LED flashlights

Howell

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#1
I know there are a few threads around here that have information about LED flashlights but it would be nice to have this information in the same place.

I bought a Cree Ultrafire c3 a few months ago. I don't remember why I picked this model but it probably came down to size and price.

Anyway, as long as I have owned the light I have had unreliable performance. The light always turns on when I hit the switch but it doesn't take long (probably 30-60sec) before it either dims or goes off altogether. I have to knock it to get it back on. This is an irritating cycle especially if I'm doing something where I have to hold it in my mouth.

Has anyone heard of this as a common problem with an easy solution? :D
Any suggestions for a better quality replacement?
 

Stereodude

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#2
Have you cleaned the contacts? Made sure the switch is securely screwed in by the retaining ring?

In terms of a replacement, I'd recommend something from 4Sevens, but they're a lot more $$ than the Ultrafire.
 

Howell

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#3
Yeah, the first thing I discovered was that the head internals were not screwed in tight. Fixing that helped a little but not much.

This looks promising. Not sure how I missed it before.

The 4Sevens are pricey. Much more than the $11 I spent on the C3!

I'm also surprised their Garage Sale section is so confusing.
 

time

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#5
Given you're coming from an $11 base, I suspect that 4Sevens, Nitecore, Fenix etc are not on your radar?

I've shied away from Ultrafire because there are just too many reports of dodgy construction. I do have one here - they spilled a bit of glue on the LED and it broke when I tried to clear it. It still works, but with a purple splotch in the middle of the beam. ;)

I did have to add a washer to an older AAA Romisen to ensure reliable operation (you twist the head to turn on). All the others have had a serious piece of metal to make contact with the battery.

Given you seem to be using it for work, my first suggestion is the Shining Beam variant of the RC-29 for $21.75. They're in the US and ship promptly. The RC-29 is an adjustable flood-to-throw flashlight that's 5mm thicker and longer than the Ultrafire C3. It's especially useful for close-up work with an exceptionally wide 60 degree beam that's completely even; rotating the head 3 turns changes to a very narrow projector-like beam. It also has a forward clicky/tactical (momentary) switch and will tail-stand. I have the Q5 variant and get about 4000 lux @1m when it's set to throw (the lack of reflector hurts the efficiency of this mode, a lot of light is wasted). The R4 variant should be good for at least 5000 lux.

Alternatively, KaiDomain has the Q5 variant for $15.69 - but shipping would obviously be a lot slower.

If you want quality, and don't mind a twisty switch, the ITP A2 for $24.95 is very well made. It's a lot smaller and lighter, but you might have to detach the chain if you want to stick it in your mouth ... Come to think of it, maybe you should get the stainless steel version for hygiene?

For something more utilitarian, I'm thinking of picking up a RC-2R4 with an R5 emitter. I'm doubtful that the two modes will be much different, but it does have a forward clicky and can take an 18650 Li-Ion cell, which should give about 3 hours runtime. And Romisens in this size are quite tough.

I'm also looking for a more powerful floody flashlight, but there doesn't appear to have been much improvement in that area in the last year or so?
 

Bozo

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#6
About a year ago I was in the check out line at Pep Boys. They had LED flash lights on the counter for $5. I bought two. They both still work fine even though they are kept in our cars.
 

MaxBurn

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#7
I have a little Gerber with one LED in it. Light output isn't amazing but it was about the smallest I could find that was extremely durable and took a standard AA.

Have a really tiny one that has seven LEDs in it and throws a most respectable amount of light considering it runs off of a couple watch/hearing aid batteries. Came free with some video card.

Have two large 2 D cell Brinkmans that have similar build quality and style to the regular Maglights. Single but really bright LED in them, won't focus like maglights will though. I think I got these off of a Woot deal really cheap.
 

MaxBurn

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#8
Doube post. Now I know I didn't hit the button twice, it did take about 20 seconds to post though so I was on another tab when it did this.
 

time

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#9
You could save even more money by buying candles, or maybe just sticking to matches. :p

This sort of thing is always evolving, but in my experience cheap LED flashlights are inferior to cheap incandescent flashlights - unless you're using them close up. There are technical and economical reasons for this. For starters, any LED that isn't completely decorative needs to be heatsinked. This necessarily involves a lump of metal and by extension most LED flashlights have aluminium bodies. Secondly, high-output LEDs are relatively new and consequently demand a premium price, so you're not going to find any developments from the last 3 or 4 years in a cheapo torch. And then there's regulation - or lack of - etc, etc, etc.

$15-25 for a ubiquitous tool that is highly effective and reasonably durable is just common sense.
 

LunarMist

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#10
I have a multitude of LED flashlights, but the TK11 is still my favorite. Mine have held up well to rain and numerous drops and scrapes. I think the lights were a little over $100 each with two batteries and a charger.
 

