April 21, 2024


Think spectacular technology

Exceptional color quality from the Soraa Radiant LED

If you’re shopping for new light bulbs, then you might be thinking about common lighting concerns like brightness and efficiency. Soraa, a lighting startup based out of California, hopes that you consider color quality, too. After years of developing light fixtures for color-conscious commercial settings like restaurants and museums, the company is now offering consumers residential lighting options, as well. Front and center among them: the Soraa Radiant 60W Replacement LED, which sells for $14 plus shipping (pro-tip: it’s Prime eligible on Amazon).

That’s obviously pretty expensive for a single 60W replacement bulb, but Soraa has some legitimate lighting chops. The company’s founder, Shuji Nakamura, is a Nobel Prize-winning engineer whose work basically made the modern LED light bulb possible in the first place.

Here’s a look at how the Soraa LED’s light output compares to a typical 60W replacement LED. It’s a bit wonky, but Soraa is basically shaving some of that excess yellow light off of the top and relocating it to the red part of the spectrum. It’s a subtle thing, but it makes a difference.

Ry Crist/CNET

For that reason, I was eager to test the Radiant LED, particularly its claims of superior color quality. Unlike incandescent bulbs, which emit lots of energy from the invisible, infrared part of the spectrum, LEDs aren’t always great at illuminating red tones, and many cast a yellowy tinge over objects that would otherwise look white. The Radiant LED promises to fix both problems, partly by way of a clever trick that shifts certain tones towards the red end of the spectrum.

If that went over your head, don’t worry — the elevator pitch is that this bulb promises to make the colors in your home pop better than other LEDs. More on that in just a bit.

Let’s start with the basics, beginning with brightness. The Radiant LED claims a light output of 800 lumens, which would put it right on par with a 60W incandescent. I measured it at a satisfying 820 lumens — brightness: check.

Next, color temperature, which gives you a sense of a bulb’s specific tone of white light. The most popular default option is a warm, yellowy 2,700 K, which is what the Radiant LED promises. In our integrating sphere, our spectrometer clocked the bulb at a nearly spot-on 2,699 K. It looks good to the naked eye, too. Color temperature: check.

As for longevity, the Radiant LED claims a lifespan of 25,000 hours, which equates to well over 20 years at an average of three hours per day of use. That’s better than the current average, as manufacturers have started scaling back on the rated lifespans of their bulbs in order to bring costs down. Soraa also backs the bulb with a 5-year warranty. Check and check.

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