By Ry Crist, originally published on cnet.com
April 21, 2015 6:00 AM PDT
EDITOR’S NOTE, 4/22/15, 9:50 PST: Though it may work with some dimmer switches, Philips rates this bulb as non-dimmable. The chart has been updated accordingly. [To see the accompanying chart, go here.]
It’s only been a few years since LED light bulbs sold for thirty bucks a piece or more, but — thankfully — prices have since fallen steadily. These days, you’ll find plenty of strong options that cost $10 or less, but Philips is pushing things a step further, with a new 60W equivalent LED that’ll retail for less than $5.
At that price, Philips’ new bulb is already the least expensive big-brand LED we’ve seen, but to further sweeten the deal, the Dutch manufacturer is offering two bulbs for the price of one at Home Depot for the first ninety days of its shelf life. That brings the cost per bulb down to something less than you’d pay for a morning latte — and makes outfitting a whole home’s worth of bulbs seem a lot more feasible.
The new 60W equivalent draws 8.5 watts and puts out a stated 800 lumens, putting it right on par with other, comparable LEDs in terms of brightness, and making it slightly more efficient than many of its competitors. Philips rates the bulb with a 10-year lifespan — notably shorter than most other LEDs, which will typically promise to last well over twenty years.
Still, the aim here is more focused on upfront appeal, and on getting LED skeptics and incandescent hold-outs to give the bulb a chance. It’s a very similar approach to what Cree’s doing, especially the Cree 4Flow LED, which costs $8. Both bulbs eschew heat-sink-centric LED design in favor of inexpensive, plastic-bodied builds that mimic the look of incandescents. They’ll fight it out side by side on Home Depot shelves. Also on the shelf: the existing 60W Equivalent LED from Philips, which representatives tell me will continue to be sold.
Spec for spec, the new Philips LED also has a lot in common with the Osram 60W Replacement LED, which sells for $10 at Lowe’s. I was impressed with Osram’s performance when I tested that bulb out last year — we’ll see if Philips is able to match it at half the price once we’re done putting the new bulb through those same tests.