CREE CR6 Review–A bright spot in efficient lighting!

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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. 

CREE CR6Performance-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?

[See more commentary on the CREE CR6.]

Thanks,
Mike

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10 Responses to “CREE CR6 Review–A bright spot in efficient lighting!”

  1. Troy Spindler Says:

    Thanks for the heads-up Mike. I’ll check with our local Home Depot & try them in my own house.
    Troy

  2. David Butler Says:

    Mike, not to be a spoil-sport, but I don’t think a $50 light bulb is worth getting excited about. First, LED’s don’t use dramatically less energy than a CFL (the $200 savings is compared to an incandescent). Second, if a product can’t pay for itself in a couple of years, most people aren’t going to bother. Finally, the 35,000 hour life expectancy is a bit misleading. That works out to more than 20 years at 4 hrs a day (someone energy conscious enough to spend $50 for a bulb is probably obsessive about turning off lights that are not being used presently).

    While LED’s offer some aesthetic and performance advantages over CFL’s, the price probably needs to drop below $10 before they make any sense.

  3. More commentary on the CREE CR6 « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] GreenHomes America Tips to make your home more energy efficient and comfortable « CREE CR6 Review–A bright spot in efficient lighting! […]

  4. Lutron C-L Series: A good dimmer choice for dimmable CFLs and LEDs « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] readers have seen me rave about the CREE CR6 LED light.  (And if you haven’t—now’s the time to read more!)  I’ve had good success […]

  5. The Incandescent Lighting Meltdown « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] know I’m a fan of the CREE CR6 LED light.  Mostly because it performs great.  And partly because it’s energy […]

  6. Interesting LEDs from Cooper Lighting and Commercial Electric « GreenHomes America Says:

    […] tested recently that are worth sharing.  I wouldn’t consider either one the CREE-killer (the CREE CR6 is still my head & shoulders above the rest favorite residential LED fixture).  But each […]

  7. Martin Says:

    Hi… I’m interested in this product for our kitchen, which is burdened with NINE can-lights (sigh). Is there any information on whether the “skirt” that comes with this fixture also seals the can enough to prevent some of the heat loss that you get with traditional cans? (I assume we’re losing a lot of heat in the winter through those cans, but we aren’t able to gain access to the tops — no attic — to check the insulation.)

    Thanks!

    • Mike Rogers Says:

      The fixture itself is very airtight, and likely better than what you’ve got. The lip (or “skirt”) does not have a seal that makes it airtight, however. We have asked CREE about installing a gasket or caulking at the ceiling plane, but the engineers haven’t replied. We are testing applying a bead of sealant, hidden from view. It does greatly reduce air leakage, but we don’t yet know the impact on the fixture, and we’re not making the recommendation to do this at this time.

      Thanks,
      Mike

  8. AP Mullins Says:

    We have 90 Cree CR6 lights in our new home. The problem we have is insulation is coming into the house around them from the attic. What can we do to prevent this from happening?

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