Howell

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#11
You could save even more money by buying candles, or maybe just sticking to matches. :)
:) Don't tempt me. Do they make concentrator/reflectors for candles? I really only need it for the 5-10' effective range.

This light is really just a kitchen drawer light that I occasionally use outside. I have a single led twist-on that is probably ten years old now that is bright enough for 75% of the need but I wanted a little extra light so I got a new cheapie.

Anyway, I think I solved the problem by adding more solder to the rim and filing down the solder blobs until the body could make even contact.
 

Howell

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#12
I have a little Gerber with one LED in it. Light output isn't amazing but it was about the smallest I could find that was extremely durable and took a standard AA.
My old light is a CMG (now Gerber) infinity ultra. I also have a little CMG double coin battery light that I've had for a while and rarely use.

Thanks all for the suggestions for the future.
 

e_dawg

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#13
I really like my Duracell Daylite 2AA LED. I think it was $20 on sale, regularly $25 or so. I know it doesn't have the credibility and refinement of the Fenix, Innova, or Surefire torches, but the Duracell is a lot easier to find and cheaper than equivalent options, at least in Canada. And it takes regular AA's, which i much prefer over other flashlights that take AAA's or CR123's.

The great thing about this flashlight IMHO is the even fill and spread of the beam compared to most of its competitors in the same class. Most of those options have a very bright narrow centre core with a darker diffused ring of light around it. To me, that is representative of the stereotypical LED problem of high intensity but poor fill / spread, and is a characteristic of LEDs that has historically turned me off. Not that you can't get a nice beam from LEDs, but that it's been relatively rare to find a nice even beam in an inexpensive light until recently. And this, IMHO, is what makes the Duracell a great value.

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showpost.php?p=2982159&postcount=94

http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showpost.php?p=2749600&postcount=89
 

LunarMist

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#14
I've not seen those for sale, but at the price they would be good to leave in vehicles or have as backups.
 

LunarMist

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#15
I really like my Duracell Daylite 2AA LED. I think it was $20 on sale, regularly $25 or so. I know it doesn't have the credibility and refinement of the Fenix, Innova, or Surefire torches, but the Duracell is a lot easier to find and cheaper than equivalent options, at least in Canada. And it takes regular AA's, which i much prefer over other flashlights that take AAA's or CR123's.
Perhaps the 2xAA type is becoming more popular. The new Fenix E21 is rated at 150 lumens and not bad at $35. It is certainly less bulky. I may buy some as Christmas gifts. :santa:
 

Stereodude

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#16
The 2xAA light has always been popular. :smack:

There's always been a stack of 2xAA lights from Fenix, 4Sevens, and others. Even Surefire makes a 2xAA light now. link
 

Ailin

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#18
I have a multitude of LED flashlights, but the TK11 is still my favorite. Mine have held up well to rain and numerous drops and scrapes. I think the lights were a little over $100 each with two batteries and a charger.
TK11 is also my favorite, I may buy some as Christmas gifts to my chirldren.:cheese:
 

LunarMist

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#19
I got some weird Sunmainway (?) 1AA light for the Christmas gifts. They were compact with a clicky switch and well received.

Now I'm looking for a stronger light for myself. Anyone have the TK35? It has a good compact shape with side by side 18650 config.
 

Pradeep

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#20
I got some weird Sunmainway (?) 1AA light for the Christmas gifts. They were compact with a clicky switch and well received.

Now I'm looking for a stronger light for myself. Anyone have the TK35? It has a good compact shape with side by side 18650 config.
Looks good, how much do they go for? I used the LED light in my phone to walk down a snowy/icy road the other night, but that only lets me see so far. It would be nice to get something with more reach.
 

LunarMist

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#21
About $110 give or take. You will want two or maybe four 18650s and a charger if you don't already have them.

If you need to see a reasonable distance ahead on the street a single cell (AA or 123) light with 100-150 lumens is just fine. If you want to see a good distance in various directions then a 250-300 lumen light (typically 1x18650 or 2x123) is better, but larger and heavier for everyday carry. The 500 lumen+ lights (typically 2x18650 or more) don't necessarily give that much more reach than the 250-300 variety, but often have a larger field and better run times at mid brightness levels. 5+ hours at 346 lumens should be very nice around the campgrounds.
 

LunarMist

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#22
I've been looking around again for the next trip. Does anyone use the 468-lumen TK21 U2? I'm thinking it is a better choice for travel than the TK35. The weight is the same as the TK11. It is only a little larger and has twice the brightness, though at a shorter run time. However, the 180 lumen mode has a long run time and should be bright enough much of the time. The TK35 would be more uncomfortable in my left front pants pocket. ;)
 

blakerwry

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#23
I recently bought a couple energizer led based flash lights at Walmart to stick on the cars. They take 2 AA's and are much more rugged than I expected (good seals, metal housing). Works 100% of the time, recently took one hunting and felt it was more than suited for the job.

