GE Energy Smart 60W Replacement LED review: GE's LED: When 'good enough' just isn't good enough

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The Good The GE Energy Smart 60W Replacement LED offers high efficiency lighting at a relatively low cost. Compared to the Cree LED, you'll notice a very slight uptick in color quality.

The Bad The GE LED is marginally less efficient than the competition, and it doesn't promise as long a lifespan, either.

The Bottom Line Though it isn't necessarily bad at anything, this GE LED isn't the best at anything either, and that makes it tough to recommend over flashier competitors.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Value 7
  • Performance 7

$10 LEDs were unheard of just a year or two ago, but since then, prices have fallen faster than many expected. Now, $10 seems to be the industry's go-to going rate for 60W replacements, with low-cost bulbs like the Cree 60W Replacement LED and the Philips SlimStyle lining store shelves.

A third big-brand option is GE'S Energy Smart 60W Replacement LED, currently available at Target, Walmart, and Sam's Club stores nationwide at that popular $10 price point. While slightly less efficient than what you'll get from Cree and not as design-oriented as the SlimStyle, the GE LED still offers reasonable value in its own right, along with a subtle bump in color quality. As a baseline bulb, it's worth a look.

GE's LED isn't the most exciting bulb on the market. It lacks the eye-catching design of the Philips SlimStyle and hasn't seen the same sort of buzz that the market-moving Cree LED managed to generate last year.

Still, at $10, this is a bulb that merits consideration. With a light output of 800 lumens, it matches the SlimStyle and the Cree LED in terms of brightness -- though at a power draw of 11 watts, it's the least efficient of the three, if only just slightly so.

GE Energy Smart 60W Replacement LED Cree 60W Replacement LED Philips 60W Equivalent LED Ikea Ledare LED Philips SlimStyle LED
Lumens 800 800 830 600 800
Watts 11 9.5 11 10 10.5
Efficiency (lumens/watt) 72.72 84.21 75.45 60 76.19
Color temperature 2,562 K 2,669 K 2,584 K 2,632 K (frosted) 2,507 K (clear) 2,653 K
Lifespan 15,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Color rendering index 80 80 81 87 80
Weight 4.25 ounces 3.70 ounces 4.55 ounces 4.10 ounces 2.20 ounces
Warranty 5 years 10 years 5 years none 3 years
Price $10 $10 $15 $5 $9

Of those three options, the GE LED also has the lowest color temperature. All three aim for 2,700 K -- the yellowy, familiar glow of an incandescent -- but the GE LED lands farthest from the target, with a measured color temperature of 2,562 K. If anything, this only serves to give it a slight extra hit of yellow, so if that's the color you like from your lights, you might actually prefer the GE LED's tone.

Another spec of note is the bulb's stated lifespan. Most LEDs claim to last for 25,000 hours -- a figure that actually describes the amount of time before the diodes will fade to 70 percent of their original light output. The GE LED, however, claims a 15,000-hour lifespan. At an average of three hours of usage per day, this still means it should last well over a decade -- long enough to pay for itself several times over if you're replacing an incandescent -- but that might not be enough for sticklers determined to get maximum value out of their LEDs.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

The GE LED comes with a 5-year warranty, and at roughly 36 percent of the bulb's stated lifespan, that's a pretty good deal. If you're replacing an incandescent, the GE LED should pay for itself long before your coverage runs out. Still, if a reassuring warranty is what you're after, you'll be much happier with the Cree LED, which comes with a 10-year warranty.

Something else that may be worth considering is how the bulb will perform if used with a dimmer switch. Like most other LED offerings these days, the GE LED promises dimmability, and we confirmed this with a number of different switches, including an older model not rated for LED use. There was a slight buzz in the bulb, the result of electromagnetic interference from the dimming mechanism, but it wasn't nearly as noticeable as what we heard from the Philips SlimStyle in our recent round of dimming tests.

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