Cree releases a $20 100W-equivalent LED bulb–but do you want one?

Cree joined Phillips in offering an LED bulb in the 1600-lumen class, suitable for replacing 100W incandescents. The Cree bulb costs $5 less than the Phillips competitor, in unsubsidized markets. (Many utilities subsidize energy efficient bulbs because it’s cheaper than building more power plants. Really.)

I own several Cree 60W equivalents and I’m very happy with them. They’ve been dependable, the price is reasonable, the quality of light is outstanding, they turn on instantly, and, believe it or not, they’re designed and built in the United States.

Now that Cree has four different bulbs at different ratings and three different price points, I weighed the pros and cons of each.

Here’s each model, along with the cost and energy rating, and the amount of light you get per watt consumed and dollar you spend:

modellumenswattscostlumens per wattlumens per dollar
10016001819.9788.8888888980.12018027
75110013.515.9781.4814814868.8791484
608009.59.9784.2105263280.24072217
4045069.977545.13540622

The 75W equivalent seems like the odd one out. Both the 60 and 100 equivalents give more light per watt and dollar. The 40W bulb seems crowded out at the low end too, but in places like hallways, you might still want to go with it to get usable light for six watts.

You can get equivalent lumens by pairing up two 60W equivalents and pay the same amount as you would for a 100W equivalent, but a single 100W equivalent is ever so slightly more efficient. Still, if you have a two- or three-light fixture, outfitting it with 60W equivalents seems like a good way to go.

I’m looking forward to the 100W equivalent. I have 60W equivalent CFL bulbs that consume 18 watts, so I can upgrade to these when they burn out and get more light for the same amount of energy. I’d been thinking about picking up a couple of the 75s, but I think I’ll go straight to the 100.

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