Random thoughts on flashlight lifespan.

zespectre

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For all the years I've been indulging my love of lights I never really paused and thought about how much each individual light really gets used at a time until I started doing reviews. I quickly realized that my lights actually get used a lot less than I thought.

For example, my "bedstand lights" rack up minuscule time since they are usually run for 2-3 minutes tops per use and even my "evening walkaround" lights, especially those used for the Real World Reviews usually get no more than 40-50 minutes straight of uninterrupted use per walk.

The "Hobby" headlamp I use with my magnifying glasses gets a lot more use, sometimes a couple of hours at a time a few nights a week and that is a light I sometimes wish I could either plug in, or wire in a much larger battery pack (grin).

Probably the one with the most hours on it is a battery pack powered Ryobi LED floodlight I use in my garage or out in the yard at night. It doesn't get used all that often but when I am using it then it is on for hours.

This really hit home with a few recent reviews of some lights that had 6-8 hours of runtime at their regular or medium settings. I came back from the evening walk and realized that there wasn't really even any point to topping off the batteries!

Yeah, the old fart in me is remembering when you would do an hour walk, and change your Zinc-Carbon "D" cell batteries because they were pretty much done.
 

carrot

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When I saw your thread title, I thought about the flip side of this - flashlight failures.

For some of the lights we have owned and carried, and occasionally dropped, the ones that failed, mostly failed early... literally within minutes or hours of runtime though perhaps magnitudes longer lengths of carry.

It's an interesting thought to think about. Back in the P60 days, I did in fact go through many sets of batteries, so in terms of battery burns and even lamp replacements those flashlights had long runs.

I have a lot of lights now whose runtimes last in the dozens of hours and I don't even think to check how full the battery is before I take them out.

I use headlamps a lot around the house and for camping, so they are actually the longest ran of all my lights. I would rate some of them as having dozens of hours of actual use. I am glad we use rechargeables now in those.
 

bykfixer

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Well with that sorta logic I have enough flashlights to last until the year 3047. Considering I have some 350+ lights, some already being 100+ year old incans... the Malkoffs, Maglites, Elzettas and SureFires that operate maybe... 2 hours a year...
Woohoo!!
Now if only somebody can invent a battery that'll store that long.
 

flatline

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This is one of the reasons I limit myself to one nice light every year or two.

But when it comes down to it, in my normal routine, I probably get about an hour of flashlight use each week spread out across 4, maybe 5 flashlights. The other flashlights that I own that don't make it into my small set of users probably get 20 minutes or less of use by me each YEAR. Now that my kids are getting older, they've begun using some of my lights which means lights that I normally wouldn't use (or even keep batteries in) are now getting some use. But not enough to justify all the lights that I have.

So, given that I already own more flashlights than I can reasonably use, how to I justify buying a new flashlight? Well, I have the disposable income, flashlights make me happy, and, as a hobby, flashlights are orders of magnitude cheaper than drinking. And the lights I don't use eventually get given to someone who needs a light, so it's almost a charity...

--flatline
 

Lumineux

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Well with that sorta logic I have enough flashlights to last until the year 3047. Considering I have some 350+ lights, some already being 100+ year old incans... the Malkoffs, Maglites, Elzettas and SureFires that operate maybe... 2 hours a year...
Woohoo!!
Now if only somebody can invent a battery that'll store that long.

Hey that's pretty cool. Have you made a thread about 'em ? I'd love to see how they look like and perform.
 

GasganoFJ60

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So...
LED run time is ~100,000hrs. That's 4,166 days or 11.4 years.
Roughly one decade of continuous life per light...

Better buy another.
 

InvisibleFrodo

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Well with that sorta logic I have enough flashlights to last until the year 3047. Considering I have some 350+ lights, some already being 100+ year old incans... the Malkoffs, Maglites, Elzettas and SureFires that operate maybe... 2 hours a year...
Woohoo!!
Now if only somebody can invent a battery that'll store that long.

