Friday, March 19, 2010

Successful LED Lights

This article is mostly historical, as I give some thoughts on most of the LED Flashlights I have owned in the past. Eventually every light must be replaced. Especially working in a somewhat harsh environment, like I do. If God is willing, I will write an article on my current lights and post it in a few days.

One of the first Headlamps I owned was a "Kids Adventure" headlamp, that I can't find any more. It would run for a night or two on 2xAA batteries. I replaced it with a cheap headlamp I got from a supply house that used 3AAA batteries and had 5 LED's. It would run for several nights and gave off more light. Around the same time I bought a 14 LED flashlight that also took 3AAA batteries, and it did a pretty good job, but the color spectrum was decidedly deficiant, so I would also carry a little krypton bulb flashlight to check colors when I needed to do that.

This was back around 2005, and about that time a serious cave explorer near Boston published an article that said White LED's Suck. Naturally, that slowed down my desire to buy a good LED flashlight, even after the rough treatment and harsh environment killed off my 14 LED flashlight.

However, around that time, I got a 3 LED Mag-Light conversion kit, and while it wasn't perfect (no focusing), it did create more light for much longer battery life. And the light color out of it was pretty good.

Also, by chance I ran across a TaskForce 1W LED flashlight that bragged: "Super High intensity LED flashlight" (it used to be available at many department stores and hardware stores for about $20 but not available any more). It was marked half price, so I snatched it up and it was the best flashlight I owned for a couple of years. It ran on 3 AA batteries, had pretty good water tightness (better than the one above). It was brighter than the 14 LED flashlight above, and the better focus provided far more reach. The body of the flashlight had a couple of weak points, but those were fixed with electrical tape and I used it for about 4 years, until the switch wore out.

As I used it, though, I noticed the LED got progressively dimmer over the years, unitl at the end, it was about half the brightness of when I got it. I found out that this is normal, although it happened a little quicker than normal. LED's don't usually burn out, but they grow progressively dimmer after hundreds of hours of use.

In the mean time, I bought a cheap 3W LED flashlight that did no better than the 1W TaskForce light and did not last long at all. One of the problems with this light is that it ran on 2AA batteries, and without a regulator (an expensive add on, at that time) it could not achieve full brightness, nor would it stay bright very long. The beating it took riding around with me on the job soon broke the parts loose inside and it died.

One other nice thing I bought a few years back was a 12 LED lantern. Runs on 4 D cells, the light is blueish and not very bright. But it does the job I got it for. It gives me an area light, brighter than candles and will run for days during power outages.

It will probably be next week before I post
about my current assortment of lights,
mostly made by Ray-O-Vac

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