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Cree LED delivers truer light at lower prices

Cree LED delivers truer light at lower prices

Cree claims that its TW Series LED lightbulb “shows colors true and natural.” One of the knocks against energy-saving LEDs has been that they don’t produce the same type of light as inefficient incandescents. But manufacturers are trying. This LED is better at showing actual colors, especially reds. Better still, the cost of these sometimes pricey bulbs continues to drop. Consumer Reports is testing the Cree now. Here are our preliminary findings.

Straight out of the box. The Cree 60W Equivalent Soft White A19 TW Series Dimmable LED replaces a standard 60-watt incandescent yet consumes only 13.5 watts of energy and can be used in a lamp, ceiling fixture, or outdoors. It instantly cast a warm, bright light in our preliminary tests and has a high color-rendering index of 93 as claimed. The CRI lets you know how accurately colors appear under a bulb’s light and ranges from 0 to 100, with incandescent bulbs around 100. Most LEDs we’ve tested are in the mid-to-low 80s. Some manufacturers are working to improve their CRI to meet California’s new standards, which are tougher than Energy Star’s, to qualify for California utility rebates. But Cree is already there, and offers a 10-year warranty.   

You’ll know it when you see it.  We wanted to know if members of our staff could see a difference between a Cree LED with an 80 CRI and the Cree TW with a 93 CRI. So we set up two identical viewing boxes with two identical color charts. One by one, a dozen staffers viewed the two charts side-by-side. Everybody saw a difference. Many said that some of the colors looked more vibrant or brighter under the Cree TW’s light, although not everybody liked it better.

Prices are falling. We bought a six-pack of these LEDs online at Home Depot in late March for $109. Now they’re $90, and in May Home Depot stores will sell this LED in a single pack for $16.

Cree claims the TW Series LED is dimmable, casts light evenly in all directions, and lasts about 23 years when used 3 hours a day. We’ll put these LEDs through all of our lightbulb tests and report back. Our ongoing lightbulb tests also include the Cree 60W Warm White Dimmable LED. It’s usually $13 but we just saw it at HomeDepot.com for $7. In our preliminary tests it was impressive, has a CRI of 81, and uses 9.5 watts. Take a look at our Ratings of LEDs and CFLs. They tell you just how good these bulbs were after 3,000 hours of testing.

Kimberly Janeway

Follow me on Twitter @CRJaneway.

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S.

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