Dimmability is often a top concern when you're shopping for new light bulbs unless, of course, your home doesn't have dimmer switches. In that case, you'll either need to upgrade those light switches or invest in pricey smart bulbs with their own, built-in dimming mechanisms. Or, you know, continue living in the full-brightness hellscape you call a home.
Fortunately, there's one more option, and that's to go with a bulb that lets you pick from multiple brightness settings just by flipping your existing switch off and back on, like a three-way bulb you can use anywhere.
The Philips SceneSwitch LED already impressed me with its spin on the feature. Now, Feit's in the game, too, with a 60W replacement "IntelliBulb" that switches between 100, 60 and 10 percent brightness settings. Like the Philips bulb, it passed my brightness tests with flying colors. It also manages heat buildup well, too, which means it'd be a fine pick for use in an enclosed fixture, where heat gets trapped. At a suggested retail price of $10 per bulb, it's a dollar more than the SceneSwitch LED, but prices will vary depending on what hardware store you're shopping at. Extra dollar aside, I like it just as much as that Philips bulb.
Let's start with the brightness across all three settings. Feit promises 800 lumens at the top setting, which would put the bulb right on par with a common 60W incandescent. In my tests, I measured it at 868 lumens, putting it well above spec. The 60 percent setting came in at 489 lumens, which is about 61 percent of the stated 800 lumens and 56 percent of the 868 you're actually getting. The bottom, nightlight setting came in at just 95 lumens, which is 10.9 percent as bright as the bulb's top setting.
Those are all great, accurate results that put the bulb right in line with what you'd expect from the sort of three-way bulb that it emulates. At its top setting, you're getting a 60W replacement bulb that's plenty bright. At the second setting, you're getting brightness that's more in line with a 40W accent light. At the bottom setting you're getting a nice, dim glow that won't bother you while you sleep or watch a movie.
Switching between those settings is as easy as flipping the light off and back on. Leave the bulb off for more than a few seconds, and it'll return to whatever setting you left it at next time you turn it back on.
Like most LED light bulbs, it's efficient as well. At the top, 60W replacement setting, it uses a power draw of just 9.5 watts, making it good for 91 lumens per watt. That's an excellent number, and one that'll only add a little more than a dollar to your yearly energy bill if you run the bulb at full brightness for three hours a day.
At that rate, the IntelliBulb will pay for itself after about a year and a half of use if you're upgrading from a 60W incandescent. Dim it down during that year and a half, and it'll pay for itself even sooner. After that, it'll keep on shining for well over a decade thanks to the 15,000-hour lifespan.
The IntelliBulb does well in terms of quality of light, too. The omni-directional design does a good job of putting light out evenly in all directions, and the measured color temperature of 2,764 K, while a little higher and whiter-looking than the stated 2,700 K, is still comfortably within the soft white ballpark. As for color rendering (the bulb's ability to make colors look accurate and vivid), I'd say that the IntelliBulb is right on par with other LEDs, if not slightly above average.
I also made sure to take a look at how well the IntelliBulb handled heat. Like most electronics, LED light bulbs will heat up as you use them, and just like your laptop or your cell phone, performance will dip as the temperature rises. LEDs will typically see their brightness fall by about 15 percent during the first hour or so of use before the heat sinks kick in and things level off at what's called the "steady state." And don't worry -- an LED's lumen count is referring to the brightness after this initial dip, which is also where we take our final reading, so you aren't getting shortchanged in terms of light output.
In this case, the IntelliBulb hit its steady state within about 40 minutes, and the initial brightness reading of 970 lumens only fell by a little more than 10 percent by the end of the test. Those aren't the best results I've seen from a 60W replacement LED, but they're definitely better than average, and good enough for me to say that the IntelliBulb would be a fine pick for an enclosed fixture, where heat gets trapped in with the bulb.
Feit says that the IntelliBulb is also rated for dampness, which means that it should be fine to use outdoors so long as it isn't directly exposed to the elements.
Switch-to-Dim is a simple, practical feature that makes plenty of sense, and that makes this version of the IntelliBulb a winner (there are also models that change color temperature and that turn on automatically when they detect motion -- I haven't tested those yet). At $10 each, it costs a few dollars more than the average 60W replacement LED, but it's worth it for anyone who doesn't use dimmer switches but still wants the lights dialed down low from time to time. And, if you use floodlights, Feit makes a BR30-shaped Switch-to-Dim IntelliBulb, too.
Of course, I can say all of the same about the Philips SceneSwitch LED, which has a slightly lower suggested retail price. There's nothing wrong with options, though -- I say grab whichever one's on sale, because they're both solid picks.