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GE Basic 65W Equivalent BR30 Floodlight LED review: This dimmable floodlight LED is an exceptional value

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The Good At less than $3 each, GE's cheapest dimmable LED floodlight passed all of our tests, including surprisingly strong performance on dimmer switches.

The Bad The bulb's two-year warranty is a lot shorter than most competitors, some of which were also brighter and more efficient. It's also only available in a six-pack, which might be more than some shoppers need.

The Bottom Line Though nothing fancy, this is a very decent LED light bulb that does a great job on dimmer switches, and an absolute steal if you need new floodlights throughout your home.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Value 9.5
  • Performance 8.5

It wasn't long ago that LED floodlights would cost you $15 or even $20 per bulb. Fortunately, that's no longer the case, with a number of decent, dimmable options that won't cost you any more than $5 each. The cheapest of these: the GE Basic 65-watt Equivalent Floodlight LED, available now at Lowe's in a six-pack that costs $17. That comes out to less than $3 per bulb.

That's obviously a terrific price, but light bulbs aren't throw-away purchases any more. Unlike their incandescent predecessors, LEDs are designed to last for years, and during that lifespan they'll have an everyday impact on the way your home looks and feels. It's not enough for a bulb to be cheap -- it has to be good, too.

Fortunately, the GE Basic LED exceeds this standard. It's as bright as you'd expect a 65-watt replacement floodlight to be, it's efficient enough to pay for itself in energy savings in less than six months, it dims well without flickering and it holds its own against heat buildup, too. That's not just good -- that's outstanding.

That said, it isn't perfect. With a projected lifespan of 6.8 years per bulb, the GE Basic LED will only last about about 30 percent as long as most of its LED competitors. On top of that, GE's two-year warranty is much shorter than the 10 years that you'll get from my top pick in the category, an excellent floodlight LED from Cree which only costs about $2 more per bulb.

Still, the GE Basic floodlight LED is a quality light bulb at an unbeatable price with relatively few compromises. It's well worth considering if you have a bunch of floodlights in your home that need replacing and you don't want the cost to get out of hand.

The GE Basic LED (left) is plenty bright, but the Cree floodlight LED (right) is a little brighter, and a little more efficient, too. The difference is slight.

Ry Crist/CNET

Brightness and efficiency

As usual, let's start with the specs, beginning with brightness. GE claims that this bulb puts out 650 lumens, which is exactly what you want from a 65-watt replacement floodlight like this one. I measured it at 659 lumens using our lighting lab's spectrometer and integrating sphere setup.

That's a fine result, though not quite as bright as competitors like Cree or Sylvania. For something even brighter, you could also consider looking for an 85- or even a 100-watt replacement floodlight, instead.

GE gets you those 659 lumens of light from a power draw of 8.5 watts. That comes out to a very strong 77.5 lumens per watt. But again, Cree and especially Sylvania are each able to do better, topping out at over 80 and 90 lumens per watt, respectively.

Still, combine GE's efficiency with the low cost of buying in, and you're looking at the quickest payback period of any LED floodlight I've tested to date. How quick? Use a GE Basic floodlight LED to replace a 65-watt incandescent floodlight and run it for an average of 3 hours per day, and you'll knock about $7 off of your yearly energy bill. Buy them on New Year's Day, and your bulbs will each have paid for themselves by June.

Oh-so-dimmable

When I first spotted the GE Basic floodlight LEDs at Lowe's, I figured they must be nondimmable to come at such a low cost. Nope, they're dimmable all right -- and they're pretty darned good at it, too.

We test dimmability by dialing each bulb down on three different switches: two sliders from Lutron and Leviton designed for use with LEDs, and an old Lutron rotary dial intended for incandescents only. Electromagnetic interference from dimmer switches like those can cause poorly made LEDs to flicker and buzz, but that wasn't a problem with the GE Basic LED -- it dimmed perfectly well on all three of my switches, no flickering or buzzing whatsoever.

It has a good dimmable range, too, with an average minimum setting of 1.7 percent across all three switches and an average maximum of 99.8 percent. Ideally, you want your bulb to stay above 95 percent of its normal brightness at a dimmer switch's max setting, and below 5 percent at the minimum setting. So again, flying colors here for GE.

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