Are LEDs really all that durable?

woodrow

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I have had 3 good quality led lights fail. I have also had 25 or so that have worked perfectly...even in tough conditions. For the most part, I worry less about dropping a led than a incan...especially if it rests in a big plastic body. One nice thing about leds is that there are such small 123a lights, that you can carry a backup in your pocket that will remain unoticed until needed...and still produce pretty decent light.
 

Genxsis

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So would it be fair to say that the most likely LEDs to have a long life are those in lights that are low powered, such as the Nite Ize LED upgrade for the mini-mag, and the River Rock 2AAA?
 

Long John

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Genxsis, a well designed and builded Led-light, equipped with Leds of the newest generation, driven at Specs., will last a very long time.

Like everywhere counts here too, the less money the less quality and for this reason, the chance of a failure will rise.

Best regards

____
Tom
 

Entrekman

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I had three nite-ize upgrade module for my mini-mag's and two failed within 2 wks. On the first one, two of three led's turned purple after a few days (less than 1 hr op per day). Second module, one led turned purple and i just threw it away. Now my two year old daughter owns the third one. :ironic: Those nite ize modules are a joke!:thumbsdow
 

zamboniman

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I'm afraid that I would have to disagree with you, Genxsis...
I was at the supermarket the other day and saw a single 5mm LED light, 2xAA, that claimed a lifetime of 50 hours on a pair of alkaline batteries. So, if an alkaline battery has a capacity of 3Ah at 1.5v, it has a capacity of 4.5Watt-hours. So, a pair of alkaline batteries is 9Wh. 9Wh over a 50h runtime is... 180 mW. The most you should overdrive a standard 5mm LED is to 30mA, 30mA times a 3.6v voltage drop is 108 mW. All of this assumes a constant power level throughout the flashlight's burn time, of course. More likely, the LED is being BRUTALLY overdriven in the beginning, and somewhere near normal levels for most of the flashlight's runtime, which isn't much healthier for the poor LED...

to sum up, if you overdrive a low-power LED (but overall, still have a low-power system), you get a flashlight with a short lifespan. However, if you were to, say, run a Luxeon III at half a watt you'd get an amazingly long lifetime, for the LED, anyways.
 

Genxsis

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Ok. So when buying a light at the store, how does one know whether the LED emitter that's installed is being overdriven or not? (I'm not a techie!)
 

Long John

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Ok. So when buying a light at the store, how does one know whether the LED emitter that's installed is being overdriven or not? (I'm not a techie!)

I guess, the most informations about nearly all serial lights you can find here at this great Forum.
Before you'll spend some money, take some searches about the lights of your interest and read....and read....and read.

I wish you good luck with your choices:)

Best regards

____
Tom
 

zamboniman

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I'd say check CPF. To really know if it's being overdriven and how much, you'd need a runtime plot, and measurements of the current and voltage going to the LED at some point in the plot (you could extrapolate the others). I don't think that using battery type and manufacturer's runtime statements is accurate in any way, since manufacturers tend to overstate runtime by a lot (so the LED could be getting overdriven even more brutally than one would find with simple calculations).
I've had good luck with River Rock and Nuwai, myself.
 

NeonLights

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I had a relatively new Inova X0 fail on me when it was dropped from a distance of 2-3 feet onto a wood floor. I've had a few other small LED lights fail or start to work intermittently over the years, including an older ARC AAA that tends to not light up about one out of every ten tries.

If my life depended on having a light that always lit up, I would carry a Surefire incan with shock isolated bezel with a spare bulb for a backup. If a normal incan goes out there is no circuitry to fail, you just replace the bulb. I'd probably carry an LED as a secondary backup, but the simplicity of a well made incan is very durable.
 

The Shadow

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Glad to finally see a thread like this. I started the thread mentioned in the first post about my bad luck with Inovas. I agree with the posts blaming the electronics in the light vs the actual LED itself.

With incans, I'm used to flashlights being near 100% reliable. If it doesn't work, change the batteries or bulb - that's it. Now we're stuck with sealed heads that don't allow you to change or repair LEDs (unless you want to freeze-pop the thing). I like that the Streamlight ProPolymers allow you to disassemble the head and even swap out the LED modules. I even like Maglite's solution better - a LED module that you can swap with the incan bulb in the tailcap. Get the LED performance with a backup bulb. (I know there's no heatsinking and performance drops off quickly, so please no Mag bashing - there are enough threads like that already). I just want the performance and efficiency of LEDs with the simplicity and reliability of incans.
 

Martin

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A while back I looked at LED household bulbs. After just 51 days of operation, the light output had dropped so much that it appeared to be off when placed next to a fresh one.
The product had been marketed with a 100,000 h lifetime. Obviously it failed to meet its specification.
 

Patrik

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LED`s arent perfect, but I do think they are a lot more durable then incans. I have never ever broken a LED, could happen I suppose. But in comparison with all the broken incans... well, end of story. Again, not perfect but the only kind I use is LED.

