Cree 100W Replacement LED review: Cree's bigger, brighter LED holds up to strong competition

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Value: 8.0
  • Performance: 9.0

Average User Rating

3 stars 2 user reviews
Review Date:

The Good Cree's 100W Replacement LED offers efficient brightness, exceptional performance on dimmers, and a 10-year warranty.

The Bad The large collar of heat sinks makes for a bulky design. For a dollar more, GE's 100W replacement LED offers an uptick in efficiency.

The Bottom Line Cree's bigger, brighter LED is a very solid value, but it's not without legitimate competition.

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The Cree 100W Replacement LED is a bigger, brighter version of the original Cree LED, a highly acclaimed 60W replacement that made its debut back at the start of 2013. With the 100W version, Cree looks to be following the same formula: familiar-looking light, an industry-leading 10-year warranty, and an appealing price point.

Specifically, that price sits just a few cents below $20, which is certainly enticing when you consider that 100W replacement LEDs were selling for $50 or more just a few years ago. That said, Cree isn't the only LED maker that's recently taken big steps forward. For example, GE's 100W replacement costs just a dollar more, and offers that same decade-long warranty along with a more efficient build. Cree's 100W Replacement LED is an excellent bulb -- but it's not your only legitimate option in this class. Put it at the top of your list it if you use dimmer switches, or might need to use it outside, but don't rule out GE, especially if efficiency is your top priority.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Design

Cree's 100W LED looks a lot like the 40W and 60W replacements that came before it, albeit with a bigger bulb and a larger collar of heat sinks around the neck. This gives it some extra bulk compared to competitors like GE's 100W replacement -- that bulb has elongated, fin-like heat sinks, which makes for a narrower design.

Extra girth aside, Cree's LED is still a relative lightweight, weighing less than 6 ounces. The Sylvania 100W Replacement Ultra LED, for instance, weighs more than twice as much.

Cree's LED puts out 1,600 lumens from a power draw of 18 watts. That's very good, putting its efficiency just shy of 90 lumens per watt. Still, both GE and Utilitech do even better, with designs that put out 100 lumens per watt.

As for color temperature, Cree's bulb aims for the same, yellow-toned 2,700 K as most of the competition. If you want something hotter and whiter, Cree offers a 5,000 K version of the bulb for a dollar more. That's a nice option you won't find with every brand.

Cree 100W Replacement LED GE Energy Smart 100W Replacement LED Philips 100W Equivalent LED Sylvania 100W Replacement Ultra LED Utilitech 100W Equivalent Warm White LED
Lumens 1600 1600 1680 1600 1600
Watts 18 16 19 19 16
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 89 100 88 84 100
Estimated yearly energy cost $2.17 $1.93 $2.29 $2.29 $1.93
Color temperature (stated / measured) 2,700 K / 2,663 K 2,700 K / 2,602 K 2,700 K / 2,628 K 2,700 K / 2,664 K 3,000 K / 2,999 K
Lifespan 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 18,000 hours
Color rendering index 80 81 80 83 85
Weight 5.80 oz. 5.65 oz. 8.50 oz. 11.45 oz. 7.80 oz.
Warranty 10-year 10-year 5-year 5-year 2-year
Price $20 $21 $22 $22 $17

Like most LEDs, Cree claims that its bulb will last 25,000 hours -- well over 20 years if used for an average of three hours per day. Couple that with the 10-year warranty and the fact that the bulb will only add a little over $2 per year to your energy bill, and the long term value starts looking awfully good.

The color rendering score of 80, on the other hand, is a little less impressive. 80 isn't a bad score per se, but it isn't a standout, either. We've seen affordable competitors from brands such as Utilitech and even Ikea score several points higher, making for a noticeable uptick in accurate color quality.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Cree 100-watt Replacement LED Bulb (Soft White)

Part Number: BA21-16027OMF-12DE26-1U100
MSRP: $19.97 Low Price: $19.97 See all prices