Cree brings three-way LEDs center stage (hands-on)

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When Apple unveiled HomeKit for iOS 8 at WWDC 2014 earlier this week, Cree was among a handful of companies already compatible with the smart home, Siri-integrated platform. Now, Cree is generating even more buzz with today's announcement of a three-way 30W, 60W, and 100W replacement LED bulb.

This new bulb is available for $25 (£15, AU$27) at Home Depot online and in stores in the US, but UK and Australian availability have yet to be announced.

This is a pretty big deal for the LED industry. A quick online search will tell you that there aren't a ton of three-way LED bulbs available. That's especially true among big-name manufacturers, but Cree is making a clear effort to bring more versatility to its lineup. I wouldn't mind being able to transition from accent to reading light without needing to move to a different lamp with a different bulb.

Cree 30W Cree 60W Cree 100W
Lumens 320 820 1,620
Watts 3 8 18

Efficiency (lumens/watt)

106.7
102.5
90

While this specific bulb is new territory for Cree, it does share similarities with the brand's more basic LEDs. It retains the same 2,700K color temperature, 25,000-hour lifespan, and 10-year warranty as Cree's single 60W and 100W replacement LEDs. Not only that, but I couldn't tell a big difference between the three-way bulb's "60W" 820 lumens and the regular "60W" LED's 800 lumens. The same goes for the three-way bulb's "100W" 1,620 lumens and the regular "100W" LED's 1,600 lumens.

creecomapre100.jpg
A side-by-side comparison of Cree's new three-way LED and its traditional LED (100W replacement settings). Colin West McDonald/CNET

Upon closer inspection, you can see some subtle differences, but the main takeaway is that the three-way 60W and 100W replacement settings aren't dramatically different from what we observed in Cree's standard 60W and 100W bulbs. Of course, we'll have a more detailed analysis of the specs in the upcoming review, complete with spectrometer readings and all other sorts of LED bulb goodness.

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Where to Buy

Cree Three-Way LED bulb

Part Number: BA21-16027OMF-12WE26-1U100

MSRP: $24.97

See manufacturer website for availability.