Thursday, January 15, 2009

LED Lighting

Flashlights have come a long way in recent years. Up until just a few years ago maglights were about your only choice for a dependable, reasonably bright, durable flashlight. Now, with the invention of LED technology we've got lights that are bright enough to see by, ridiculously cheap, small enough to fit in your pocket and durable enough that they don't feel like they could break if you squeeze them too hard. Oh and you never have to worry about the bulbs going out and the battery life is exceptional. There are also some high powered lights out there that use xenon bulbs but as far as I'm concerned LEDs have overtaken even that technology in just a few short years.

Because of all of this I've found myself becoming a flashlight whore. After picking up my first Surefire G2 a couple of years ago I was hooked. Since then the technology has come so far that the options appear to be endless. I've found myself collecting flashlights just so that I can make sure I have one that will run off of any battery type out there. Then a better one comes out. The new one is really cheap, is twice as bright and I just have to get it.

I just detailed my purchase of the Streamlight stylus so I won't go into that again. I'm still very happy with it and it's already come in handy a few times since I started carrying it. Today I was at Home Depot and I saw a light that was on the other end of the spectrum, though. It was a Husky 2 D cell 200 lumen light. This thing is awesome. It was bright enough that I could see the spot in broad daylight. Turn it on and set it on it's end and it will light up a pitch black room enough that you can read by it. It's beefy enough that it could be used as a weapon. If you shined this in someone's eyes their vision would be screwed for at least a few seconds. They'd still be seeing dots minutes later. It's too big and heavy to pack but I could easily see keeping one in your trunk. It will be replacing my Surefire G2 on my nightstand. For $25 this thing is a hell of a deal. It even comes with two batteries so you don't have to worry about buying those d cells separately. That's not a battery size that I keep stocked up on.

Later I stopped by Target because I heard that they had a lot of their camping gear on clearance. I ended up picking up a Coleman percolator for $7 and a collapsible LED lantern for $16. They were both half off. My biggest beef with flashlights is that when you take them camping you can't just set them down and expect them to provide much light. Sure you can use a headlamp or carry a flashlight with you everywhere you go but I'd rather just be able to set my light down and have it illuminate the entire campsite. This puppy will do that no problem. It does use 4 D cells (damn now I'm going to have to start stocking D batteries) but the runtime is 20-40 hours depending on what setting you leave it on. It's got 3 different settings which is also nice. It packs down to a very small size and it doesn't weigh much even with the batteries in. For car, trailer or bike camping it will be perfect. I'll be leaving it at home for the high mileage backpacking trips, though.

On my way home I stopped at Ace to get some lamp oil (more on that in another post) and noticed that they had LED bulbs for $10 a pop. I had a $5 coupon in my pocket so I decided to go ahead and try it out. Let's just say that LED technology still has a way to go before we can consider it viable to replace light bulbs. Maybe this just wasn't a very good one. I will say that immediately after opening the package I dropped it and it didn't even leave a knick. The durability has never been an issue with LEDs, though. I plugged it in and I might as well have set a 15 led flashlight on it's end and turned it on. The light output was horrible and it seemed to be concentrated into one area. I turned on one of my CFLs in the same room and it almost completely drowned out the light that the LED provided (yes I've replaced every one of my lightbulbs with CFLs and it did make a difference in my electric bill). LED light bulbs might not be quite there yet but you'll be hard pressed to find a better flashlight solution. Personally, I can't wait until LEDs catch up because they use even less energy than a CFL and you never have to worry about throwing them away. Even if one should happen to fail throwing it away isn't something that you have to feel guilty about since it's just a couple of wires and some plastic.

6 comments:

Off Grid Survival said...

I have been hoarding flashlights for sometime now, I can't get enough of them. I really like the wind up ones.

The Urban Survivalist said...

I've got a couple of the wind up radio/siren/cell phone charger/flashlights. The wind up handle broke on one of them. I only paid $2 for that one and it still runs off of batteries so no biggie. The light has never worked on the other one but I bought it for the radio so I'm not too worried about it, either. I keep thinking about getting one of those $10 3 packs of wind up flashlights but I just haven't had any good experiences. I've been thinking about taking my broken one apart and making a small wind turbine out of the dynamo motor just to see if I can get one to work on a small scale.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Thanks for yet another reminder-- LED lantern is now on my "gotta get" list. Hope come payday our targets are running a gear deal...

The Urban Survivalist said...

Don't expect much to be left... I heard about the sale the day before I went in to check it out. I got the last LED lantern that they had left. They had a couple of lanterns with the CFL bulbs but I wasn't too impressed with those. They're twice as big (and heavy) and they use twice as many batteries for half the run time. The quality of light may have been a bit better if you don't like the harsh white light of LEDs, though.

theotherryan said...

Thanks for the remind, I need an LED lantern.

Justine said...

Nice Blog! Well most of your content is informative. Here is another Site which, too, is nice in my opinion Led Flashlights, Led Light Bulbs, Blue Led Light,Save Energy