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Saffron 40W Replacement LED review:

This LED's a master of disguise (and little else)

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The Good The Saffron 40W Replacement LED compromises nothing when it comes to aesthetics. It looks exactly like the incandescent bulbs it's designed to replace.

The Bad Saffron's LED bulb sits at the bottom of the pack when it comes to brightness, efficiency, dimmability and color quality. It also costs more than the competition.

The Bottom Line Unless you insist on bulbs that look as traditional as possible, there's no reason to choose Saffron over stronger offerings from Philips, Cree and Osram.

CNET Editors' Rating

5.3 Overall
  • Design 6.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Performance 5.0

We've seen plenty of evolution in the lighting aisle over the past decade, and that's left some struggling to find bulbs with that old, familiar feel. Enter the Saffron 40W Replacement LED, which houses the lighting technology of today within the streamlined glass curvature of yesterday.

It's a design that's sure to please if you're a lover of the incandescent aesthetic you grew up with, and you'll be pleased to hear that Saffron keeps the look-alike act going after the bulb is switched on, as well. But compare this bulb with its less inconspicuous competitors, and you'll see that the classic design is really all it has to offer. By almost every important metric -- brightness, efficiency, color quality, dimmability, you name it -- the Saffron LED lags behind the rest. That makes it a tough sell at $12, especially given that those competitors cost a little less.

Design

If you're looking for an LED bulb that looks as little like an LED bulb as possible, then look no further. Mixed in with a lineup of incandescents, it's nearly impossible to pick the Saffron LED back out.

It's a design that certainly has me interested. Plenty of consumers favor the simple looks of yesterday's bulbs over the clunky, heat-sink-centric newfangledness of today's LEDs. A light that offers a classic build alongside modern performance is a pretty appealing pitch.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Still, today's LED light bulbs focus on heat management for good reason. Just like with your laptop or your cell phone, LED performance tends to dip as things warm up. Without traditional heat sinks or some other thermal management system, you'd think that something would have to give.

To that end, Saffron's team seems to have dialed the brightness down, rating its LED at 400 lumens instead of the 450 lumens you'd traditionally expect from a 40W replacement. It was even dimmer than that in our test lab, coming in at just 362 lumens. Brightness might not be as important with 40W replacements, which typically work best as accent lights, but still, that number is probably lower than you'd like.

40W Replacement LEDs

Saffron 40W Replacement LED Osram 40W Replacement LED Cree 40W Replacement LED Philips 40W Replacement LED Ikea Ledare LED
Lumens (measured / stated) 362 / 400 496 / 450 483 / 450 479 / 470 658 / 600
Watts 6 6 6 8 10
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 60 83 81 60 66
Yearly energy cost (3 hr. per day @ .11 kWh) $0.72 $0.72 $0.72 $0.96 $1.20
Color temperature (measured / stated) 2,947K / 3,000K 2,561K / 2,700K 2,608K / 2,700K 2,646K / 2,700K 2,632K / 2,700K
Other color temperatures (price difference) 6,500K ($0) 5,000K (+$1) 5,000K (+$1) 5,000K (+$1) none
Color rendering index 76 78 80 80 88
Dimmable range Not dimmable 3.8 - 100% 3.5 - 100% 0.8 - 100% 6.3 - 100%
Dimmer switch flicker/buzz Severe Light Light None None
Lifespan 30,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Weight 1.90 oz. 3.05 oz. 3.70 oz. 4.50 oz. 4.10 oz.
Energy Star certification No Yes Yes Yes No
Warranty 1 year 5 years 10 years 5 years None
Price $12 $8 $10 $12 $5

You'll get well over 100 lumens more from the Osram 40W Replacement LED , which uses the same 6W power draw and, at $8 per bulb, costs $4 less than Saffron. That also makes Osram the more efficient bulb of the two, putting out over 80 lumens per watt compared with just 60 from Saffron.

Saffron gets similarly outperformed by 40W replacement LEDs from Cree, Philips and even the Ikea Ledare LED , which sits on its own in a strange middle ground between the 40W and 60W replacement levels. Spec for spec, all of them offer better overall value propositions than Saffron -- though none of them are nearly as good at imitating the physical look of an incandescent.

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