Philips Ambient LED  12W A19


May 4, 2011 by Evan Bailey




Philips has introduced a competitive LED bulb that has filled a void in the LED bulb market: A high output LED bulb that has an omni-directional beam spread, and that exceeds the performance of the 60W incandescent bulb.


Quick Specs


-         2700K Warm White Color

-         12.5 Watts

-         800 Lumens

-         64 Lumens/Watt

-         80 CRI

-         Dimmable to roughly 10%

-         25,000 Hr Lifespan

-         6 Year Warranty

-         Med Base/ UL Damp rated

-         $39.97 Retail Price

Pros: Good overall beam distribution, high output LEDs that actually provide some real warm white light comparable to incandescent & halogen, and a lower price point which challenges other manufacturers to review their upcoming high-end models.


Cons: Funky alien looking yellow caps may scare or confuse some homeowners and designers, Color warmer than even incandescent, heat sinks hotter than expected, and many will still question spending $40 per light bulb without understanding advantages


Overall: A good LED replacement bulb which homeowners can be comfortable purchasing since it has better warm color and the higher light output many people need.  Although it has some weaknesses, overall it is a well made product that pushes the LED industry forward.



The Philips Ambient 12W LED bulb has many possible uses where you are currently using an incandescent, CFL, or halogen bulb.  Like other LED bulbs, the Philips bulb is great to use in areas where you can leave the light on for extended periods without using much energy or creating much heat. 


Due to the design of the Philips bulb, it is not the most aesthetically pleasing product.  This means that you have to evaluate the pros and cons of where you want to install it.  This bulb will likely get noticed if left in a bathroom vanity light fixture which may or may not help your design.  Many people prefer the light bulb to disappear into the light fixture.  I have been using the Philips bulb hidden inside a lamp on my end table for a few months now and it works fairly well and does not draw attention.


Like every other LED bulb, the Philips 12W LED must be used in an open light fixture in order to preserve the long life and to not void your warranty.



The Philips Ambient 12W LED bulb uses a new revolutionary design for LED bulbs.  It appears that the goal for this product was to create a high light output dimmable LED bulb that had an omni-directional beam spread, and was somewhat affordable. 


So what is the deal with those yellow caps?  They help spread the light and actually turn a warm white when the light bulb is turned on.  As I have mentioned in other product reviews, beam distribution has been one of the problems with almost every LED bulb I have come across in the last few years.  They provide good light, but that spread of light is limited to around 180 degrees which does not work well in most light fixtures around your home.  The Philips LED bulb solves this problem with their omni-directional beam spread.


In addition to the heat sink above the base, the Philips Ambient 12W LED has 3 heat sink channels that extend and come together at the center cap.  Overall the design is a great engineering achievement, but as always, the big question is whether or not this design will be accepted in the marketplace.


To briefly talk about light bulb aesthetics.  We consumers are a funny bunch.  We want a light bulb that lasts for decades, produces great white light with high color rendition, does not get hot, is dimmable, but we want it to look like a normal Edison designed bulb!  We have been looking at this design our whole lives and sometimes change is hard to swallow.  Oh, and we do not want to pay an arm and a leg for this technology either!  You can see how this can be a challenge for the LED bulb manufacturers today.

Manufacturer & Technology


Philips, or Royal Philips Electronics, as many of you know, is a large worldwide electronics manufacturer with a hand in a variety of businesses and industries.  They are a healthy and profitable company that employees hundreds of thousands of people across the world. 


Philips has huge resources at their disposal to do whatever they want especially in lighting.  They have a large market share in the lighting industry and are not going to be left behind with LED technology.  In 2009 Philips released the 1st entry into the government’s L- Prize competition.  The L-Prize competition will reward the manufacturer who can release the best revolutionary LED light bulb meeting strict performance and manufacturing requirements.  The goal is to motivate companies to be creative and figure out how to replace the traditional light bulb.


Philips entered this competition with a prototype high output version much like this Ambient 12W LED bulb reviewed here.  They then entered the prestigious Lighting for Tomorrow competition and were the winners of the Solid State Lighting category.  This being said, Philips is a company that a consumer can trust and carries a 6-year warranty (as long as you use the bulb as designed). 


Philips manufacturers their own LED chips which they use to power this bulb.  Blue LED arrays are found behind the yellow caps.  How then is this warm white produced?  Philips uses a patented remote phosphor technology to achieve white light.  The plastic caps are coated with a phosphor that changes the blue LED color to a desirable white light.  This is a neat and interesting technology that may solve some white LED color consistency issues that face some LED manufacturers today.



The Philips Ambient 12W LED bulb has a claimed 800 lumens of omni-directional light output.  We found that claim to be accurate comparing it to a 60W 120V incandescent bulb and a 13W CFL bulb.  Actually it exceeded the output of both of these bulbs which surprised me!  The only negative I would mention is that although omni-directional, it still does not spread the light evenly throughout a glass shade on a light fixture.  Also, you can see the heat sink channel gaps as well if you look closely.  Regardless, this is the brightest LED bulb we have tested so far.

Here are the results from our test:

Philips Ambient 12W LED

512 Lux @ 2ft

1316 Lux @ 180 degree cutoff @ 1ft

120V 60W Incandescent

360 Lux @ 2ft

910 Lux @ 180 degree cutoff @ 1ft

14W CFL (after warmup)

510 Lux @ 2ft

1148Lux @ 180 degree cutoff @ 1ft



When I first turned on the Philips Ambient 12W LED bulb, my first impression was the impressive output, but also the warm white color that was actually warm white!  Too often manufacturers claim to have a warm white, only to find a blue white when you turn it on. 


Philips definitely achieved the warm white color, the only problem is they went a little too warm!  The color is hard to describe and photograph, but it has an artificial warm feeling to it that is more yellow than even an incandescent bulb.  Most people will not mind this light, but I wish Philips would tune it a little more to the 2800-2900K range which would put the color closer to incandescent or better yet halogen.  The Cree LR6 and CR6 recessed down light have the color I feel would be best for a replacement LED bulb. 


The claimed 2700K color along with the low CRI of 80 is possible reason for this yellow warm white color.  This color rendition puts the Philips bulb in the same ballpark as fluorescents which may bother some people.  Even though the CRI is low however, I was impressed with the color behind an amber glass light fixture which did not show any blue or green colors common to other LED bulbs. 



The Philips Ambient 12W LED bulb dimmed fairly well down to around 10% with a standard Lutron Diva incandescent dimmer.  It was not completely smooth but it will be fine for most people.  I did not detect any buzzing or any noise when dimming.  Lutron also just released a new dimmer which is designed to work better with LED and CFL bulbs which could improve the dimming performance of the Philips bulb. 

Conclusion/Where to buy


The Philips Ambient 12W LED bulb is one of the best bulbs I have tested thus far.  If you are someone that does not have to see the design of this bulb I would say the pros exceed the cons.  It is a great buy for those of you that have a chandelier in your 2-story entry and are tired of changing light bulbs.  You will save money in the long run with savings in electricity, maintenance, and load on your air conditioner.


The Philips Ambient 12W LED bulb is available through Home Depot and other local and online distributors.    


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