Philips slims down the BR30 LED bulb (price and all)

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

Months after releasing a flattened A19 LED, Philips is at it again -- this time with a reinvented "SlimStyle" BR30 LED. Like the original SlimStyle LED, the new BR30 version disperses its diodes across a uniquely flat design, which eliminates the need for bulky, aluminum heat sinks.

The lack of heat sinks makes for a much skinnier bulb, and one that weighs a lot less than the typical BR30 LED (3.6 ounces, compared to 5- or 6-ounce LEDs of a more standard shape). More importantly, it makes the bulb less expensive to manufacture. Philips is passing at least some of these savings onto the consumer, as the SlimStyle BR30, available starting in July, will sell for $12.97 per bulb. That's less than any BR30 LED that Philips has put out to date -- and less than the competition's bulbs, too.

The new SlimStyle bulb is designed to compete with standard 65-watt equivalent BR30 LEDs, and it stacks up quite well against bulbs from other major manufacturers. The most obvious comparison is to the Cree BR30 LED, released less than year ago. Statistically speaking, the two bulbs are about as close as they come, with equal brightness, equal light quality, equal power consumption, and equal life expectancy.

Cree 65-watt equivalent Soft White BR30 LED EcoSmart 65-watt equivalent Bright White BR30 LED Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED TCP 65-watt equivalent Soft White BR30 LED
Lumens 650 650 650 650
Watts 9.5 10 9.5 12
Efficacy (Lumens/Watt) 68 65 68 54
Color Temperature 2,700 K 3,000 K 2,700 K 2,700 K
Color Rendering Index 80 80 80 82
Lifespan 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Energy Star Certification Yes No Submitted No
Dimmable Yes Yes Yes No
Warranty 10-year 5-year 3-year 3-year
Cost $19.97 $15.97 $12.97 $13.99

Where the two bulbs differ is the price, and it isn't terribly close. Cree's BR30 LED sells for $19.97 -- $7 more than what you'll spend on a SlimStyle. Given how similar the two bulbs are, performance-wise, it's a price difference that's likely to give Philips a clear advantage in the quest for lighting aisle dominance. That said, Cree's been on a price-cutting kick lately, so don't be too surprised if the SlimStyle spurs them to do the same with the BR30.

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The new SlimStyle BR30 with its little sibling, the original SlimStyle LED. Colin West McDonald/CNET

The "BR" in BR30 stands for the "bulging reflector" at the top of the bulb, while the 30 simply stands for the number of eighths of an inch in the bulb's diameter. Like PAR-shaped bulbs, BR bulbs are commonly used as spotlights or flood lights in recessed, downward facing fixtures. BRs tend to be a little less focused, as the bulge of the reflector will usually extend the beam angle to wider than 45 degrees.

As for the SlimStyle in particular, it uses 9.5 watts of power to put out 650 lumens at a color temperature of 2,700 K. That gives it an efficacy rating of 68 lumens per watt, which is very decent for a BR30. Like its predecessor, the SlimStyle BR30 LED is rated to last for 25,000 hours before fading to 70 percent of its original brightness (the currently accepted definition of an LED's end of life), and comes with a 3-year warranty. This falls short of the 10 years you'll get from Cree, which longevity skeptics might want to take into account.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

Consumers with more of an interest in accurate color rendering might want to turn instead to the GE Reveal line of BR30 LEDs, as they promise a much higher CRI rating than the SlimStyle's fairly average score of 80. Those more focused on smarts will be happy to know that connected BR30-shaped LEDs are available both from Philips (in the color-changing Hue variety) and from TCP, as add-on bulbs for their connected lighting kit.

The Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED will be available for sale online in the US this July, with an expected retail rollout scheduled for August. We'll spend some more time with it and have a full review ready for you in the coming weeks.

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Where to Buy

Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED

Part Number: CNETPhilips SlimStyle BR30 LED

MSRP: $12.97

See manufacturer website for availability.