Home>Discussions>ELECTRICAL & LIGHTING>LED flashlight problems - flickering and quitting
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Condoman
Re: LED flashlight problems - flickering and quitting

Most of the low cost LED flashlights are not worth the money. I buy some of these with 3 on a card at the membership stores as a give away. I keep a few in the truck for situations when needed.

For myself I have the Olight I1 EOS as my EDC (Every Day Carry). I have tried about 4 EDC's and this is the one I like the best. All of them are 1 or 2 CR123A 3V lithium powered. The flashlight is only a little bigger than the battery. I paid about $32 for it and expect years of life from it. The 123A is about 1-3/8" long with 5/8" diameter.

This buying decision came from research on candlepowerforums.com where hundreds of users discuss flashlights and the technology behind them. The batteries are purchased 12 at a time on the web from a vendor on the forum and cost $1 each. Since they have a very long shelf life I have 15 or so in stock.

I have many Maglite 2XAA converted to LED with some having the multi-function Niteize end cap with "find me" beacon. These are around the house and in my tool kit.

Like anything you buy you first have to assess the intended use and analyze that to pick the appropriate light. My major points are:

  1. Brightness levels
  2. Battery type
  3. Glass lens
  4. LED color temp
  5. Removable clip
  6. Small form factor
  7. Cannot be turned accidently
Mastercarpentry
Re: LED flashlight problems - flickering and quitting
dj1 wrote:

Without a receipt and out of warranty, mag lite replaced it free of charge, all I had to do was pack it and send it back to them ($5 in shipping). Unbelievable customer service.

I'd expect no less from these folks- Joe Maglica and crew are honest gentle-people who make the best product that they can- even if that means a higher cost to the consumer. I have never heard of them rejecting a warranty claim- they want you to love their product and company so you'll buy from them next time. Boy howdy, I wish every manufacturer was like this!

There was another very similar design marketed to Police, Fire, and Rescue personnel but the company failed and their models are highly sought-after collector's items. As are some Maglites nowadays! There are 'official" and 'unofficial' LED conversions for these. Not all perform well so know what you want and do your research. The earliest LED conversions used pre-focused LED's which didn't utilize the reflector well, scatteting lumens all over the place instead of where you want them. The good conversions are simply awesome in performance. Batteries last darn-near forever with them. LED's and conversions are definitely the way to go!

There are also some really good specialty flashlights out there, but many take oddball batteries or bulbs which will eat your wallet alive. My "Nano" takes 4 hearing-aid batteries and a couple times I found that it had gotten turned on in my pocket ("Hey Phil, you're pocket is glowing" has been said to me a few times :eek: ) "Tactical" style flashlights can be blindingly bright with eye-watering prices to match. Losing one of these will make strong men weep, and in our business I think we've all left something behind once in awhile. That's why I choose affordable work-lights and save the good stuff for my home, vehicle, and bug-out bags where it isn't likely to 'get lost'.

I liked a 19.2V fluorescent light worklight from Craftsman so much that I bodged a way to power it with my DeWalt 18V batteries- a direct-able, rechargeable room-full of light that I like better than DeWalt's offerings. The newer LED tool-battery systems are great too.

And now for some trivia:

"Flashlight" came about as a name because the earliest ones could not sustain illumination for more than a few seconds; one had to "flash" it on, turn it off to rest the battery for a few seconds, then repeat the process.

97 years ago Eveready, wanting to distance itself from that concept held a nationwide contest to rename it's 'flashlights' since they could now burn an hour continuously. a $3000 prize was offered for the winner which was a huge sum of money back then. Instead of splitting the money, Eveready gave the full $3K to each of 4 winners who thought "Daylo" should be the new name for Eveready flashlights. Of course it didn't last as by then the term "flashlight" was ubiquitous.

And my Streamlight Nano, at about 1/50th the size of these old 2D cell models, has about the same performance.

