Best fake candles?

TPA

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Has anyone come across a fake candle, LED or incandescent, which actually looks decent? I'd like to buy some newer ones, but honestly, all of the fake candles I've tried in recent years look very fake.

The best ones I have are quite ancient at this point were made by a company called Enjoy Lighting and used 3 incandescent micro bulbs at 3 different heights inside the candle's bowl. They don't look good if you look down into them, but as long as you can't see inside, they look and act fantastic. I put some dulling spray on the bulbs to give them a more frosted output. Even the shadows they create on the ceiling and wall look pretty good. Almost the right color and very believable. Unfortunately, they're no longer made and I'm sure I'll have to manually create replacement bulbs if they go bad.
 

Dave_H

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I know what you mean about "fake" flickering looking not so great sometimes. I have an older "candle" using three 5mm amber LEDs which are staggered vertically, which gives a reasonable effect.

Another older product I find gives reasonable effect is an outside post-top light with pyramid-shaped translucent dome, runs or 2xAA. I don't know where you can get them these days.

Dave
 

PhotonWrangler

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Fun fact: some of the original LED candles used repurposed musical greeting card chips as the drivers. The audio signal from the chip's speaker output pin would be connected to the LED, causing it to flicker semi-randomly. If you take an AM radio, tune it to an empty spot on the low end of the dial and bring it close to one of these candles, you'll hear the "tune" that it's playing.
 

letschat7

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On Egay now.
 

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Dave_H

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Neon "flame" bulbs can produce a fairly reasonable flame effect but they are not really candle form nor battery-powered. I can't suggest any in particular.

Side story, quite a few years ago I built a simple 1-transistor circuit using small step up transformer (audio 500:8 ohms connected backwards) to drive a small NE-2 neon bulb. The circuit either didn't output quite enough current for the bulb to light steadily, or the oscillator was not quite stable, in any case the bulb flickered. It was placed in a clear plastic pill bottle with its 9v battery. That was my original candle effect light although its colour was orange, not yellowish like a wax flame.

Dave
 

Dave_H

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Reminds me of another early project, connected the output of a 1W transistor audio amplifier to a #47 pilot bulb. Speaking into the microphone caused bulb to flash. I does not look "random" enough to resemble a candle flame, but interesting effect. I still have this amplifier and if it works may try to recreate the effect, for old time's sake.

Dave
Fun fact: some of the original LED candles used repurposed musical greeting card chips as the drivers. The audio signal from the chip's speaker output pin would be connected to the LED, causing it to flicker semi-randomly. If you take an AM radio, tune it to an empty spot on the low end of the dial and bring it close to one of these candles, you'll hear the "tune" that it's playing.
 

Dave_H

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Has anyone come across a fake candle, LED or incandescent, which actually looks decent? I'd like to buy some newer ones, but honestly, all of the fake candles I've tried in recent years look very fake.
"Best" being somewhat subjective I'll suggest an item which in my view gives a decent flicker effect at very low cost: plastic lanterns sold by Dollar Tree, green for Xmas, orange for Hallowe'en. It runs on 2xAAA with a single self-flickering 5mm LED. Price in Canada being $1.50 plus tax. They are on clearance here this week for 75 cents.

Looking directly at the LED is not too realistic, however, the plastic "puck" can be pushed out of the bottom of the lantern body, and placed in a translucent or textured glass or plastic jar to obscure the LED; or place the jar upside-down over it.

Dave

sorry, link broken.
 
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Dave_H

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Has anyone come across a fake candle, LED or incandescent, which actually looks decent? I'd like to buy some newer ones, but honestly, all of the fake candles I've tried in recent years look very fake.
Are you still around, did you find something acceptable?

Dave
 

Dave_H

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What I can say doesn't give a realistic effect are those round fat LED wax fake candles using a single RGB 5mm LED, usually supplied with IR remote and run from 3xAAA. They sometimes come in sets.

Fun to play with, if you want a green candle flame! Orange from combining green and red is the is the best you can get, which is not that close. The pattern and flicker depth are not convincing.

I also skip the "tea light" candles as they run or CR2032 or LR44's which are small and light but not economical.