You seriously have that many flashlights?? Where do you keep them all?
When you go through your collection do you often find a light you didn't even remember owning?
 

doug5551

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I have as much in flashlights as my GFs used Mustang convertible and I decided to get more use out of them by using multiple bosses and Oklumas as night lights. Gives me a reason to turn them on every night and I really enjoy it!
 

bykfixer

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You seriously have that many flashlights?? Where do you keep them all?
When you go through your collection do you often find a light you didn't even remember owning?

Yup... at least that many. Nope, I remember each one.

Probably 100 have not been opened. Repeats or special editions stored in boxes. About 100 scattered in my den in various displays by era. And others scattered about my home or vehicles.

My collection is not a typical arrangement of latest, greatest this n that. It is made up of various legacy items from various periods of history. Some have jokingly called it 'the Bykfixer museum' which is actually pretty much acurate...



At the end of 2017 I decided to turn off the pipeline of incoming and enjoy what I've collected in the previous 3 years. A nickel plated 2 C by Franco from circa 1917 is not very practical these days, so ones like that won't become a user, yet there are times I'll take them with me to show others just how far things have evolved without really changing all that much. Insert battery, press button, light comes on....
 
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Hugh Johnson

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I only really got into lights a year ago. So far, none have failed.

I have one I've dedicated to a family beater. It was my smallest and floodiest light at the time of purchase and it gets the most use. I've noticed a correlation there. It's also had several hard drops and has no issues. I use it about 8 hours per month.

I think of use in terms of carry time, run time, as well as activations. They all add wear. I'll run one light for at least 15 minutes per day with a single activation. I'll run another for one minute per day with several activations for quick checks.

Emitter lifespan is an interesting thing. I've read that the hour rating (ie. 50,000 hours) is not a failure rating. Rather, it's the point where the emitter brightness is reduced to 50% of new. I've also read that very low output is the hardest on the emitter. So, if true, moonlight mode generates the most emitter-specific wear. Except lights with pwm, where low output does not increase wear.
 
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mbw_151

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I have lights that fall into two categories; ones I want to use and ones I hope to never have to use. I want to use my EDC lights, my camping lights and my just for fun lights. I hope to never have to use a great many more, those in: cars, the truck, the boat, my BOB at work, and others. I dutifully check these every six months and change batteries that have reached the end of the 10 year life with fresh ones. I'm sure that most of these see more run time in checks than real use. But when you need them, these have to work. Just yesterday evening coming back from skiing, I used the flashlight from the truck to help a guy remove a tire cable chain that had broken and wrapped around the lower A frame. He would have been there a really long time trying to get that thing off in the dark. I'm sure that the 6P/Malkoff will be totally functional when my kids area as old as I am now as long as CR123As aren't obsolete.
 
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UVvis

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And cars, motorcycles, RV's, boats, firearms, and probably knives. I tell my wife she's lucky. High end flashlights are cheap as far as man hobbies go.

But But But!!!! You can put flashlights on your firearms! Scout Lights and XC1 and X300U's add up when you have a couple bucket fulls of blasters to put them on.
 

kpatz

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I've also read that very low output is the hardest on the emitter. So, if true, moonlight mode generates the most emitter-specific wear. Except lights with pwm, where low output does not increase wear.
Where did you read this? I'm curious as to the cause, if it is true. I would think underdriving an LED would make it last longer.
 

Hugh Johnson

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I read it on this site earlier last year. I never book marked the thread, so I can't comment on accuracy. Anyone?
 

Boris74

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I read it on this site earlier last year. I never book marked the thread, so I can't comment on accuracy. Anyone?

Ive had a CMG Ultra almost 20 years now and it is by far the most hours on it Light I have right now. 2-3 lumens and it hasn’t given up yet. Easily at a minimum 100 hours a year, that’s probably more like 1/3 to 1/4 what it actually runs, 2;000 hours absolute minimum of runtime so far. If it were to die today I’d be proud of the service it has given me.
 
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