Does the Switch Infinia LED outshine the competition? (hands-on)

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/ Updated: January 26, 2014 9:24 PM PST
Your LED options keep on expanding, with new, forward-thinking designs, an increasing number of automatable smart lights, and no shortage of bold claims about performance and longevity. In the end, however, the bulbs we've been most impressed with tend to be the ones from manufacturers willing to put their money where their mouth is by offering consumers long-term warranties. Cree's been a particular favorite of ours, as their variety of LED bulbs have all performed well in our tests, and all come packaged with a 10-year warranty.
Colin West McDonald/CNET

But Cree might have some legitimate competition in Switch, a small Silicon Valley-based company founded by a team of engineers in 2007. At a price of $11.99 per bulb, the 60-watt replacement Switch Infinia LED is priced to compete with Cree's own 60-watt replacement, which costs about a buck more at $12.97. The two bulbs have quite a bit in common. Both are efficient enough to earn Energy Star certification, meaning that they'll cost a lot less if you live in a region that offers energy rebates. At 800 lumens and 2700K each, the bulbs offer a remarkably similar quality of light, and both are rated to last 25,000 hours (that's about 25 years if you run them for 3 hours a day.)

The biggest difference between the two comes with the warranty. Cree's got those 10 years of coverage -- but Switch warrants their Infinia LEDs for life. As long as you own one, they'll replace it free of charge if it fails, even past that projected 25-year lifespan.

There are other differences between the two as well. The Switch Infinia LED is a weighty bulb, coming in at 6 ounces -- the Cree LED weighs less than 4. The designs are also noticeably different, with a slightly bulky ring of heat sinks around the neck of the Cree bulb that you won't find on the Switch.

Switch claims that the lack of conspicuous heat sinks is thanks to the "LQD Cooling System" that bathes the Infinia's chips in a specially formulated liquid, allowing heat to dissipate evenly through the glass. According to Switch, this liquid-cooled design makes for 40 percent better thermal performance than standard, air-cooled LEDs. Sure enough, the Infinia did seem noticeably cooler to the touch than the Cree bulb after a few minutes of use. Switch also claims that their cooler-running bulb is safe for use in all recessed and enclosed lighting setups, where excess heat can sometimes cause trouble for electrical components.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

The Switch Infinia LED comes in a 60-watt replacement variety as well as a 40-watt replacement variety. Both are available in select retailers nationwide, as well as online through Amazon and HomeDepot.com.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Switch Infinia LED Bulb (40-Watt Replacement)

Part Number: A240FUS27B1-R
MSRP: $11.99 Low Price: $17.95 See all prices