Review: Dual LED Headlight from Wallbuys

I received my first two of three New years sale orders today (13 days from order to delivery in Canada, not bad). In there were two of the dual-LED headlights that were on for $8.92. Now that I have them, I should have ordered more. These are quite nice for the money. They have small issues, but overall very good.

One thing that surprised me right away was the throw on the XP-E. It easily throws 70-80 yards, maybe more! Not bad for a tiny little headlight.
The next thing that surprised me was when I connected it to a power supply. The input voltage range is MUCH wider than the 3.6-4.2V spec on Wallbuys. This little thing can run down to 0.8V! Yup, if you’re in a pinch you can throw any old battery in there (with some kind of adapter, maybe a small bolt or stack of coins) and it’ll run just fine.
Opening up the unit reveals why. There’s a boost driver included!

The output (and possibly run time) will be lower on an AA, but it’s a great bonus option to have anyway.
Edit: A cautionary note. Because the driver will happily run your battery down to 0.8V, you may want to use protected 18650’s, or make sure your battery has enough capacity for the task. If the light output noticeably drops, the battery is probably below 3.0V; time to change the battery. Because it is still rather bright at 2-3V, you may not notice right away.

Opening up the next level revealed yet another surprise; two decent sized aluminum heatsinks. The XP-E has an aluminum SMO reflector which is the front part of the heatsink.

The enclosure has vent holes on top and bottom to allow air (and rain) to pass through and cool the heatsinks. The electronics are in a separate enclosure that appears to be at least rainproof, although, I would not guarantee that. Definitely not dunkable though.

Inside the XP-E heatsink is a 14mm star with no thermal compound which might not matter a lot here. I added some anyway, just because. The emitter is held in by a flat piece of aluminum that screws into the back of the heasink/reflector.

The generic LED has a 16mm star in a hollow heatsink. Again I added compound around the edge, even if it’s not necessary.

One final tid-bit not mentioned on the Wallbuys page is the charger port. This is directly connected to the battery, so you will need to have a regulated CC/CV 4.2V power supply with a (I think it’s a) 1.5mm plug.

It comes with a single-strap headband, but the plastics are designed to accept a double-strap headband as well. I did change it out on one for my son as the supplied strap does not adjust small enough for him.
Regarding the various modes, The XP-E has three modes (High, Low, Strobe), and the generic LED has two (High, Low). The high and low modes are well spaced, and there is no mode memory. Both LEDs start in High mode. There is noticeable PWM in the Low modes for both LEDs, meaning it may not be wise to bike or run in low mode.

Now for the one issue that may be considered a negative. Only one LED can be on at a time. I initially thought this would be a problem, since I like the wide area coverage of the generic LED (almost 180 degrees) with the throw of the XP-E. However, the XP-E has adequate spill (thanks to an OP reflector) so this wasn’t a problem for me.

The UI is not bad, with everything implemented on one button. Full presses cycle through XP-E - OFF - Generic - OFF. Half presses change modes on the current LED that is on. Simple and works quite well.
The switch is a reverse-clicky and is firm but can be pressed with medium weight gloves on.

The fit for me is nice and it is comfortable to wear. No issues for me there, but this is a very subjective thing so YMMV. I also like that the head doesn’t stick out too far. The head is adjustable from horizontal, down about 45 degrees with several click steps allowing for fine angle adjustments. Going past the last click (it is a larger click) allows a 90 degree down-light, if you wish.

Weight (without battery): 106g
XP-E current draw (4.2V): H=1.37A, L=0.40A
Generic current draw (4.2V): H=0.53A, L=0.22A
XP-E current draw (1.2V): H=1.09A, L=0.36A
Generic current draw (1.2V): H=1.02A, L=0.32A

Overall, this is a very nice headlight, and is probably worth the regular price on Wallbuys (currently $11.15).

This light is Relic Recommended.

Update 1, Jan 28, 2013 - I ran the generic LED for 20 minutes or so and noticed considerable dimming. The heat sink temperature reached 75C+. I let things cool down and the LED was still dim. I do not think there is adequate cooling for the generic LED. So far I have not seen any issues with the XP-E LED with 10-15 minute runs. The other unit was run on the generic LED outside for 45 minutes with no issues. The air temperature was -5C however. I'm going to try to swap the generic emitter for a generic WW (one I know is rated for two Watts) and retest.


thanks for the review. i’ve got one one the way from wallbuys - $11.??

i’m so glad it comes apart well! (usually I’d order two, and assume one would get destroyed w/ first mod attempt lol)

I was thinking xpg2 and xml, but maybe i’ll leave the xp-e in there

I’ll probably plastidip or pot the driver so I don’t have to worry about rain.

