Feit LED bulb review

Feit Electric is the latest company to enter the “almost smart” light bulb space, with a quartet of bulbs that deliver at least some of the features higher-tech bulbs offer, but without the requirement of a hub, an app, or even Wi-Fi.

Feit isn’t unique in its pursuit, but it is going about it a bit differently than its competitors by offering different bulbs with specific purposes. Each of these are available as 60-watt-equivalent A19 bulbs that produce 750 or 800 lumens of brightness, but that draw just 9.5 watts of power. Several are also available in BR30 form factor for installation in ceiling cans. The BR30 bulbs are 65-watt equivalents that draw 9 watts of power and provide 650 lumens of light. All bulbs are rated for 15,000 hours of life.

While the bulbs vary considerably in their functional capabilities, across the board, light quality and brightness were spot-on. Even in the cases where their special features aren’t up to snuff, the bulbs themselves provide high-grade lighting. We’ll cover each one in turn.

Feit Electric Intellibulb ColorChoice

The Intellibulb ColorChoice is arguably the most useful and well-built of this bunch. It offers three different color temperatures—soft white (2700K), cool white (4000K), and daylight (5000K). To jump between them, you just flip a small switch on the base of the bulb.

Christopher Null

Feit Electric’s Intellibulb Color Choice bulb has a switch on the base of the bulb for choosing between it’s three color temperatures.

If the switch is easily reachable (as in a lamp), you can set color temperature on the fly by switching to one of those three settings. If the bulb is not reachable (such as in a ceiling can or another out-of-the-way location), you can set the switch to a fourth position, simply called “switch.” Using this mode lets you toggle among the three modes if you power cycle the bulb within five seconds. We’ve seen this kind of behavior before, in bulbs like the Philips SceneSwitch, but having the separate ability to permanently set the color temperature on an ad hoc basis is unique. The bulb is also fully compatible with hardwired dimmer switches.

The bulb works beautifully and, like each of the bulbs in this series, provides clear and bright light, with an accurate color temperature, no matter what setting you use. It’s definitely a contender.

Feit Electric Intellibulb Switch to Dim

Feit Electric

Feit Electric’s Intellibulb Switch to Dim bulb.

Want to vary light levels, but don’t have an in-wall dimmer? The Switch to Dim bulb is an interesting, if imperfect, option. Like the ColorChoice’s switch mode, you rapidly cycle the bulb on and off to set the overall brightness level. The default is 100-percent brightness. Turn it off and on again within two seconds to set to 50-percent brightness. One more time and you reach a dim 10-percent brightness. Leaving the light off for five seconds sets that dimming level as the new default when you turn the light on again next time.

Again, this system works as described, but the difference between the purported 100-percent and 50-percent brightness levels is less than you’d think. (To the naked eye, it seems closer to 100 percent vs. 85 percent, but brightness is hard to judge qualitatively.) The 10-percent brightness setting is just about right, however, when a low (but not quite candlelight) light level is desired. What’s missing? It would have been nice to have a physical switch to dim the bulb on the fly, similar to how the ColorChoice works. (The Sengled Element Touch also offers this feature, albeit imperfectly.) As you might expect, this bulb is not compatible with external dimmers.

Feit Electric Intellibulb Dusk to Dawn

Next is Feit’s Dusk to Dawn bulb, which is a great idea with imperfect execution. This bulb features a light sensor built into its base. Designed for use at night, it detects when the lights go out and comes on automatically. When the sun comes up, the light goes out. The bulb is designed to be used in outdoor security settings

Feit Electric

Feit Electric’s Intellibulb Dusk to Dawn bulb.

or as a nightlight, but this latter option seems impractical, namely because no one would ever want to use an 800-lumen bulb as a nightlight. (It’s not dimmer compatible, either.)

Practicalities aside, the bulb doesn’t work as nearly as well as desired. The base of the bulb can rotate independently of the socket, so the sensor can be aimed toward the sun; but in many settings, a lampshade or other obstacle make this difficult at best. It’s also unclear how the light sensor avoids detecting the light produced by the bulb itself. Feit isn’t the first company to struggle with buggy light sensors, and I just didn’t have much luck getting the bulb to consistently turn on at the right time at night and to accurately switch off at sunrise. (Others with similar issues have come up with hacks, but your mileage may vary.) Fortunately, the bulb is inexpensive enough to make experimenting a low-cost endeavor, but you’re best advised to prepare for disappointment. (There is no BR30 option available for this bulb.)

Feit Electric Intellibulb Motion Activated

Feit Electric

Feit Electric’s Intellibulb Motion Activated bulb.