Dave
 

TPA

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I'm still here, and still trying to find something decent. I've bought a bunch of them, but still haven't been pleased with any of them. I've tried all sorts of styles. Recessed flame dome, glowing wick, moving flat flame, moving conical flame, still conical flame, etc. One of them uses C batteries, which makes for an awesome battery life, and it uses an orangy/amber LED, but it just doesn't pull it off as convincing otherwise.

If I had the money, I'd go over to Shenzhen myself and design one that actually looks real. It wouldn't take much to make one that does.

The Enjoy Lighting 3-bulb incandescent fake pillar candle is still the best I've been able to find, but still haven't been able to find any to buy. I also have two votive-sized 3xAAA candles which are ~20 or so years old. Amber LEDs with a fixed conical flame tip, but they came with plastic frosted holders which helps complete the effect. Also fun: You can "blow" these out. There's a little microphone near the flame that will turn them off if you blow on them. I wish I could find these again as well.

These so far are the closest I've found, BUT, they still miss the mark. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Y3ZYS71/?tag=cpf0b6-20
The big plus on them is that the "flame" is comprised of two LEDs, an upper and lower. The lower stays lit the entire time and the upper one flickers. This could have worked...but the LEDs are both a warm white color. If the lower LED had been amber or orange and the upper warm white, it would have been very close.

Now, I did find this flame-style diffuser: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09XGW5F8B/?tag=cpf0b6-20
It looks surprisingly real if you tweak it by adding a small fan blowing towards it. I've since moved to using a smaller, weaker fan which does enhance the effect to where it is quite convincing.
 

Dave_H

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I'm still here, and still trying to find something decent. I've bought a bunch of them, but still haven't been pleased with any of them. I've tried all sorts of styles. Recessed flame dome, glowing wick, moving flat flame, moving conical flame, still conical flame, etc. One of them uses C batteries, which makes for an awesome battery life, and it uses an orangy/amber LED, but it just doesn't pull it off as convincing otherwise.

If I had the money, I'd go over to Shenzhen myself and design one that actually looks real. It wouldn't take much to make one that does.
Not sure what else I can suggest, you seem to be bit of a perfectionist. How much time/effort are you prepared to expend for your solution? Would you go to a custom design?

Dynamics of real candle flame must be more complex than some designers imagine, especially at the low cost end; not that I can see actually random, certainly not pseudo-random. I have a variety of flame/torch LED lights, none of the "fool" me as being a real flame, but some are "good enough". This includes a $1.50 solar torch lantern from Dollar Tree, not a candle per se but looks good.

Perhaps the most realistic white-LED candles can be reworked with orange or amber LEDs? Possibly the drive circuit would need adjustment, not sure this is feasible.


Dave
 

Dave_H

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If I had the money, I'd go over to Shenzhen myself and design one that actually looks real. It wouldn't take much to make one that does.
If no suitable OTC product surfaces, DIY would not necessitate going to China. Quick check shows online flameless LED candle projects using PIC microcontrollers, or Arduino (a bit of overkill, but easy to work with). Try a web search on (example):

"LED candle flame PIC DIY project"

or some variant.

Dave
 

TPA

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Time, unfortunately, is the resource I have least of. And if you think I'm a perfectionist with this, you should see the wedding I'm currently planning/working on. It's far more a production than wedding. The equipment list is up to $500k and that doesn't include the airplane. Time timeline for some parts of it are down to the second, literally.

I think there's an important distinction here. Candle vs. fire/flame. For now, I'm looking to do a fake candle that could pass for real at a slight distance. The fire/flame thing is a whole other issue.

Not the best picture, but let's look at a real candle:
1709326162015.png


Blue at the bottom, orange middle, yellow upper, warm white on top.

For a fake candle, a few things the ideal one would need:

1) Multiple LEDs. We call a single, stationary LED with a battery a flashlight. Dimming it up and down doesn't make it move. Now, if you use multiple separate LEDs spaced apart and decide to alter their brightness, you've got movement. I'm thinking about 4-5 LEDs. I'm not sure what the tiniest ones are now, but the more you can stuff in there, the more realistic

2) Single, stationary flame. Something beefy and made of thick silicone or similar material. The reason being, you want the light to "move" around the inside of this rubber flame as the individual LEDs are pulsed.

