"In pursuit of the perfectly dimmable LED"
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In pursuit of the perfectly dimmable LED
Hey, I'm CNet's Ryan Chris.
Today we're taking a look at doable LEDs, and testing out some of the concerns that people have about them.
So what we've got here is our lightbulb testing rig, that's set up with a couple of common wall switch dimmers.
We've got a lutron model, a levitron model there in the middle, and then a cheap $5 rotary dimmer, that's supposed to work only with incandescent.
Now, one of the chief concerns people have about dimmable LEDs is the fact that they might buzz.
But that's not a problem that is unique to LEDs.
Take a look at this incandescent bulb that's been buzzing the whole time I've been talking, and you can't hear it.
That's what it sounds like.
The reason it's buzzing is because of the dimmer.
The dimmer is cutting the power back and forth from full to low strength as you dim it up and down.
So, it's not actually half way.
It's actually just approximating it by alternating.
And that causes electromagnetic resistance, which makes the filament vibrate.
It wiggles around.
You can kinda see it almost if you look close.
With LEDs you get the same problem.
There's no filament, but there are still parts in there that'll move around in that electromagnetic resistances.
Now let's look at this Cree 60 watt replacement LED.
As you can see, it dims fine.
It goes up and down and it's definitely dimmable like they say, but there's still that buzz.
I take my microphone off again.
You can definitely hear it.
And now take a look at this.
Probably the most interesting result we got in our testing, was this Phillips LED.
This is the standard Phillips sixty watt replacement LED, not the fun style flat bulb, we'll get to that one.
This is just a normal LED that they sell, and you can see even on this incandescent only cheap rotary model it dims just fine and it also no buzzing.
I hold my microphone right up to the bulb, you might be able to hear a little bit of buzzing.
But to the naked ear, just about a foot away, I can't hear any buzzing.
None of us can.
And that's the same on all three of these dimmers.
So that's a fantastic result for Philips.
That said, remember that slim style model that I mentioned?
Well, this is it right here.
And as you can see, it works with dimmers, but as you can hear.
Buzzes pretty badly.
It was one of the worst performers in our dimming tests, in that regard.
It also flickers a bit at low light levels, which I don't like either.
One last thing that we want to point out, if you are thinking about going with smart LEDs that dim on their own.
They have built-in dimming capabilities you are not going to want to use them with a built-in wall dimmer.
This is the Connected by TCP bulb, one of my favorite smart LEDs.
And, it works well when you dim in on its own, but when you use it with a wall dimmer like this one.
You get really, really bad performance.
But if you use this bulb in a lamp or any over head light that doesn't have a built in wall dimmer, it'll dim on its own with a built-in remote or through the app, and there won't be any buzzing.
There won't be any flickering and that's across the board for LIFX, Philips Hue, any smart bulb that dims on its own.
Moving forward, we'll be testing out a lot more dimmers and a lot more bulbs, looking for things like buzzing and flickering and assumable range, how low those bulbs can go before they cut out.
And all of that's gonna lead up to our big series of LED reviews.
We'll be reviewing every bulb we test in full and recommending our favorites.
All to help you make better bulb buying decisions.
For CNET Appliances, I'm Ryan Chris.
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