If you want basic light bulbs that look great and will save you money in the long run, there’s no reason not to choose LED bulbs—they look as good as incandescents and are far more energy-efficient. We recommend Cree’s Exceptional Light Quality line of A19 bulbs. For general-purpose lighting, look for soft white LED bulbs, available in 60 W and 40 W versions. And for a whiter, cooler light for working, get Cree’s daylight LED bulbs, also in 60 W and 40 W versions. The Cree bulbs also function well with dimmer switches, neither flickering nor buzzing, and their color accuracy brings out the best in your decor, furniture, and food, improving the ambiance of your entire home.
Our picks: Cree 60 W Equivalent Soft White and Daylight A19 Dimmable Exceptional Light Quality LED Light Bulbs
Cree 60 W Equivalent Soft White A19 Dimmable Exceptional Light Quality LED Light Bulb
The best soft white LED light bulb
Ideal for general use, Cree’s soft white bulbs make everything in your home look great, with better color accuracy and dimming capabilities—and a better warranty—than anything else we tested.$7* from Home Depot
(pack of two)
*At the time of publishing, the price was $4.
Cree 60 W Equivalent Daylight A19 Dimmable Exceptional Light Quality LED Light Bulb
The best daylight LED light bulb
The Cree daylight bulb produces a white, cool light that’s suitable for kitchens or offices, and it stood out in tests for better color accuracy and more-even dimmability than its competitors.$7 from Home Depot
(pack of two)
Cree’s 60 W Equivalent A19 Dimmable Exceptional Light Quality LED Light Bulbs in both Soft White and Daylight versions performed better than any other bulbs in our tests. These bulbs accurately show colors, and have high CRI (Coloring Rendering Index) values, so your bananas will look yellow and your apples red. Unlike other bulbs, the Cree LED bulbs are able to dim all the way to zero on an LED dimmer. This line of bulbs also has the longest warranty of any brand we found.
We wanted to recommend a line of great bulbs from one brand to make outfitting a whole house with lights less complicated, and Cree offers standard LED bulbs in 40 W–, 60 W–, and 75 W–equivalent brightness levels with soft white, bright white, and daylight color temperature options. All of these bulbs are Title 20–compliant and available for purchase in California, while equivalent bulbs from GE and others are not. After observing how well Cree’s 40 W and 60 W bulbs performed in our tests, we feel confident recommending other LED bulbs from this brand as well.
The 40 W and 60 W Cree bulbs have a CRI rating of 90, one of the highest out of all the bulbs we tested—and far closer than LEDs in the past have come to mimicking that incandescent-quality glow. We found that the Cree bulbs had the best color fidelity—colors as they appear in real life. The 60 W Cree bulbs had the highest R values in our tests, so they still show saturated colors well (the 40 W bulbs were also among the best for color accuracy).
The still-life fruit scene set up in the apartment looked like we had dialed up the contrast with an Instagram filter without opting for a preset—just slightly enhanced. Colors under the Cree Daylight bulb looked crisp and clean without being too blue-tinged or blown out: The tiny buds on broccoli florets were nicely defined, and white stripes stood out against the fuschia skin on a Graffiti eggplant. Under the Cree Soft White bulb, apples and lemons looked like slightly golden versions of themselves.
In our dimmer tests, the Cree bulbs were some of the only ones that could dim all the way to zero without plateauing, flickering, buzzing, or humming. By contrast, almost all of the other bulbs we tested had issues with various dimmers. Although the Cree bulbs worked with incandescent dimmers, they performed the best on LED-compatible (or CL) dimmers. The Cree’s superior dimming capabilities were noticeable even in our apartment tests; they dimmed lower than any other bulb using just a Lutron dimmer.
The Cree bulbs are an affordable option for furnishing a home, and prices will likely decrease over time. At the time of writing, prices range from about $3.50 to $4 per bulb. Cree also offers a 10-year warranty—the longest we’ve seen for bulbs—in case bulbs fade before their advertised lifespan.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
We previously recommended Cree bulbs, and we received some reader feedback about bulbs that burned out after just one or two years. Because of Cree’s long warranty and its available customer service (compared with, say, that of AmazonBasics), we are comfortable recommending this brand, despite some problems. The experts we spoke with all commented on how LED technology has progressed, so we’re hopeful that the most recent iteration of Cree bulbs will hold up better. We’re using these bulbs in our own homes and will continue to assess their performance over time.
Cree sells bulbs in 2-packs; we wish it offered greater quantities at lower prices.
Runners-up: Feit Electric Daylight and Soft White 60 W Equivalent Dimmable A19 Light Bulbs
Feit Electric 60 W Equivalent Soft White Dimmable A19 Light Bulb
A soft white LED with crisp colors and wide availability
Feit Electric bulbs offer brilliant color quality at an affordable price and are easy to find in stores. They work with a range of dimmers, but at the lowest levels, they did not dim as well as the Crees.$10* from Home Depot
(pack of four)
*At the time of publishing, the price was $12.
Feit Electric 60 W Equivalent Daylight Dimmable A19 Light Bulb
A daylight LED with crisp colors and wide availability
If you like a brighter bulb that’s more white than warm, Feit Electric’s 60 W Equivalent Daylight bulb is affordable and easy to find, and it dims without buzzing or flickering.$10 from Home Depot
(pack of four)
If Cree LED bulbs are unavailable or you prefer slightly warmer colors, we recommend the Feit Electric Soft White and Feit Electric Daylight 60 W Equivalent Dimmable A19 Light Bulbs. These bulbs are rated at a 90+ CRI, compared with the Cree’s standard 90 score; it’s a subtle difference, but if you place the bulbs side by side, you’ll notice the Feit bulbs are just a bit more radiant. However, this also means that as the Feit bulbs dim lower, they appear brighter and slightly more yellowish than the Cree bulbs, which might not be ideal for every setting. These lights did plateau (as in, they stopped their continuous rate of dimming) as they dimmed near zero percent. But otherwise, they worked almost as smoothly and well as the Cree bulbs. If you’re fine with (or even prefer) that trade-off, the Feit bulbs are a good option when the Cree aren’t available. They’re easy to find online or in stores, and typically cost anywhere between $2.50 and $3 apiece, which is about average for LED bulbs. They’re also fully compliant with California’s Title 20, and come with a five-year warranty; that’s only half the warranty on the Cree bulbs but otherwise fairly standard.