If you're tired of getting the ladder out to replace the burnt-out bulbs in your living room chandelier, then you might be tempted to make the switch to LEDs which promise to last years, if not decades before burning out.
You'll find plenty of candelabra LEDs in the lighting aisle that will do the trick -- click through for a quick rundown of your options.
Something else these bulbs have in common: they all cost more than they should. Unlike common 60W bulbs, the candelabra LED category hasn't seen such a steep decrease in prices relative to other kinds of light bulbs. This Utilitech model costs $11 a piece -- keep in mind that you'd probably want to buy multiples for a matching set in your chandelier.
There aren't many exceptions, but this non-dimmable Philips LED is one of them. It sells in a three-pack for $10 at Home Depot. That isn't bad, but if you want something dimmable, you'll need to spend at least $7 per bulb.
All in all, we tested 11 bulbs. Here are the results of the thermal management test, where we measure how much heat buildup affects performance. Like all electronics, LEDs don't perform as well when they get hot. That's why each of these bulbs has a somewhat bulky heat sink hidden in its base.
After you first flip the lights on, they'll immediately see their brightness start to fall as things heat up. Then, once the heat sink kicks in, they hit an equilibrium called the "steady state." Bulbs that hit a higher, steadier steady state are bulbs that handle the heat better. They'd be the best pick for enclosed fixtures, where heat gets trapped.
Now compare that with this EcoSmart LED -- it was one of the worst at casting light down below the bulb. That's not ideal if you're using it in a chandelier overhead (unless a well-lit ceiling is all you really care about.)
/ Photo: Ry Crist/CNET
EcoSmart isn't the only brand with a vintage-style, fake-filament bulb. There it is in the right with a competing model from Feit on the left. That's an actual incandescent in the center, for comparison.
Speaking of orange, this "Warm Glow" LED from Philips drops its color temperature down into the orange part of the spectrum as you dim it down. It's meant to mimic the glow of an incandescent filament.
With the exception of that non-dimmable Philips bulb that sells in a $10 three-pack, none of these bulbs offer enough value for us to recommend outright. But if you want a dimmable candelabra LED right now, this Cree bulb is my pick. It sells in a $20 three-pack, making the cost per bulb a little under $7. That's as low as you'll currently find.
Cree's candelabra LED also features an above average color rendering score of 91. Though it won't make colors pop quite as much as an incandescent will, it'll come close, and it'll do noticeably better than the average LED.