Review: Philips SlimStyle LED Bulb

October 19th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Canada has already phased out 75- and 100-watt incandescent bulbs, with 40- and 60-watt to follow at the end of the year.  But according to a public opinion poll published on the Toronto Sun's website, 86% of respondents stated they still used incandescent light bulbs.  If this were a political blog, we would explore the topic of why the government is making a product that is used by 86% of voters difficult to buy, instead of encouraging industry to make the alternatives significantly better.  But it isn't, so we won't.

Instead, we'll talk about the new Philips SlimStyle LED bulb.  This bulb was released just this year - none too soon for those who don't care for CFLs, and who have found the performance of every other LED bulb on the market mediocre.

Light quality: Very good.  We could not tell the difference between this and an incandescent bulb.  However, the bulb looked odd in some fixtures when turned to certain angles.

Light quality when dimmed: Noticeable flicker, even though both of the dimmers we used were on the bulb's compatibility list.

Buzz/hum: None observed.

Buzz/hum when dimmed: Moderate.  The bulb could be heard in a quiet room.

RF interference: It was difficult to detect electromagnetic interference, even with a meter.

Price: $6.97 at Home Depot Canada.

More commentary follows.

Correction: we don't think every other LED bulb is mediocre.  The now-discontinued Philips L-Prize bulb is fantastic.  Its price is too - we splurged and bought two for $40 apiece in 2012.  The SlimStyle is the first LED bulb we've seen that looks as good as an L-Prize bulb - or as good as an incandescent bulb.

The Philips SlimStyle has a CRI of 80, and this is the most dramatic example we've seen of how a simple number does not tell the entire story.  The Philips bulb produces light much more similar to incandescent than the somewhat cold purple (wtf??!) light of Cree's TW Series Soft White - even though the Cree bulb boasts a CRI of 93 and the same 2700K colour temperature.  No one we asked could distinguish light from the Philips bulb from light from an incandescent bulb, until of course they saw the bulb itself.

If high quality light wasn't enough, the Philips SlimStyle has a number of other excellent qualities.  It did not interfere with AM radio in our tests (Cree's bulbs did).  When installed in a flush-mount fixture, it looked just like an incandescent bulb if rotated slightly (the L-Prize bulb's heatsinks were clearly visible).  It ran completely silent.  It is not made of glass.  Its unique design eliminates the need for a metal heatsink.  It can even be purchased bulk in cardboard packaging instead of plastic.  Perhaps its only downside is that despite being advertised as dimmable, it ain't.  (Note: some reviewers report their bulb does dim.  So, perhaps Philips needs to correct their Dimmer Compatibility List.)

The bulb should pay for itself well before the end of its life.  Take a look:

Electricity cost per kWh Hours used per day Incandescent bulb purchase price LED bulb purchase price
Breakeven point: approximately 5 months.

Want more?  Some guy took his Philips SlimStyle bulb apart, and took pictures of it.  And the staff at CNET made some excellent comparisons of several popular LED bulbs.

These bulbs are so great, we've no idea what Philips is going to do next to top them.  We're looking forward to finding out!

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