Floodlights are fairly common in today's homes -- and common in the lighting aisle, too, where you'll find a whole host of new, efficient LED options. But which one should you go with when it's time to buy new bulbs?
Aside from spending hours testing each bulb in our lighting lab to measure things like brightness and color temperature, we also made sure to test other concerns, including dimmability, heat management and color rendering, which plays a big role in how accurate and vivid each bulb will make the colors in your home look.
As for that heat management test, it's designed to see how each bulb performs as it heats up during use. Just like the way your laptop can slow down when it gets too hot, LEDs will see a slight drop-off in brightness in the first 30 minutes or so of usage as they heat up -- by that point, their heat sinks should kick in and stabilize things.
Bulbs that finish higher are losing less of their brightness during their initial dip and doing a better job of keeping heat at bay. Good heat management leads to better efficiency, because it lets the bulbs put out more light from the same, low power draw. A bulb that's good at keeping the heat at bay might be a smart pick for an enclosed fixture, where heat tends to get trapped.
LEDs aren't hard to find -- even most grocery stores sell them at this point. That's why we made sure to test bulbs from a variety of retail sources, including this store-brand LED we bought at Target.
Here's a closer look at how the Target bulb handles colors. Note the slightly yellowish tinge to the white bowl and the wooden table, along with the desaturated oranges. This is a pretty typical color-rendering result for an LED -- which is to say, it's just so-so.
GE Basic Floodlight: Brightness, tone and light spread
GE Basic Floodlight: Color quality
GE Reveal Floodlight LED
Want a bulb that can help the colors in your home look better? Then consider upgrading to a GE Reveal LED, which boosts the bulb's light from the red part of the spectrum for better-looking colors and cleaner whites.
Brightness: 799 lumens Power usage: 9 watts Price: $16.99 for a 2-pack ($8.50 per bulb)