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Philips 60W Replacement LED review: The dirt-cheap LED is here, and it's a solid bargain

At less than 5 bucks a bulb, Philips' new 60W replacement LED offers undeniable value.

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Ry Crist
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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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5 min read

If you've been waiting for the right time to upgrade to LEDs, things are starting to get pretty compelling. Case in point: the newest 60W replacement bulb from Philips, which costs just $5 at Home Depot -- no utility rebates necessary.

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Philips 60W Replacement LED

The Good

The Philips 60W Replacement LED offers exceptional efficiency and strong light quality at a truly tempting price of just $5.

The Bad

The bulb isn't dimmable, and it isn't rated to last as long as most other LEDs.

The Bottom Line

Unless you use dimmer switches in your home, it's hard to go wrong with this light -- and the price is just right.

That's as cheap an LED as we've seen from the big brands, and with an 800-lumen light output from a power draw of just 8.5 watts, it's an especially efficient performer, too. Replace your incandescents with them, and you'll have a tough time telling the difference -- at least until you get your next power bill.

This isn't a bulb without compromises, though. Unlike the majority of LEDs, which are rated to light up for 20 years or more, the Philips bulb only promises 10. It also isn't rated for use with dimmer switches, so if you like to dial the light down low without flicker or buzz, you'll need to look elsewhere. But for basic, everyday home lighting, it's a very safe pick, and a borderline no-brainer in the lighting aisle.

A close look at Philips' bargain-priced LED (pictures)

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Designed with value in mind

There's nothing terribly high-concept about this bulb's build, because that's exactly what it is: a bulb. That bucks a recent trend of LEDs with reinvented shapes, including Philips' own flattened down SlimStyle LED , which, until the arrival of this new 60W replacement, was the brand's most budget-friendly LED.

The new bulb gives Philips a new price tier beneath the SlimStyle's $5-$10 range, and Philips separates the two with dimmability -- the StyleStyle has it, the new bulb doesn't. If you weren't planning on dimming your lights anyway, then the new bulb should make a lot of sense. On the other hand, if your home has dimmer switches and you like being able to dial the lights up and down without flicker or buzz, then you'll want to look elsewhere (and potentially avoid the SlimStyle, too -- it didn't do too well when we tested out dimmable LEDs).

60W Replacement LEDs

Philips 60W Replacement LEDIkea Ledare LED (frosted)Cree 4Flow LEDPhilips SlimStyle LEDOsram 60W Replacement LED
Lumens (measured / stated) 821 / 800658 / 600835 / 815815 / 800852 / 800
Watts 8.5101110.58.5
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 97607676100
Yearly energy cost (3 hr. per day @ 0.11 kWh) $1.02 $1.20 $1.32 $1.26 $1.02
Color temperature (measured / stated) 2,701 K / 2,700 K2,632 K / 2,700 K2,617 K / 2,700 K2,653 K / 2,700 K2,580 K / 2,700 K
Color rendering index 8088808078
Dimmable (measured range) NoYes (6.3 - 100%)Yes (5.6 - 100%)Yes (11.1 - 100%)Yes (0 - 100%)
Dimmer switch flicker/buzz N/ANoneNoneModerateLight
Lifespan 10,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours
Weight 1.80 oz.4.10 oz.1.90 oz.2.20 oz.4.15 oz.
Warranty 3 yearsnone3 years3 years5 years
Price $5 $5 $8 $9 $10

Aside from the nondimmable design, the specs are right where you'd want them for a 60W replacement LED. The bulb claims a light output of 800 lumens at a warm, familiar color temperature of 2,700 K. It also draws just 8.5 watts of power. Run it for 3 hours a day, and it'll tack just over $1 onto your yearly energy bill. A typical 60W replacement fluorescent will cost closer to $2 per year to run, while a 60w incandescent will cost over $7.

The math comes down in favor of this LED. At $5 upfront and with a yearly operating cost of $1, you're looking at a total year one cost of $6. That's cheaper than using an incandescent you got for free.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Incandescent comparisons aside, the Philips LED's 8.5 watts are lower (and more efficient) than almost every other 60W replacement LED we've tested. The only one that matches it is Osram's 60W Replacement LED , which sells at Lowe's. I like that bulb quite a bit -- it's plenty bright, it dims like a champ, and it promises twice the lifespan of the Philips LED -- but at $10, it also costs twice as much.

In sum, the value proposition here is quite strong. For $5 per bulb (or less, if you catch the introductory two-for-one pricing at Home Depot), you're getting an LED that holds its own against some impressive competitors, and one that beats them outright when it comes to the upfront cost.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Performance that shines

We don't just take the numbers on the box at their word, mind you. We test them out for ourselves inside of our integrating sphere -- really just a big hollow ball with a reflective interior. The light bulb sits in the center, with a divider separating it from our spectrometer's eye. With the light scattered evenly throughout the sphere, we can get very accurate lumen, color temperature and color rendering index readings.

Let's start with the color temperature. Philips rates the new LED at 2,700 K, the same as the majority of bulbs on the market today. When we tested the bulb out, it came as close to perfect as you can get, with a reading of 2,701 K. There's also a daylight version of the bulb that shines at 5,000 K -- though it's currently out of stock online, and doesn't appear eligible for the two-for-one deal at Home Depot.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The bulb scored well when we calculated the lumen output, too, scoring at 821 -- comfortably above 800. I also appreciated the near-spherical bulb design, which helps ensure that plenty of that light shines downward. That sort of omnidirectional thinking means that this bulb would work well in something like a bedside reading lamp, where downward-angled light is key.

As for the color rendering index, which offers an indication of how accurately a bulb will illuminate colors, the Philips LED sits on par with the competition at a very average score of 80. That's fine for a budget-priced light, but it's worth noting that the Ikea Ledare LED -- another 5-buck bulb -- scored an impressive 88. Costlier options like the Cree TW Series LED and the GE Reveal line of LEDs score up into the 90s, and can help colors look even more vivid.

Even though this is a nondimmable LED, I tried dimming it anyway. The results were actually a lot better than I expected. Most nondimmable LEDs will strobe and flash when you try to dim them, but I was able to dial the Philips LED up and down on all of our switches with a mostly moderate degree of flicker and buzz. It isn't a level of dimmability that I'd want to live with day in and day out, but it's an interesting result nonetheless.

The other consideration is the lifespan. Philips promises 10,000 hours -- about 10 years at 3 hours per day. That's obviously a lot better than you'll get from an incandescent, but it's underwhelming among LEDs, where 25,000 hours (well over 20 years) is the norm.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

At 5 bucks, the Philips 60W Replacement LED is an undeniably strong value, and one that gets the important things -- efficiency and basic light quality -- almost exactly right. You'll need to accept the non-dimmable design and the shorter lifespan, but I think both are fair compromises at the price.

If you need your bulb to dim, I recommend turning to the $10 Osram 60W Replacement LED or the $8 Cree 4Flow LED , both of which aced our dimming tests. Otherwise, this Philips bulb is a smart bet, and a low-risk starting point if you're thinking of making the switch to LEDs.

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Philips 60W Replacement LED

Score Breakdown

Design 7Value 9Performance 8