By now, LEDs have become a mainstay of the lighting aisle, with plenty of options available from a variety of brands. That kind of competition is good for consumers, but only so long as you know which bulbs offer the most bang for your buck.
To that end, Osram's 40W Replacement Ultra LED belongs on your radar. In our tests, it put out more brightness than any other bulb in its class, and did it from a power draw of just 6 watts. At $8, it's also the cheapest 40W replacement LED that we tried out, and it comes with a 5-year warranty. Its dimming performance wasn't totally flicker-free, but for basic household lighting, it will do a fine job.
Osram's 40W replacement is about as simple-looking as LEDs get, with a uniform plastic bulb that extends almost all the way down to the screw base and a barely noticeable heat sink at the bottom. This gives it an inconspicuous, nicely streamlined appearance that shouldn't stick out amid your home decor.
The streamlined build and smallish heat sink also means that the bulb itself extends lower than most LEDs, lower even than Osram's own 60W replacement . In practical terms, this means that more of the bulb actually lights up when you turn the thing on, including the bottom hemisphere that casts light downward. This omnidirectional design makes Osram's bulb a good choice for a bedside reading lamp.
Osram's bulb draws 6 watts and puts out a stated 450 lumens, a common benchmark for brightness at the 40W level. That power draw ties it with the $10 Cree 40W Replacement LED, and makes them two of the most efficient 40W replacements on the shelf. At an average of 3 hours use per day, each would add less than 75 cents to your energy bill per year.
The bulb's color temperature comes in at the standard 2,700K -- the warm, yellow end of the spectrum that manufacturers often refer to as "soft white." For an extra dollar, Osram offers the same bulb at a hotter color temperature of 5,000K -- "daylight white," if you're using the lingo.
|Osram 40W Replacement Ultra LED||Cree 40W Replacement LED||Philips 40W Replacement LED||Feit Electric 40W Replacement LED||Ikea Ledare LED||GE Reveal LED|
|Lumens (measured* / stated)||496 / 450||483 / 450||479 / 470||478 / 500||658 / 600||619 / 570|
|Efficiency (lumens per watt)||75.00||75.00||58.75||62.50||60.00||51.82|
|Estimated yearly energy cost||$0.72||$0.72||$0.96||$0.96||$1.21||$1.32|
|Color temperature (measured / stated)||2,561K / 2,700K||2,608K / 2,700K||2,646K / 2,700K||2,954K / 3,000K||2,632K / 2,700K||2,680K / 2,700 K|
|Lifespan||25,000 hours||25,000 hours||25,000 hours||25,000 hours||25,000 hours||15,000 hours|
|Color rendering index||78||80||80||78||88||95|
|Dimmable range||3.8 - 100%||3.5 - 100%||0.8 - 100%||0.0 - 100%||6.3 - 100%||0.2 - 100%|
|Weight||3.05 oz.||3.70 oz.||4.50 oz.||4.50 oz.||4.10 oz.||7.25 oz.|
|Warranty||5 years||10 years||5 years||2 years||none||5 years|
Osram's bulb weighs in at just over 3 ounces, making it the lightest 40W replacement we tested and reinforcing the simplicity of its build. Like most LEDs these days, it promises to last you 25,000 hours (well over 20 years at that average usage of 3 hours per day). Osram backs its LED with a 5-year warranty -- not bad for an eight-buck-bulb, but not as good as the 10-year warranty that you'll get with the Cree 40W Replacement LED.
While we're comparing bulbs, it's probably worth mentioning that you might consider options that aren't explicitly within the 40W replacement category. Ikea markets its $5 Ledare LED as a 60W replacement, but with just 600 lumens to its name, it's closer to the 40W level. The same goes for the GE Reveal LED, which costs a little more, but offers an impressive color-rendering bump.
As mentioned earlier, Osram's LED does an especially nice job with directionality, putting light out evenly in all directions. Bulbs in the 40W category are often used for accent lamps and side lighting, and if you end up reading a book under one late at night, you'll want to be sure it's omnidirectional, like Osram's.
It also helps that Osram's bulb offers plenty of brightness. Ideally, a 40W replacement will ring in at 450 lumens or above, and in Osram's case, we measured it at 496 -- higher (albeit just slightly) than other 40W replacement we tested. That's especially impressive when you remember that Osram's LED also tied for the lowest power draw of any of the 40W replacements in our lab.
Less impressive was Osram's color-rendering score, which gives you an idea of how accurately it illuminates different colors and tones. By today's standards, an LED should hit a score of 80 (at the very least). However, Osram's 40W replacement clocks in at 78, the same disappointing score as its 60W counterpart. More and more, we're seeing bulbs scoring up closer to the nineties -- including inexpensive bulbs like Ikea's Ledare LED. With competitors like that, Osram would likely be wise to get that score up a few points for the next generation.
Something else that an increasing number of consumers are factoring into their bulb-buying decision is dimmability, which is why the majority of today's LEDs promise you'll be able to dial the light up and down. That's a good thing -- but some bulbs do it better than others.
Osram's bulb is dimmable, and worked on every dimmer switch we tested it on, but it wasn't a perfect performer. We caught it flickering a bit at low settings, and also noticed that it wouldn't dim down quite as low as its big brother, Osram's 60W replacement. I give Osram's dimmability a passing grade here, but only just barely (though it certainly did a better job than Feit's 40W replacement ).
If I were buying one of these bulbs for its dimmer compatibility, I'd rather have the Cree 40W Replacement LED, which offers similarly solid across-the-board performance along with less flicker on dimmer switches. Dimmability sticklers might also see the $12 Philips 40W Equivalent LED as a justifiable splurge, as it showed the strongest overall dimming performance.
Grabbing a 40W replacement or two is often a great, relatively inexpensive way to get started with LEDs. To this end, I think Osram was wise to keep things simple with this bulb. From the inconspicuous design to the solid specs, there's a lot here for an incandescent hold-out to appreciate.
For an LED with a longer warranty than the 5 years Osram offers, consider the Cree 40W replacement, which doubles your coverage and only costs $2 more per bulb. If strong dimming performance is your top concern, then the Philips 40W Equivalent LED is probably your best bet. But as a value-priced LED that's both simple and solid, I think most will be perfectly happy with what Osram's offering.