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Thread: average life span of a led flashlight?

  1. #1

    Default average life span of a led flashlight?

    just wondering
    LED's have gotten too bright in our stuff. Many nights I'm awakened by my modem lights blinking.had help with my sig thank you for your help.

  2. #2

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?


  3. #3

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    now im more conffused
    LED's have gotten too bright in our stuff. Many nights I'm awakened by my modem lights blinking.had help with my sig thank you for your help.

  4. #4

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    if they are designed and constructed properly, not abused, i do not see why it can't outlive an average human. i still have first gen leds (about 20 years old) that work,

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    I think quality lights will be replaced long before they quit working. What question needs to be asked is the usable life of an average LED light instead. I've gone through several generations of lights that have end up gathering dust as newer lights I've found brighter and better constructed and more efficient using better battery technology.
    Only time will tell if todays LED lights will be replaced by better ones in the future.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    To me they should last 10 ~ 20 years. My old Maglite is 35 years old.

  7. #7

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    the only limiting factor would be led itself, will its die decay, led themselves are not new, been around since 60s, as very low power indicator leds, i have old radio that is around 40-50 years old, that has small red leds, they still work, but leds are made by many different manufacturers, some are better than others, use different elements, manufacturing process, some leds may stop working due to decay in 10 years, others may still go strong after 50 or more.

  8. #8

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    i think i had a calcater that was leds but its been years so i forget
    LED's have gotten too bright in our stuff. Many nights I'm awakened by my modem lights blinking.had help with my sig thank you for your help.

  9. #9
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    I think quality lights will be replaced long before they quit working. What question needs to be asked is the usable life of an average LED light instead. I've gone through several generations of lights that have end up gathering dust as newer lights I've found brighter and better constructed and more efficient using better battery technology.
    Only time will tell if todays LED lights will be replaced by better ones in the future.
    This is a better question. At some point it's too worn, become too finicky, needs some part that you can't source or don't want to mess with, uses batteries you can't source or don't want to buy any more, or is missing a new feature you want.

    The lumens wars have more or less ended on a per-emitter basis, so big jumps in output are a thing of the past. Thermal ruggedness might improve however so brighter / more sustained runtime in a small package could start happening.

    I've got a few lights that are either shelved or I've disposed of. I've got a perfectly-functional Surefire E1L Outdoorsman from the Luxeon I era that sits on a shelf and hasn't seen use in a good 10 years. I also used to have one of those always-on PALights that I stopped feeding 9V cells to and tossed at some point (after one of the domestic critters gave it a good gnawing, but it was on the way out regardless). I bought a number of the early Dorcy aluminum LED lights that almost all still work, but are a tad dim. I've got an Inova X5 that still works but is really dim - been contemplating the old freeze-pop method to remove the head for some modding action.

    Quote Originally Posted by alpg88 View Post
    the only limiting factor would be led itself, will its die decay
    I suspect that for most reasonably well-made LED flashlights the LED will not be the first failure component. Drivers are generally not given the thermal management considerations that the LED itself is given; RoHS solders can also lead to tin whiskers shorting out components. Switches and springs have finite cycle lives. A number of PCB designs direct the actuation force on electronic switches into the FR4. Lenses get scratched up or break and are often not user-replaceable. O-rings harden and fail. Switch boots crack and may not be replaceable. Accessories fail or are lost. Integrated cells reach end of life. Integrated magnets fail.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    They last forever or until the batteries leak and corrode the insides beyond repair..............

    ( Don't ask how I know this! )

  11. #11
    Flashaholic* Katherine Alicia's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Depends how badly I screw up when modding it

    Seriously though, I`v never had a LED light go on me, the worst that I`v had happen was with the early 9x 5mm led lights, the sort that take a 3x AAA carrier, some of those started flashing intermitantly (bad soldering I suspect). the perfect LED light would in theory just get dimmer over time, but between that and reality. lays an undetermined amount of time, like the length of a piece of string

  12. #12
    *Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by alpg88 View Post
    the only limiting factor would be led itself, will its die decay, led themselves are not new, been around since 60s, as very low power indicator leds, i have old radio that is around 40-50 years old, that has small red leds, they still work, but leds are made by many different manufacturers, some are better than others, use different elements, manufacturing process, some leds may stop working due to decay in 10 years, others may still go strong after 50 or more.
    This.

