Review: Cree's new 60-watt equivalent soft white "Better LED Bulb" (2015)
Cree has introduced a new version of its 4FLOW LED bulb, calling it “A Better LED Bulb” that delivers higher energy savings, better performance and longer life.
Only a short two and a half years ago, Cree entered the consumer market for LED light bulbs after being only known in the LED chip industry. With its original entry, it introduced an excellent, efficient LED bulb at a very low price point with easy-to-understand packaging and forged an exclusive distribution deal with The Home Depot.
In late 2014, Cree introduced the follow-up to their original LED bulb with the “4FLOW Filament Design” bulb. It featured an all-plastic, convection-cooled design that looked very close to a traditional incandescent light bulb. Despite being slightly less efficient than the original bulb and not carrying the discounts via local utilities, the new bulb was a hit with consumers.
On September 14, 2015, Cree announced the successor to the 4FLOW LED bulb, with “A Better LED Bulb”. This new bulb looks nearly identical to the 2014 LED bulb, but uses less power, lasts longer, is less noisy and carries a longer warranty.
Here are all the electrifying technical details for Cree’s new LED bulbs:
The 60-watt replacement bulb delivers 815 lumens of light while only using 10 watts of power, and a color rendering index (CRI) of 83. The previous 60-watt equivalent 4FLOW bulb used 11 watts of power and had a CRI of 80, with the same lumen output.
The 40-watt replacement bulb delivers 460 lumens of light while only using 6 watts of power, and a color rendering index (CRI) of 83. The previous 40-watt equivalent 4FLOW bulb used the same wattage and had a CRI of 80, with the same lumen output.
With these new bulbs, Cree guarantees buzz-free dimming, predicts a ludicrously-long 27-year life, and the bulbs now Energy Star certified, which means lower prices due to local rebates. After doing some price checks, we found the bulbs ranging from $3.97 to $8.97 at Home Depot stores around the U.S. Both the 40- and 60-watt replacement LED bulbs come in both soft white (2700K) and daylight white (5000K) varieties.
In our tests of the 60-watt equivalent soft white LED bulb, it largely lives up to Cree’s specs, with the only thing that couldn’t test was waiting 28 years for the bulb to die. Light output and quality looks to be the same or better, as it is tough to judge an increase of 3 CRI, but side-by-side the old and new bulbs look very, very similar. Cree’s claim of guaranteeing no buzzing or humming while dimmed failed in our tests on two different dimmers (Insteon LampLinc and Lutron Caseta). The new Cree bulb was a bit quieter but still exhibited some noise. Flicker was reduced on the Lutron dimmer vs the Insteon dimmer, but that’s nothing new. The new bulb isn’t any hotter than the original 4FLOW, just slightly warm at 112 degrees F.
As the LED bulb industry has matured rapidly in the past three years, consumers are probably now asking the question: Should I buy this year’s latest bulbs?
If LED bulbs are supposed to last more than 20 years in operation, then why would consumers buy new ones each time a new-and-improved bulb arrives on the market?
The simple answer is this: If you just must have the latest thing, then sure, go out and buy the latest bulbs, which are more affordable as prices drop. But if you have an LED bulb from 2013 or later, you’re probably going to be ok unless the bulb dies. (And even then, use the warranty coverage and the manufacturer should send you a replacement.)