Friday, February 15, 2008

LED Flashlights

Why switch over to the LED side? Think reliability, efficiency, and brightness.

An LED flashlight produces light through light emitting diodes (LEDs) rather than an incandescent bulb, making them cooler, more energy efficient and tougher.

Incandescent light used in traditional flashlights utilizes a filament wire encased in a glass vacuum tube or bulb. When electricity is supplied to the wire from the batteries, the wire glows with heat that produces light. The heat, however, is not only lost energy but it eventually burns out the wire and the bulb must be replaced.

An LED flashlight harnesses light created by an entirely different process. Two types of semiconductor materials are used in a LED: one type that has an abundance of free electrons and the other that has a deficit. When enough energy is supplied in the form of electricity, a threshold is reached that pushes some of the free electrons in the abundant material to jump to the attracting material. When that electron takes its place in the new material a photon or particle of light is released.

The light from a LED flashlight is pure, bright and true and can be seen for up to 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). Unlike incandescent bulbs that produced rings of brighter light within the scope of the beam, LED beams are evenly illuminated, like fluorescent light.

An LED flashlight draws only 5-10 percent of the power of an equivalent light bulb, conserving batteries and saving money. It can also hold up under 5-10 years of continual use. A sturdy LED flashlight, powered with lithium batteries (lithium batteries have shelf lives of over 10 years) is a winning combination for any survivalist. Add solar rechargeable batteries, and you have the ideal set-up.

If you have a lot of the older Mini Maglite flashlights around the house (with incandescent bulbs), I would suggest converting them all to LEDs. The fastest way to do this is buying an LED replacement kit from a company like Nite Ize. Nite Ize carries upgrade kits for even C and D cell flashlights.

If you'd rather keep your incandescents and simply upgrade the entire flashlight, consider the new Maglites with LEDs already installed. It took them a while, but Maglite is finally on the bandwagon! These new Min-Mags, with a three watt LED, feature that trusty and durable aircraft aluminum body that can also serve in some self defense scenarios.

SureFire flashlights could be considered the Cadillac or Mercedes Benz of the flashlight world. They are prized in the law enforcement and military community for being the brightest, toughest, and most versatile flashlights in the world. They command high prices, but they are quality made, and when reliability is an important factor, you try to choose the best. If I had a couple extra hundred dollars laying around . . . I love going through their catalog.

Emerging technology at an affordable price -- would you like the power of a SureFire, at the price of a MiniMag? I recently purchased one of the following, and can't believe the power and brightness! The LED in this flashlight is made by a company called CREE, and the CREE XLamp XR-E LED is supposed to deliver 176 lumens at 1000 mA. That is bright! I've purchased a flashlight with one of these LEDs from The flashlight comes with 10 CR123A lithium 1300mAh batteries for only $29.95. Maybe not the quality of a SureFire, but you can't beat the price.

1 comment:

Stephen Paul said...


I just completed CERT training and live in 21st ward area. I'm trying to contact someone in my area to offer support. I'll follow your progress...and model it. Great job!

Steve Paul