If you're thinking about upgrading the lights in your living room chandelier to LEDs, but you're hesitant to say goodbye to the classic aesthetic of your incandescents, then EcoSmart might have a solution for you. It's a "vintage-style" candelabra LED that arranges its light-emitting diodes into a set of fake filaments. New-age efficiency, old-school looks.
Each bulb will cost you $10, which isn't cheap, considering that you'll likely need to buy a bunch of them. In fact, none of the dimmable candelabra LEDs we tested jumped out at us as exceptional values. The closest was another bulb from EcoSmart that doesn't disguise itself as an incandescent, but costs just $7 each.
Still, give EcoSmart's vintage-style bulb some credit. With 482 lumens to its name, it's the brightest 40W equivalent candelabra LED that we tested, and more than twice as bright as the other vintage-style candelabra bulb in the lighting aisle, from Feit. It's also the most efficient bulb we looked at, putting out more than 100 lumens per watt. It didn't dim as well as some of the other bulbs in our roundup, and bulbs like that other EcoSmart model offer better value, but it's still worth consideration -- especially if you're a fan of that incandescent-like design.
I trekked from Home Depot and Lowe's to Walmart and Target scooping up every 40W equivalent I could find for this roundup. Of them, two were "vintage-style" bulbs with fake LED filaments: this EcoSmart LED, and a bulb from Feit.
Of the two of them, the Feit LED looks nicer. It uses a flame-shaped glass bulb that looks less like an oversized holiday light than the EcoSmart LED, and also features a slight sepia tint that helps bring the color temperature way down into the orange end of the spectrum in admittedly artificial fashion.
I was also bummed that EcoSmart plastered the bulb's fine print right onto the glass, rather than the base of the bulb. It's a definite eyesore -- and given that this is a decorative LED meant for fixtures where the bulb sits exposed, it's a bit of a head-scratcher, too. Not sure why EcoSmart didn't find a way to stamp that text onto the base of the bulb, instead.
Unforced design errors aside, this is a pretty decent little piece of hardware. It was the brightest 40W equivalent candelabra bulb we looked at by far, and the most efficient, too. It also performed admirably in our heat management tests, meaning that it would make a good pick for enclosed fixtures, where trapped heat can affect performance. On specs alone, it blows that Feit bulb out of the water.
It isn't perfect, though. It only dimmed down to 8.7 percent in our dimming tests, for instance. That's not a terrible result, but I much prefer bulbs that can get down below 5 percent, or ideally, ones that can dim cleanly down to zero. It also flickered a bit as we adjusted the light up and down -- but in fairness, so did every other bulb we tested.
For that reason, it might make sense to stick with halogens, fluorescents or even incandescents for another year or two before making the switch to LEDs, especially if you use dimmer switches in your home. Bulbs like this one offer a solid efficiency upgrade, but not without compromises, and not without significant upfront costs.
For more on candelabra LEDs, check out our full category overview.