended). Manufactures today are designing household LED bulbs that have the potential to last for decades, and when combined with their decreasing sticker price, they’ve become more affordable and popular than ever. However, the growing popularity of the LED bulb cannot simply be credited to new technology. Thanks to newly enacted efficiency standards, traditional incandescent bulbs have been phased out in favor of more efficient, environmentally-friendly alternatives.
In theory, purchasing a bulb with a short payback time and 20+ year lifespan often seems like a good choice. Compounded with the increasing number of smart home products, LED bulbs may one day become just as familiar to us as the 60-watt incandescent. Still, how do these extra-terrestrial bulbs stack up? Which LED bulb is best for your home?
Here are our picks for the best LED light bulbs. Some have a 30-year lifespan or emit a better light quality than your standard 60-watt incandescent, while some can be dimmed using a smartphone. Most importantly, all will fit into a socket designed for a 60-watt incandescent bulb and boast a lifespan greater than 20 years. By then, who knows what we’ll use to light our homes. That said, check out our story on how light bulbs could replace your wi-fi router.
Philips L Prize LED ($50)
Philips is a leader in the LED bulb technology. Its most-praised LED bulb product is a space-age looking contraption named after the U.S. Department of Energy’s highly touted L Prize (which the bulb won). The company’s ultimate goal was to make a high-quality replacement exceeding the capabilities of a standard, 60-watt incandescent. Even though the L Prize LED is listed at $50 after a $10 rebate, the bulb is guaranteed to save users money during its 30,000-hour battery life. And some speculate the price of the L Prize may only decrease with Energy Star, state-specific rebates.
The L Prize exceeds every feature of a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a mere fraction of the energy. Users are essentially paying for a bulb capable of emitting 940 lumens — opposed to a 60 -watt incandescent’s 860 lumens — and comes equipped with a five-year warranty and coupled, 30,000-hour rating. Additionally, the bulb features dimming capabilities and produces a better color rendering index than a 60-watt incandescent.
There may be other automated lighting systems on the market, such those previously adorning our Holiday 2013 Gift Guide, but none are as user friendly as TCPs wireless lighting kit. Connected, as its name suggests, is more than just a LED bulb. The kit comes with three bulbs and a ” lighting gateway” component which grants basic automated lighting capabilities directly from users’ smartphone. TCP also includes a bundled remote for controlling the LED lights, which is a nice touch for those who don’t want to control lights from a smartphone or download the accompanying mobile app.
The TCP Wireless Lighting Kit is best suited for someone who’s looking for a simple automated lighting system with a no-sweat setup, albeit one less involved than the similarly-equipped Philips’ Hue. There are no “light recipes” or colored lights, but TCP’s kit includes some nice features, such as a simple timing system for scheduling automated light controls. Although users will need to download TCP’s intuitive app to operate with a smartphone, doing so allows them to control the LED lights directly from their smartphone or the included remote. Moreover, the company recently partnered with Home Depot to offer the light kit for $109, which is significantly cheaper than Philips Hue. The actual bulbs emits 800 lumens and boasts a lifespan of more than 20 years, and though the the retail cost at most hardware outlets exceeds an upwards of $30, Home Depot offers additional bulbs for around $17.
Cree 60 Watt Replacement ($13)
One major setback of the LED bulb industry is the warranty (and we’re not surprised). Many LED bulbs tout the ability to last 20 years, thus saving users a significant chunk of money throughout the product’s lifespan, but 20 years is also a large window for technology to malfunction. Because LED lights are relatively new, we’re still not sure if they’ll live up to their reported 20-year lifespan. However, though most LED bulb offer warranties ranging between three and five years, Cree’s 60 Watt Replacement boasts an impressive 10-year warranty — an industry best.
Cree’s 60 Watt Replacement LED bulb is certainly worth the investment and one of best options for those looking for a basic LED bulb that can replace a 60-watt incandescent. Offering a uniform, omnidirectional shine, the traditional-looking bulb mimics the color and form of a traditional 60-watt incandescent, while boasting a commendable 800 lumens and 25,000-hour operating life. Furthermore, the bulb is coupled with an affordable price tag and a 10-year warranty to match. With the aforementioned features, it’s no wonder Cree’s 60 Watt replacement is a pretty clear standout in a rapidly growing LED bulb market.
EagleLight 8 Watt ($20)
Thirty-two years. The EagleLight 8 Watt is rated for 35,000 hours, or a staggering 32 years if the bulb is used for 3 hours a day. It’s projected to last an appealing 10 years longer life than most LED bulbs, and comes bundled with an affable, $20 price tag. The 6-watt is designed as replacement for up to 55 watts and additionally boasts a traditional “incandescent” style. EagleLight 8 Watt is the best option for those looking for a product with longevity, but they might want to consider the option as a replacement for a 40-watt incandescent given its 302-lumen rating.
Philips Slimstyle LED 60 ($10)
Simply put, Slimstyle is an affordable 60-watt replacement. The bulb’s price and flat design are attractive for anyone who’s looking to make a statement while saving money, as the product is pending an Energy Star certification that would likely further reduce the price. Rated for 25,000 hours and 800 lumens, the Slimstyle’s specs stand up against more expensive LED bulbs. It’s donned in a unique and represents a good choice for anyone looking for a quality LED, onmidirectional bulb with dimming capabilities. While Philips does have products a wide range of smart home capabilities, the Slimstyle is not yet compatible with the Hue.
What do you think of our picks for the best LED light bulbs currently on the market? Do you have a favorite not listed in our roundup? Let us know in the comments below.