Energy Geek Video – New CREE CR6 LED Downlight Replacement

The CREE CR6 is the latest in a line of energy efficient LED lights made by CREE. This light addresses some of the issues of the earlier lights, allowing dimming down to 5% and having a compact, light-weight package at about half the cost of earlier models.

It draws only 10.5 Watts yet produces as much light as a 65W incandescent bulb, so it’s definitely an energy saver. That’s a 55 lumen/Watt rating, putting it in the same ballpark as a normal CFL spiral bulb. But the fair comparison is with dimmable fluorescent downlights. Those range from 40 to 50 lm/W, so on average, you get 10%-25% more light from the CREE than you would the equivalent fluorescent.

The CREE CR6 costs me $50 at the Home Depot website, though I’ve heard that certain states have this light in stores for under $30 due to rebates (Available in NJ for $24.97 as of 11/27/2011). At that price, it’s an excellent deal. For comparison, a good dimmable fluorescent costs from $12-$18.

Lifetime is rated at 35,000 50,000 hours vs. 6,000-8,000 for high quality fluorescent equivalents, so to be conservative, the LED light will last about 6x 7x as long. That makes the lifetime fluorescent equivalent cost about $105 vs. $50 for the LED.

What about dimmability and light quality? I’m very impressed. As with the Pharox (reivewed elsewhere) the CR6 can dim down to 5%. This is magical for those of us used to older fluorescents and LEDs that could only dim down to about 20% brightness. This means they’re finally useful as replacements for conventional bulbs. Finally!

And the light quality? Excellent! I was really impressed. When on full brightness, you’d never know that this wasn’t a conventional incandescent bulb. As you dim it, it stays the same color-temperature, so it’s not like the orange glow of a dimmed incandescent. But if you want candlelight, light a candle!

Overall, with the Pharox light bulb and the CR6 downlight, I think we have finally hit the sweet point for energy efficient bulbs. These set the standard, putting us at a point where I wouldn’t hesitate to replace any light in the house with LEDs. My only regret is that there’s no good candelabra replacement that I know of.

If you find good sources for these bulbs, please post them in the comments to share with others.

Here’s the official CREE installation video:


Consumer Reports – First look at the CREE CR6 LED Downlight

CREE CR6 – Official CREE page on the light

CREE Video – Official CREE video on installing the light (same as embedded above)

Energy Federation – Page on dimmable compact fluorescent lights

Home Depot – EcoSmart Edison bulb replacement downlight

Pharox dimmable bulb – A standard dimmable LED bulb replacement

18 thoughts on “Energy Geek Video – New CREE CR6 LED Downlight Replacement

  1. Hey Ted, thanks for all the great information. I have been trying to find out what is causing the fabrics (carpeting, couch), my hair and clothing in my closets and dressers to be wet. My search led me to find out that air is flowing out of my cold air vents when the furnace or A/C is not running. I have a high efficiency furnace and have turned the fan to the auto position instead of the on position. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I am in the process of having to re-cement a large portion of the garage and basement to replace my sewer system. The system has been replaced but waiting on concrete to be poured so there is air coming in through the garage and into the basement and house. Is it normal to have air flowing out of the cold air vents in your experience? If not, what could be the cause. I have taped and caulked all of the exposed cold air and hot air duct work that is in the basement and garage. The house was built in the late 50’s.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Thanks Pam. Sorry to hear about your troubles. It’s definitely not normal for everything to be wet. A good tight house and air conditioning system should take care of that. And having air coming out of the vents when nothing is running is not right. My guess is that there is some part of the duct system that is open. Little leaks wouldn’t result in such a big draft. The most common thing that I have seen is when they use wall cavities to bring the air back to the system. They don’t even seal them or anything. They just assume that air getting sucked through there is fine. However, a lot of times those same cavities have a connection to the exterior walls which allows cold and moist air to get sucked right into the system. Unfortunately, it’s often very difficult to find where these are without special equipment. And energy auditor with an infrared camera would probably be able to find out exactly what is going on and guide you on how to fix it.

  2. I want to change the lights in my kitchen out with these but I have Ruud compact fluorescent (1996 vintage) cans and therefore I have no socket. How do I get a socket and can I reuse the existing cans I have? Also if I have 6 twin tube (total of 26 watts per fixture) can I expect that replaced the 6 fluorescent fixtures with 6 ecosmarts will have the same light levels? I am hoping it may be brighter as the fluorescents don’t really produce enough light for me.

    • There are a lot of different recessed light fixtures and configuration, so it’s difficult to know whether the CR6 would fit. About half my home’s cans work and the other half don’t. So you really have to get one and try it.
      That said, you would want to check the existing fluorescent socket. The sockets in my cans are removable using spring clips. This exposes the power wires. There’s a version of the CR6 that uses a GU-24 style socket, so you could *probably* snip off the existing sockets and install the GU-24 that comes with the CR6 fixture.
      But before I cut anything, I’d want to make sure the fixture actually fits. This you should be able to try by just pulling the existing bulb and seeing if you can get the CR6 into the can.
      One other thing you’ll have to check. The wiring to your existing fluorescent bulb may come from a fluorescent starter and associated electronics. You can NOT connect the CR6 to that wiring!!! Your electrician will have to let you know about that.
      As for light levels, the best thing is to compare the lumens rating of the existing fluorescents versus the CR6. The CR6 is rated about 575 lumens. A 26 watt fluorescent actually throws off a lot of light, much more than 575 lumens. The trick is directionality. The CR6 is sending all that light down. The fluorescent is omnidirectional. So again it’s a little hard to compare (impossible?) just by the numbers. Ultimately, I think you’ll just have to try one and see how you like it.

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  6. I bought 9 of the Ecosmart from Home Depot. I have to say the are GREAT lights. we have the 6 in cans with the flood light showing out the opening, (I hate the look) Ecosmart now gives a fantastic finished look, to top is off the wife loves the look and the color of the light…

    • Great to hear it!
      They really do have a great look, don’t they? After seeing them, I look at my unconverted conventional bulbs and they look like a throwback to an era long gone…

  7. I ordered one of these bulbs for our portable energy efficiency display based on your comments and other ratings I read afterward. Thanks.

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  9. Hi Ted,

    What is the difference between the CR6 and the Ecosmart. Both are made by Cree, but there is a good price difference between the CR6 and Ecosmart. What are the product differences and why the price difference?

    • Based on my research, the EcoSmart line is a private labeling for Home Depot and they’re being aggressive on pricing. The standard distributors seem to be selling the CR6 for anywhere from $50ish to $75.

      • Do you think there is a quality difference between the two or if different materials for used in making the two different products?

      • To my knowledge, they’re identical units. However, be sure not to confuse these units with the LR6 that I reviewed earlier. The LR6 is brighter and more efficient and uses a much larger heat sink, so in theory, it should last longer. But after using the CR6 and LR6, I’m standardizing on the CR6 because it dims so much better and costs about 2/3 as much.

  10. Ted! Thanks for giving the EcoSmart LED Downlight a spin, and for showing viewers how to install one with a GU24 base. We’re so glad you are satisfied with the results, especially the dimming. Just FYI, each month we give away five Cree CR6 LED downlights on our website as part of photo contest. So if you or your readers ever want to enter, swing over and submit a photo!

    • Ginny,
      It’s great to see CREE reading the posts and contributing to the dialog.

      After my success with the light, I bought five and was planning on buying another dozen to install around the house. With the CR6 at the lower price, I can confidently say that they’re “ready for prime time”

      Kudos on producing a great product!

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