View Full Version : DIY LED conversions for flashlights?
Did a little research on the net/youtube yesterday. I was actually looking for something else but came upon a DIY conversion by accident. It was where folks were taking a 3mm or 5mm LED (purchased for next to nothing), trimming the leads down and replacing the normal bulb in things like mini maglites. It seemed to work, but I've not done it and don't know if there are cons to doing it. I don't know how bright it would be or if it is really worth doing. It looked simple enough and was cheaper than buying a conversion kit by far.
Anyone do this? If so, is it really that easy? And how did it work (brightness, battery life) etc?
Dave, if you will provide a link I'll look it over and give you my opinion. As a general statement, it isn't as simple as soldering an LED into the flashlight to do a conversion. The LED needs the current limited at minimum or it will burn out quickly. There are lots of drop in LED conversions available now so I'm "guessing" it wouldn't be worth the effort to reivent the wheel so to speak. I LOVE LED flashlights, and can't wait for the tecnology to cross over to home lighting at a reasonable cost.
The Candlepowerforums (CPF) have loads of information on flashlight conversions. I'll tell you where this nets out for me, YMMV:
(1) The 5mm LEDs generally have nasty tints and artifacts. So I would not convert to a 5mm. (Same for 3mm). Also by today's standards the 5mms are dim. Dim, ringy, angry purple tint with yellow ring and artifacts isn't where it's at.
(2) You can get quality emitters (find sources at CPF), with neutral tints, warm tints, high CRI. I'd not swap an incan for an LED unless I could get a decent emitter.
(3) If you still want to go LED in an old Incan, check the off-the-shelf replacements sold by Terralux, Malkoff and others. (Maglite has their own conversion but reviews of it are not good. I got a LED conversion from NiteIze and it's also sucky.)
(4) for $8 you can get a Sipik 68, and for $20 you can get a neutral/warm tint Rominsen; these are the best-of-the-inexpensive lights. So if you want to swap emitters, do it for interest/entertainment, but not for savings/efficiency/quality.
It seems it would be a fun project, but I did the terralux drop-ins for 3 3Dcell maglights. Cost about $35 total. More than happy with them. Way easy, and I knew they would work..lol
Never done the component-level, diode-only changeout like that; I'd be concerned about voltage regulation issues, and lumen (output) issues both.
I've done one simple drop-in conversion from www.dealextreme.com on a surefire G2, and it's worked pretty well for several years now. Total cost was under $15 or so iirc, and it's nearly as good as the newer G2L factory LED lights are.
I just did a Malkoff 3D drop in for $40. Check em out, alot of people swear by them.
Taking a bit closer look, it looks like folks are simply trimming the leads down on a 3mm or 5mm LED and swapping out the regular bulb. But, it doesn't look like it is really all that bright. Probably not as bright as the kits you can buy.
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