3) Color temperature matters. True RGBW LEDs would be nice to do this, but in lieu of that, multiple LEDs in multiple variations of blue/orange/yellow/white, so that the flickering makes the flame color also change. The BLF LT1 / LT1 mini actually do a decent job with this if you have the auto tint ramping enabled and run them in candle mode. As it's flickering, the dimmest parts have the warmest color, while the brighter flickering has a whiter light. With some modification, this could really be a lot more realistic.

4) Flicker pattern. The Andruil algorithm is actually pretty good. I've put three BLF LT1s together in this mode and it does produce a reasonable replica of a candle. I've thought of adopting their algorithm for a long-term project I'm working on.

I'd love to build this, but I honestly have my hands full. I'm more than willing to work with someone to get it to market though.
 

PhotonWrangler

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Time, unfortunately, is the resource I have least of. And if you think I'm a perfectionist with this, you should see the wedding I'm currently planning/working on. It's far more a production than wedding. The equipment list is up to $500k and that doesn't include the airplane. Time timeline for some parts of it are down to the second, literally.

I think there's an important distinction here. Candle vs. fire/flame. For now, I'm looking to do a fake candle that could pass for real at a slight distance. The fire/flame thing is a whole other issue.

Not the best picture, but let's look at a real candle:
View attachment 58452

Blue at the bottom, orange middle, yellow upper, warm white on top.

For a fake candle, a few things the ideal one would need:

1) Multiple LEDs. We call a single, stationary LED with a battery a flashlight. Dimming it up and down doesn't make it move. Now, if you use multiple separate LEDs spaced apart and decide to alter their brightness, you've got movement. I'm thinking about 4-5 LEDs. I'm not sure what the tiniest ones are now, but the more you can stuff in there, the more realistic

2) Single, stationary flame. Something beefy and made of thick silicone or similar material. The reason being, you want the light to "move" around the inside of this rubber flame as the individual LEDs are pulsed.

3) Color temperature matters. True RGBW LEDs would be nice to do this, but in lieu of that, multiple LEDs in multiple variations of blue/orange/yellow/white, so that the flickering makes the flame color also change. The BLF LT1 / LT1 mini actually do a decent job with this if you have the auto tint ramping enabled and run them in candle mode. As it's flickering, the dimmest parts have the warmest color, while the brighter flickering has a whiter light. With some modification, this could really be a lot more realistic.

4) Flicker pattern. The Andruil algorithm is actually pretty good. I've put three BLF LT1s together in this mode and it does produce a reasonable replica of a candle. I've thought of adopting their algorithm for a long-term project I'm working on.

I'd love to build this, but I honestly have my hands full. I'm more than willing to work with someone to get it to market though.
It might be simpler to build a vertical strip of flickering blue LEDs, then coat the inside of the silicone sleeve with varying degrees of orange, warm white and cool white phosphor.
 
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Dave_H

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I lit a couple of real candles and found the lower bluish part was not visible on one, and barely on the other. The inner centre near the wick was very pale, much less bright that the top outer part. Difference must be in the wick and wax; beeswax v. parrafin, maybe environment (moisture etc.). Bottom line, blue on the bottom should have no/minimal effect on realism.

If the Dollar Tree single flickering LED can look "reasonably good" IMO inside a frosted jar, although not up to OP's needs, better solution can't be overly complex, A lower pale yellow/white LED on steady, plus 2-3 upper amber/yellow LEDs in an offset pattern, properly flickered, should do it; practical implementation being an obstacle.

In any case, anything other than the most elaborate imitation won't be taken as a real flame if looking directly at it.


Dave
 
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Monocrom

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If we're talking fake to the extreme, I'd say a bunch of LED 2AA Mini-Mags in candle mode.
 

TPA

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If I had to choose one thing to improve with the fake candles, it's color temperature. Most of the cheapies just use a yellow LED, which isn't anything close to a flame. I've also seen them with orange LEDs which is even worse. 1800-2200K would be a better match.
 

sim1tti

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4) Flicker pattern. The Andruil algorithm is actually pretty good. I've put three BLF LT1s together in this mode and it does produce a reasonable replica of a candle. I've thought of adopting their algorithm for a long-term project I'm working on.

I'd love to build this, but I honestly have my hands full. I'm more than willing to work with someone to get it to market though.

Whats the warmest, cheapest Anduril UI light? Fifteen of those in frosted glass jars!

I'm Joking (but not really:))
 
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