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Philips SceneSwitch 60W Equivalent LED review: These Editors' Choice-winning LED bulbs can dim without dimmer switches

No dimmer switches? No problem -- just turn the Philips SceneSwitch LED off and back on to change the brightness.

Ry Crist Senior Editor / Reviews - Labs
Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, 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, broadband and home networking.
Expertise Smart home technology | Wireless connectivity Credentials
  • 10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Ry Crist
5 min read

When I review a product, I typically enjoy the challenge of combing through the nuance of its strengths and weaknesses to come up with a concrete buying recommendation. Unfortunately, there is no such nuance to comb with the Philips SceneSwitch LED, because it is, quite simply, a very, very good light bulb.


Philips SceneSwitch 60W Equivalent LED

The Good

All three versions of the Philips SceneSwitch LED aced our brightness and heat tolerance tests. If you're upgrading from an incandescent, each one will pay for itself in energy savings in just over a year. The clever three-way design lets you switch between three color and brightness settings just by switching them off and and back on.

The Bad

You can't use these bulbs with conventional dimmer switches, and their color rendering capabilities are just average.

The Bottom Line

If you aren't using dimmer switches, these are some of the best light bulbs you can buy.

Let's make this easy with some bullet points, shall we?

  • All three versions of the bulb offer multiple brightness settings that you can switch between by turning the bulb off and back on -- like a three-way bulb you can use anywhere.
  • All three are even brighter than stated at their brightest settings.
  • All three did an excellent job managing heat build-up, which can affect light output in some bulbs.
  • All three come with a 5-year warranty (and, as of right now, you can double that to 10 years by registering the bulb online within 60 days of purchase).
  • All three cost less than $9, which means that each one will pay for itself in energy savings in just over a year if you're upgrading from an incandescent.

The only real problem with these bulbs is that you can't use them with conventional dimmer switches -- but that's sort of the point. The SceneSwitch feature lets you dial the light down without need for any extra dimming hardware. Unlike normal three-way LEDs, the SceneSwitch bulbs will change settings with any lamp or fixture, and they cost less than most of those standard three-way LEDs, too. No nuance necessary -- these are some of the best non-dimmable light bulbs money can buy, period.

The Philips SceneSwitch LEDs don't need a dimmer switch to dim

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Turn the SceneSwitch LED off and back on to change the setting.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Smart versatility from a dumb LED

"SceneSwitch" is a pretty killer feature for these otherwise basic bulbs. Each one comes with three distinct settings, and you can switch between them simply by turning the bulb off and back on again (they'll stay on your selected setting if the bulb is off for more than 5 seconds or so). It's similar to what you'll get from a common three-way bulb, except you don't need a three-way lamp in order to use them. Any old lamp or light switch will do.

The other distinction between the two is that common three-way bulbs tend to offer 100W, 60W, and 40W brightness settings, while the SceneSwitch LEDs offer the rough equivalent of 60W, 40W, and nightlight settings. For me, being able to dial a bulb all the way down to minimum brightness is about as appealing as being able to crank it up to the 100W level, so this seems like a pretty even trade-off.

You get three options with the SceneSwitch LED. First is a yellowy, soft white bulb that offers those three brightness settings for about $8. Second is a bluish-white, daylight version with the same brightness settings for about $9. Last is a combo bulb that offers a 60W equivalent soft white setting, a 60W equivalent daylight setting, and the soft white nightlight setting. It also costs $9. It's worth noting that all three are less expensive than the typical three-way LED, most of which sell for at least $12.

The obvious appeal here is for lamps and fixtures that can't dim down on their own. With the SceneSwitch LED, you've got an easy, affordable option that'll let you enjoy dimmed-down light wherever you like without need for any extra dimming hardware or smarts. The combo bulb has some extra appeal in that you can switch it from an energizing daylight tone during the day to a relaxing soft white glow in the evening.

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All three SceneSwitch LEDs essentially aced our tests.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Strong specs

The SceneSwitch LEDs have more than a nifty feature going for them. They're also very decent light bulbs in their own right.

