Many flashlights can be easily converted to use white LEDs instead of regular incandescent bulbs. The flashlight can quickly be returned to its original bulb and battery configuration later if you wish. Of course this procedure will void the warranty on your flashlight, but the only permanent modification made is increasing the size of the hole in the reflector assembly. Since I live in a remote area with no streetlights and am a volunteer firefighter, flashlights are very important and are used daily by everyone in the family. I normally use Maglite® flashlights in different sizes for reliability reasons, but have been frustrated with short battery and bulb life. I normally get only 5 hours on 2xAA batteries, and have to change bulbs every 2 sets of batteries or so. Converted white LED MiniMaglites® have become my favorite flashlights! Though the LED conversions are not as bright as normal bulbs, the batteries last over 6 times as long, and I have not replaced an LED bulb yet despite running them at over their maximum current.
MiniMaglite® LED ConversionsAlkaline N-Cell Flashlights Alkaline batteries are often the best choice for flashlights, since they retain more power when sitting unused for long periods of time. And you can expect over 6 times longer battery life when using a white LED bulb! This is important when a flashlight must sit in your truck for weeks or months without use. In this situation, NiCad or NiMh rechargables would most likely have little power left in them after sitting for months. Alkaline N-cells are inexpensive and usually locally available--try Radio Shack or K-Mart.
To convert a MiniMaglite®:
- Take off the flashlight head and remove the incandescent bulb. Save the bulb for future use if you ever decide to return your flashlight to its original condition.
- Trim the tabs off of the LED leads using nippers. A flat needle file or sandpaper can help smooth the lead.
- Trim the LED leads off to 1/4 inch in length.
- Insert the LED into the bulb socket. If does not light up, reverse the LED and it will. If not, check your batteries, and also make sure the LED leads are not touching each other.
- Remove the reflector, and using a 1/4 inch drill bit carefully widen the hole for the bulb to 1/4 inch. Our LED bulbs do not need reflectors since they emit light at a set 20° angle, but the reflector assembly is needed in a MiniMaglite® for the switch to function properly.
- Install the 3 N-cell batteries.
- Install a spacer (containing an internal current-limiting resistor)