    If you want a real-world example of led decay... compare your numlock keyboard indicator to the caps lock or scroll lock. May see a big difference if the board is old enough.
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    Flashaholic* orbital's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    +

    The motherboard on the computer I'm typing right now is from '07.
    That's alot of On/Off cycles, crashes, finding the absolute finest of line on overclocking ect..
    ..all the little resistors, capacitors, solder points, chips, magic stuff, alien technology

    Your flashlight should last as long.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by raggie33 View Post
    just wondering
    1000 - 2000 hour

  15. #15

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    LEDs donít usually just fail suddenly, unless something breaks. I donít see why a well build flashlight that is not abused cannot potentially outlast the user. A life expectancy of around 50 years or more, with moderate daily use, for a quality light, is not unrealistic I think. Lights that are used in more extreme settings, like police, security or military, will of cause have far shorter lifespans. However even such a light can last more than 20 years if taken care of. Of cause, the more complex the light and its electronics are, the more likely it is to fail in some regard. Simple lights will likely last the longest. The only components that will eventually need replacing on any light are the switch boot and perhaps the lens.
    Last edited by Olumin; 01-20-2021 at 11:36 AM.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic* neutralwhite's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    some companies like HDS Elzetta, Malkoff limit the LED output to not push it too its limit right?
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by neutralwhite View Post
    some companies like HDS Elzetta, Malkoff limit the LED output to not push it too its limit right?
    Yes, if you under-drive an LED, it will last much longer. A lot of budget lights tend to over-drive the LED's, so they will probably dim to 70% brightness much sooner than the usual 50,000 hours. Of course, you're not likely to run a high-power light at full power all the time, nor is it likely even possible due to thermal management. So, the 50,000 hour point is probably a reasonable estimate to 70% of the original brightness (LED's dim as they wear out). I suspect something else in the light will break before that.

    I have some lights that I've put a few thousand hours on (used for room lighting every night). I've worn out many batteries over that time, but the light still seems fine. Of course, I don't know if it has dimmed since it was new, but it still seems bright.
    Last edited by WalkIntoTheLight; 01-20-2021 at 01:58 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    The lifespan rating (usually in hours) is not a failure rating. ItĎa to a percentage of original brightness (ie. 70%).

    I have one light with over 9,000 hours run time. Itís noticeably dimmer than a new one I received with the same emitter. I canít say if some of that was a binning difference.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkIntoTheLight View Post
    I have some lights that I've put a few thousand hours on (used for room lighting every night). I've worn out many batteries over that time, but the light still seems fine. Of course, I don't know if it has dimmed since it was new, but it still seems bright.
    Actually, I can measure it! It's an old 4sevens Quark Tactical 2xAA. When I used to do reviews, I measured its initial lumens, which was many years ago. It's the light that I've put the most hours on, mostly on its high level.

    The result is the same lumens today. At least, as accurately as I can measure it, which is to approximately 10% accuracy. In any case, it hasn't lost much output, if anything, after a few thousand hours. Since it's an under-driven XP-G2 (or perhaps its XP-G, I can't remember), I wouldn't expect it to lose much output, though.

    Something like my over-driven Astrolux S43, which I regularly heat up way too much (I turned off thermal controls because they suck), I might expect a loss of output. It probably has at least a thousand too-hot hours on it. But, it's still going, and still bright. I could measure it, but without knowing what cell I used and what the age of it was, it wouldn't be much use due to the FET.

  20. #20

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Short answer: An LED in a well constructed flashlight will last long enough that you will never need to worry about it.

  21. #21

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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Related to the topic of emitter failure, I've had three lights fail in the pat 11 years. All failed because a spring detached, or a wire detached, or the solder failed. The emitters were in each case just fine.

  22. #22

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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    As stated, it seems the driverís durability is the arbiter of how many duty cycles a light gives. A quality driver, potted and made with the best components will likely last longest.

