Getting to Know Cree LED Lightbulbs

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Cree LED light bulbs
Image copyright Cree

Cree has come up on my radar in the past, but mostly because of a publication I write for that tracks investible tech companies. (Cree stock went on a bit of a tear in 2013 and 2014, by the way.) I also see Cree’s LED bulbs every time I’m in the lighting section of Home Depot. But I never picked one up. The company recently sent me a box of samples, so I can finally say I’ve tried them. And they work quite well.

Cree released a new A19 LED bulb last September. It pretty much looks like a standard incandescent bulb. It’s not squashed flat, covered in exposed LEDs, or anything else that would call attention to it (unlike some LED bulbs I’ve accumulated). The 60-Watt replacement Soft White version delivers warm, 2700K omnidirectional light with a brightness of 815 Lumens, and it works with dimmer switches as well—no hum or buzz. It consumes 9.5 Watts of power and has a rated lifespan of 25,000 hours. They compare favorably to anything else I own, and with 4-packs going for $14 on Amazon, they seem like a pretty solid deal.

I can remember paying twice that for a single LED bulb…

Cree connected LED bulb
Cree connected LED bulb is Hue-compatible (Image copyright Cree)

The company also sent a 60-Watt replacement connected Soft White bulb. This one was a little more interesting because I have a Philips Hue smart lighting system. (I reviewed it back in 2013.) The Cree connected bulb is compatible with Wink, WeMo Link, SmartThings, and ZigBee certified hubs, which means it works with the Philips Hue (which uses ZigBee).

The initial setup wasn’t quite as straightforward as using one of Philips’ original bulbs—I ended up having to launch the Hue app and manually search for a connection code printed on the bulb—but it wasn’t rocket science, either. Once connected, the Cree bulb has performed exactly like the original Hue bulbs, with similar lighting specs to the Cree A19 LED bulb. The connected version does consume a little more power (11.5-Watts), presumably for the radio.

These seem to be going for about $15 at Home Depot, making them a pretty affordable option if you want to flesh out a smart home lighting system. I’m not sure if that’s any cheaper than what Philips is selling its white Hue bulbs for these days, but it’s always good to have options–and now I know I can use these alternative bulbs from Cree without compromising performance or functionality.

Disclosure: Cree supplied LED bulbs for review purposes

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