This final bulb speaks for itself: Rather than requiring a light fixture with an embedded sensor that detects motion, Feit builds that sensor into the bulb itself. The Feit Motion Activated bulb features a small switch on the base as its only means of setting its sole parameter: Switched one way, the bulb will activate only when it detects motion, at night. Switched the other way, the bulb will activate any time. The bulb stays on for 10 minutes (this can’t be changed) whenever it activates.

The bulb claims a range of 19 feet, which was about accurate in my testing; if you’re approaching the bulb with a clear line of sight, it activates reliably. The bigger challenge is the fixture in which you place the bulb. Unless you have it set in a bare socket, whatever shade or enclosure the bulb is in will block at least some of its range. In a ceiling-can setting, the bulb won’t activate until you walk directly beneath it. In a lamp with a traditional cylindrical shade, the bulb is functionally useless. On the plus side, the day/night switch was quite effective; light levels had to be fairly dim for the bulb to activate with the night-only setting on. While it’s available only as an A19, a BR30 option for this bulb would be particularly helpful.

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“Mr. Beaver, for the longest time we wanted to replace all 50 of our light bulbs with LEDs but the retail price of around $12 each was a deal breaker. We have used the little coiled CFLs, which do save energy, but are annoying as it takes two minutes or so to reach full brightness.

“Another reason we wanted an all LED home was due to our age. Climbing up a ladder to change a light bulb is not a good idea for anyone over 80, and we are that and some. As LEDs claim a life of 15,000 hours, we calculated never having to replace a bulb again and reduce our energy expense for lighting by well over half.

“Then, a few months ago while at Costco, I couldn’t believe my eyes, finding 60 and 100 watt equivalent led bulbs for about $4 each, manufactured by Feit Electric, stating 15,000 hours of life on the box and Costco’s website. They came in Soft White, Daylight and Bright White, just what we needed, and so into the trash went light bulbs and CFLs, never to be seen again. What a mistake that was!

“Right out of the box, several of these Feit LEDs were dead. Many began to flicker, and then die. Right now the three in our bedroom ceiling fixture are still working, but I am getting scared. We should never have thrown away all the CFLs or light bulbs! Is my situation unique? Do you think I have a problem with the electricity in our house? Have you ever heard of anything similar? Thanks, Benny and Geraldine, Visalia, California.”

Illuminating research

Our reader’s disappointment with these Feit LEDs isn’t unique. And they do not have to be concerned about a problem with their home’s electrical wiring. Over the past several months, we have heard from a number of readers with similar experiences, and there is even a website dedicated to failing Costco Feit LED-bulbs.

So upset with his “Lasts 22.8 Years But Failed After 4 Months,” Utah electrician Jeff Weissman has an hysterical online video. We spoke with him, finding someone who believes in the benefits of LED lighting, “if you get a good product,” he was quick to point out.

“If the package claims the LED will last for thousands of hours, what would cause not only Feit’s, but anyone’s led bulbs to fail so soon as yours did?” we asked.

“It’s not the LED which fails,” he replied. “It is important to understand that LED lighting generates a great deal of heat and the support electronics — which are known as drivers — are extremely heat sensitive. If this heat is not dissipated, the electronics will fail. This is why some LED bulbs state on the package they are not to be used in an enclosed fixture.”

But the readers who contacted You and the Law reported installing their Feit LED bulbs purchased from Costco in regular, non-enclosed fixtures, some lasting only days. Their comments were consistent with strikingly negative reviews on Costco’s own website. While there are many positive comments on both the Costco and Amazon sites, those which are negative merit serious consideration in our opinion.

What does Costco say?

We emailed Costco’s Corporate Communications department, asking to discuss these very issues. We also left a voice mail for their lighting department buyer. And their response? “Good morning Dennis, unfortunately, we are not able to respond to your inquiry at this time. Please do not attribute my name to the information in this email.”

What does Feit Electric say?

Feit Electric is no Costco. The owner, Aaron Feit, immediately responded to our email, clearly stating his position on the questions raised concerning the apparent high failure rate of his led products as seen in many reviews:

“No Feit Electric light bulbs being sold at Costco or any other retailer are experiencing a ‘high failure rate.’ Given that, in a year, we sell over one million light bulbs of a model, the total number of alleged failures you point to is most certainly not a ‘high failure rate.’

“I am surprised that you have not found anecdotal complaints about other companies’ LED products, but I do not know how thorough or extensive your search was. We are aware of other LED companies experiencing negative reviews but we choose to not criticize our competitors.”

Should you buy Feit LEDs?