You can never have too many tools- or flashlights!
Phil

Leo
Re: LED flashlight problems - flickering and quitting

I've discovered the problem with the Harbor Freight mini flashlights. It's not the springs or connection with the screw-off battery cap (at least not with the 10 or so that I have). The problem is in the connection between the LED bulb component and the aluminum body. It appears the bulb component/unit is pressed into the aluminum tube. The bulb unit needs a ground to the aluminum body. However they are made (I assume some little aluminum tabs on the LED unit is supposed to scar the aluminum body when pressed into place, thus making a connection), the connection deteriorates after several uses. Try this: turn the light on, and squeeze the bulb end of the light. I'll bet your light comes on (if your batteries are good). Now, one of you smart guys needs to come up with a way to fix this problem. I can't figure out how to get the LED unit out of the aluminum tube. Thought about dropping hot solder down the tube, hoping it would stick to the LED unit and the aluminum tube to make connection. But, it would probably damage the LED unit. Somehow, you need to be able to remove the LED unit from the tube and then probably a lot of us could figure out how to make that connection better.

Mastercarpentry
Re: LED flashlight problems - flickering and quitting

The problem mine had was the cheap battery holder. I've got three of these HF 'freebies' and with the good battery holders all work no matter how I knock them around. With the bad battery holder one works sometimes, the others don't. Inspection with a 10X loupe shows nothing, tightening the riveted spring connections with a punch doesn't help. Swapping the switch ends is no good either. With alkaline batteries I like these buggers- lots of light and no big deal if something happens to it. I had a keychain Mini-Mag once, just bought it a few weeks before. We were pumping concrete to fill the cells of a block wall and somehow it fell right in- OUCH! I joked with the homeowner that I had just installed the lighting in his basement and that I expected to be paid for the extra work ;)

Hey, I got what I paid for with the HF light so I'm happy :rolleyes: If you really want to know about good LED flashlights and what can be done with them, have a look at the "Candlepower forums" http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?45-LED-Flashlights
I can't fathom spending $300 on a flashlight but some of those guys do, and the results are nothing short of astounding.

Phil

Tim Crabtree
Re: LED flashlight problems - flickering and quitting

Regarding flashlights that stop working:

One thing that works for me is to use the eraser end of a pencil to clean the contacts within the flashlight that are affected: The spring that compresses the batteries and the point against which the batteries bear opposite the spring. If you can get an old pencil with a typing eraser, that may work better because it has abrasive in it.

My theory is that the low voltages involved make the circuit much more sensitive to resistance. I = E/R. For a given E (voltage), the bigger the R (resistance), the lower the current. This is why, when I had a 1957 VW Bug with a 6Volt electrical system, I was constantly cleaning contacts to keep the lights working. This is why you seldom have to clean the contacts on anything you plug into a 110 V wall socket.

Mastercarpentry
Re: LED flashlight problems - flickering and quitting

Over time I've become a "Flashaholic". I have a flashlight that will light up someone wearing camo in a thick forest 1/3 mile away and will do double that given better contrast to work against. I use good LED lights at work daily and I'm beginning to "mod" to get them more like I want them. Before you purchase a LED flashlight check what the good folks at http://budgetlightforum.com/ have to say about it. If you find the site interesting run away quickly or your wallet will get dented regularly :rolleyes:

You'll find me there as "SawMaster". My keychain light does better than what a cheap 2D incandescent does and my most-used lights simply blow away anything you can purchase at most retail stores. The long-distance "thrower" I mentioned above was under $75 including 2 top-rated LiIon cells to power it with. My most-used light was under $35 with a similar cell, and it's runner up goes for under $20 similarly. The first two were "Group Buys" where BLF members designed the lights (including drivers, firmware, and specified the LED's) and got them made at discount prices. You can't touch the 'thrower' with any stock light under $150 but the other two are still available on the cheap. I ran one at ~400 lumens all day long yesterday (8 hours) and the cell was still 80% when I charged it tonight. It does over 950 lumens on High :cool:

There are lots of claims, lots of fakes, and lots of junk LED flashlights out there but there are some awesome ones for really good prices too. BLF will help you sort the wheat from the chaff safely and enlighten you to what good flashlights at good prices really are.

Thrower: MaxToch M24 BLF SE
Most used: Manker BLF A6 (still available as Astrolux S1)
All-rounder: Convoy C8 (I have 3, 1 is modded for throw, good for 1/4 mile)
Keychain: Tank007 E09 AAA (running 10440 LiIon cell)
#2 keychain: CooYoo Quantum (USB rechargable and tiny!)

Phil

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