  23. #23
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by Olumin View Post
    LEDs donít usually just fail suddenly, unless something breaks. I donít see why a well build flashlight that is not abused cannot potentially outlast the user. A life expectancy of around 50 years or more, with moderate daily use, for a quality light, is not unrealistic I think. Lights that are used in more extreme settings, like police, security or military, will of cause have far shorter lifespans. However even such a light can last more than 20 years if taken care of. Of cause, the more complex the light and its electronics are, the more likely it is to fail in some regard. Simple lights will likely last the longest. The only components that will eventually need replacing on any light are the switch boot and perhaps the lens.
    There are cars that can be made to last 1 million miles, but the maintenance requirements are immense, with the vehicle potentially becoming the proverbial Ship of Theseus.

    On a decade-plus timespan - especially with daily use - durable components start to become wear items.

    Since 2009 I've had a Fenix 1x AAA light on my keychain. Simple operation - 2-piece housing, twist the head for on/off and to toggle between its 3 modes. It still works well, but it's well past 50% of its useful life. The finish is gone at all possible wear points, the head falls off occasionally, the lens is kind of hazy, and the O-ring is about to give up life for good. But the failure point is apt to be the hole(s) in the base for the split ring that's key to attaching it to my keyring that's eroding away from the action of the steel ring working against it - it's likely to wear the present hole and the original hole open in another ~5 years at which point a key function of the light will be gone. This is after switching to the second hole once the first got worn down to an alarming point. I could attempt surgery to repair it post-failure - I have a drill press and could possibly fashion a reasonable workholding tool for the job. But when that feature of the body goes it will probably be shelved - I got more than a decade of service out of it, and the odds of success are low enough that I doubt I'll bother. Were I to commit to keeping the light operational, I suspect the next failure component would be the PCB which must survive being pinched with each cycle and the traces which rub against the body regularly.

    There are other factors involved in economic lifespan. Occupational hard-use cases - military, first responders, trades - probably need a working light promptly in order to work, thus end-of-life replacement is apt to be the norm; and the definition of end-of-life is apt to be "it no longer works" or "its reliable functionality under work conditions has been unacceptably compromised". Sure a $5 part might fix it, but if that part is hard to source or 2 weeks away the light may well be swiftly replaced - or set aside and a "B" set light cycled in.

    There's also the case of investment. I'd probably do almost anything to keep a pricey/all-but-impossible-to-replace signature/custom light - i.e. McGizmo, Barrel, Hanko, Cool Fall - working. I'd go to some lengths to keep a high-end light such as a Surefire working. A sub-$50 light a decade on I might source a simple user-serviceable part for. A ~$20 light that fails out of warranty ... I will probably dispose of.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 01-20-2021 at 10:35 PM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  24. #24
    Flashaholic TheFraz's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Likely heat sinking the main issue. I've seen overdriven LEDs show no difference in 10 years in output. On the converse, if the sink is even a tiny bit unsecure, blue city in about 4 seconds.

  25. #25

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    There are cars that can be made to last 1 million miles, but the maintenance requirements are immense, with the vehicle potentially becoming the proverbial Ship of Theseus.

    On a decade-plus timespan - especially with daily use - durable components start to become wear items.

    Since 2009 I've had a Fenix 1x AAA light on my keychain. Simple operation - 2-piece housing, twist the head for on/off and to toggle between its 3 modes. It still works well, but it's well past 50% of its useful life. The finish is gone at all possible wear points, the head falls off occasionally, the lens is kind of hazy, and the O-ring is about to give up life for good. But the failure point is apt to be the hole(s) in the base for the split ring that's key to attaching it to my keyring that's eroding away from the action of the steel ring working against it - it's likely to wear the present hole and the original hole open in another ~5 years at which point a key function of the light will be gone. This is after switching to the second hole once the first got worn down to an alarming point. I could attempt surgery to repair it post-failure - I have a drill press and could possibly fashion a reasonable workholding tool for the job. But when that feature of the body goes it will probably be shelved - I got more than a decade of service out of it, and the odds of success are low enough that I doubt I'll bother. Were I to commit to keeping the light operational, I suspect the next failure component would be the PCB which must survive being pinched with each cycle and the traces which rub against the body regularly.

