Head to the light bulb aisle at your local Walmart and you'll find a mix of LED options from GE and from Great Value, the Walmart store brand. Among those Great Value bulbs is this 40W equivalent candelabra LED meant for use in your living room chandelier.
We reviewed another Great Value LED last November -- a very decent 60W replacement that sells for about $5. It impressed me with its brightness and efficiency, but it wasn't flicker-free on our dimmer switches. And wouldn't you know it? I can say the exact same things about the candelabra LED.
The problem is that this $9 candelabra LED isn't nearly as good a bargain as that $5 A-shaped bulb. The same is true across most other brands. Turns out that the entire candelabra LED category has some catching up to do when it comes to value.
What's more, Walmart's $9 dimmable chandelier light isn't even the best bargain in its class. That distinction gets split between an almost identical-looking $7 bulb from EcoSmart and a $20 three-pack of bulbs from Cree. The Great Value candelabra LED edges both of those competitors out in certain regards, but only just barely, and not enough to justify the extra $2 you'll spend for each one.
Walmart's Great Value LEDs are actually rebranded TCP bulbs, a brand with a pretty good track record in our performance tests. So far, Great Value has largely kept that track record going. At 427 lumens, the brand's candelabra LED was one of the brightest we tested. With a power draw of 5 watts, it was one of the more efficient ones, too, putting out an above-average 85 lumens per watt.
The dimming performance was less impressive. Though the bulb was able to dim cleanly down to zero on one of our switches (an old school rotary knob, no less), it wasn't able to do so without flickering. I wouldn't classify it as anything more than a light flicker, mind you, but it was a noticeable one nonetheless -- and that's a problem if you're buying this bulb for it's dimming capabilities. That seems likely; after all, you can get non-dimmable candelabra LEDs from Philips in a $10 three-pack. If you don't use dimmer switches, then those are almost certainly the better way to go.
To be fair, I detected a light flicker with all of the dimmable candelabra LEDs I tested. Turns out that the entire candelabra LED category has some catching up to do when it comes to performance, too.
Another problem with Walmart's bulb is that the glass doesn't extend out any further than the width of the heat sink at its base. That means that the heat sink effectively blocks off the downward cast light. That isn't good, since these types of bulbs are almost always used right-side up in overhead fixtures.
I saw a similar problem in several of the candelabra LEDs I tested, but not all of them. EcoSmart's "vintage-style" candelabra LED has a bulb that bulges out over an especially skinny heat sink, allowing it to cast an even light spread.
The Philips Warm Glow candelabra LED did well, too, despite having essentially the same shape as the Walmart bulb. The reason has to do with a sculptured, crown-like plastic diffuser in the center of the bulb, which helps angle the light as needed. The diffuser in the Walmart LED is just a tiny cylinder.
The Great Value candelabra LED isn't a bad bulb, but it also isn't, well, a great value. To be frank, none of these candelabra LEDs are at this point, at least not the dimmable ones. Yes, they're more efficient than incandescents and fluorescents, and yes, they'll save you money over the long run. But there are too many compromises to feel good about buying in -- especially considering that you'll be using these things every day for at least the next decade.
I say wait. Stick with halogens, fluorescents or even incandescents for another year or two, and wait for the category to improve before making the switch. If you must buy in now, the non-dimmable candelabra bulbs from Philips are the best bargain in their $10 three-pack. If you need the lights to dim, bulbs from EcoSmart or Cree that cost a few bucks less per bulb than the Great Value LEDs are probably a better choice.
For more on candelabra LEDs, check out our full category overview.