GE 16W LED (100W Replacement) review: Can't go wrong with GE's 100W Replacement LED
Nearly two years ago, rising efficiency standards spelled the end of the 100W incandescent light bulb. Thankfully, your options have been steadily expanding ever since, with a full crop of new LEDs promising that same level of brightness from a substantially smaller power draw.
Of these new bulbs, the GE 100W Replacement LED is one of the best. Drawing just 16 watts to put out a very bright 1,600 lumens, GE's dimmable, omnidirectional bulb ranks as one of the most efficient we've ever tested. Switch over from an incandescent, and it'll pay for itself in about two years -- a full eight years before the 10-year warranty expires. Its retail price of $21 sits above worthy competitors from Cree and Utilitech , but considering just how much GE gets right with this bulb, I think it's well worth it.
GE didn't put much effort into hiding the hardware on its 100W replacement LED. Rather, this bulb embraces a heat sink-centric design, with long, vertical fins around the bulb which help to disperse the heat, and which also create the illusion of a traditionally-shaped light.
Obviously, this makes for an LED that's rather conspicuous in appearance, but my real concern was whether or not those fins would affect the light output. With the bulb hidden under a lamp shade, I was happy to find that they didn't -- the light output was perfectly even and omnidirectional, with no fin-shaped dim spots to speak of.
Measuring its light output, GE says its bulb puts out 1,600 lumens' worth of illumination at a warm-toned 2,700 K. Under the scrutiny of our spectrometer, that color temperature rang in closer to 2,600 K -- lower and more yellowy than any other 100W replacement we tested.
That isn't necessarily a bad thing, and may even be a good thing if you prefer warm tones in your home. For my tastes, I like a more golden glow from my lights, and GE's bulb certainly fits that bill. If you're hoping for a more neutral daylight tone, though, you'll need to look elsewhere.
|Cree 100W Replacement LED||GE Energy Smart 100W Replacement LED||Philips 100W Equivalent LED||Sylvania 100W Replacement Ultra LED||Utilitech 100W Equivalent Warm White LED|
|Efficiency (lumens per watt)||89||100||88||84||100|
|Estimated yearly energy cost||$2.17||$1.93||$2.29||$2.29||$1.93|
|Color temperature (stated / measured)||2,700 K / 2,663 K||2,700 K / 2,602 K||2,700 K / 2,628 K||2,700 K / 2,664 K||3,000 K / 2,999 K|
|Lifespan||25,000 hours||25,000 hours||25,000 hours||25,000 hours||18,000 hours|
|Color rendering index||80||81||80||83||85|
|Weight||5.80 oz.||5.65 oz.||8.50 oz.||11.45 oz.||7.80 oz.|
The bulb's most impressive spec is that it only consumes 16 watts of electricity, efficient enough to put out 100 lumens per watt. That ties it with Utilitech's bulb, making the two of them the most efficient 100W replacements we tested. Nothing else was able to get above 90 lumens per watt.
With that power draw, GE's bulb would add less than $2 to your energy bill each year, assuming you're paying 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and using it an average of 3 hours per day. Under the same parameters, a 100W incandescent would cost more than $12 per year, assuming it lasted that long (incandescents are typically rated to last about 1,000 hours). Like other Energy Star-certified LEDs, the GE 100W Replacement LED is rated to last 25,000 hours -- well over 20 years.
GE backs its longevity claims up with a 10-year warranty, the same warranty that Cree offers for its bulbs. That's as long a warranty as you'll find on a brand-name light bulb, and an exceptional deal for skeptics who aren't sold on LED value just yet.
As said before, the GE 100W Replacement LED looks good beneath a lampshade. With its omnidirectional light output, you can expect an even amount of brightness in all directions. This includes downward light, which gets especially important when you're sitting under a lamp to read a book.
Not all of the bulbs that we tested can claim such satisfying performance. Both Sylvania and Utilitech's 100W replacement LEDs are non-omnidirectional, offering only 180 degrees of focused light output. That's fine for overhead, recessed lighting setups, but less ideal for that reading lamp I mentioned.
Cree and Philips' 100W replacements fared better, both of them boasting the same omnidirectional light output as you'll get with GE. While neither one is quite as efficient as GE, Philips claims an extra 80 lumens' worth of brightness, while Cree costs a buck less.
I do wish that GE offered a slightly higher color rendering score. Though its CRI score of 81 is perfectly adequate for an LED (and a point higher than what you'll get with Philips or Cree), GE's 100W Replacement LED doesn't come anywhere close to the color rendering capabilities of the GE Reveal line, including the Editors' Choice-winning GE Reveal BR30 LED . Those bulbs score up into the 90s by filtering out yellow tones -- this does wonders to improve contrast, whiten whites, and make colors look vivid and more accurate.
A GE Reveal-branded 100W Replacement LED would make for an especially nice addition to GE's lighting lineup, as no bulb in this class wowed us with its color rendering capabilities. The closest we saw was the Utilitech 100W Replacement LED, which scored an 85 in front of our spectrometer. That's an impressive result considering that Utilitech's LED was the least expensive one that we tested, but not impressive enough to recommend Utilitech, given that bulb's shorter warranty and non-omnidirectional design.
Another advantage GE has over Utilitech is dimmability. Many bulbs will flicker and buzz when you use them with in-wall dimmer switches, and some, like the Utilitech bulb we tested, will barely work at all.
Not the GE LED, though. The light dimmed smoothly up and down on all of the switches we tested it with, never producing an audible buzz. The only time we detected any sort of flicker was with the light dialed down to the lowest settings, and as flickers go, it was barely noticeable.
It wasn't too long ago that LED bulbs were selling for $50 or even $100, so the fact that we have a very healthy crop of 100W replacement LEDs selling for right around $20 is a clear sign of the times. Moving forward, I expect LED quality to continue to improve even as the prices continue to creep downward, but it's still a good time to buy in if you've been holding out.
GE's 100W Replacement LED is about as well-rounded a light as we've tested, and at $21, I think it's fairly priced, too. Cree's bulb costs a dollar less, but it isn't quite as efficient. Utilitech's bulb is cheaper still, but it doesn't have as good a warranty, and it isn't dimmer-friendly, either. With GE, you're getting the complete package -- and for a product designed to last decades, I think the complete package is what you want.