Cree says its new $5 LED bulbs are its best yet at illuminating, showing off color

Jenny McGrath

Just last year, Philips released its $5 LED bulb. Considering 60-watt equivalents were going for around $40 in 2010, $5 for a bulb that lasts 20-plus years seems like a good investment. On Tuesday, Cree announced its completely revamped lineup of LED bulbs, many of which hit that $5 mark.

“We have redesigned everything from the ground up,” Al Safarikas, vice president of marketing of consumer products at Cree, told Digital Trends. “We’ve improved CRI  [color-rendering index] on all the bulbs, so when we speak of better light, we’re speaking of light that renders colors better.”

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CRI is a scale from 0 to 100 that measures how accurately the bulb reflects objects’ true colors. It is something both CFL and LED bulbs struggle with, and Safarikas says consumers do not really have the expertise to express disappointment when their bulbs are not giving off the same quality of light they are used to with incandescents, for example. One way Cree hopes to educate would-be buyers is by letting them watch videos highlighting the bulbs’ light quality at Home Depot stores.

Cree Product-A19-INSTALL1
Cree Product-A19-INSTALL1

When the bulbs hit retail shelves later in September, you will be able to buy four-packs of A19 40- and 60-watt equivalents for $20 or $21, depending on whether they are soft-white or daylight bulbs. The prices go up from there (the 100-watt equivalent daylight bulb is $14), but the entire lineup is dimmable, which is unique for a $5 bulb. The bulbs also come with a 10-year warranty, good for almost half the life of an LED. Cree is also releasing a candelabra bulb ($15 for a two-pack) that it says dims like candlelight. 

“LED bulbs are a durable, they’re no longer a throwaway consumable,” Safarikas said. “But they’re also a technology product. We buy technology products to make our life better, more productive, more fun. We buy durables to improve our homes. The greatest improvement you can make for the look of your home is the light that lets you see the look of your home.”