We decided to compare the top bulbs from the top manufacturers. We chose candidates by looking at results from internet polls, and comparing them with bulbs easy to find at national retailers. Our LED Bulb Reviews
are elsewhere on the blog. Here is a summary of our tests, ranked in our order of preference. All the bulbs we tested are A19 shape, around 800 lumens, and either 2700K or 3000K.
Philips 9.5W Warm Glow
As usual, Philips' latest light bulb is in first place for our favourite. This is a pretty great bulb that dimmed silently with a trailing-edge (ELV) dimmer or very quietly with a leading edge dimmer. Not only did it dim smoothly with no flicker, its colour temperature dropped just like an incandescent bulb. Barely-detectable EMI. This bulb used to be expensive but a recent price drop makes this bulb just pennies more expensive over 10,000 hours than the Sunbeam/L'Image bulb in third place below.
Luminus 3000K 9.5W non-dimmable
This bulb's purchase price of just $2.25 (in a pack of 8 at Costco) makes it the lowest of all the bulbs on our list. It's not dimmable, but at this price, who cares? Its minimum operating temperature is -40C and it's suitable for damp locations, so it would make an excellent outdoor bulb. The bulbs are instant-on and completely silent. Light produced looks the same as the Noma bulb below.
Sunbeam/L'Image 9.9W (High CRI)
We've only seen Sunbeam-branded bulbs for sale at Costco. This bulb's dimmer compatibility list has a short 11 models on it, but it did dim well with our trailing-edge (ELV) dimmer, even though our dimmer was not on the list. This is one of two bulbs on our list (the above Luminus is the other) with a minimum operating temperature of -40C. The bulb's price of $5.10 is very low for a 25,000 hour, 9.9W dimmable bulb. Indistinguishable from incandescent. Very low EMI. Overall an excellent bulb if you don't mind that it's not instant-on.
Noma 810 Lumens 3000K 8.5W 25000 hr bulb
This is an excellent 3000K bulb and is the least expensive bulb over 10,000 hours that we have tested. It looks very different from 2700K so don't expect to mix them in the same room. Perfect for people who don't like the yellow look of soft white but also don't like the blue look of daylight bulbs. Very low EMI.
Feit 2700K 9.5W Enhance (High CRI)
We find it difficult to visually tell the difference between 80 and 92 CRI, but our test equipment could. It is suitable for use in fully enclosed fixtures. This excellent bulb was disappointing only in its greater-than-average electromagnetic interference.
This bulb is only rated for an oddly specific 10,950 hours instead of 25,000+ like much of the rest of the bulbs we tested. However, this is offset by its lower power consumption and lower purchase price. The bulb appears slightly more red than incandescent bulbs so doesn't match perfectly, but is still pleasing to look at. This bulb produces a barely perceptible buzz, but is imperceptible from more than a foot away. Also has a slight flicker upon turning on, but then is flicker-free.
Cree 4Flow 11W
The is the first Cree bulb we've owned that actually looks good enough to not be relegated to our outside fixtures where we don't have to look at it often. The electromagnetic interference it generates is still higher than its competition. One advantage to this bulb is that it may be used in fully enclosed fixtures. This bulb flickered when we attempted to dim it with a Leviton 6674 dimmer, despite the dimmer being on the bulb's compatibility list. It dimmed well with our trailing-edge (ELV) dimmer. The latest version of this bulb offers 10W power consumption (down from 11W) but its relatively high purchase price still makes it the most expensive bulb over 10,000 hours that we tested.
Philips SlimStyle 10.5W
This is the first LED bulb that we ever tested that produced good quality light for a relatively low price. We still think it produces good quality light, and are not replacing our existing SlimStyle bulbs, but its 10.5W power consumption, poor performance with dimmers, and unusual shape, will prevent us from buying more, now that better bulbs are on the market.