Daylight – Toned Led Bulbs: You Should Buy Which One?
Give a kid some crayons and ask her to draw a light bulb, and the chances are good that she’ll color it yellow. Not everyone’s a fan of that low, yellowy color temperature, though — some people like their light a little more neutral.
That’s where “daylight” bulbs come in. With color temperatures jacked up to the 5,000 K neighborhood, the result is pure white light without the drowsy yellow tinge. And sure enough, LED manufacturers are jumping on board, with a growing number of daylight LED options joining their soft white siblings on the lighting aisle shelf. But which daylight bulb is the best?
That’s exactly what I wanted to find out. So, I hopped in the car and headed out to my local retailers (Lowe’s, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart) to scoop up every dimmable 60W replacement daylight LED I could find. I ended up testing six bulbs, and though none of them emerged as a clear favorite, the good news is that you’ve got a lot of decent options.
Walmart Great Value 60W Replacement Daylight LED – $4 at Walmart
GE 60W Replacement Daylight LED – $5 at Target
Philips SlimStyle 60W Replacement Daylight LED – $5 at Home Depot
Cree 4Flow 60W Replacement Daylight LED – $6 at Home Depot
Philips 60W Replacement Daylight LED – $8 at Home Depot
Sylvania 60W Replacement Daylight LED – $8 at Lowe’s
All six of these bulbs are very similar — so much so that each one got a seven-point-something for an overall score. But dimming performance is a big differentiator for people with dimmer switches in their home — the last thing you want is an LED that flickers when you try to dial the lights down low.
For that reason, the Cree 4Flow Daylight LED is an easy recommendation if you need a daylight bulb that dims. Along with the standard-shaped daylight LED from Philips, it was one of only two bulbs that dimmed without a noticeable flicker . Of the two of them, it’s the cheapest at $6 each, and also the one that dims down the lowest, with an average minimum setting of 5 percent. Philips barely goes below 10 percent.
It’s far from perfect, though. Despite claiming a light output of 815 lumens, the Cree bulb came in at a disappointing 625 lumens in our spectrometer and integrating sphere setup. That’s almost 25 percent less light than advertised, and as close to a 40W level of brightness as it is a 60W level. If that dimmer-than-expected light output is a deal-breaker, then go ahead and spend the extra $2 on that standard-shaped Philips bulb, instead.
Here’s the Cree 4Flow LED on that same rotary dial. A much better result. pic.twitter.com/hjMPCvSxLU
— Ry Crist (@rycrist) August 26, 2016
If dimming performance isn’t important
If you know you aren’t ever going to use the light with a dimmer switch, then you should save some money and go with something that’s explicitly nondimmable, like the daylight version of the GE Bright Stik LED, which you can get for about $3 per bulb. With dimming out of the equation, these daylight bulbs are all very, very similar, so the cheapest one will almost certainly be a good option.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say that you might want to use the bulb with a dimmer switch at some point. Dimming performance isn’t your top concern, but you’d still like to have the option of being able to dim your bulbs.
In that case, I’d recommend the Philips SlimStyle Daylight LED, which costs $5. To our eye, the SlimStyle bulb offered the best light quality, with a pure, neutral tone of light and noticeably strong color rendering capabilities. Plus, it’s better than average on dimmer switches, with only an occasional light flicker at low settings.