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GE Reveal BR30 LED review: This LED floodlight is a clear best buy

This well-rounded, well-priced light left us impressed at every turn.

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Ry Crist
Ryan_Crist2.jpg

Ry Crist

Senior Editor / Reviews - Appliances

Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, and home networking.

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6 min read

BR30-shaped floodlights cost more than regular light bulbs, and for directional track lighting and recessed lighting setups, the chances are good that you'll be buying more than one. That means you want to be sure and invest in a quality bulb that won't leave you disappointed.

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9.3

GE Reveal BR30 LED

The Good

The GE Reveal BR30 LED offers superior color quality, a design that manages heat better than the competition, and exceptional performance on dimmer switches.

The Bad

The uptick in color quality comes at a cost of efficiency -- the GE Reveal uses more watts than the competition to put out the same amount of light.

The Bottom Line

This Editors' Choice-winning bulb excelled in each one of our tests, and you can get it at a very reasonable price point. In our eyes, it's a best buy among BR30 LEDs.

In my opinion, that bulb is the GE Reveal BR30 LED -- and it isn't all that close. Along with a distinct uptick in color quality, the GE Reveal manages heat more effectively than the competition, and also works exceptionally well with dimmer switches, a pesky sore spot with the majority of bulbs we've tested.

Best of all, with a new price point of $18 at Home Depots nationwide (or less, if you live in a region that offers rebates for Energy Star-qualified bulbs), you're getting a terrific value on a bulb that's designed to last decades, and spending even less than you will for competitors like the Cree BR30 LED , which we weren't as impressed with. If I needed to buy a floodlight for my home, there's no question that the GE Reveal BR30 LED is the one I'd go with.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

Design

The white-bodied GE Reveal BR30 LED looks simple enough, with the same silhouette as many of the sorts of existing floodlights you might be using it to replace. Aside from the blue band at the base of the bulb, it looks no different than GE's standard BR30 LED.

Like all BR30s, the GE Reveal is designed to spread light in a single direction, unlike the omnidirectional light that you'll get with most common A19 shaped bulbs. The "BR" in BR30 stands for bulging reflector, which simply means that any light shining at a downward angle gets reflected back up and out through the top of the bulb. This makes it the ideal bulb shape for recessed lighting setups, and for things like overhead track lighting, as well.

Top notch colors from the GE Reveal BR30 LED (pictures)

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Like other GE Reveal bulbs, the GE Reveal BR30 LED sets itself apart from the competition with a focus on color quality that comes thanks to a design that filters out excess yellow tones. This gives it a color rendering score that's about ten points higher than the bulbs that sit next to it on the shelf -- and that means it'll make the colors in your home look more vivid and accurate.

Of course, while filtering out some of the light will improve color quality, it comes at an expense of brightness. The GE Reveal BR30 LED compensates for this by upping the wattage to get that brightness back up where it should be. This makes for a light that's slightly less efficient than other LEDs.

This is a different approach than GE has taken previously. The original, A19-shaped GE Reveal LED failed to increase the wattage, making it noticeably dimmer than competitors like the Cree TW Series LED , which also promises superior color rendering capabilities. That kept me from giving it a full-throated recommendation when I tested the two bulbs out earlier this year.

GE Reveal BR30 LEDCree BR30 LEDPhilips SlimStyle BR30 LEDPhilips WarmGlow BR30 LED
Lumens 630650650730
Watts 129.59.59.5
Efficiency (lumens / watt) 53686877
Color temperature (claimed) 2,752 K (2,850 K)2,690 K (2,700 K)2,696 K (2,700 K)2,730 K (2,700 K)
Color rendering score 90818081
Lifespan 25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours
Weight 7.6 oz.6.4 oz.3.5 oz.4.8 oz.
Energy Star Certified YesYesSubmittedNo
Warranty 10 years10 years3 years5 years
Price $18 $20 $13 $17

As said, the GE Reveal BR30 LED doesn't make that same mistake. With 12 watts compared to the 9 or 10 that a BR30 LED will typically draw, it will cost a few extra cents per year to use the thing, but that's quite literally a small price to pay for higher color quality. It's still highly efficient compared to the 65W incandescents it's designed to replace -- make the switch, and you'll still save an average of $6.50 in energy costs each year.

At any rate, those few extra watts in the GE Reveal keep the brightness up where you want it, which seems worth it to me. A 65W-replacement BR30 should put out at least 600 lumens, and the GE Reveal puts out 630. In our tests, we actually found that number to be a bit conservative, with our spectrometer clocking the bulb's light output at closer to 700 lumens.

