by • July 28, 2014 • LED & Electrical & LightingComments (7)3977

Cree Bulbs – The reigning King of LED

It wasn’t that long ago (2007) that I built a house and begged a manufacturer of LED Bulbs (located in Texas) to supply me 10 LED bulbs to use for show inside a house I had on an Austin Green Building Homes Tour.  At that time those LED bulbs were selling for $120 per bulb!  They shipped them to me and I talked them into letting me keep two of the 10 and only ship back 8.  Funny story, both those bulbs died within 2 years!  Youch.

LED wasn’t ready for prime-time in those years so from about 2005 till 2012 I’ve used a lot of Compact Florescent bulbs.  They are really energy efficiency, they last a few years, but they contain mercury, and many suffer from slow start up times.

Well, a lot has happened behind the scenes in the LED world since I got those super pricy bulbs in 2007.  Enter the CREE 60W replacement bulb ($10!)  I’ve been testing these since they first got released last year and they have been terrific!


These bulbs have nearly instant on, great color, 9.5 Watts of power consumption, a very standard “classic” look, put out 800 Lumens (nearly identical to an Incandescent 60W bulb) and they contain no mercury.  Huge win for me since I’ve now got 4 kids and I worry about the mercury in the CFL bulbs.  I put these CREE LED’s in a bunch of fixtures in the houses I build.  Typically any outdoor fixture in the houses I build has these CREE bulbs.  You can get a 6 pack of these on Amazon with free Prime shipping for about $55 and I usually buy in bulk for new builds or whole house remodel projects.

But, what really makes CREE unique is that they make some higher lumen output LED bulbs too!  In the photo above the 60W cree is on the left, but their 75W LED bulb is on the right.   These CREE 75W bump up the Lumen output to 11oo.  That difference costs you only 4 more watts at a total of 13.5 Watts.  This is much better in areas that need more output.  I used these in my kids rooms lamps, family room lamps, etc.



And here’s my current favorite in their entire lineup.  The CREE 100W replacement bulb is totally unique in the world today.  It pumps out 1600 Lumens using only 18 Watts of electricity.  It’s their most efficient bulb they make.   I don’t know of any other manufacturer who makes this high output LED bulb.  I have these in my Master bedside reading lamps, and above my kitchen table in the pendant fixture.  I love this bulb!  Granted it’s pricey, but it has a 10 year warranty and with CREE as the maker I truly believe this bulb will go the distance.



I’d love to hear of your experiences with LED or other high efficiency bulbs.  How have the CREE’s performed for you?  Do you like another brand?


Matt Risinger
– Risinger Homes in Austin, TX

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Risinger Homes is a custom builder and whole house remodeling contractor that specializes in Architect driven and fine craftsmanship work. We utilize an in-house carpentry staff and the latest building science research to build dramatically more efficient, healthy and durable homes.
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  • Stephen R

    I’ve tried several brands of LED bulbs so far. For absolute value, Cree is hard to beat. I do slightly prefer the Phillips bulbs to the Cree for overall light quality, but the Cree’s are generally less expensive than the Phillips.

    Both the Cree and Phillips bulbs suffer from similar limitations in dimmability range (when compared to an incandescent bulb), and neither the Cree nor the Phillips are recommended for completely sealed fixtures. The only bulb I’ve seen claiming full sealed fixture compatibility is the Switch brand bulb.

    Switch bulbs are much more expensive than Cree or Phillips, and though their fulll brightness output is
    high CRI, each one I’ve dimmed runs to the green area of the spectrum as output lumens decrease. So despite their claim of superior dimmability (their range of brightness is definitely greater than most), their color shift makes them unappealing in a dimmed application.

    Unfortunately, the LED bulb market is still full of tradeoffs.

    P.S. – the lead picture on this post is not working from here

    • Approve.

      Matt Risinger
      512-466-6078 cell

    • Thanks Stephen for your great comments and insight. I’ll be sure to test out the Phillips newer generation. I used some of the last generation and had mixed results. Regarding the dimming, I’m not sure how many people are dimming these bulbs that low. Maybe I’m getting old, but I rarely use them except full bright! Best, Matt

  • Donald Endsley

    I’ve got some 4w (25w replacement) Utilitech Pro’s from the big box store in my ceiling fan light fixtures. I think ceiling fan light fixtures are a fairly good torture test, as they wobble and the globes tend to trap heat. They’ve been in for over a year now. They aren’t quite as efficient as Cree’s bulbs though. I may not be a good judge to go by though, I have some incandescent bulbs that are 10 years old.

    I have dimming lights through out most of my house, and I agree with you Matt we rarely dim them. My dad does dim the lights in the living room at times, but that is only when his eyes are bothering him (He’s legally blind with a lot of eye problems). My mom on the other hand complains that we didn’t install nearly enough lights as she still can’t see anything. She’s totally blind though.

  • greenbuildingindenver

    The LED bulb market is still changing quickly, but IKEA has a 600 lumen dimmable bulb for half the price of the 60 watt equivalent Cree:

    The Cree bulb is on the shelf at HD now:

    The Cree is 84 lumens/watt and the IKEA is only 60 lumens/watt, so the Cree pays for itself in 3yrs, assuming 3 hours usage per day @ $0.13/kwh

    My wife also thinks that the Cree can go dimmer.

  • TheSlamma

    I had some Cree soft white 60w bulbs I bought a year ago and I love them. The 2700k is spot on. But yesterday I bought 3 4-pack boxes of the exact same 60w soft white 10 year warranty models and all 12 bulbs the color wasn’t even close. It was closer to 4000k than 2700k and the buzzing they make on a dimmer is insane loud now