Philips SceneSwitch LEDs by the numbers

Philips SceneSwitch LED (Soft White)Philips SceneSwitch LED (Daylight)Philips SceneSwitch LED (Mixed)
Brightness at each setting in lumens (stated/tested) (800/820), (320/299), (80/67)(800/833), (320/295), (80/61)(800/816), (800/753), (80/87)
Wattage 9W9W9.5W
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 91.192.685.9
Tone Soft White / Warm GlowDaylightSoft White / Daylight / Warm Glow
Color Temperature 2,697 K / 2,448 K / 2,138 K4,639 K / 4,627 K / 4,614 K2,698 K / 4,539 K / 2,127 K
Yearly energy cost (average use of 3 hours per day @ $0.11 per kWh) $1.08 $1.08 $1.14
Expected lifespan 13.7 years13.7 years13.7 years
Warranty 5 years5 years5 years
Price $7.97 $8.97 $8.97

Let's start with brightness. All three SceneSwitch LEDs claim to put out 800 lumens at their brightest setting, a number that would put them right on par with a 60W incandescent. In my tests, all three bulbs exceeded that number, meaning that they're putting out plenty of light.

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All three SceneSwitch LEDs were performance standouts in our lighting lab.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

And, as you'd expect from an LED, each one is efficient, too. At 9 watts from the soft white and daylight SceneSwitch bulbs and 9.5 watts from the combo bulb, each one is using just a fraction of the energy that a 60W incandescent would use. Swap a SceneSwitch bulb in for an incandescent like that, and you'll knock an average of about 6 bucks off your yearly energy bill. At that rate, the SceneSwitch LED would pay for itself in a little over a year, then continue saving you money for years.

How many years? Almost 14, per the stated lifespan. Philips backs that claim up with a five-year warranty for each SceneSwitch LED. Register your purchase online within 60 days, and they'll double the coverage term to 10 years. That's a good deal.

I was also impressed with how well each SceneSwitch LED managed heat build up. Just like your phone, your laptop, or most other electronics, LED performance will decline as things get hot. That's why LEDs typically include heat sinks, convection vents, or some other means of keeping heat at bay. With the SceneSwitch bulbs, those heat sinks did a fantastic job.

Most LEDs typically lose a little bit of their initial brightness in the first hour or so as the bulb heats up. Then, the brightness levels off as the heat sink kicks in. The average LED will lose about 15 percent of its initial brightness due to heat build-up, but the SceneSwitch LEDs all did better. The combo bulb lost 11.5 percent, the daylight bulb lost 9.5 percent, and the soft white bulb? Just a 5 percent dip -- one of the best results I've seen from any LED I've ever tested. That makes these bulbs a good pick for enclosed fixtures, where heat gets trapped.

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High-CRI bulbs like the GE Reveal LED do a better job at making colors pop (like the purple wall above), but they often aren't as bright as standard bulbs like the SceneSwitch LED.

Ry Crist/CNET

The one spot where SceneSwitch bulbs are just so-so is color quality. To my eye, all three options were on par with the average LED, which is to say that things look fine, but a little yellowy. For something that does a better job of making the colors in your home pop, you might consider something like the GE Reveal LED, which filters out that excess yellow light -- but keep in mind that bulbs like that often won't be quite as bright as you'd like.

Editors' Choice

Among non-dimmable LED bulbs, the Philips SceneSwitch LEDs have a secret weapon that can't be beat: they dim. There's nothing else below 10 bucks that'll let you dial the lights down without dimming hardware, and on top of that, they're just darned good bulbs in their own right. They're an easy Editors' Choice-winner in my eye.

If you don't care about that SceneSwitch feature (or about dimmability in general), then you can save a couple of bucks by going with a standard non-dimmable option like the GE Bright Stik LED or Philips' own non-dimmable 60W equivalent. And, if you're looking for a bulb you can use with a dimmer switch, then you'll want to go with one of our top dimmable LED picks. But for everyone else, the SceneSwitch LEDs are definitely worth some strong consideration in your local lighting aisle.


Philips SceneSwitch 60W Equivalent LED

Score Breakdown

Design 9Value 8Performance 9