Smart bulbs are great and all, but what if you just want a super-efficient LED bulb? It’s not too hard to pick out the perfect LED bulb—once you know what you’re looking for, that is.
What to Look for in an LED Bulb
Have you ever replaced a lightbulb only to find that your replacement is too bright, too dim, or just unreasonably ugly? That’s the thing about bulbs, they’re all slightly different, and you can’t make any guesses.
Luckily, there’s not too much to keep track of. You just need to consider where you’ll put the bulb, and what brightness or color temperature is appropriate for that space. You should also consider the fixture you’re using and whether or not you need a dimming bulb.
- Brightness: We usually judge the brightness of LED lightbulbs in terms of “watt equivalence.” Most people consider 60-watt bulbs to be “normal,” while 45 watt bulbs are “soft.” If you’re buying a light for a dimming fixture, we suggest getting one that’s pretty bright (so you have a wider dimming or brightening range).
- Color temperature: “Warm” lights give off a slightly orange glow, while “cool” and “daylight” bulbs look a bit blue. “Soft white” bulbs are usually considered “neutral.”
- Fixture: All of the bulbs in this article have a standard E26 base (which works with the majority of residential lighting fixtures). You just need to consider what bulb shape is appropriate for your fixture. An Edison bulb may look great in an exposed or hanging fixture, but it won’t be bright or stout enough to fit in an enclosed fixture or a recessed ceiling fixture.
- Dimming and non-dimming: You can use dimming bulbs with non-dimming fixtures, but you should avoid using non-dimming bulbs with dimming fixtures (it’s not a safety issue, but the bulb might flicker). Why buy non-dimming bulbs at all? Because they’re cheaper, silly!
Now that you have an idea of what to look for, let’s get into it. Here are the best LED bulbs that aren’t smart bulbs.
Best Overall: Great Eagle 60W Equivalent (4 Pack)
Great Eagle’s non-dimmable LED bulbs are cost-effective, comfortably bright (60W equivalent), and durable. They’re just great for any situation, and they come in a variety of color temperatures from warm to white to daylight. This is a great bulb for anyone who wants something that’ll just work well and look good.
Keep in mind these aren’t dimmable bulbs—we’ll get to those in a second.
Great Eagle A19 LED Light Bulb, 9W (60W Equivalent), UL Listed, 3000K (Soft White), 750 Lumens, Non-dimmable, Standard Replacement (4 Pack)
Great Eagle's non-dimmable LED bulbs are generally great for any situation. They're 60W equivalent, they're affordable, and they come in a variety of color temperatures.
Best Budget Option: Philips 60W Equivalent (16 Pack)
These non-dimmable Philips bulbs are super duper cheap. They’re 60-watt bulbs with a soft white temperature, so they’ll work perfectly in most environments (Philips also sells 40-watt versions). There’s not much else to say here—these are some of the cheapest LED bulbs you’ll find, and they come from a reputable brand.
Philips 461129 LED Non-Dimmable A19 Frosted Light Bulb: 800-Lumen, 2700-Kelvin, 8.5-Watt (60-Watt Equivalent), E26 Base, Soft White, 16-Pack
These Philips LED bulbs are about as cheap as they get.
Best Dimmable: LUXRITE 100W Equivalent (4 Pack)
As we mentioned earlier, it’s good to get bright bulbs for your dimmable fixtures. That way you have a large brightness range to choose from. These LUXRITE bulbs are 100-watt equivalent (pretty bright), and they come in soft white, cool white, and bright white color temperatures. They’re also reasonably priced, especially considering they’re rated for indoor and outdoor use.
Luxrite A19 LED Light Bulbs 100 Watt Equivalent Dimmable, 3000K Warm White, 1600 Lumens, Enclosed Fixture Rated, Standard LED Bulbs 15W, Energy Star, E26 Medium Base - Indoor and Outdoor (4 Pack)
These LUXRITE LED bulbs can get pretty bright, which makes them perfect for dimmable fixtures. They also come in a variety of temperatures and are rated for outdoor use.
Temperature Changing: Philips SceneSwitch 60W Equivalent (3 Pack)
The Philips SceneSwitch is a bit of an anomaly. It’s a 60W equivalent bulb that can change its color temperature with the flick of a switch. Really—it doesn’t require a dimmer or anything, you just flip your switch up and down and the lightbulb changes to a different color setting. (You can sync the bulbs by rapidly flipping the switch three times.)
Philips’ SceneSwitch bulbs are a relatively cheap (and easy) alternative to smart bulbs. They could work well in any setting, including lamps or multi-bulb fixtures. Just keep in mind they won’t play nice with most dimming fixtures.
Philips LED A19 SceneSwitch Color Change Light Bulb: Daylight/Soft White/Warm Glow (60-Watt Equivalent), E26 Base, 3-Pack
The Philips SceneSwitch bulbs can flip between three temperature settings. They don't require a dimmer, and they're a great alternative to smart bulbs.
For Recessed Ceiling Fixtures: Philips 65W Equivalent (6 Pack)
Recessed ceiling fixtures can technically work with any lightbulb, but they work best with long flat BR40 bulbs that can shine light evenly throughout the room. Philips’ dimmable BR40 bulbs are a great option for anyone looking to freshen up their ceiling fixtures. They’re relatively affordable, they put out a soft white glow, and their moderate brightness (65W equivalent) should work well in any kitchen, hallway, or living room.
These bulbs are dimmable, which means they can work with both dimmable and non-dimmable fixtures.
Philips LED Flicker-Free BR40, Dimmable Warm Glow Effect Indoor Flood Light Bulb, 800 Lumen, 2700-2200K, 9W=65W, E26 Base, 6-Pack
Philips' dimmable 60W BR40 bulbs are comfortably bright, they have a soft white glow, and they're relatively affordable.
Best Edison: LUXON 40W Equivalent (6 Pack)
LED Edison bulbs work great in hanging or exposed fixtures, and they’re sometimes appropriate for ceiling fans or enclosed light fixtures. And hey, they’re way more efficient and long-lasting than real filament bulbs.
LUXON’s LED Edison bulbs are a great option for anyone who wants that vintage vibe. These 40W equivalent bulbs are the perfect brightness for most exposed or hanging fixtures, and they put off a pleasing warm color that feels like days gone by. They’re also pretty cheap, considering how expensive LED Edison bulbs were just a year or two ago.
LED Edison Bulbs Dimmable Amber Warm 2700K Antique Vintage Style Filament Light Bulbs 40W Equivalent E26 Base 6-Pack by LUXON
LUXON's Edison bulbs are pretty affordable, and they're just bright enough for exposed or hanging light fixtures.