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Feit Electric 40W Replacement LED review: A flickering failure among 40W replacement LEDs

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The 40W replacement category was one of the first places where we saw LED pricing creep down to 10 bucks or less. By now, you've got a wealth of options, including a $10 40W replacement LED from Feit that boasts an attractive, clear-globed aesthetic.

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Feit Electric 40W Replacement LED

The Good

Feit's 40W Replacement LED sports an aesthetic-minded design that casts appealingly textured light.

The Bad

That appeal vanishes under a lampshade, with messy, non-omnidirectional light output. The bulb also flickers badly on dimmer switches.

The Bottom Line

With poor performance, a highly impractical design and less value than the competition, this LED isn't one we'd recommend.

Sometimes sold under Lowes' "Utilitech Pro" branding, the Feit 40W Replacement LED (model number LA19DMCLLED) looks appealing enough on paper, with a respectable amount of brightness, a relatively low wattage, and promises of dimmer compatibility. Look closer at the competition though, and you'll realize that Feit's bulb actually lags behind the pack in both pricing and performance. What's more, it failed our dimmability and omnidirectionality tests, bombing worse than any other LED to date. Be thankful for that wealth of options I mentioned -- almost any of them would likely be a better pick than this.

Turning on Feit's 40W Replacement LED (pictures)

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Design

Feit's 40W replacement falls into a similar aesthetic as the Philips Clear LED , the GE Link LED and the non-frosted version of the Ikea Ledare , with a flat bed of diodes sitting beneath a contoured piece of plastic. The light shines up and out through this plastic, creating a filament effect that looks quite nice in exposed bulb settings.

This approach gives a good deal of "texture" to the light. Shine it up against a wall, and you'll see a gem-like pattern. It's pretty, but I had my doubts as to whether or not it'd be all that practical in common fixtures. Just looking at the exposed bulb, you can see that the light isn't shining out evenly (it's particularly easy to spot in the unedited, top-down shot included below).

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Ry Crist/CNET

That textured light comes at a color temperature of 3,000K, with a stated brightness of 500 lumens. That's a good number, and comfortably above the 450 lumens you'd expect from a typical 40W replacement light.

As for the power usage, Feit's LED consumes 8 watts, which gives it a good-but-not-great efficiency rating of 62.5 lumens per watt. At average energy rates and with an average usage of three hours per day, it'd add about a dollar to your yearly energy bill. That makes for easy savings when switching over from a 40W incandescent, which will cost about $5 per year, but it isn't as good as competing bulbs from manufacturers like Cree and Osram which each cost less than 75 cents per year.

40W Replacement LEDs

Feit Electric 40W Replacement LEDCree 40W Replacement LEDPhilips 40W Replacement LEDOsram 40W Replacement Ultra LEDIkea Ledare LEDGE Reveal LED
Lumens (measured* / stated) 478 / 500483 / 450479 / 470496 / 450658 / 600619 / 570
Watts 86861011
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 62.5075.0058.7575.0060.0051.82
Estimated yearly energy cost $0.96$0.72$0.96$0.72$1.21$1.32
Color temperature (measured / stated) 2,954K / 3,000K2,608K / 2,700K2,646K / 2,700K2,561K / 2,700K2,632K / 2,700K2,680K / 2,700 K
Lifespan 25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours15,000 hours
Color rendering index 788080788895
Dimmable range 0.0 - 100%3.5 - 100%0.8 - 100%3.8 - 100%6.3 - 100%0.2 - 100%
Weight 4.50 oz.3.70 oz.4.50 oz.3.05 oz.4.10 oz.7.25 oz.
Warranty 2-year10-year5-year5-yearnone5-year
Price $10$10$12$8$5$15

Feit's LED is rated for dampness, which means it should be able to stand up to things like condensation, and should be fine for limited outdoor use. You won't, however, want to leave it directly exposed to the elements.

Feit also advises against using the bulb in enclosed fixtures, where heat will build up and potentially shorten the bulb's 25,000-hour lifespan. Doing so will likely void the bulb's warranty, which, at two years, isn't very long to begin with. For the same price, Cree's 40W replacement comes with a 10-year warranty, while Osram's less-expensive bulb comes with five years of coverage.

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Ry Crist/CNET

Performance

In our lab, the Feit LED's numbers held up. It's just as efficient as Feit claims -- the color temperature is accurate, and the measured brightness of 478 lumens, though short of the stated 500 lumens, falls just within our 5 percent margin of error, and lands above that 450-lumen benchmark.

Numbers don't tell the whole story, though. In practical tests, Feit's LED was a significant disappointment. Take directionality, for instance. Ideally, you want a bulb that offers omnidirectional light output or something close to it, like 330 degrees. Feit only offers 180 degrees, meaning that it casts very little downward light. That rules it out for bedside reading lamps.

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Unlike Osram's omnidirectional LED (left), Feit's design gives it messy light distribution, especially under a lampshade. Ry Crist/CNET

The lamp troubles don't stop there, though. Remember the "texture" of the light I mentioned earlier? It looks terrible shining out from under a lampshade -- bedside or otherwise. Scratch off even more potential use scenarios.

With lamps and enclosed fixtures ruled out, about the only places where I can imagine this light making much sense would be overhead, recessed lighting fixtures and decorative, exposed-bulb setups. For the former, you're almost certainly better off with a BR30 or some other floodlight designed specifically for that purpose. With the latter, Feit's bulb and its glowing plastic filament might be a touch too bright.

Dialed down on dimmer switches, this bulb doesn't just flicker -- it strobes. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Another practical concern is dimmability. Most LEDs these days promise to work with dimmer switches, and Feit's bulb is no exception. Using it with our dimming rig, we found that indeed, it does dim up and down, but not without a noticeable amount of flicker. Even worse, whenever we dimmed the light to a low setting and left it there, it would begin to pulse and strobe. That's a dimming deal-breaker, and it happened on every switch we tested -- Leviton, Lutron and an older rotary dial.

To sum all of this up, you won't want to use this LED in an enclosed fixture, or with a dimmer switch, or in a reading lamp, or in any lamp. That's an awful lot of shortcomings, particularly in a category that's supposed to be fairly versatile.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

If Feit was marketing this LED as a decorative light intended solely for exposed fixtures, it might be a little easier to recommend. Instead, Feit lists it as a general-purpose LED, calling it "a direct replacement for a 40 Watt bulb." With such poor results in our practical tests, that seems like a stretch.

In the 40W replacement category, you can do a lot better than this. For the same price, Cree's bulb offers better dimming performance, better directionality and a better warranty. So too does Osram's 40W replacement, and it only costs $8. Ikea's Ledare LED offers a similar exposed-bulb aesthetic, along with greater brightness and color rendering capabilities. With competition like that (and to be frank, even without it), Feit's LED just isn't one that I'd recommend.

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Feit Electric 40W Replacement LED

Score Breakdown

Design 4Value 4Performance 4