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General Articles - Product Reviews

L.E.D. Headlamp Shootout

Article written by Moab Man

Date Added: 07/12/2006

It wasn?t but a few years ago that the first L.E.D. (light emitting diode) flashlights were hitting store shelves.

At first, most were small key chains. Soon they were followed by larger flashlights. The earliest L.E.D. flashlights were not as bright as conventional flashlights but offered superior battery life. Typically they lasted in the range of 500-1000% longer.

In the past we have taken a look at some traditional L.E.D. handheld flashlights. This time we will take a look at three L.E.D headlamps: Brinkmann 1 Watt L.E.D. Headlamp, Energizer 6 L.E.D. Headlamp, and Rayovac 3-in-1 Head-Lite.
Rayovac® 3-in-1 Head-Lite
This was one of the earlier L.E.D.?s to appear on the market. It offers a single white L.E.D., two red L.E.D.?s, and one traditional bulb like you would find in a Mini Maglite. This early L.E.D. is dim and clearly outgunned by newer L.E.D.?s.
Battery life: 20-30 hours (white L.E.D.)
Price: $12

The traditional bulb offers a much brighter light, but reduces your battery life substantially when compared to its L.E.D. efficiency.

Energizer® 6 L.E.D. Headlamp
This light has four modes and uses multiple newer brighter L.E.D.?s with optical manipulation. In the first mode this light uses two white L.E.D.?s with two small magnifier lenses to focus the light. Mode 2 offers two white L.E.D.?s without the magnifiers to create a short range spread of light. Mode 3 turns on all four white L.E.D.?s, and mode 4 turns on two red L.E.D.?s so that night vision is not hindered.
Battery life: 50 hours 2 white L.E.D. / 20 hours 4 white L.E.D. / 75 hours red L.E.D.
Price: $15
Brinkmann® 1 Watt L.E.D. Headlamp
This headlamp offers a single high intensity Luxeon® L.E.D. Surrounding the bulb is a focusing reflector dish.
Battery life: 15 hours
Price: $19

For comparison, lights were shined against a brick wall at a distance of 15 feet.

At our test distance of fifteen feet, the Rayovac light was so dim that we could not get a picture without extending the camera shutter time. In our opinion this light is only useful for lighting in your immediate surroundings.

This is a great light for kids on camping trips. It gives them enough light to see, the red L.E.D.?s are fun to them, and the light is not blinding when they look at you.

The Brinkmann light is very bright and focused; however, we did find one real problem with this light. Each light can be rotated via a ratchet so that you can cast the light where it?s needed. The ratchet on this light was very weak. While moving around, any jerking motion would cause the light to flop/ratchet downward.
Our Energizer headlamp was not as bright as the Brinkmann, but it did offer a better spread of light. We found that using the light in mode 3 (all white L.E.D.?s on) did not put enough more light than mode 2 (two white L.E.D.'s with lenses) to warrant the reduction of battery life. In our opinion use the focused or flood L.E.D.?s, but skip using all at once.
Here is a comparison of the Brinkmann and Energizer side by side at 15 feet.
Our final comparison is at 60?
Brinkmann ? Tree is clearly visible.
Energizer ? Tree is barely visible.

Final Thoughts

Either light is great. The Energizer has a better battery life while offering plenty of light for most occasions. If you don?t mind the 2/3 reduction in battery life, the Brinkmann is clearly brighter.

Earlier we mentioned the problem with the weak ratchet on the Brinkmann light. We overcame this problem by adding a rubberband between the screw-on battery cap and the main body of the light. The extra grip of the rubberband keeps the light where you set it.

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