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

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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.

8.8 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Value 8
  • Performance 9

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?

  • 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.

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.

All three SceneSwitch LEDs essentially aced our tests.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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