Thoughts about the future of LED lights

I think I'm about done collecting for the time being; seems like I have a little of just about every type of LED light and that there isn't a huge difference in results with other lights out there, just aesthetics.

It also seems like technology in LED's has reached the limits of what current batteries and heat-sinking capabilities can do. Unless someone invents a new LED that surpasses Cree in terms of lumens, or stays cooler, or runs longer, not sure what advances can be made in the short term.

My plan is to take a look again at the market in about 6-8 months and see what advances have beem made in reflectors and bodies with better heat dissapation, and maybe in battery technology as well. 18650-sized batteries with higher voltage or capacity might help the situation, or even smaller batteries with better capacities. Nothing along those lines would surprise me.

What I would really like to see is for Cree XM-L's to drop in price, and start seeing them optimized in larger lights, say regular maglites or other "classical" flashlight body sizes, rather then the "tactical" sized pocket lights. I'm also a sucker for a good side-clicky, I hate tail switches when I'm using a flashlight under normal situations. Who wants to hold that thing at chest or head height and have to use your thumb to switch modes?

I really like this forum, so I'll still be hanging out around here. Previously I took a 4-year vacation from flashlight forums and was totally blown away when I came back and found out about cheap Cree lights. I wonder what the market will be four years from now? I don't want to jump into it then cold-turkey, so I'll probably keep up-to-date around here with new stuff.

Maybe instead of buying 6 cheap flashlights a month I'll just buy one semi-nice one, not sure what would tempt me at this point.

I do anticipate that some of you guys here will end up being very successful selling inexpensive modded lights on this forum. That "other place" has some success stories, but those guys want your wallet. I think there is a place for custom lights in the $40-50 category, so if you can do some nice mods to a $10 host with a $13 dropin and sell it for $49, you will make some money.

For instance, I'd pay for a 504B with a realiable switch and a 3-mode clicky, with XM-L power and a good optimized reflector, that pulls a consistent 3.5A on high. Where do you find a light like that? Not on DX or Manafont... I'd pay even more if it had a waterproof side-clicky.

Just my Sunday morning ramblings, wondering where this hobby will take us in a year or two.



Bigger li-ion batteries that can run a XM-L for over an hour seem to be getting a foothold. If Solarforce introduced a L2-i size light that took a big li-ion battery, it would sell like crazy.

I think the LED manufacturers are trying to move towards household lightbulbs, so small, very bright LED's may not be where they are headed. Really even the XM-L isn't for pocket use since it draws 11 watts. That puts you back to the XP-G which means nothing much has changed since the end of 2009.

Still, who knows. Some of the big LED players have been very quiet lately, so any of them could come out with something good at any time.

LED has already hit a brick wall as far as power to die size is concerned for the high power Luminus models, due to thermal limitations. The only way to get past that is to develop more efficient LED emmitters, in which warm white and neutral white would benefit as well. Then can they really enter the streetlamp market which would be big. If you get it to be really efficient like near 200lm/W, they will find it much easier to market to general consumers to switch from CFL to LED. CFL ranges from 50lm/W for the small stuff to 80lm/W for the bigger ones, and T5 lighting is quite efficient going up as high as 105lm/W. Also LED naturally gives a 120 deg shaped light, CFL/T5 wastes some of the light even with reflectors (which are generally not even close to 90% efficient, reflected light hitting back at the tube and is lost etc)

Doesnt the XML do like 160-150lm/w?

It does.

At a junction (internal) temperature of 25oC. Which is not something you are ever going to achieve in any real-world flashlight. We are probably looking at junction temperatures in excess of the boiling point of water. My brightest XM-L is doing something like 70 lumens per watt at max output. In a streetlamp fixture it probably will do a lot better.

The LED manufacturers don't care about us flashlight enthusiasts - they are trying to make lightbulb replacements.

That's right. For my 335, 3528, 5050 emitter based LED strips, the best are also 70lm/W but i am sure that better can be achieved. Just a matter of price. Eg, stick 60pcs of XM-L warm white on 1m of LED strip, i am sure it would not go past 40 deg C. Then it would be like 130lm/W at that temp? Ok put it this way, theorectically 200lm/W at low temps, real world we can hit 100+lm/W. ie much more efficient than today's technology. And because it is more efficient, less heat is produced, the heatsinks would also be smaller.

That brings us to the next question, cost. Remember just 5 years ago, a 20W LED downlight bulb costs more than your typical Surefire.

I got these, that's expensive.....but it will pay for itself after 4-5years with 4 hrs of use each night over here. I like it because there is no ugly plastic/metal heatsink base that protrudes out.


This style uses a central emitter that bounces light off a clear plastic diffuser, like your Solarforce lantern of sorts :

Check out how big those heatsinks are, and even then I think it will stiff suffer from pretty high efficiency loss :

The led's hit a brick wall due to eyeball characteristics. 1000lumens is only practical for decent runtime in a 18650 host. 2000 lumens which is only one notch brighter is going to be twice the size.

Going from <5 lumens to 1000 was already a pretty leap in emitter technology, but we're still stuck with half-assed build quality on the budget lights, which is still not up to the standard of other cheap consumer products from china (available at your local walmart).

IMO, I forsee the great consumer acceptance, more mass manufacturing instead of the piddly little chinese shops that do it now, and competition based on details and quality instead of emitter spec/power.