Given the inexpensive cost of Feit LEDs compared to the competition, they are probably still a good choice even if some do fail prematurely, as Feit has a five-year warranty which they honor, promptly.

Would we buy them? Yes, we already have.

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which may be faxed to 661-323-7993, or emailed to Also, visit dennisbeaver.com.

Feit Electric 40W Replacement LED review: A flickering failure among 40W replacement LEDs

The 40W replacement category was one of the first places where we saw LED pricing creep down to 10 bucks or less. By now, you’ve got a wealth of options, including a $10 40W replacement LED from Feit that boasts an attractive, clear-globed aesthetic.

Sometimes sold under Lowes’ “Utilitech Pro” branding, the Feit 40W Replacement LED (model number LA19DMCLLED) looks appealing enough on paper, with a respectable amount of brightness, a relatively low wattage, and promises of dimmer compatibility. Look closer at the competition though, and you’ll realize that Feit’s bulb actually lags behind the pack in both pricing and performance. What’s more, it failed our dimmability and omnidirectionality tests, bombing worse than any other LED to date. Be thankful for that wealth of options I mentioned — almost any of them would likely be a better pick than this.

Design

Feit’s 40W replacement falls into a similar aesthetic as the Philips Clear LED , the and the non-frosted version of the Ikea Ledare , with a flat bed of diodes sitting beneath a contoured piece of plastic. The light shines up and out through this plastic, creating a filament effect that looks quite nice in exposed bulb settings.

This approach gives a good deal of “texture” to the light. Shine it up against a wall, and you’ll see a gem-like pattern. It’s pretty, but I had my doubts as to whether or not it’d be all that practical in common fixtures. Just looking at the exposed bulb, you can see that the light isn’t shining out evenly (it’s particularly easy to spot in the unedited, top-down shot included below).

View full gallery Ry Crist/CNET

That textured light comes at a color temperature of 3,000K, with a stated brightness of 500 lumens. That’s a good number, and comfortably above the 450 lumens you’d expect from a typical 40W replacement light.

As for the power usage, Feit’s LED consumes 8 watts, which gives it a good-but-not-great efficiency rating of 62.5 lumens per watt. At average energy rates and with an average usage of three hours per day, it’d add about a dollar to your yearly energy bill. That makes for easy savings when switching over from a 40W incandescent, which will cost about $5 per year, but it isn’t as good as competing bulbs from manufacturers like Cree and Osram which each cost less than 75 cents per year.

40W Replacement LEDs

Feit’s LED is rated for dampness, which means it should be able to stand up to things like condensation, and should be fine for limited outdoor use. You won’t, however, want to leave it directly exposed to the elements.

Feit also advises against using the bulb in enclosed fixtures, where heat will build up and potentially shorten the bulb’s 25,000-hour lifespan. Doing so will likely void the bulb’s warranty, which, at two years, isn’t very long to begin with. For the same price, Cree’s 40W replacement comes with a 10-year warranty, while Osram’s less-expensive bulb comes with five years of coverage.

View full gallery Ry Crist/CNET

Feit Electric Color-Changing LED Smart Bulb (Apple HomeKit-enabled) review: Sync this smart bulb with Siri for $25

Color-changing smart bulbs are a likable smart home novelty, and most of them pair extremely well with voice controls. The problem is that many of them are much too expensive, with popular options from names like Philips Hue and Lifx starting at about $40 per bulb.

There’s an emerging crop of lower-cost alternatives, though, including a new, color-changing LED from Feit Electric that costs $25. It uses Bluetooth to communicate directly with your phone, so it doesn’t need a hub plugged into your router like with Philips Hue or with other budget-friendly options like Sengled. It doesn’t have its own app, either. Instead, it’s designed to work with Apple HomeKit, which means iOS users can set it up directly from Apple’s Home app, then control it using Siri voice commands such as “make the smart bulb red,” or “set the lamp to 10 percent brightness.”

Huh. Currently testing a color-changing HomeKit smart bulb. Siri can change its color upon request, but when I ask for “hot pink,” she just turns the bulb off. pic.twitter.com/61LNbwSLmH

— Ry Crist (@rycrist) February 25, 2019

That’s the same approach taken by the Sylvania Smart Plus LED, another HomeKit-compatible Bluetooth bulb that changes colors. The upside to leaning on HomeKit is that these companies don’t need to spend time or money developing an app of their own. The downside is that the Home app’s software and controls for color-changing bulbs are rather mediocre.

Feit’s bulb is plenty bright at just about every color setting — but it struggles to put out the color orange.

