However, the one exception was the GE Reveal BR30 LED. While the bulb buzzed very faintly as we dimmed it, we didn't see a noticeable flicker on any of the dimmer switches we tested out, not even on an outdated rotary dial designed for incandescent use only.
The picture above is actually an animated GIF of the GE Reveal plugged into a Leviton dimmer switch and dimmed down to fifty percent, the point at which bulbs tend to flicker the most. As you can see, the light level remains constant throughout each frame. No other BR30 we tested came anywhere close to performance that steady.
In addition to flicker, we made sure to examine each bulb's dimmable range. All the way up, you want your bulb to shine at 100 percent of its normal brightness. At the bottom, you want to be able to get as close to zero as possible before it cuts to black.
As you can see, the GE Reveal dimmed down to just 5 percent before turning off, which was a good result, but not as low as either of the Philips bulbs we tested out. Still, unlike the GE Reveal and Cree BR30s, neither of those two bulbs dimmed all the way up to full brightness on our switches, which seems more important to me.
The main claim of the entire GE Reveal product line is that they'll render colors better than the competition. The question is whether or not it's a noticeable difference.
To find out, we set the GE Reveal in front of our spectrometer, a handy gizmo that lets us measure things like brightness, color temperature, and color-rendering scores. Most BR30 LEDs have a color rendering score around 80, but in the GE Reveal's case, that score came in just under 90. That's the same type of score as you'll see with the kinds of lights used for things like art exhibition and professional photography.
To put this score to the test, we set up a colorful milieu of fruits, flowers, and candy. With our camera's exposure settings locked in, we lit each setup with each of the BR30 LEDs we had on hand, taking photos for comparison.
In each of these tests, the GE Reveal stood out, with our producer and photographer Colin West McDonald telling me it was without question the bulb he'd want lighting his home studio. If you feel like judging for yourself, we've packed each and every shot from our BR30 color quality tests into a handy slideshow.
The GE Reveal also excelled in our heat management tests. Unlike other types of light bulbs, LEDs will see a slight decline in performance as they heat up, just like your cell phone or your laptop. In practical terms, this means that they'll lose a bit of brightness in the first thirty minutes or so of use, then level off at what manufacturers call the "steady state." This steady state is where they get rated for things like brightness and efficiency, so you don't have to worry about getting short-changed on the stated specs.
A higher steady state is indicative of a bulb that does a better job with managing heat, and in the GE Reveal BR30 LED's case, it does a better job than any other bulb we've tested so far. In the graph above, that purple line represents the GE Reveal, and as you can see, it levels off after 30 minutes or so at roughly 95 percent of its initial brightness. That's a terrific result, and one that helps it outshine the competition.
The GE Reveal BR30 LED is an outstanding floodlight, and at its new price point of $18, it's an outstanding value, too. It was the unquestioned winner when we tested for color quality, heat management, and dimming performance, and it comes backed with the same 10-year warranty as the Cree BR30 LED, which costs $2 more per bulb.
If you're looking for strictly the cheapest LED floodlight that offers acceptable performance (and if you aren't using dimmer switches), then the $13 Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED probably merits consideration. Beyond that, I can't think of a reason why I'd recommend any BR30 over the GE Reveal. For long-term lighting that you'll love living with, it's a well-deserved Editors' Choice.