Energizer headlamps are another story, however. The switches are cheap, housing is plastic, and seals are poor. Wouldn't be surprised if it would fail after falling in the creek or taking a sudden impact.
 

LunarMist

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#24
I prefer the single 18650-based flashlights in the pocketable type. The 2xAA lights type are heavier, longer, and have less capacity. I have been using Zebras for the convertible headband/headlight style. They are small and light, but not the most rugged. Mostly I use them on a middle setting as nightlights in the tents overnight.
 

LunarMist

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#26
I'd really like the looks of that TK35 although it is rather bulky. In early 2012 I should be staying where they have fences, but maybe in the next year I'll be out in the temp camp if they have the other group. Of course by then the lights may be brighter yet.
 

LunarMist

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#27
I received the TK35 and wow 820 limens is really bright! :idea: I have never seen such output from an LED light, or for that matter any flashlight that weighs only a pound. The TK35 is a great home/car light, but rather large for travel. So far there is only one feature that I don't like. After a while the light drops from the brightest mode to the medium mode. Presumably that is normal and a result of a temperature increase. The body was very warm, actually uncomfortable to hold after about 15 minutes. I'm not sure when the light dimmed, but I believe it was somewhere between 15-30 minutes. I'll have to do more testing.
 

sechs

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#29
I recently bought a couple energizer led based flash lights at Walmart to stick on the cars. They take 2 AA's and are much more rugged than I expected (good seals, metal housing). Works 100% of the time, recently took one hunting and felt it was more than suited for the job.
That's a situation in which I think that I'd prefer to have a Maglite LED flashlight.
 

LunarMist

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#31
I would like one like that. The single AA lights are too weak or the run times are too short. The main problem I have with 18650 cells is that chargers are too slow, chargers have only two slots, and the spare cells cannot be in the checked luggage. :( Six hours for a charge is workable at home, but not very practical on travel.
 

LunarMist

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#32
I received the TK35 and wow 820 limens is really bright! :idea: I have never seen such output from an LED light, or for that matter any flashlight that weighs only a pound. The TK35 is a great home/car light, but rather large for travel. So far there is only one feature that I don't like. After a while the light drops from the brightest mode to the medium mode. Presumably that is normal and a result of a temperature increase. The body was very warm, actually uncomfortable to hold after about 15 minutes. I'm not sure when the light dimmed, but I believe it was somewhere between 15-30 minutes. I'll have to do more testing.
Apparently it is normal as there is a safety timer that limits the brightest mode to 25 minutes.
 

mubs

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#33
In a Boy's Toys article in a local magazine, they wrote about the Surefire UB3T Invictus. At $550 a pop, no thanks, I'll pass.

Can anybody point me towards a decent LED flashlight that can go from zoom to variable flood and be bright enough at max flood? Typically in flood mode I'd want it to illuminate the path ahead for two people walking side by side. Most flashlights have a small spot in which all the light is concentrated. This is great for long distance, but near useless for shorter distance. The flood will also help change a flat tyre in the dark, for example.
 

mubs

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#37
Just for reference / comparison, can someone tell me the approximate lumens output of the following:

1) standard 2 x AA cell incandescent bulb flashlight you can buy in Walmart for a few bucks
2) cheap, no name Chinese flashlights that run on 3 x AAA alkalines and have 3 or more LEDs
3) single car headlamp with a 55W bulb (H1 / H7)

I know I am being vague, but I want just a ballpark because I have no basis now for comparing 25 lumens with 200 in a flashlight.

LED Lenser has a distributor here, and the guy was quite responsive to my inquiry. They don't have every single model, though. Out of what they have here, I am considering the M14, P3 AFS and SEO 5.

These seem to be to be the best bang for the buck, and one of each type. I really likes their Advanced Focus system - exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again Lunar!

The X7R would be great to have, but I need to become rich first. The X21R wasn't on the local disty's website.
 

Stereodude

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#38
1) Probably under 10 lumen
2) It depends on the LEDs. Something like this could be over 100 lumen with good LEDs, but that's probably not very likely for most, so maybe up to 25-30 lumen.
3) 55W bulb is around 1500 lumen
 

mubs

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#40
I'm unsure about LED Lenser's quality. Many online reviews say they:
1) exaggerate lumnes / beam distance
2) run time
3) circuits are basic and not constant current type

There are also reports of shoddy constructions. Surprising for a German product.

Looking at Fenix now; prohibitively expensive from the single source it is available here. Any other brands worth considering?

Most immediately I am looking at the Fenix HP25 headlamp with two LEDs, one spot and one flood, both independently switchable and with varying brightness levels. I can have my brother bring one from the US in Jan. Where can I get them cheapest? Searches say AMZ is the cheapest at $60.
 
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