:twothumbs
 

2xTrinity

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A while back I looked at LED household bulbs. After just 51 days of operation, the light output had dropped so much that it appeared to be off when placed next to a fresh one.
The product had been marketed with a 100,000 h lifetime. Obviously it failed to meet its specification.
Considering that that bulb clearly does not have surface-mountable LEDs secured (ideally soldered) onto a finned metal heatsink of some kind, that sort of degradation is understandable. Looks like they used the cheapest 5mm LEDs they could find, along with a cheap poorly-regulated transformer, all wrapped up inside a cute thermally-insulated plastic body.
 

asdalton

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With incans, I'm used to flashlights being near 100% reliable. If it doesn't work, change the batteries or bulb - that's it. Now we're stuck with sealed heads that don't allow you to change or repair LEDs (unless you want to freeze-pop the thing). I like that the Streamlight ProPolymers allow you to disassemble the head and even swap out the LED modules. I even like Maglite's solution better - a LED module that you can swap with the incan bulb in the tailcap.

You may have a point here. This sounds similar to the debate over primary batteries versus rechargeables. The question of reliability breaks down into 2 parts:

1. What is the chance of a failure?
2. What is the chance of being able to fix or work around a failure easily?

The problem with a lot of rechargeable batteries and LEDs is that #1 is unknown, while #2 is zilch (if the failing part is not swappable).

I prefer LEDs, but in a pinch I would probably trust only the very high-end brands like Surefire or McGizmo, and then use primary batteries, too. Or on the less expensive end, I would take the underrated MagLED 3D with its user-swappable LED module and its tough body and switch--which have been tested through decades of use in the preceding incandescent form.
 

SilverFox

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Let me start off by saying that I use my lights - a lot...

Since 2003, I have had 7 LED lights fail, and have put 5 lamps into my 8NX and 8AX, have put 5 lamps into my TigerLights, and have put 2 lamps into my A2. I have also had to put a few lamps into my Mag85, and think I have gone through 3 lamps in my Pelican Big D.

The LED lights that failed were in the $100 - $300 range and were built with long life rather than performance in mind.

I find it much easier to replace a lamp than to replace an LED.

The one light that I was expecting to have LED problems with was Mr Bulks LionHeart. It has not had any issues at all. There is some drop in lux measurements, but it still looks as good as it did when I first received it.

Tom
 

cave dave

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This thread makes me want to buy a G2 with both the LED and a spare Halogen bulb. I hate you guys.

But ya a lot of posters are debating the LED itself. A Flashlight is a system that is only as strong as its weakest link. A fancy LED flashlight isn't going to do you a lot of good when the circuit fails or the switch goes out. I expect very few fenix lights to still be working in ten years. (The high mode rubs metal against very thin circuit board tracing to work)
 

Art Vandelay

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Some manufacturers are now using a modular design so you can switch from Cree to Seoul and back again just by screwing in the LED module. These modules are sometimes even cheaper than a Surefire P60, and they are much more durable. Any LED light from today will be technologically if not functionally obsolete in 10 years. Think of the LED lights from about 10 years ago. Even the best available back then can't cut the mustard today.
 

etc

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With incans, I'm used to flashlights being near 100% reliable. If it doesn't work, change the batteries or bulb - that's it

LEd lights need to get to the same point, where if an LED fails, you just remove it like a bulb and screw in another one.
 

ringzero

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I agree with the posts blaming the electronics in the light vs the actual LED itself....With incans, I'm used to flashlights being near 100% reliable. If it doesn't work, change the batteries or bulb - that's it. Now we're stuck with sealed heads that don't allow you to change or repair LEDs (unless you want to freeze-pop the thing).


Yes, but only if we choose to buy that type of light. There are plenty of LED lights available with field-replaceable light engines.


I even like Maglite's solution better - a LED module that you can swap with the incan bulb in the tailcap. Get the LED performance with a backup bulb.


The C and D Mag bodies and switches have been throughly tested in real world use for over two decades. They are legendary for their reliability. When these lights are equipped with MagLED dropins, their reliability and usefulness only increases.

In the highly unlikely event that a MagLED dropin were to fail in the field, it could be replaced in less than a minute. Replacement could be another MagLED dropin, a low-ouput, long-runtime NiteIze dropin, or even an incan bulb. Note that the LED dropins contain not just new LEDs, but brand new electronics.

My Mag 2C runs a MagLED dropin and has a NiteIze dropin in the tailcap for emergencies. At a total of less than 40 bucks, this is one highly reliable light. (In my spares carrier is a second MagLED dropin and a couple of incan bulbs.)

There aren't many sealed (i.e. non-field-servicable) LED lights that can offer this level of reliability. HDS (and maybe certain Surefires) with potted electronics might approach the reliability of my humble Mag 2C.

My Underwater Kinetics 4AA lights also have field-replacable light engines, also offering a choice of LED or incan modules.

The field-replacable light engine design is available in plenty of lights. Consider those lights if you need a high level of reliability.

.
 

cave dave

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...The field-replacable light engine design is available in plenty of lights. Consider those lights if you need a high level of reliability....
I can't think of that many and the ones I can think of have really poor heatsinking. (aka Maglight, Streamlight) And most of them are just retrofits to old halogen designs not really a ground up well thought out design. The new surefires do look promising; however I bet for the price you could buy an entire new fenix though.

For my L1T I carry a backup light engine, switch, and 2 batteries, It's called an L2T. :rolleyes:
 
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