Hands-on with the Switch Infinia LED
But Cree might have some legitimate competition in Switch, a small Silicon Valley-based company founded by a team of engineers in 2007. At a price of $11.99 per bulb, the 60-watt replacement Switch Infinia LED is priced to compete with Cree's own 60-watt replacement, which costs about a buck more at $12.97. The two bulbs have quite a bit in common. Both are efficient enough to earn Energy Star certification, meaning that they'll cost a lot less if you live in a region that offers energy rebates. At 800 lumens and 2700K each, the bulbs offer a remarkably similar quality of light, and both are rated to last 25,000 hours (that's about 25 years if you run them for 3 hours a day.)
The biggest difference between the two comes with the warranty. Cree's got those 10 years of coverage -- but Switch warrants their Infinia LEDs for life. As long as you own one, they'll replace it free of charge if it fails, even past that projected 25-year lifespan.
There are other differences between the two as well. The Switch Infinia LED is a weighty bulb, coming in at 6 ounces -- the Cree LED weighs less than 4. The designs are also noticeably different, with a slightly bulky ring of heat sinks around the neck of the Cree bulb that you won't find on the Switch.
Switch claims that the lack of conspicuous heat sinks is thanks to the "LQD Cooling System" that bathes the Infinia's chips in a specially formulated liquid, allowing heat to dissipate evenly through the glass. According to Switch, this liquid-cooled design makes for 40 percent better thermal performance than standard, air-cooled LEDs. Sure enough, the Infinia did seem noticeably cooler to the touch than the Cree bulb after a few minutes of use. Switch also claims that their cooler-running bulb is safe for use in all recessed and enclosed lighting setups, where excess heat can sometimes cause trouble for electrical components.
The Switch Infinia LED comes in a 60-watt replacement variety as well as a 40-watt replacement variety. Both are available in select retailers nationwide, as well as online through Amazon and HomeDepot.com.