Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED review: Philips' new SlimStyle LED takes after its sibling

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.0
  • Design: 7.0
  • Value: 9.0
  • Performance: 6.0
Review Date:

The Good The Philips SlimStyle BR30 is one of the most affordable LED floodlights you'll find, making it a great value for simple recessed lighting setups.

The Bad Like its predecessor, the SlimStyle flickers and buzzes when used with a dimmer switch. It also isn't as bright or as efficient as some of its competitors.

The Bottom Line The price is right for this unique light, but as there are other options that offer notably better performance for a few dollars more, you may want to shop around.

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Philips raised plenty of eyebrows when it introduced the original SlimStyle LED earlier this year. Months later, the company followed suit by announcing an LED floodlight that borrowed both the SlimStyle's name and its flattened-out approach to bulb design.

Something else the SlimStyle BR30 LED is borrowing from its predecessor is a slimmed-down price point. Due on Home Depot shelves this month at a retail price of $13 each, Philips' flat-minded floodlight will be one of the most affordable BR30 LEDs on the market. For that reason, I think it's a viable lighting-aisle option, in spite of a few notable shortcomings.

slimstyle-br30-profile.jpg
The Philips SlimStyle sports a flat-topped design that's unique among BR30 LEDs. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Design

With its lanky build, the Philips SlimStyle BR30 certainly manages to stand out from its LED competitors. With a design that eliminates the need for bulky heat sinks, it weighs in at just three and a half ounces -- less than half the heft of some competitors, like the GE Reveal BR30 LED.

Turn the SlimStyle on, though, and you'd never guess it was such an oddly shaped floodlight. It casts the same wide, downward beam of light as an incandescent floodlight, and one that's practically indistinguishable from other BR30 LEDs. In terms of aesthetics, the radical design isn't coming at expense of the light quality.

Like the original SlimStyle, the new BR30 sports a body and bulb made entirely of plastic. This makes it a little less likely that a dropped bulb will break, but purists might find themselves missing the glass.

As for the SlimStyle's specs, it puts out 650 lumens of 2,700 K light from a power draw of 9.5 watts. That comes out to roughly 68 lumens per watt, which is perfectly decent for an LED floodlight, if not a touch lower than I'd like. Philips' own WarmGlow BR30 LED puts out 730 lumens from those same 9.5 watts, bumping the efficacy up to 77 lumens per watt.

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The SlimStyle BR30 beside its predecessor, the original Philips SlimStyle. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Still, like all LEDs, the SlimStyle BR30 offers a clear efficiency upgrade over comparable 65W incandescents and halogens -- enough so that Philips expects it to earn Energy Star certification within the next few months. If that happens, users living in regions that offer energy rebates for high-efficiency lighting could see that $13 price tag decrease even further.

The SlimStyle is rated to last 25,000 hours, the same as essentially all of the major LED competitors. However, the SlimStyle's three-year warranty isn't as good as the five years you'll get with other Philips LEDs, or the ten years you'll get with the Cree BR30 LED and the GE Reveal BR30 LED.

Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED Cree BR30 LED GE Reveal BR30 LED Philips WarmGlow BR30 LED
Lumens 650 650 630 730
Watts 9.5 9.5 12 9.5
Efficiency (lumens / watts) 68 68 53 77
Color temperature (claimed) 2,696 K (2,700 K) 2,690 K (2,700 K) 2,752 K (2,850 K) 2,730 K (2,700 K)
CRI 80 81 89 81
Lifespan 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Weight 3.5 oz. 6.4 oz. 7.6 oz. 4.8 oz.
Energy Star Certification Submitted Yes No No
Warranty 3-Year 10-year 10-year 5-year
Cost $13 $20 $18 $17

Performance

With the SlimStyle in front of our spectrometer, we found that it had one of the most accurate color temperatures of any bulb we've ever tested -- just four degrees shy of its claimed 2,700 K. That makes it just as warm and yellowish as the incandescent you might be replacing.

We verified the SlimStyle's stated color rendering score of 80, which puts it on par with the average LED in terms of how vivid and accurate it'll make your colors look. For a BR30 LED with more of an emphasis on color rendering, consider the GE Reveal, which boasts a score of 89.

We were also able to verify the SlimStyle's low 9.5W power draw, though our equipment also picked up on a slight downtick in brightness from the stated output of 650 lumens. While only a difference of a few dozen lumens, it might still be a noteworthy factor for consumers who are especially concerned with the brightness of their bulbs.

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The Philips SlimStyle was able to dim smoothly down to darkness. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Dimmable range

Another brightness consideration we examined was with the SlimStyle's performance on an in-wall dimmer switch. We tested a variety of models, and found that at full blast on all of them, the SlimStyle would only put out about 89 percent of its total brightness (a little over 550 lumens). Ideally, you want your bulbs to meet 100 percent of their potential when the dimmer is dialed all the way up.

At the opposite end of the dial, the SlimStyle fared much better. Most LEDs will cut out at a certain point as you dial the light down, but the SlimStyle was able to dim smoothly down to zero. That bottom row of the above chart shows equally exposed, untouched photos of each of the dimmable BR30 LEDs we looked at, as dim as we could get them without the light turning off altogether. Clearly, with a light output of just six lumens or so, the SlimStyle was the winner.

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