Cree's new line of LEDs promise better performance at a lower price

With dozens of new versions of its popular LED light bulbs slated to arrive in the lighting aisle this month, Cree is continuing to invest in consumer LED lighting.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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Ry Crist
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Cree's new A-shaped 60W Replacement LED.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Cree shook up the lighting aisle a few years back with a high-performance LED light bulb that cost significantly less than the competition. Now, the North Carolina-based lighting manufacturer is changing things up again with an entirely new lineup of LEDs, all of which are expected to hit Home Depot shelves by the end of September. Here's the full list:

  • A-shaped 60W replacement LED - $20 for a soft white 4-pack, $21 for a daylight 4-pack
  • A-shaped 40W replacement LED - $20 for a soft white 4-pack, $21 for a daylight 4-pack
  • A-shaped 75W replacement LED - $11 for a soft white bulb, $12 for a daylight bulb
  • A-shaped 100W replacement LED - $13 for a soft white bulb, $14 for a daylight bulb
  • A-shaped 3-way LED (30W/60W/100W replacement) - $15 for a soft white bulb
  • 65W replacement BR30 LED flood light - $25 for a soft white 3-pack, $26 for a daylight 3-pack
  • 85W replacement BR40 LED flood light - $15 for a soft white bulb, $16 for a daylight bulb
  • 75W replacement PAR30 and 120W replacement PAR38 spot and flood lights - $20 each
  • 4-inch 55W replacement and 6-inch 65W replacement LED downlights - $17 for soft white, $18 for daylight, $30 for a 2-pack
  • 6-inch 100W replacement LED downlight - $20
  • 25W Replacement Candelabra LED with "Candlelight Dimming" - $14 for a soft white 2-pack
  • 40W Replacement Candelabra LED with "Candlelight Dimming" - $15 for a soft white 2-pack

At a starting price of about $5 each, Cree's new 60W replacement LED will sit right on par with low-cost LED options like the Philips 60W Replacement LED and the GE Bright Stik LED, the cheapest of the three at about $3 per bulb. Neither of those competitors are dimmable, though, which could make Cree's bulb an affordable go-to choice for anyone who likes the lights dimmed down low.

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All of Cree's new bulbs feature a new design, improved color rendering capabilities, and a 10-year warranty.

The new bulbs are all cheaper than before, and they cover a broad range of shapes and sizes. Aside from mainstays like that A-shaped 60W replacement LED and a BR30-shaped LED flood light, Cree's unveiling a new "Candlelight Dimming" candelabra bulb that glows orange like an incandescent as you dim it down low. You'll also see multiple new versions of its PAR-shaped flood and spot lights, including a 120W replacement designed for brighter exterior lighting, or for rooms with especially high ceilings.

Cree claims that the new bulbs are better than before, too. With all of them, the emphasis is light quality, which includes the promise of buzz-free dimming and claims of more vivid colors throughout your home thanks to higher scores on the color rendering index (CRI), a 100-point scale that measures how accurately light bulbs illuminate colors.

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All of Cree's new bulbs promise high color rendering scores, which should help them make the colors in your home pop.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

Cree tells us that all of the new bulbs will boast CRI scores in the high eighties or low nineties. If true, that'd give Cree a definitive edge over the competition, as most LEDs struggle to score much higher than eighty.

All of the new bulbs have heat sinks built into the base to help keep the electronics cool. That's a departure from Cree's line of "4Flow" LEDs, which skip the heat sinks altogether in favor of convection vents. Cree tells us that it'll begin phasing those 4Flow LEDs out as the new bulbs begin to arrive.

The one exception is the 4Flow-shaped Cree Connected LED, a $15 smart bulb that you can pair with a smart home lighting system like Philips Hue for things like app-enabled lighting scenes and voice activated lighting changes. Cree will continue making and selling them.

Expect to see all of the new Cree LEDs on the shelf at your local Home Depot by the end of this month. We'll aim to have full reviews of the most noteworthy bulbs among them around that same time -- stay tuned.