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Philips’ newest LED: a five-buck bulb

It’s only been a few years since LED light bulbs sold for thirty bucks a piece or more, but — thankfully — prices have since fallen steadily. These days, you’ll find plenty of strong options that cost $10 or less, but Philips is pushing things a step further, with a new 60W equivalent LED that’ll retail for less than $5.

At that price, Philips’ new bulb is already the least expensive big-brand LED we’ve seen, but to further sweeten the deal, the Dutch manufacturer is offering two bulbs for the price of one at Home Depot for the first ninety days of its shelf life. That brings the cost per bulb down to something less than you’d pay for a morning latte — and makes outfitting a whole home’s worth of bulbs seem a lot more feasible.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The new 60W equivalent draws 8.5 watts and puts out a stated 800 lumens, putting it right on par with other, comparable LEDs in terms of brightness, and making it slightly more efficient than many of its competitors. Philips rates the bulb with a 10-year lifespan — notably shorter than most other LEDs, which will typically promise to last well over twenty years.

Still, the aim here is more focused on upfront appeal, and on getting LED skeptics and incandescent hold-outs to give the bulb a chance. It’s a very similar approach to what Cree’s doing, especially the Cree 4Flow LED, which costs $8. Both bulbs eschew heat-sink-centric LED design in favor of inexpensive, plastic-bodied builds that mimic the look of incandescents. They’ll fight it out side by side on Home Depot shelves. Also on the shelf: the existing 60W Equivalent LED from Philips, which representatives tell me will continue to be sold.

60W Replacement LEDs

Philips 60W Equivalent LED Cree 4Flow LED Ikea Ledare LED (frosted) Philips SlimStyle LED Osram 60W Replacement LED
Lumens 800 835 600 800 800
Watts 8.5 11 10 10.5 8.5
Efficiency (lumens per watt) 94 76 60 76 94
Yearly energy cost (3 hr. per day @ .11 kWh) $1.02 $1.32 $1.20 $1.26 $1.02
Color temperature 2,700 K 2,700 K 2,700 K 2,700 K 2,700 K
Dimmable Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dimmer switch flicker/buzz Moderate None None Moderate Light
Lifespan 11,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours 25,000 hours
Weight 1.80 oz. 1.90 oz. 4.10 oz. 2.20 oz. 4.15 oz.
Warranty 3 years 3 years none 3 years 5 years
Price $5 $8 $5 $9 $10

Spec for spec, the new Philips LED also has a lot in common with the Osram 60W Replacement LED, which sells for $10 at Lowe’s. I was impressed with Osram’s performance when I tested that bulb out last year — we’ll see if Philips is able to match it at half the price once we’re done putting the new bulb through those same tests.

I’ll also be curious to see how the new Philips bulb stacks up against Ikea’s Ledare LED, a bulb that hit the five-buck benchmark last year, albeit with a lower lumen output and no warranty to speak of. The Ledare LED surprised me with its high color rendering scores — if Philips can keep up, that’ll be an accomplishment.

The new Philips 60W Equivalent LED is available online starting today, and is expected to arrive in Home Depots nationwide by early May. You’ll be able to find the bulb in Canada, too, though not with the initial 2-for-1 pricing that US shoppers get to enjoy.

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