No dimmer switches? No problem -- just turn the Philips SceneSwitch LED off and back on to change the brightness.
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.
Let's make this easy with some bullet points, shall we?
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.
"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.
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 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)|
|Efficiency (lumens per watt)||91.1||92.6||85.9|
|Tone||Soft White / Warm Glow||Daylight||Soft White / Daylight / Warm Glow|
|Color Temperature||2,697 K / 2,448 K / 2,138 K||4,639 K / 4,627 K / 4,614 K||2,698 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 years||13.7 years||13.7 years|
|Warranty||5 years||5 years||5 years|
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.
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.
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.
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.