If you haven't heard, LED prices are trending downward, with many popular bulbs starting to sell for less than $10 each in the US. Ikea recently decided to take things even further, cutting the price of their 40W and 60W replacement "Ledare" LEDs down below $5 -- a move that seems likely to help sway the minds and wallets of the last of the LED holdouts.
Purists, however, might be justifiably skeptical. With diminished brightness, lower efficiency, and no warranty whatsoever, these bulbs aren't exactly no-compromise -- and they don't boast nearly as attractive a price point in Australia or the UK, where Ikea sells them for AU$10 and £7 each, respectively.
Still, Ikea wisely seems to be emphasizing aesthetics with the Ledare LEDs, and that, coupled with unmatched value in the US, makes them a potential best buy for millions of consumers. If you're in need of new bulbs and you live near one of Ikea's megastores, you might just want to pencil a few Ledare LEDs onto your next visit's shopping list.
The Ledare 60W replacement LEDs come in two equally priced varieties: one with a frosted bulb, and one with a bulb that's clear. The clear-bulbed version offers a view of the diodes inside -- they sit beneath a bowl-like fixture which reflects the light up and out in 360 degrees.
The two globe varieties are the only real difference between the two models. Both put out the same amount of light using the same amount of power. We did, however, notice a slight improvement in directionality with the frosted globe, which suggests that it helps to diffuse the light more evenly.
The clear bulb and the prismatic effect of its interior design make for a version of the Ledare somewhat reminiscent of the soon-to-be-released Philips Clear LED. Though not quite as eye-catching as that bulb's sparkling design, the clear Ledare might still be an attractive option for anyone looking to fill an exposed bulb aesthetic.
As for the bulb's engineering, the Ledare uses 10 watts of electricity to put out 600 lumens, a number that falls shy of the 800 lumens you'd typically expect from a 60W replacement. It's also not as efficient as other LEDs, which are often capable of doing more with less. The Cree 60W Replacement LED, for instance, puts out 800 lumens using 9.5 watts.
Still, like those other bulbs, the Ledare promises a significant efficiency upgrade when compared with incandescents. That's probably good enough for consumers who don't want to split hairs, but the bulb's dimmer-than-average light output might be a tougher sell.
Another engineering factor worth considering is the bulb's dimming performance. The Ledare claims full compatibility with built-in dimmer switches, and sure enough, both versions worked with every switch in our lab when we tested them.
Compatibility isn't the end of the story, though. In many cases, electromagnetic resistance generated by the dimming mechanism can cause dimmable bulbs of all kinds to buzz and flicker as you dial the light up and down.
The Ledare was no exception. Both the clear and frosted versions of the bulb produced a slight buzz on each of the dimmers we tested, and also a very slight flicker when dimmed down below 50 percent (you can check out our full set of flicker grids for a closer look at dimming performance).
To be fair, both the buzzing and flickering were minor, and certainly not as noticeable as the worst performers from our recent round of dimmability tests. Still, if you're looking for an LED to use with an in-wall dimmer switch, I'd recommend spending the extra money on the Philips 60W Equivalent LED, as it dimmed flawlessly when we tested it out.
One last thing worth considering is the bulb's warranty -- the Ledare offers none. This puts it in stark contrast with the competition, particularly Cree, which warranties its LEDs for 10 years. Bulbs like those might seem like significantly better deals to consumers who aren't yet sold on LED longevity claims.