Which BR30 LEDs flicker on dimmer switches? (GIFs)

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Dimmability and flicker

Another consideration when it comes to brightness is how well a given bulb will work on a dimmer switch. Many dimmer switches will generate electromagnetic interference that causes bulbs to flicker and buzz -- and some bulbs are more susceptible than others.

The BR30 LEDs that we tested out gave us even more trouble than the 60W replacement LEDs we tested earlier this year, with a great deal of buzz and flicker as we dialed the light levels up and down, even on dimmer switches designed specifically for use with LEDs.

We didn't catch the GE Reveal flickering on any of our dimmer switches. Colin West McDonald/CNET

However, the one exception was the GE Reveal BR30 LED. While the bulb buzzed very faintly as we dimmed it, we didn't see a noticeable flicker on any of the dimmer switches we tested out, not even on an outdated rotary dial designed for incandescent use only.

The picture above is actually an animated GIF of the GE Reveal plugged into a Leviton dimmer switch and dimmed down to fifty percent, the point at which bulbs tend to flicker the most. As you can see, the light level remains constant throughout each frame. No other BR30 we tested came anywhere close to performance that steady.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

In addition to flicker, we made sure to examine each bulb's dimmable range. All the way up, you want your bulb to shine at 100 percent of its normal brightness. At the bottom, you want to be able to get as close to zero as possible before it cuts to black.

As you can see, the GE Reveal dimmed down to just 5 percent before turning off, which was a good result, but not as low as either of the Philips bulbs we tested out. Still, unlike the GE Reveal and Cree BR30s, neither of those two bulbs dimmed all the way up to full brightness on our switches, which seems more important to me.

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Colors definitely pop a little more under the GE Reveal than they do under other lights. Colin West McDonald/CNET

Color quality

The main claim of the entire GE Reveal product line is that they'll render colors better than the competition. The question is whether or not it's a noticeable difference.

To find out, we set the GE Reveal in front of our spectrometer, a handy gizmo that lets us measure things like brightness, color temperature, and color-rendering scores. Most BR30 LEDs have a color rendering score around 80, but in the GE Reveal's case, that score came in just under 90. That's the same type of score as you'll see with the kinds of lights used for things like art exhibition and professional photography.

Which LED floodlights offer the sharpest color quality? (pictures)

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To put this score to the test, we set up a colorful milieu of fruits, flowers, and candy. With our camera's exposure settings locked in, we lit each setup with each of the BR30 LEDs we had on hand, taking photos for comparison.

In each of these tests, the GE Reveal stood out, with our producer and photographer Colin West McDonald telling me it was without question the bulb he'd want lighting his home studio. If you feel like judging for yourself, we've packed each and every shot from our BR30 color quality tests into a handy slideshow.

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The GE Reveal was the best BR30 LED when it came to managing heat. Ry Crist/CNET

Heat management

The GE Reveal also excelled in our heat management tests. Unlike other types of light bulbs, LEDs will see a slight decline in performance as they heat up, just like your cell phone or your laptop. In practical terms, this means that they'll lose a bit of brightness in the first thirty minutes or so of use, then level off at what manufacturers call the "steady state." This steady state is where they get rated for things like brightness and efficiency, so you don't have to worry about getting short-changed on the stated specs.

A higher steady state is indicative of a bulb that does a better job with managing heat, and in the GE Reveal BR30 LED's case, it does a better job than any other bulb we've tested so far. In the graph above, that purple line represents the GE Reveal, and as you can see, it levels off after 30 minutes or so at roughly 95 percent of its initial brightness. That's a terrific result, and one that helps it outshine the competition.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

Conclusion

The GE Reveal BR30 LED is an outstanding floodlight, and at its new price point of $18, it's an outstanding value, too. It was the unquestioned winner when we tested for color quality, heat management, and dimming performance, and it comes backed with the same 10-year warranty as the Cree BR30 LED , which costs $2 more per bulb.

If you're looking for strictly the cheapest LED floodlight that offers acceptable performance (and if you aren't using dimmer switches), then the $13 Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED probably merits consideration. Beyond that, I can't think of a reason why I'd recommend any BR30 over the GE Reveal. For long-term lighting that you'll love living with, it's a well-deserved Editors' Choice.

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9.3

GE Reveal BR30 LED

Score Breakdown

Design 8Value 9Performance 10
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