The long-awaited full review! And let me cut to the chase: When it comes to LED recessed lighting, right now CREE is the top choice, and the new CREE CR6 stands strong alongside its LR6 sibling. The CREE CR6 is a winner! I’ve tested a dozen different makes over the last month, and the CR6 and LR6 beat all the competition hands down. (I’ll provide a review of the others over time—but I won’t tease you waiting for the answer about which is best–CREE wins.)
Unlike some of the energy-efficient lighting involving significant performance compromise, the Cree CR6 holds its own against the 65-watt incandescent recessed bulb it is intended to replace. In fact, I like it better!
Available in a “warm” (2700K, for you technical types), it looks great. Its high CRI of 92, objects it lights look like you’d expect and don’t take on a ghastly pallor.
Performance-wise, it came on instantly just like an incandescent. That sets it in stark contrast from most others we’ve tested. It also seems to dim almost as well as an incandescent and better than even the best dimmable CFLs we’ve tested. In terms of brightness, it’s rated at 575 lumens, however perhaps because of better efficacy (how much light leaves the fixture v. how much gets trapped) this seemed brighter than its CFL competitors. (Note: the LR6 has a higher lumen rating at the same 10.5 watts.) The CR6 has great dimmability when matched with a Lutron Diva dimmer. Unlike most of the LED competing products, the individual LED diodes are not visible—instead we see a warm, very uniformly glowing surface. It’s a beautiful light that I like better than the incandescent it replaces! When energy-efficiency comes with better performance, it’s a no-brainer!
The unit is rated at 35,000 hours—something I obviously haven’t had the ability to test yet! I can report that the CREE LR6’s are still performing great after almost two years of daily use. The long life span makes them an excellent choice in harder to reach ceiling fixtures.
The CR6 was very easy to install, and it worked great in the three different 6” housings that I tried it with. Both the CR6 and the LR6 (and the LR4—which I also like!) come with an integrated trim. The only downside of this is that if you have an existing trim you really like, you can’t use it with the CR6. The CR6 trim looks great, though, better than most of the trim kits it replaces, and I would gladly remove existing trims to use this.
The price may shock some. It’s going to be in the $50 to $65 range. I purchased mine for $49 at a Home Depot in New York, where NYSERDA subsidizes the cost. But at 10.5 watts, it should save you an estimated $200 or more over its life, depending on your electric rates.
I’ve had trouble locating the CR6 locally. And it’s still hard to find. But it is available through Amazon. I got mine at a Home Depot under what appears to be their Ecosmart house brand. (They also sell other LED products under that branding—so make sure you get the right one “powered by CREE”).
As mentioned previously, the CR6 and LR6 are not yet rated for wet locations—although I’m told those products are on the way. If you have a wet location application (like a shower), the Halo LED Module product is a good, albeit more expensive, choice.
I heartily recommend the CR6 (and the LR6), and I’ve installed it in my own home!
What do others think?