Cree's New 3-Step LED Bulb Brightens Better Than You're Used To

The last luminary holdout in your house, that lamp with the three-step socket, can finally join the 21st century. Cree just announced a new 3-Way LED bulb to provide just the right amount of light, no matter the occasion.

Like traditional stepped lightbulbs, the suggestively-named 3-Way operates at 30/60/100-watt equivalent outputs (3/8/18w, respectively), giving users three selectable levels of illumination. However it does so in a unique manner.

So you know how there's never really been much of a difference between the top two levels of a stepped light bulb? That's because incandescents and older CFLs used linear stepping so that the highest output is simply the additive of the lesser two. For example, a bulb with 30w and 70w outputs had to have a 100w third level, no more no less. The problem is, that 30w difference between the top levels doesn't add all that much light so the two settings can be difficult to tell apart with the naked eye.

This bulb, however, instead measures its light level outputs in lumens. Instead of measuring the three output levels as 30w/70w/100w, the 3-Way outputs at 320 lumens, 820 lumens, and 1620 lumens. With the third output nearly double that of the second level, the step up between the two is reportedly very noticeable.

Though not as noticeable as the price tag, mind you. The 3-Way comes saddled with an MSRP of $25. While that's about half the cost of similar stepped LEDs, and does come with an estimated 25,000 hour operational life and 10 year warrantee, the capability to go from reading lamp to room lamp won't come cheap.