Cree 100W Replacement BR30 Floodlight LED review: Cree's new LED is a bright idea for homes with high ceilings
If your home has high ceilings, first off, congratulations on your palace. Second, you might need some extra oomph in your light bulbs since they're up so high. Thing is, if you're looking for BR30-shaped LED floodlights, most options in the lighting aisle won't come much brighter than 700 lumens -- bright enough for normal use, but probably dimmer than what you're looking for.
That's where Cree's newest LED light bulb comes in. At an asking price of $11 per bulb, it's a 100W replacement floodlight that puts out 1,500 lumens, which is just about as bright as BR30-shaped bulbs get.
Like most LEDs, it's efficient, too, with an actual power draw of just 16.5W. Use it to replace a 100W incandescent floodlight that you use for an average of three hours a day, and you'll knock about $10 off of your yearly power bill. In other words, it'll pay for itself in just over a year of use.
After that, it'll keep saving you money for decades thanks to the 22.8-year lifespan. Cree backs that up with an industry-leading 10-year warranty.
From the looks of it, Cree got just about everything right with this bulb. Not only is it bright and efficient, but it also dims exceedingly well, showing absolutely no visible flicker with any of the switches I used in testing.
Cree tells me that it worked in conjunction with Lutron and Leviton, two of the leading manufacturers of dimmer switches, to make sure that the bulb aced the in-house certification tests of both brands before bringing it to market. Sure enough, the dimming performance was virtually identical on modern dimmer switches from each brand, dialing down to a satisfying minimum of 7 percent on each. The only real disappointment was that the bulb only dimmed down to 18 percent on an old rotary-style dimmer.
It also aced my thermal management tests in which I measure how far the brightness dips as the bulb heats up during prolonged use. Most LED bulbs will see their initial brightness fall by anywhere from 10 to 20 percent in the first 45 minutes of use before the heat sinks really kick in and level things out. Cree claims that it beefed up the thermal management capabilities for this bulb, and the company wasn't kidding -- the initial brightness only dropped by about 3 percent in my test. That's an outstanding result, and reassuring if you need to use this bulb in an enclosed fixture where the heat gets trapped.
The bulb's final selling point is that it boasts a color rendering score in the low 90s, which is very good; most LEDs score in the mid-80s at best. Bulbs with higher scores on the color rendering index (CRI) will do a better job of making the colors in your home pop -- whiter whites, more vivid reds and so on. Cree made color rendering a focal point for its entire lineup in 2016, and its bulbs do produce noticeably better colors and cleaner whites than the average LED.
This is a very good bulb with no real weaknesses, and the price is right at $11. Consider that most dimmable 65W replacement floodlight LEDs sell for about $7. Paying a couple of extra bucks for almost twice as much brightness seems fair to me, especially for a bulb that performs as well as this one does.