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Philips Deco Giant Filament LED review: Vintage-style LED light bulbs as big as your head

Starting at $25 each, these enormous, distinctive-looking LEDs might be a sneaky smart alternative to a more expensive hanging fixture.

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Ry Crist
Ryan_Crist2.jpg

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

Got lights dangling overhead in your kitchen? Wish you did? If so, Philips wants to help you go big with the idea.

philips-big-ass-bulb-1
7.4

Philips Deco Giant Filament LED

The Good

Both styles of this king-sized, vintage-style Philips LED look fancy and distinctive, and the specs checked out in our tests as far as brightness and color temperature are concerned. They both also dimmed smoothly down to total darkness on every dimmer switch we tested them with.

The Bad

Though they dimmed perfectly on newer switches, both bulbs flickered slightly on an older, rotary-style dimmer dial. The cool white version of the bulb casts a harsh vertical shadow. Efficiency was also very weak by LED standards.

The Bottom Line

If you've got a spot for them in your home, these enormous bulbs look great, and might make a good alternative to pricey hanging fixtures in a kitchen, living room or foyer.

Specifically, the lighting-aisle mainstay has a new fleet of gigantic, decorative light bulbs with fake LED filaments strung inside for a vintage aesthetic. Starting at $25 each and available in your choice of three shapes and two color temperatures, the biggest of these eye-catching bulbs is literally bigger than my head.

LED 101: Your cheat sheet for the light bulb aisle

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And you know what? I get it. Lots of homes have fancy overhead fixtures hanging from the ceiling -- installing a couple of these bad boys instead could make for a good-looking and potentially cost-effective alternative.

Of course, that assumes that such a setup is possible in your home, or that you're willing to wire some dangling screw-in bases to your ceiling in order to give these bulbs a place to hang. If it is, or if you are, then the new Philips Deco LEDs offer distinctive looks and solid dimming performance at a reasonable price. I say why not?

philips-big-ass-bulb-filament

The "filaments" in these bulbs are actually just thin strips of light-emitting diodes -- LEDs to you and me. They offer old-school looks with new-age efficiency.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The big idea

Philips Deco LEDs come in three shapes -- a tube, a teardrop and a globe. Of the three, the tube is the niche-iest. Unless I wanted a steampunk sort of vibe, I'd probably stick with the more familiar-looking teardrop or globe (especially the 25-watt replacement Vintage teardrop bulb, which is the cheapest of the bunch at $25). But hey, to each their own.

Along with your choice of shape, you also get to pick between "Vintage" bulbs with amber-tinted glass, twisty, spiraling filaments and an orange, candle-like glow, and "Modern" bulbs with smoky glass, a vertical, more industrial-looking filament, and a cool white daylight tone. With good-looking tints on the glass and a sturdy, stylish base at the neck, each of them looks sufficiently fancy for something you'll end up hanging out in the open in your home.

Between the two styles, the Vintage bulbs are the clear winner for me. That's because the vertical filament in the Modern bulbs casts a harsh vertical shadow. No such issue with the spiral filaments in the Vintage bulbs. That holds to what I've seen from other vintage-style bulbs with fake filaments -- most notably ones from Feit and GE. The lesson: Arranging those filaments into a spiral clearly seems to be the best way to avoid ugly shadows.

That makes the Vintage globe and Vintage teardrop the two bulbs from the collection I'd recommend, but keep in mind that they'll each cost you a bit extra. I've listed the prices of all six bulbs in the chart below (note that the globe and teardrop Vintage bulbs come in both a 40-watt replacement version and a cheaper 25-watt replacement version that's a little less bright):


TubeTeardropGlobe
Philips Deco Modern (daylight)$34$37$40
Philips Deco Vintage (warm white)$35 $25 (25W), $37 (40W)$30 (25W), $40 (40W)

Check the specs

Despite the size, none of the new Deco LEDs offer more than a few hundred lumens' worth of light, so don't expect to light up the room with just one. As such, they're better suited as decorative accent lighting -- hence the "Philips Deco" branding.

That might sound like you're getting shortchanged, but you wouldn't like these bulbs if they were any brighter. Remember, these aren't bulbs you're going to hide under a lampshade -- these are free-hanging bulbs that serve as fixtures in and of themselves, and the fancy fake filaments are meant to be looked at. Any brighter and you'd develop a constant squint.

As for the numbers themselves, they look to be right on point. I tested the globe-shaped 40-watt replacement Vintage bulb and the teardrop-shaped 25-watt replacement Modern bulb. Both clocked in just beneath their stated lumen spec, with the 400-lumen Vintage bulb coming in at 391 lumens and the 250-lumen Modern bulb coming in at 229 lumens. Both of those final readings are within our spectrometer's margin of error.

As for efficiency, the 40-watt replacement Vintage globe puts those 391 lumens out from a power draw of 7.5 watts. That means that it's putting out a not-so-great 52.1 lumens per watt. The 25-watt replacement Modern bulb is even worse -- just 30.5 lumens per watt -- because it puts out less light from the same 7.5 watts. That's odd, since the 25-watt Vintage globe is at least able to shave the power draw down to 5.5 watts.

As advertised, the Modern bulb put out stark white light, while the Vintage bulb had a low, warm-looking color temperature that, combined with the amber-tinted glass, made for an especially orangey glow. I clocked it at 1,885 K in our lighting lab, which I believe is the lowest color temperature reading I've ever taken for a noncolor-changing light bulb. It might be a bit too orange-ish for some, so beware using it in places like the kitchen where you'll probably prefer cleaner-looking light with less of a tint to it.

I also spent some time testing the dimmability of each bulb. Both flickered a little bit at medium and low settings on an old rotary-style dial leftover from the age of incandescents, but they dimmed perfectly well on newer dimmer switches from Lutron and Leviton designed with LEDs in mind. Overall, they dimmed a lot better than the only other king-sized, vintage-style LED I've reviewed, the $13 Ikea Lunnom LED.

Both Philips Deco bulbs also dimmed down smoothly to zero percent on every switch I tested, which is excellent, particularly for design-minded bulbs like these.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

A few of my CNET colleagues seemed puzzled by these bulbs as I tested them out. Why would anyone want gigantic light bulbs dangling overhead?

The question is fair -- but with eye-catching designs and reasonably fair prices, Philips didn't give people much reason not to want them. It's your home, after all, and if you like the way these things look (and if your dimming hardware isn't too outdated), then I say go ahead and complement your next renovation by hanging a couple of them up in place of a more expensive fixture.

philips-big-ass-bulb-1
7.4

Philips Deco Giant Filament LED

Score Breakdown

Design 9Value 6.5Performance 7
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