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CREE CR6 LED Recessed Light Review

We recently posted a video about the Cree CR6 LED downlighting used in a house we recently completed with Eric McInerney of Heismath Architects. Eric is the owner and architect on the house and he provided us with some great insight as to why they decided on these particular fixtures and I encourage you to check that video out if you haven’t done so already. The Cree CR series is a great product line that has caught our attention as of late and as such, we thought we’d provide a little more detailed breakdown on the specs and why we think it is worth checking out.  First, here’s the video:

The Cree CR LED series is comprised of two versions – the 4-inch and the 6-inch. Both of these come in either ‘TrueWhite’ or ‘Full Definition’ (TrueWhite has a much better CRI rating*) The specifications of each are listed below for your comparison, but for us, we prefer the 6-inch for the increased 800 Lumens output. Part of what makes these lights so fantastic in our opinion is that unless you were told that they were LED lights, you probably would not otherwise have differentiated them from your typical halogen or incandescent bulbs. In the past, it has been hard to compare LED lights to the industry standards simply due to the fact that an LED was blatantly ‘other’ in it’s light qualities. The playing field is leveling out though and we really like the Cree CR6 for its qualities of brightness, color accuracy, long life, low power usage, dimmability, affordability and easy installation.

Here are the basic options of the Cree CR LED downlighting series:

The CR6-800L that we have a bias towards would be the equivalent or replacement for a 90W BR (Bulged Reflector) Incandescent bulb or a 26W standard CFL. So, not only are you beating out a typical Incandescent bulb as would be expected, but you are cutting the energy usage of a compact fluorescent in half too. When you take this into consideration with the other specifications, this is an all-around winner in our book. The CR6-800L TrueWhite will cost you about $60 each, or closer to $50-$55 if you buy in larger quantities, whilst the CR6-625L is an Amazon Prime product and comes in at $41.50. Our friend, Eric McInerney has not had to replace any of his Cree CR6 bulbs in over 2 years now, so the initial price will pay off given how long they last in conjunction with the energy saved, not to mention the easy and affordable installation you can use for these.

Cree has developed these bulbs to efficiently and economically integrate into new construction or for retrofitting. If you already have 6” recessed lights, it’s an extremely simple swap, as you can see here in the Cree installation video. In the case of new construction, you can buy a standard 6” housing unit at Home Depot for $10 and it’s a basic 1-2-3 install with a bulb replacement process that is no more difficult than your standard bulb swap. Cree specifies other housing options for their CR series, but for a standard and economical option, this is a great way to go.

*CRI, CCT and Color Temperature Explained

Color Temperature: This is usually measured by the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale, rating light qualities based on color, typically described from cool to warm and quantified in the range of 1,000 to 10,000 Kelvins.

CCT – Color Correlated Temperature: This is a scale used to describe the light qualities of lights that are non-Incandescent, and therefore they cannot replicate the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale, but instead use it as a visual reference. Thus, an LED with a CCT of 2700K is a visual approximation of the correlated Kelvin temperature it most closely imitates.

CRI – Color Rendering Index: Here again, we have an index for non-incandescent radiator based, utilizing a scale up to 100. An incandescent radiator based bulb automatically has a CRI of 100, because this bulb type is the basis for the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale. This means that the CRI index is an indicator of how accurately or how well an alternative light source can replicate an Incandescent Radiator based bulb, or more specifically the Kelvin Color Temperature Scale. A rating of 90+ is quite good and ideal. For example, the Cree CR Full Definition series has a CRI rating of 83, while the CR TrueWhite has a CRI of 90, making it much more desirable.

Here’s a great resource if you want a more detailed and in-depth explanation of Color Temperature and Rendering.

Thanks for reading my blog! 
-Matt Risinger

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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