    There are other factors involved in economic lifespan. Occupational hard-use cases - military, first responders, trades - probably need a working light promptly in order to work, thus end-of-life replacement is apt to be the norm; and the definition of end-of-life is apt to be "it no longer works" or "its reliable functionality under work conditions has been unacceptably compromised". Sure a $5 part might fix it, but if that part is hard to source or 2 weeks away the light may well be swiftly replaced - or set aside and a "B" set light cycled in.

    There's also the case of investment. I'd probably do almost anything to keep a pricey/all-but-impossible-to-replace signature/custom light - i.e. McGizmo, Barrel, Hanko, Cool Fall - working. I'd go to some lengths to keep a high-end light such as a Surefire working. A sub-$50 light a decade on I might source a simple user-serviceable part for. A ~$20 light that fails out of warranty ... I will probably dispose of.
    Cosmetic condition will of cause suffer with use, but that doesnít affect performance. A keychain light will be exposed to a lot more wear than a handheld light on most days, itís not surprising to hear that it started to give up that quickly. Good point about the seals, thatís definitely another part that will need replacing, together with grease for threading and O-rings, I forgot about that. When I mentioned simple, durable, quality lights, what I had in mind was along the lines of Handheld SF, Malkoff or Elzetta. Simple Coated/potted electronics should last a very long time if not abused, the bodys of these lights should never fall apart under any reasonable circumstance and leneses/boots/seals can be easily replaced. Parts for most of these lights should also be available for a long time to come.

  26. #26
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugh Johnson View Post
    The lifespan rating (usually in hours) is not a failure rating. ItĎa to a percentage of original brightness (ie. 70%).
    Short of performing an A/B comparison, you're probably not going to notice a 30% reduction in output under most scenarios since our perception of brightness is non-linear.
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  27. #27
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Assuming periodic maintenance and good initial build quality, however long the flash lasts on the microprocessor in your light. 20-30 years maybe

  28. #28
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    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    I've had LED flashlights that died over the years, but I think it was more the case of non-replaceable rechargeable batteries or other mechanical failure.

    Then there's my Nitecore TM06s with it's four LEDs. I've had it since sometime in 2017, and used it almost daily for a few minutes on the second to the lowest level. Then maybe about a year ago, I noticed that on the lower levels, one of the four LEDs wouldn't turn on. On the higher levels, it works, but I don't know about actual output. I charged up the batteries, then tried new Nitecore rechargeable batteries, but same result. So...is this an LED failure or "just" a connection or other failure?
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  29. #29

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    Quote Originally Posted by flashfan View Post
    I've had LED flashlights that died over the years, but I think it was more the case of non-replaceable rechargeable batteries or other mechanical failure.

    Then there's my Nitecore TM06s with it's four LEDs. I've had it since sometime in 2017, and used it almost daily for a few minutes on the second to the lowest level. Then maybe about a year ago, I noticed that on the lower levels, one of the four LEDs wouldn't turn on. On the higher levels, it works, but I don't know about actual output. I charged up the batteries, then tried new Nitecore rechargeable batteries, but same result. So...is this an LED failure or "just" a connection or other failure?
    well it works on higher levels, so the led is ok, and connection is fine too , since it works, It looks like driver issue i had same thing happen with my srk, one led would not turn on when batteries were low, by pure luck i found the issue, it was one of the smd diodes, i replaced it and it works just fine since.

  30. #30

    Default Re: average life span of a led flashlight?

    I have a ten yo headlamp, with a rubber membrane protecting the switch, but it perforated, and shortly it started to flicker. It is irritating so I retired it.

    Another cheap one was defective by design - the thread on the end cap is so shallow, when there are batteries in it, the force of the spring just pushes the end-cap off of the light. :-))

    Yet another cheap light that saw almost no use is so weak, it is barely firefly mode level.

    A new led lantern was dead on arrival.

    There are many stillborn lights manufactured and sold without any QC whatsoever. Probably most of them.

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