Which bulbs flicker when you dim them?

How do you photograph a flickering bulb? Sure, an animated GIF will show you the wavering light ouput, but not with complete accuracy.

The better approach is to take a bunch of photos of the bulb in question, then look at them all at once. That's exactly what the CNET Appliances team did in order to help you find the right light for your home. Click through to see which LEDs held steady as we dimmed them down -- and which ones flickered as badly as the bulb shown above.

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Photo by: Colin West McDonald/CNET / Caption by:

60-watt incandescent

First, let's look at an incandescent bulb dimmed down around 50 percent on an in-wall dimmer switch. Some incandescents will flicker if they're susceptible to the electromagnetic resistance caused by dimmer switches, but this one, from Philips, did just fine. You can tell because all of the photos in the grid show roughly the same amount of brightness -- meaning the light output was steady.

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Cree 60-watt replacement LED

One of our favorite values in the lighting aisle is the Cree 60-watt replacement LED. Does it flicker when you dim it with a wall switch? Barely, which is why some of the photos in the above grid look slightly less bright than the others.

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Ikea Ledare 60W Replacement LED

Like the Cree LED, this Ledare LED from Ikea showed a bit of flicker when we dimmed, it, but not very much.

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GE Reveal LED

The GE Reveal is another bulb that did well, showing minimal flicker when used with a wall dimmer.

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Switch Infinia 60-watt replacement LED

The Switch Infinia LED was our first problem child. Dimmed to 50 percent brightness, it showed as much flicker as any bulb we tested. In fact, this is the bulb we used to make that GIF that started the gallery off.

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Utilitech Pro 60-watt replacement LED

This bulb from Utilitech Pro did an excellent job in our dimming tests, showing little to no flicker. It also shows great dimmable range, meaning you can dim down almost all the way to zero before the light cuts out.

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Philips 60-watt replacement LED

The Philips 60-watt replacement LED was our dimmer test winner. Not only did it dim perfectly with all of the wall switches we tested, it also did so with no noticeable flicker or buzz.

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4 stars Excellent

Philips SlimStyle 60-watt replacement LED

The Philips SlimStyle, on the other hand, was one of the worst performers. It works with built-in dimmers, but it flickers too much for our tastes. It also gives off an uncomfortably loud buzz.

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Connected by TCP Wireless LED

Now, I know that this looks like a horrible result -- and it is -- but that's only because this Connected by TCP LED has dimming smarts already built in. On its own, it dims perfectly well through a smartphone app or a handy physical remote. Double down with an existing in-wall dimmer, though, and the two separate dimming mechanisms will clash, giving you results like this. This applies to every smart LED we tested, by the way.

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4 stars Excellent

Where to Buy

Cree 60-watt Replacement LED Bulb (Soft White)

Part Number: BA19-08027OMF-12DE26-2U100
MSRP: $9.97 Low Price: $9.97 See all prices

Where to Buy

Switch Infinia LED Bulb (40-Watt Replacement)

Part Number: A240FUS27B1-R
MSRP: $11.99 Low Price: $17.95 See all prices

Where to Buy

Philips 60W Equivalent LED (soft white)

Part Number: CNETPhilips 60W Equivalent LED (soft white)
MSRP: $14.97 Low Price: $29.94 See all prices

Where to Buy

Philips SlimStyle LED bulb (10.5 watt, Soft White)

Part Number: 433227
MSRP: $8.97 Low Price: $10.00 See all prices

Where to Buy

Connected by TCP LED Lighting Control System

Part Number: LCS3LD11
MSRP: $142.99 Low Price: $143.61 See all prices
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