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Cree's LED floodlight gets a price cut

Originally priced at $20, Cree's newly improved BR30-shaped LED now costs $10.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Cree is giving its BR30-shaped LED floodlight a price cut, the North Carolina-based lighting manufacturer announced this morning. Originally priced at $20, then lowered to $15, the new second generation of the bulb will now sell at just a few cents shy of $10 per bulb, or $11 for a hotter, whiter, daylight version of the bulb that shines at 5,000 K.

Ideal for recessed fixtures and overhead lighting, BR30 floodlights reflect their light out in a single direction. The "BR" stands for bulging reflector, as the light source sits above a wide, highly reflective metallic bowl that catches downward-cast light and bounces it back up.


Cree BR30 LED Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED GE Reveal BR30 LED
Lumens (measured / stated) 655* / 650 710 / 650 627 / 650 707 / 630
Watts 9 8 9.5 12
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 73 89 66 59
Yearly energy cost (3 hrs per day @ 0.11 kWh) $1.08 $0.96 $1.14 $1.44
Color temperature (measured / stated) 2,690 K* / 2,700 K 2,680 K / 2,700 K 2,730 K / 2,700 K 2,752 K / 2,850 K
Color rendering index 81* 79 80 89
Dimmable range 8 - 100%* 7 - 100% 0 - 100% 5 - 100%
Dimmer switch flicker/buzz Light* Light Moderate None
Lifespan 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Weight 6.4 oz. 3.25 oz. 3.5 oz. 7.6 oz.
Energy Star certification Yes Yes Yes No
Warranty 5-year 3-year 3-year 10-year
Price $10 $13 $15 $16

(*First-generation bulb measurements)

In the case of the Cree bulb, that light source is a set of light-emitting diodes that use 9 watts to put out 650 lumens -- comparable to a 65W incandescent floodlight. Whereas that incandescent floodlight will add about $7.80 to your yearly energy bill and then burn out, an LED like Cree's will cost just over a buck per year, and keep on shining for decades.

That said, Cree's BR30 LED wasn't our favorite LED floodlight when we tested the things out last year. Though solid on light quality and efficiency, we weren't impressed with its dimming performance, and saw better value in bulbs like the Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED , the Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED , and the Editors' Choice-winning GE Reveal BR30 LED , all of which were more affordable than Cree at the time. Now, at $10 each, the Cree BR30 LED costs less than all of them, and comes in under most other major competitors, as well.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

The second-gen version of the floodlight isn't a radical redesign like the plastic-bodied Cree 4Flow LED . The bulb is still made of glass, and the specs appear largely the same. Instead, Cree is promising better performance under the hood from improved technology -- namely, a design that puts out the same amount of light using fewer diodes, with a slight reduction in the power draw.

The second-gen Cree BR30 LED. Cree

The only other notable change is a less welcome one, and that's a reduction in the warranty. The previous version of the BR30 LED came with 10 years of coverage, while the new version offers five. That might indicate a subtle strategic shift on Cree's part away from a long-term value proposition to one that's more focused on upfront appeal. Philips employed a similar tactic in its latest LED, an A-shaped 60W replacement that sells for just $5 , with a special two-for-one promotion during its first ninety days on the shelf.

The new Cree BR30 LED is available online now through Home Depot, and is expected to start hitting store shelves in June. We'll run the tests again as soon as we get our hands on one to see if anything's different -- keep an eye out for an updated review.