For room lighting, most places in the world will probably get proper fixtures in newly built homes for heat dispersion, just like they do for CFL's. Of course the US will stick it out with the archaic edison socket which is going to make adoption much slower because that's how we roll.

Heh heh....actually i am sure you guys have Cove lighting. Just do it this way...pretty easy, and you can use the IR/RF controllers to control.

How about a 63W LED downlight?

I have some of them LED downlights in MR16 and AR111 form. But the colour temperature needs to be warm white....the CRI of the 6500K LEDs (cheap emitters) really make things look funny. WW is pretty ok. Some pictures of my implementation :


SVS Subwoofer, Proudly Made/Assembled in USA! Laughing


Violet 3528 strip. There are 2 rows of T5 in there (2700K and 4300K) but way too bright for my liking. Waste my money! Gonna buy a RGB controller and throw in a strip of 5050 warm white LEDs to work with the violet LEDs.



Here's a RGB strip in magenta. The White setting is actually an ulgy whitish cyan.




I'm a fan of HIDs, how can I leave out Ceramic Metal Halides!!!



Wow! that looks awesome!

I also did this for my screen....but its not a good idea to have changing colour patterns as it will not synchronise with other RGB controllers even though they are identical in chipset.

Alcove lighting ideas :

Some of my neighbours got this kind of faucet....but I did not get as the taps weren't to my liking. And afraid it may go faulty later on (difficult to repair!)

How about LED stairs

This is how the Chinese manufacturers do it on aliexpress/Tao Bao! Cool


2100 - My abode is pretty boring compared to yours.


Its really very easy and inexpensive. A 5m 5050 LED is only what....usd30-35 shipped via China Post? Get a usd15 12V5A adapter shipped as well (no driver needed), you are done. As to the power they are using, i measured 9.6W for the 60pc/m 5050 warm white strips. The advertised spec is 14.4W per metre. But anyway 5m gives you 5*9.6W = 48W, pretty decent lighting. Utilised as direct lighting (check out my bathroom LED strip) it is pretty energy efficient as there is no tempered frosted glass to cut down the light levels like in a traditional downlight. And the best thing is, if you buy a RGB controller (about 10 bucks), you can vary the intensity....but do note that it is PWM so there is very slight flicker at the lowest levels.

Another reason to DIY LED strips is that the missus would probably approve of such stuff. You play with lights, spend on lights, missus likes/approves it, everybody gets to use it.....MONEY WELL SPENT! :)

And you won't feel as guilty as playing with flashlights, seriously. They get used for a really good number of years if done right.

Do up the kitchen, your wife and kids will love you for it.


I think flashlights are done ..there is no more power coming out of a battery than an 18650 ..They have said it again and again .. it's the most researched battery on the planet . that means unless there is a miracle that's it for a long time .the 18650 is reached it's pinacle of development .any gains from here will be slight..the XML dropped in price like a stone .in 5 months it went from $12 unmounted 4.95 mounted on a heatsink in t6,t5,and t3..Does anyone remember last year when it took 9 months before you could even buy an xpg emitter .They were flat out unavailable ...xml was the opposite .. you could buy them day one . troop is actually right there is nothing left ..Inverse square law in reverse xml 800 lumens half as bright is q5r2xpg.200lumens ..half as bright 50 lumen lexeon old ssc and osrams....half as bright incandecents 5-10 lumens eveready /minimag /2 D cell plastic lights . half as bright a match.

like it or not there won't be another 4 times the lumen number >>3000-4000 lumens coming anytime soon. there is no battery and there won't be ...So like troop says pick a light that feels good in your hand, with knurling to die for, with a U.I. that you absolutely love. Lumens are simply numbers to sell a light to a newbie .bigger is better about 10% of the time ...why is everyone asking for a light that goes from super super high . because your eye opens and closes too and all lights are small these days because a 18650 is small.

lots of people avoid a cr123 light on BLF. i think it's a common mistake of trying to be too cheap and instead missing out on some good lights.

The upside is everyone is very impressed with a q3 light .. pound for pound they ARE stinking bright and $8 is what most people want to spend on a flashlight .

Damn, that's pretty impressive.

Now I need to get some of that color changing and ww strip. I hope they have the quality down and I don't have to futz with it like ultrafire lights, especially if I stick it behind heavy furniture, lol.

Don is right it's about efficiency for home lighting .flashlights be damned

T-mart had some cheap strip leds .. so do most of these places .. we just don't naturally look at them ....i need to pay more attention to them to I'd like to reasearch some off the gride led lighting possabilities .

2100 enlighten us (pun intended)

my WW 5050 strip from DX i think it was, the one on the alum base, is very pink IMO. You get used to the tint, but they definitely look pink relative to my neutral tinted XP-G, XM-Ls.

I do however LOVE led strip lighting. have a special offer on aluminium channeling (and heatsink) to fit your LEDs in. I nearly bought some to try a random assortment of old LEDs taken from lights I've upgraded. But then I thought, one XM-L will give more light than ten Luxeon 3s unless they are the rare and (in its day) very expensive U bin.

Very nice place you have there 2100 :)

I really like the under cupboard lighting in the kitchen, I'll defiantly have to add that to the list when it's time to renovate.