Cree had a flurry of recent announcements: a versatile T8 replacement, a PAR38 lamp, and the nationwide expansion of distribution for its high-CRI incandescent replacement bulbs.
T8 LED tube
Cree's T8 fluorescent replacement claims plug-in compatibility with more than 90% of the electronic ballasts out there, "including instant start, programmed start, rapid start, and dimmable fluorescent ballasts." Its compatibility seems to be broader than that of its obvious head-to-head competitor, the Philips InstantFit introduced in January. The latter tube is said to be compatible with high-frequency electronic balasts; dimming is not mentioned.
Cree vs. Philips T8 Replacements
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This table compares the two offerings at a high level. Besides ballast compatibility, the major distinctions are CRI and level of light output. Philips (this site's sponsor) has a slight edge in efficacy. Though Cree doesn't mention the angle at which its T8's light is distributed, it does make the point that its oval shape allows a small amount of light to go upward, which could be important in installations with reflective fixtures.
The T8 features Cree's TrueWhite technology, with red and yellow LEDs in the mix boosting the CRI. We'll have to see whether the mainstream businesses in which fluorescent T8s are now installed will care about the improved color rendering that Cree offers. Certainly the poor color of traditional fluorescents has been one of the major complaints about the technology for the last 70 years.
Here is a writeup from Designing with LEDs.
Cree's replacement for a 90-Watt incandescent PAR38 bulb is now available in Home Depot stores and online for $25. Cree claims this is cheaper than most competitors' offerings, and that seems to be the case. Bulbs by LSG, TCP, MSI, Toshiba, and others are showing up from $32.50 into the $50s.
The Cree bulb produces 3,000K light in 27° or 47° beam angles. It puts out 1,500 lm for 18 Watts of power in (83 lm/W). Its claimed lifetime is 25,000 hours. The bulb is dimmable and rated for wet (not merely damp) environments. Like all of Cree's consumer-level products, it is warranteed for 10 years.
This writeup from LEDs Magazine also covers the Cree T8 announcement.
High-CRI TW bulbs go nationwide
Something else you'll be able to pick up at Home Depot anywhere in the US is Cree's 94-CRI bulbs, which were introduced first to the California market. Here is CNET's review.
When the 40W and 60W replacement bulbs debuted in California in September, they listed for $18 and $20, respectively. They now cost $14 and $16.
Cree's "TW" (for TrueWhite) bulbs were the first to meet the California Energy Commission's voluntary spec and qualify for energy-company rebates in that state. I don't know of any other product that has qualified in the interim. If you do, please share in the comments.
— Keith Dawson , Editor-in-Chief, All LED Lighting