I can’t believe that it works down to .8V! that makes it an even better deal at that price! and probably makes the fenix hl21 i just bought a waste of money :stuck_out_tongue:

I knew it was one led at a time, so i’d also thought I might add a switch so I could operate both leds independently - but I doubt it is worth the effort, and I definitely won’t want to ditch that driver

Thanks for the nice review relic38. Is there any chance to see how the light performs with AA rechargable batteries?

The performance is definitely not as good as 18650. Based on the current draw numbers above (4.2V vs 1.2V), you can see the power difference is close to 4:1. Still, the output is not bad and the run time will be about the same as an average 18650.
When (if) I get around to doing beam shots, I’ll publish some for both power sources.

I added a caution in the review text recommending the use of protected 18650 cells, or careful monitoring of unprotected cells. The driver has no problem with running cells down to 0.8V if you happen to miss the drop in light output.

Is it possible to run both LED concurrent?

No, the LEDs do not turn on concurrently/simultaneously. One user suggested a mod to do this, but it may be difficult. depending on how much circuitry the driver shares when driving each LED. the Vf of each LED is quite a bit different (Cree is close to 3.0V, generic is closer to 3.3V), meaning that you would probably need two drivers to allow simultaneous operation.
As I mentioned in the review, I initially thought this would be a drawback, however the XP-E has enough spill that the added flood from the generic LED would not be worth the additional battery drain.
For me, this light is just fine the way it comes, I just added a little thermal paste.
Having said that, I’d love to see any mods that are attempted by adventurous BLF’ers :wink:

The battery compartment is OK, nothing too solid. I don’t think it will break, but the head strap retainers that the strap feeds through might be the weak link. The light compartment is quite solid and should be able to handle a decent drop or hit.
I don’t think I’d rely on it for caving, but anything above ground would be OK.

Thanks for review, been looking at this healdamp for a while ;)!
Ill buy it when they have it on sale :P!

Will wait for beamshots ;)!

Thanks for the review relic38!


Looks interesting. I wonder if it would be possible to replace one of the LEDs with a red one for some nighttime use.

I think the generic could be changed, but I do not know if XP-E comes in red. I am not sure how the driver will react to the lower Vf of a red LED either. could be worth a try.
I did walk around a bit last night with this and it is quite nice. The XP-E really does have a lot of throw (at least 60-70 useable yards), and has enough spill to illuminate right in front of you. The generic lights up everything within 5-7 yards which is nice for just walking around. Even Low is useable and would really extend the run times.

Thanks very much! Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

they come in red, and the driver should work fine, but i’ll report for sure after mine arrives.

Thanks dthrckt.

Thanks sb56637! :slight_smile:

I updated the first comment with some longer term run results on the generic LED. The generic LED may overheat without adequate air flow (I was sitting as a desk).

edit: this post ended up way too long, so I’ll bold the important parts…

alright, I’ve taken mine apart to assess what to mod.

I must say, this headlamp is a deal, especially for modders. The biggest weakness, from the modding standpoint, is the battery carrier, and that’s minor, imo. The door is a little hard to open and a little harder to close, but probably not bad enough for me to do anything about it.

I do have a question, for relic or anyone else that’d like to chime in. The switch has 3 wires going to it (see pics 2 and 3 above).

Is the switch controlling which emitter is on, or is it a regular click and the driver is controlling which emitter is on?

I’m guessing the former, and that is why it has 3 leads.

I’m trying to figure out how I’ll mod it.

options, in order of how likely they are to occur lol

1. nothing, except maybe take it apart and see if there’s an easy way to make it require less pressure (it is pretty stiff)
2. replace with weather resistant DPDT (on1, off, on2) like this (but smaller)
3. replace with true double pole triple throw switch (not on1, off, on2, but on1, on2, on1&2) and add a switch for main power on/off
4. find a small double pole, quadruple throw, weather resistant slide or rocker switch (on1, on2, off, on1&2). fat chance…

If the driver isn’t doing to mode switching, I’ll probably start w/ 1, ruin the switch, and go to 2 :stuck_out_tongue:

A rocker switch would be a nice improvement (anyone know a small, weather resistant, 3 position rocker?)

The switch is like a regular clicky, but it has three contacts; Battery, out1 and out2. The driver board is effectively two drivers in one. The switch cycles through off, out1, off, out2…
Replacing the switch with a toggle or rocker would make mode switching a little more difficult IMO. If you wanted to you would look for a SPDT (Single-position, Double-Throw) with center-off switch. This might be a lot easier to activate; maybe too easy. I would not attempt the plastic mod, I’d likely butcher it. (DPDT CO would work too, just might be bigger)
I do not know of a switch for this, but DigiKey may have something in stock, and they usually has decent specs. Note that the switch itself (plus shipping) might cost more than the light :slight_smile: