Headlamp for close work (AA? COB?)

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adrianmariano

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I was recently doing a bunch of wiring and using zebralight headlamps (I have two that are pretty old---don't recall the models) and found that their lifespan was annoyingly short when run at a satisfactory brightness. They also got really hot. Recently I've seen a bunch of ads for a COB headlamp with a large strip of COB LEDs across the front, which seems like an interesting idea. The product was "flexbeam" and the horrible marketing suggests that the product is probably terrible. But it made me wonder if there is a good product in this category. There are a bunch of cheap products like this floating around. I use AA/AAA eneloops for everything and don't want to branch out into Lithium Ion, so I'm wondering if anybody has any suggestions about alternatives, ideally with good CRI.
 
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jabe1

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I don’t recall seeing any high CRI cob lights.
For your application, I have used a zebra light also. I think without getting into 18650 lights, you probably won’t do much better than what you have.
 
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vicv

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This does look pretty good. Unfortunately, I know for me I don’t like built in batteries. Once it’s gone bad, the whole thing is junk because you can’t replace the battery. And it’s not regulated
 
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Dave_H

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I also don't like products with built-in non-user-replaceable rechargeable battery; still a user of small MP3 players (mostly for downloaded podcasts) which run on 1xAAA.

That said I have cheap 18650 headlamp (cell still new) which on the surface is not user serviceable but probably will come apart and cell replaced; albeit not pop-in/out. Cell is wired to tabs so one of these salvaged laptop pack cells. especially one with higher capacity, should be do-able.

My headlamp itself is 500 lumens, sold under Olympia brand; looks discontinued but on the surplus market for around $10 locally, got mine for $6. It has COB flood and spot LED but no brightness control. Cell is 1200mAh so replacing for longer runtime is an idea.

Dave
 
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vicv

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What is cob? I saw it listed on the streamlight as well but I don't know what this term means
 
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Dave_H

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COB = Chip on Board, common technique for low-cost strips or round/square etc. shapes. It can be focused but often just used for flood.

Dave
 
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adrianmariano

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Yeah, also not a fan of the non-replaceable battery. In addition to the longevity issue, you can't just swap batteries if you need to keep working.

I don't have the impression that chip on board is "low cost" or inferior to other technologies. Am I mistaken? It seems like COB would be well suited to a flood headlamp. COB is said to be more efficient and better able to dissipate heat.

Here's an example of a chip on board product that is 95 CRI, reasonably warm tint, and a single module costs $83.50. It does use 100W and produce 6000 lumens, so not for flashlight applications, presumably. https://store.yujiintl.com/products/bc-series-cob-400hs

Another less obvious example of COB are the LED light bulbs with "filaments" in them. The "filaments" in those bulbs are another form of COB LED.
 
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Dave_H

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COB LEDs show up in dollar-store products (such as Dollar Tree) so they are a low-cost solution. Not inferior, just has pro's/con's. Filaments are a sort of COB but different construction.

Dave
 
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jabe1

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I have a streamlight bandit as a backup headlamp. Great for general close work, not high CRI, short runtime
 
fuyume

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The Fenix HM23 is a single AA headlamp with good color rendition. How bright do you need it to be, and for how long, for "close work"?
 
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adrianmariano

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COB LEDs show up in dollar-store products (such as Dollar Tree) so they are a low-cost solution. Not inferior, just has pro's/con's. Filaments are a sort of COB but different construction.

Dave
All kinds of LEDs show up in dollar store products---you can find cheap non-COB lights as well. Its presence at dollar stores just means that low cost COB exists, not that COB is necessarily a low cost solution.

Since COB appears to be more efficient and hence produce less heat, why wouldn't you want that for a close range, diffuse lighting headlamp?

I tried to figured out what Zebralights I have. They seemed fine on high but then would step down after what seemed like not very long, and then seemed kind of dim, but I don't know what mode I have the things set in. One of them is the H502c High CRI Neutral White AA Flood Headlamp. I checked the specs for the HM23 and it claims 240 lumens with 8 hours of battery life. The Zebralight H503w claims only 2.6 hours at 198 lumens. I don't think it was lasting an hour on full with my eneloops. Does Fenix ever divulge the CRI of the HM23? I didn't see it in their specs.
 
Burgess

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Gee --

How much light do you NEED for your "closeup work" ? ? ?
 
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Dave_H

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I agree, COB with flood is probably best for most close-in work to avoid bright spots and edge effects on what is being worked on, perhaps some exceptions when you need tight illumination.

I am glad somebody in another thread mentioned long-press brightness control, as the low-cost combo I have did not have much in the way on instructions, and didn't mention this. I tried this, and it gives me continuous up/down dimming on both COB and spot modes! Minor downsides are it is not instantaneous, takes a few seconds, and no "memory".
Dave
 
knucklegary

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Personally I'd stay with Petzl for close-up work on the bench. I use mine for everything from weapon cleaning to trimming dog claws.. I've found nothing lighter in weight or more comfortable. Plus Petzl now has li-ion power packs, they make for quick replacement. Only wish UI had low voltage warning.. Just gotta remember to start out the door with a fresh charged batt pack when on nightime jaunts
 
bykfixer

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I use a Streamlight double clutch. Hi/lo, spot or flood. Memory for the output.
Has a rechargeable battery pack the size of 3 triple a batteries side by side or can use 3 triple a batteries side by side. When voltage gets low it prompts to low and slowly dims after that.

Came with a cloth head band and a rubber type.

The way it works is twist one way and the beam goes through a clear lens for a nice spot. Twist the other way and the beam goes through a honeycomb lens. Twist twice quickly to change to hi or lo. Next time you turn it on it is set to the last setting you had it on.

I've used it as a helmet light a few years now.

 
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3L3M3NT

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Stefano

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I was recently doing a bunch of wiring and using zebralight headlamps (I have two that are pretty old---don't recall the models) and found that their lifespan was annoyingly short when run at a satisfactory brightness. They also got really hot. Recently I've seen a bunch of ads for a COB headlamp with a large strip of COB LEDs across the front, which seems like an interesting idea. The product was "flexbeam" and the horrible marketing suggests that the product is probably terrible. But it made me wonder if there is a good product in this category. There are a bunch of cheap products like this floating around. I use AA/AAA eneloops for everything and don't want to branch out into Lithium Ion, so I'm wondering if anybody has any suggestions about alternatives, ideally with good CRI.
I understand your problem, if you want a lot of light from those old AA Zebralight headlights the battery runtime will be low.
If you are looking for lumens and autonomy at the same time, I suggest you go to a headlamp with a lithium battery - better the 21700 format (5000 mA battery)
Check out the Fenix HM70R which is sold with battery and has a 400 lumens (4500K neutral tint) flood light for 8 hours of battery life.
It is expensive but I think it can be a good work light.

There is also a version with 18650 battery which is called HM60R but here I am doubtful because they declare 350 lumens for 8 hours and with a 3500 mA battery this is not possible, so this HM60R model probably does not have constant brightness.
 
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