Ry Crist/CNET

Now 5 years old, the Home app makes it easy to pair bulbs with your phone and assign them to a room or a group of devices, but it still suffers from an unintuitive interface for choosing colors and fewer features than Philips Hue or Lifx. The Siri commands still come with quirks of their own, too — and neither Alexa nor Google Assistant are currently supported at all, so it’s Siri and the Home app or bust.

Still, this isn’t a bad bulb. With an energy draw of 10.5 watts and a measured 878 lumens at its default, soft white setting, it’s about 10 percent brighter than advertised, and brighter than most of the competition, including the Philips Hue. Feit’s bulb was brighter than the Hue at every color setting I tested, too, except for red. You might notice that weak red setting if you try dialing Feit’s bulb to orange — to my eye, it couldn’t do much better than beige.

If you can tolerate trade-offs like that (and if you’re committed to building your smart home upon a HomeKit foundation), then the Feit bulb isn’t a bad budget pick for something like a kid’s room. With such ample brightness, it’s especially well-suited for a bedside reading lamp. But Philips Hue and Lifx boast better-looking colors, better apps and a much longer list of compatible products and platforms, including IFTTT, Alexa and Google Assistant. Both are expensive, but they’re still the first names you should consider if you’re serious about filling your home with smart, color-changing light.

Smart light bulbs—LED-based bulbs that can be controlled by a hub or smartphone app—are no longer a new idea. What is new is how far this technology has come since its advent just a few years ago. Also new: Products like the Nanoleaf Aurora—a system of interlocking LED panels that let you decorate with light—fundamentally change the light-bulb concept.

Smart bulb buyer’s cheat sheet

  • Best color LED smart bulb:Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance A19 (Bluetooth + Zigbee)
  • Best white LED smart bulb:Philips Hue White Ambiance A19 Starter Kit
  • Wyze Bulb
  • Best smart bulb to pair with a security camera:LIFX+

Smart LED bulbs aren’t quite a commodity, but they are getting close to maturity as far as the market goes. Today’s bulbs are more compact, much brighter, have better color representation, and, for the most part, feature control apps that do more than ever and are easier to set up. Prices have also come down, with some no-name color-tunable bulbs now available for less than $10 each. (Buyer beware: You get what you pay for.)

Updated January 20, 2020 to add our review of the Bulbrite Solana color-changing smart bulb. We found this generic bulb’s setup process to be a bit annoying, but it delivers good value for the money.

White LED bulbs are smart, too

With their rainbow of hues and myriad party tricks, color LEDs get all the press in the world of smart lighting. It’s fun stuff, but the reality is that most of us will rarely find much of a need to turn all the lights in the house blue or red—unless it’s time to celebrate our team winning the World Series. Even then, you’ll probably want to turn them all back to white after the celebration.

White light is also important in its own right, as today there is plenty of science to show how various shades of white—with variations in color temperature—impact our psychological state. Cool light that’s closer to blue has an energizing effect, and is best in the morning. Warm light is relaxing, and is best after the sun goes down.Note, however, that not every white LED smart bulb is color-temperature-tunable. Check out the specs before you buy.

White smart bulbs downplay the party features that are a staple of color-tunable bulbs. On the other hand, white smart bulbs are less expensive than color bulbs, making it more affordable to roll them out in multiple rooms.

We’ve tested just about every color and white LED smart bulb on the market. You’ll find links to all our reviews at the bottom of the page, and we’ll update this story as new models are introduced.

Best color LED smart bulb

Philips was one of the first players in this market, and the company’s experience shows. Physically, its Hue Color and Ambiance bulbs haven’t changed much since their introduction in late 2012, but the latest generation lasts a lot longer and the company has added a Bluetooth radio that obviates the need for the Philips Hue Bridge (but most smart home denizens will want the Bridge anyway). The Philips Hue ecosystem is the industry’s deepest and broadest, including not only bulbs of every shape and size imaginable, but also indoor and outdoor fixtures as well, including the Philips Hue Calla pathway light and the Philips Hue Lily outdoor spotlight, both of which we like very much.

Runner-up

LIFX is a very strong competitor in the smart lighting space and comes a very close second place in our roundup. LIFX no longer has just A19 and BR30 form factors to offer, and we really like its unique LIFX+ (which has an array of infrared LEDs that will help your home security camera see in the dark), but Philips still delivers much more diversity in its ecosystem and universe of third-party support.

Best white LED smart bulb

Our choice won’t surprise anyone who’s been following this market. Philips dominates this space and is also our top pick for best color LED smart bulb. The latest Hue bulbs can be controlled via Bluetooth or Zigbee (the latter requires the Philips Hue Bridge), they deliver high-quality light, and are backed by a strong warranty. We received the BR30 form factor for our review, but the bulb is also available in A19, candelabra, and even with vintage-style LED filaments.

