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Sylvania 100W Replacement Ultra LED review: Hard to see value in Sylvania's 100W replacement LED

With no distinct edge over any of its less expensive competitors, this LED isn't easy to recommend.

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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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4 min read

Two years ago, Sylvania was one of the first lighting manufacturers to bring a 100W replacement LED to market. The price? A mere $50.

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5.8

Sylvania 100W Replacement Ultra LED

The Good

Sylvania's 100W Replacement Ultra LED is satisfyingly bright and dramatically more efficient than an incandescent. It'll pay for itself in energy savings within a few years.

The Bad

Sylvania's bulb was both the most expensive and the least efficient 100W replacement LED that we tested.

The Bottom Line

While not a bad bulb, Sylvania's LED lacks value compared to competitors that perform better and cost less.

Since then, the field has expanded, and prices have fallen significantly. Case in point: Sylvania's newest take on the 100W replacement LED, which retails at Lowe's for a much more reasonable $22. With the bulb's 1,600 lumen rating, you're getting a clear bump in brightness, but the 19W power draw is higher than I'd like, making it a less efficient choice than some of its competitors -- including bulbs that cost less. Some of those cheaper competitors also offer longer warranties, higher color rendering scores, and better compatibility with dimmers. Given all of that, I say stick with those alternatives, and pass on what Sylvania is offering.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Like most 100W replacement LEDs, Sylvania's bulb is a bit bulky, sporting an A21 shape (a step up in size from the traditional A19 shape you'll find with the majority of 60W bulbs). It's heavy, too, weighing in at 11.45 ounces.

That's heavier than any other 100W bulb we've tested -- more than twice as heavy as the GE Energy Smart 100W Replacement LED, the lightest bulb in this class. While not inherently problematic (unless you're buying a bulb for a weight-sensitive fixture), the extra bulk does perhaps speak to a design that's less economical than competitors that manage to do more with less.

All the same, Sylvania puts that hefty hardware to work, cranking out a sufficient 1,600 lumens of yellowy, 2,700 K light from a stated power draw of 19 watts. That's obviously quite efficient when compared with a 100W incandescent, but compared with competing LEDs, it's actually a bit underwhelming. Cree, GE, and Utilitech will all get you those same 1,600 lumens from a lower wattage. As for Philips, its 100W replacement offers a slightly higher 1,680 lumens from the same wattage as Sylvania.

A close look at Sylvania's 100W Replacement Ultra LED (pictures)

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Some of Sylvania's other specs fare a little better against the competition. For instance, we clocked the bulb's color rendering score at 83 out of 100, making it slightly better at accurate, vivid color illumination than all but one other 100W replacement (though it's worth noting that the Utilitech bulb that beat it costs $5 less).

The Sylvania LED promises the same 25,000-hour lifespan as most LEDs currently on the market, making it good for over twenty years if you're using it an average of three hours per day. Sylvania backs that longevity claim up with a warranty of five years -- plenty long enough for you to recoup the cost of the bulb in energy savings (and then some), but not as long as you'll get with Cree or GE, which both offer ten-year warranties on their 100W replacement LEDs. And again, both of those competitors cost less.

Cree 100W Replacement LEDGE Energy Smart 100W Replacement LEDPhilips 100W Equivalent LEDSylvania 100W Replacement Ultra LEDUtilitech 100W Equivalent Warm White LED
Lumens 16001600168016001600
Watts 1816191916
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 891008884100
Estimated yearly energy cost $2.17 $1.93 $2.29 $2.29 $1.93
Color temperature (stated / measured) 2,700 K / 2,663 K2,700 K / 2,602 K2,700 K / 2,628 K2,700 K / 2,664 K3,000 K / 2,999 K
Lifespan 25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours25,000 hours18,000 hours
Color rendering index 8081808385
Weight 5.80 oz.5.65 oz.8.50 oz.11.45 oz.7.80 oz.
Warranty 10-year10-year5-year5-year2-year
Price $20 $21$22 $22 $17

The big takeaway from all of these specs and figures is that there's nothing the Sylvania 100W replacement LED really excels at. It's the solid-C student of its class -- not flunking out, but not making the honor roll any time soon, either.

Taking Sylvania's LED out of our spectrometer rig and moving it to a more practical setting, I found the light perfectly pleasant and satisfyingly bright -- certainly a noticeable step up from what you'd expect with a 60W-level bulb, which would put out closer to 800 lumens.

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On the left, Sylvania. On the right, the omnidirectional Cree LED, which casts more downward light. Ry Crist/CNET

However, the bulb isn't ideal for all home settings. With a non-omnidirectional design that doesn't cast very much downward light, you won't want to use it in a bedside table lamp, for instance. Omnidirectional bulbs like the Cree 100W Replacement LED (pictured above on the right) offer a much greater deal of flexibility with regards to where you can use them.

Though it doesn't say so anywhere on the packaging, Sylvania's LED is dimmable down to 10 percent of its maximum brightness. We tested it out on our dimming rig with Lutron and Leviton dimmer switches designed to work with LEDs, as well as an older triac rotary dial designed for incandescents only.

Sylvania's bulb dimmed successfully on all three, though it wasn't quite as smooth or flicker-free as some of the other bulbs I tested. The flicker was most visible at the lowest settings, although in fairness, it wasn't nearly as bad as what I saw with the Utilitech 100W Equivalent LED . Regardless, if you're buying a bulb to use with a dimmer switch, you can do a lot better than both of them.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The bottom line

For $22, Sylvania's 100W Replacement Ultra LED isn't a bad bulb, and the price isn't unreasonable. Factoring in the long-term energy savings, it'd pay for itself in a little over two years -- well before the five-year warranty is expired.

Still, other 100W replacements will do the job just as well -- better, actually -- and they'll cost a little less. Philips' equally priced 100W replacement offers a slight uptick in brightness and efficiency, along with better dimming performance. Cree's well-rounded LED offers twice the warranty, as does the notably more efficient 100W replacement from GE -- both of those cost a few bucks less. Utilitech's 100W replacement, found next to Sylvania on the shelf at Lowe's, is even more of a bargain at just $17.

Sylvania doesn't hold a distinct edge over any of those bulbs, and that makes it a tough LED to recommend, if not an impossible one.

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5.8

Sylvania 100W Replacement Ultra LED

Score Breakdown

Design 6Value 5Performance 6
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