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I’ve always liked Maglite flashlights because they’re durable and because they have such a nice heft to them.  If you invested in Maglites back before LEDs became all the rage — like I did — then you’ll love the fact that Maglite is now offering 3-watt LED “upgrade kits” for their older C and D-cell-sized flashlights.

Obviously the advantages of LED over standard incandescent bulbs are significant: they last longer, they’re less prone to breakage, and they consume less power.

They are a bit expensive, starting at around $20, but when you look at the price of a decent aluminum-bodied LED flashlight with decent optics, that $20 doesn’t look too bad.  It’s also worth mentioning that a number of other companies sell similar upgrade kits for around $10, though they’re somewhat deprecated by Maglite, who says they’ll void your warranty.  Of course, if you’re already out of warranty…

3-Watt LED Upgrade Kits [Maglite]
Street Pricing [Froogle]

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12 Responses to Finds: Maglite LED Upgrade Kits

  1. Mark says:

    I saw these in Home Depot a couple of days ago. They did not have one for Maglites with _3_ D cells. I’m not sure I would spent $20 on it anyway. It would be interesting find out whether you could re-coup this cost with needing new batteries less often … could work for a heavy user. All of this does not take into account performance. Are they significantly better than the originals?

  2. Alfonso Bedoya says:

    Maglites have a lifetime limited warranty, so if you’re out of warranty, you probably don’t need the LED upgrade . . .

  3. Myself says:

    Inretech, Everled, Terralux, and others have been producing drop-in upgrades for Mag products for years. Some of them (the EverLED in particular) are voltage-agnostic, and will drive the LED with its rated current when fed with anything from 1 to 6 cells.

    Personally, I’m waiting for the Terralux TS-18, a drop-in conversion for high voltage (18v nominal) power tool flashlights. They’ve been “available soon” for quite a while now, and I just got word from Terralux that they’re in distribution and should hit retail later this week. I’ll post a review as soon as I get my hands on one!

  4. Henry says:

    I bought a Mag flashlight sold with this same LED assembly a few months ago — and haven’t changed the batteries once. It is very very bright and focuses tight. It uses an electronic boost driver for the LED, which seems to be regulated as the light output has not changed over the many hours I’ve used it. I am very happy with it, it is really one of the brightest mass-market LED flashlight options. One negative, which is more of Mag flashlights in general than of this LED conversion is the pronounced and very annoying doughnut effect in the beam at wide angles. It’s great focused tight, but nearly useless (for me) in anything but the tightest settings.

  5. Myself says:

    It’s sad that Mag sticks with a smooth reflector. They could eliminate the donut effect with an orangepeel or stippled reflector, but I guess those are more expensive to produce. Mag is really the Ford Escort of flashlights, commonly available and good enough for most uses. 😉

    If you’re looking for a smoother beam at broad angles, many options exist. Block off a day on your schedule, and head over to the Candlepower Forums. Toolmonger has been posting a lot of flashlight-related stuff lately, but if you want to get past the stuff you can find at a big-box store, check out some of the handmade stuff CPF folks come up with.

  6. Rick says:

    Hey Myself –
    (can I call you self?) 🙂

    Self:
    Are those the guys that ran enough juice through a flashlight to get to light things on fire? I don’t recall where I saw it but there was video involved. In any event, the light was so powerful that the heat it produced would light materials on fire up close within seconds.

  7. toolaremia says:

    CAUTION when using LED flashlights: The batteries last so long, that they MAY LEAK before you perceive they need replacement.

    Since the cells last longer, they will remain in the light far longer, increasing the odds of leaking. In my experience, all alkalines will leak eventually. Multi-cell flashlights compound the problem, where one cell may fully discharge, while the others still have some charge left. The good cells wind up reversing the dead cell, which makes it leak. This happened on my dual AA Maglite with the Nite Ize 3-LED upgrade. Still had lots of light, but the cells had been in there for two years and when I went to change them after the intensity had dropped about 50%, one cell had leaked acid all over the inside. UGH.

    Moral: Replace the batteries at the first sign of discharge, only use cells from the same package, check them frequently.

  8. Randy says:

    That’s a good tip about battery leakage. I will keep an eye on it.

    I also have the Niteize bulb kits in all of my 2 AA mags, and am generally very pleased with them. It’s not a Surefire, but it’s better than the single yellowish bulb. Walmart sells the Niteize bulb kit for about $4, compared to $9 or $10 elsewhere. The kit includes a bulb (3 leds on a piece of PCB with a small resistor) and a replacement reflector. You remove the old and replace with the new. I have had a few instances where the bulbs flicker because I didn’t have the bezel switch just right, but they generally work very well and are very good on batteries. The light is a clean blue-white, and looks very different from the yellowish incandescent bulb. It doesn’t seem to project very far. About 10 ft of diffused light, which cannot really be focused, unlike the original bulb and reflector. So far, I give them a 7.5 on the small, close task, intermittant flashlight use scale, where the original bulb was about a 5, due to bulb failure, darkening, and battery drain. If the batteries leak because they don’t drain fast enough, that will be irritating, but not really the bulb’s fault.

    On a side note, what do you do with 75% used batteries anymore to use them up? Walkmans and gameboys are out. Flashlights with LEDs won’t do it. I don’t have a remote controlled car. Maybe I need to find one of those AA powered screwdrivers or dremels!

  9. Toolaremia says:

    “On a side note, what do you do with 75% used batteries anymore to use them up?”

    Clocks.

    I’ve got a half-dozen quartz analog clocks that use a single AA, and three “atomic” LCD clocks that use three cells. They can run for a year or more on “discharged” AA’s. They come out of the flashlights, and replace what’s in the clocks. Keeping in mind all alkalines will eventually leak…

  10. Matt says:

    Speaking of leaking batteries, had some older AA batteries that not actualy ate thru the plastic houseing

  11. John Connolly says:

    I have two 4 cell D maglites and I had put in the Niteize LED bulbs.
    I was not happy with the results. the Niteize is only .8 watt.
    today I put in a Maglie LED upgrade for 4 cell lights which has 3 watt.
    The difference is night and day – worth the $18.00 for the Maglight Upgrade bulb

  12. bartsdad says:

    http://www.malkoffdevices.com/ These are some of the best off the shelf drop ins.

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