If you want a smart white-only bulb that doesn’t require a smart home hub, the LIFX Mini White is a great choice. While it’s slightly dimmer than the full-size LIFX bulb, it produces a 60-watt-equivalent 800 lumens.

Best budget-priced smart bulb

Wyze Labs consistently impresses us with its low-cost products for the smart home. Sure, their low-cost Wyze Bulb is only a tunable white (not full-spectrum color), and it’s the only smart bulb in the Wyze ecosystem right now (you can pair it with a Wyze motion sensor, or control it with Alexa or Google Assistant), but it’s a quality smart bulb that costs only eight bucks. Anyone who’s just looking to dip their toe in the smart lighting pool would be crazy to not give this bulb a shot.

Best smart bulb to pair with a security camera

Most home security cameras are equipped with infrared LEDs to deliver a semblance of night vision. the LIFX+ is equipped with infrared LEDs of its own, which are active even when the bulb is turned off via software. Infrared light is invisible to the naked eye, but the LIFX+ can bathe a room in it so that your security camera can see more of the room and in more detail than it can with its own infrared LEDs.

Smart light bulb protocols and features

Three control technologies continue to vie for leadership in the smart bulb market (Z-Wave is a major contender in smart lighting, but you won’t encounter it in bulbs—just in switches, plug-in modules, control panels, and smart-home hubs).

  • Zigbee: Bulbs that use the popular smart-home networking protocol require a bridge to communicate with your home Wi-Fi network. This is the technology Philips has adopted for its Hue lineup, but it’s not the only one.
  • Wi-Fi: This class of bulb talks directly to your Wi-Fi router, no hub or bridge required. LIFX and TP-Link both manufacture excellent Wi-Fi smart bulbs, but neither company comes close to Signify’s Philips Hue lineup in terms of the depth and breadth of the Hue ecosystem.
  • Bluetooth: These bulbs skip your home network altogether and pair directly with your smartphone or tablet. As such, they can’t be controlled from outside your home. GE and a number of other manufacturers make Bluetooth bulbs, some of better quality than others. Signify has recently added Bluetooth radios to its Philips Hue line of smart bulbs, which eliminates the need to deploy the Philips Hue Bridge. Taking the bridge out of the equation reduces the overall cost of deployment, but adds some limitations. You can read more in our review of the new Philips Hue bulbs.

Each of these technologies has pros and cons, so before you attempt to settle on a specific bulb, first try to determine which tech is right for you. If you want to hook your bulbs into a broader smart-home system—such as SmartThings or Nest—Bluetooth bulbs are out. You can control more than one bulb with your phone, but you can’t connect it to sensors or other systems inside your home. Don’t like the idea of pairing a bulb to your phone? A Wi-Fi bulb will work best for you, though you won’t have quite as many options as you’ll find with a Zigbee product.

Smart bulb, or smart switch?

There’s a significant argument about the best way to install smart lighting, and two approaches present themselves. You can either go with expensive smart bulbs and control them all individually, or you can use cheap dumb bulbs and install smart switches to control all the lights on that circuit. Both approaches make sense: With smart bulbs, the biggest issue is cost, but there’s also complexity to deal with. While bulbs can usually be grouped based on location, this is only as intuitive to manage as the bulb control app.

Leviton

A smart dimmer switch on the wall, such as this Leviton model, makes more sense than smart light bulbs in some cases.

Smart switches, on the other hand, are far more complicated to install—to the point where some users might be uncomfortable dealing with exposed wiring and would prefer to hire an electrician. Smart switches, however, provide more flexibility in many installations.

Habituated from years of flipping hard-wired switches, many users (or their children) will instinctively use the wall switch to turn the lights out when they leave a room. Once that happens, all the apps in the world won’t be able to turn the light back on until the switch is returned to the on position. While this won’t be an issue if you install smart switches, they can’t change a bulb’s color or color temperature.

That said, smart bulbs, no matter what the technology, still won’t be right for everyone. Notably, most of these bulbs cannot be dimmed via a hardwired wall switch (it messes with the power going to the radio, rendering them useless). Some will fail even if a dimmer is present on the circuit and dialed up to full power. The quality of light from an LED bulb is likely to be much, much better.

The good news is that bulb prices are going down, so it’s easier to get started with smart bulbs and less punishing should you find that a product doesn’t work for you. That said, we want to get you started on the right foot. So without further ado, here are deep dives into the most worthwhile color and white LED smart bulbs on the market.

Our latest LED smart bulb reviews

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