Sal Cangeloso – Today Cree, the North Carolina-based LED manufacturer, is making a move that will have major implications for the LED lighting industry. The company, which is known for its high-quality LEDs and its lighting fixtures, has announced a line of LED bulbs, marking the first time it will offer the A-style replacement bulb that lights most homes. This will put Cree in competition against giants like Philips and GE, as well as directly up against companies that buy Cree LEDs, like Best Buy.
While Cree offering bulbs is big news for LED insiders, today’s announcement is notable for consumers as well. This is because Cree will be extremely competitive with its pricing. The line of Cree LED bulbs (that’s actually the name) will include three models: a warm white 60W-equivalent at $12.97, a daylight 60W-equivalent at $13.97, and a warm white 40W-equivalent at $9.97. In other words, Cree isn’t only coming out with a line of bulbs they are also breaking the $10 mark, something which competitors are not going to be able to ignore. All three of the bulbs will be available from HomeDepot.com today and in Home Depots by the end of the month.
If it’s not clear yet, Cree is striking at the heart of the consumer LED lighting segment. The company is doing this with a three-pronged approach…
The first point of attack is price. Breaking the $15 and $10 marks is big but, importantly, Cree is doing it with a quality lamp. Buyers have been able to pick up a 40W-equivalent Ecosmart LEDs at Home Depot for $9.97 for some time now, but it’s not a great bulb.
The second point of attack is confidence. Consumers may not know the Cree name, but the company will soon have Energy Star compliance for each model making for a meaningful seal of approval. Moreover, each bulb is backed by a 10-year warranty. 3-5 years is typical in the 25,000-hour-lifetime market, so Cree is putting some weight behind their claims.
Finally, the Cree LED bulb looks like an incandescent bulb. LED lighting may be getting more popular, but consumers still care how a bulb looks when it’s off. And when the average buyer needs to replace an incandescent they want something that’s as close as possible to that design. Cree recognized this and delivered LEDs encased in frosted glass with a true bulb shape.
The mainstay bulb in the series will be the $13 warm white (2700K) 60W-replacement. This $14 bulb will produce 800 lumens at 9.5W (84.2 lumens-per-watt). Cree is going for an incandescent-like experience so they opted for 2700K instead of 3000K, which has efficiency benefits but offers a cooler tone. Like the other two bulbs in the series, this model is dimmable, has a CRI of 80, and is rated for 25,000 hours of use.
… I’ve only used the 60W-equivalent 2700K Cree bulb for a few hours, so it’s too early to deliver a verdict, but so far all the news is good. The bulb is lightweight, starts up quickly, is responsible about power (my meter put it at 8W), and it runs at a cozy, incandescent-like 2700K. The light pattern seems right on target for an omnidirectional design. The bulb, which is able to run in an enclosure and in any orientation — just like an incandescent — remains cool to the touch (very much unlike an incandescent). …
It sounds great, 2.8 year bulb with lower power that isn’t fluorescent. I’m concerned about the quality of the light more than saving. I switched back to incandescent bulbs recently because they are safer and provide better light than compact fluorescent bulbs. Here’s a cool graph that shows how the Cree bulbs and other types compare. I like the fact that the Cree bulbs have little or no UV. I would like to see the sun on this graph, however, to really compare.
Here’s a graph that includes sunlight at noon. I’m craving a warm sunny beach right now.