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Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED review: A clever design helps the Cloud LED shine

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The Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED looks like something straight out of Star Trek, but the futuristic-looking build serves a purpose. Floating the LEDs up above the body of the bulb reduces the weight of the bulb, and also helps it manage heat better, which, as anybody who's ever owned a laptop that was prone to overheating can attest, is a good thing.

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8.5

Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED

The Good

The Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED topped our leaderboards in both brightness and efficiency. The unique design does a great job at keeping heat build-up at bay.

The Bad

The Cloud LED is weak when it comes to color rendering, and it flickers a bit on dimmer switches.

The Bottom Line

For basic household usage, the Cloud LED is a solid value pick that gets the important stuff right.

Sure enough, the Cloud LED manages heat exceptionally well, and also boasts ample brightness and better efficiency than any other floodlight we've tested out. Though not quite as well-rounded as the Editor's Choice-winning GE Reveal BR30 LED , Green Creative's Cloud LED is a very solid pick for directional lighting, and at $13 each ($5 cheaper than GE), it's a great value, too.

Here's looking at you, Cloud LED (pictures)

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Design

The majority of LEDs on the market today strive to replicate the classic look of incandescents as best they can. The Cloud LED strives for something different, eschewing familiarity and taking a fresh approach to BR30 design. This isn't simply a means of standing out -- the hollowed out build means that the bulb requires less materials to produce.

It's a similar design approach to what we saw with the equally priced Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED , where the diodes sit in a flat disk atop a skinny stub of a body. Both lights weigh considerably less than their competitors, and both promise to manage heat better, too.

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The Cloud LED's closest competitor is the shapely Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED. Ry Crist/CNET

Comparing the two spec for spec, you'll find that the Cloud LED comes out ahead at almost every turn. Both bulbs claim a light output of 650 lumens, but when we tested that out with our spectrometer and integrating sphere, the SlimStyle actually came in at 627 lumens, while the Cloud LED came through with a very impressive reading of 710 lumens.

We got the same result when we double checked with a second 2,700 K Cloud LED, and saw equally impressive, above-the-benchmark numbers from Cloud LEDs at other color temperatures, too. These include an extra warm 2,400 K Cloud LED, and a white light, daylight version of the Cloud LED that shines at 4,000 K.

BR30 LED Floodlights

Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED Philips SlimStyle BR30 LEDGE Reveal BR30 LEDCree BR30 LED
Lumens (measured / stated) 710 / 650627 / 650707 / 630655 / 650
Watts 89.5129.5
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 89665969
Color temperature (measured / stated) 2,680 K / 2,700 K 2,730 K / 2,700 K2,752 K / 2,850 K2,690 K / 2,700 K
Color rendering index 79808981
Dimmable range 7 - 100%0 - 100%5 - 100%8 - 100%
Dimmer switch flicker LightModerateNoneLight
Lifespan 25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours
Weight 3.25 oz.3.5 oz.7.6 oz.6.4 oz.
Energy Star Certification YesYesNoYes
Warranty 3-year3-year10-year10-year
Price $13 $13 $18 $20

I was also impressed with the fact that the Cloud LED puts that light out from a power draw of 8 watts. That's less than any other BR30 LED we've tested. Coupled with the bump in brightness, the Cloud LED is easily the most efficient BR30 that's ever passed through our lab, putting out nearly 90 lumens per watt. No other bulb we've tested has managed to hit even 70 lumens per watt.

If there's any disappointment to be had with the Cloud LED's specs, it sits with the color-rendering score, which fell just below 80 out of 100. The color rendering score measures how accurately a given light source is able to illuminate colors when compared to pure daylight. Most LEDs claim scores right around 80 -- a fairly unimpressive number that typically results from especially low scores with red tones, an area where LEDs tend to struggle.

Color rendering isn't the Cloud LED's strong suit. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Our color-rendering winner in the category is the Editors' Choice-winning GE Reveal BR30 LED , which clocks in at a score of 89, and offers incredibly well-rounded performance by nearly every metric. While I wouldn't expect a baseline light like the Cloud LED to score quite that high, something at least a point or two above 80 would have been nice to see.

Additionally, while the 3-year warranty is perfectly fine for an LED that's priced relatively low, it's worth noting that you can get 10-year warranties with both the GE Reveal BR30 LED and the Cree BR30 LED . Of course, you'll pay more up front for each one, too.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Performance

There's a back corner of the small appliances lab that we've designated as a light bulb testing nook. CNET technical editor and light bulb tester extraordinaire Jared Hannah (pictured above) spent a considerable amount of time in that nook with a box of Cloud LEDs, and came away quite impressed.

We were happy to see that the bulb's power consumption is just as low as Green Creative says -- lower, in fact, coming in at 7.8 watts. Running the thing for an average of three hours a day, your yearly energy cost would be less than a dollar per bulb. For comparison, the sort of 65W incandescent BR30 that the Cloud LED might be used to replace would add nearly $8 per year to your energy bill. A 65W replacement fluorescent would cost somewhere just under $2 per year.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

As said before, the brightness this light puts out was impressive, too. Anything above 650 lumens is solid, and the 2,700 K version of the Cloud LED came in at over 700 lumens. The 4,000 K version was even brighter still.

Brightness is also where the bulb's heat management capabilities come into play. All LEDs will dim down ever so slightly after you first turn them on as the heat starts to build up. This is why LEDs typically have heat sinks, convection fans, or some other form of thermal management. As the bulb heats up, those thermal management systems will kick in, helping the light hit what's called the "steady state."

This steady state is where the brightness levels off -- a good LED will hit that steady state in less than twenty minutes, and land somewhere above 85 percent of the initial light output. Anything less than that, and the initial brightness dip starts getting noticeable. Oh, and don't worry -- the steady state is where bulbs get rated for brightness and efficiency (and where we test them, too), so you aren't getting short-changed from what's quoted on the packaging.

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The Cloud LED loses less of its light to heat than the Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED. Ry Crist/CNET

The Philips SlimStyle BR30 is a good example of an LED that deals well with heat -- it hits the steady state after about fifteen minutes, and plateaus above 85 percent. The Cloud LED, however, does even better. In our tests, it consistently hit its steady state after 15 minutes, and plateaued up above 90 percent. Wonky, sure, but it's a terrific result nonetheless.

A bulb with a higher, faster steady state is one that deals with heat particularly well, and in practical terms, this means that it'd likely be a good choice for enclosed fixtures, where the heat gets trapped and becomes more of an issue for the bulb. The Cloud LED is also rated for dampness, which means you can use it outdoors, providing the bulb isn't going to get rained on directly.

Green Creative also rates the Cloud LED for use with dimmer switches, and in our tests, we found that it did, indeed, work with all of the switches in our lab, dimming down to roughly 7 percent of its max brightness. That's an acceptable result for sure, but I'd prefer something that dimmed down below 5 percent, or better yet, cleanly down to zero. We also saw a noticeable amount of flicker when we used the Cloud LED on a dimmer switch, though not as much as with the SlimStyle BR30.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

This bulb gets just about everything right, and at $13, it's a solid bargain. With very good scores in both brightness and efficiency, along with a variety of color temperatures to choose from, I think most people would be perfectly happy using the Cloud LED for basic household lighting, and I'd recommend it over the equally priced Philips SlimStyle BR30 LED , too.

For a BR30 LED that works better on a dimmer switch, and also one that offers a very nice uptick in the color rendering department, the GE Reveal BR30 LED definitely merits strong consideration. However, for general usage and overall value, Green Creative's Cloud LED is awfully tough to beat. You an find it in select retailers, and online at sites like 1000bulbs.com and earthled.com.

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8.5

Green Creative BR30 Cloud LED

Score Breakdown

Design 9Value 9Performance 8