An LED Birthday for all my Maglites


I love my Maglites. I know technically there may be better out there, but they have such a nice solid feel to them as you thump them over someone’s ….. err, well, anyway.

Whilst they are good quality, they very old tech, so a swap to LED’s was in order. LED’s offer greater output, 5 – 10x battery life, and are much more shock proof.

The debate as to “which bulb is best” goes on endlessly, so I settled for those that I could source from eBay and post to Australia.

The direct bulb shaped replacements are very rare in high output versions. Most inserts offer an unusual shaped fitting and often a different reflector.Standard shaped bulbs often can’t dissipate enough heat to keep an LED cool. LED’s hate heat for effective output. Some LED’s will start out quite bright when turned on, then dim somewhat as they heat up.

The Maglite brand LED replacement bulbs are nothing special according to most reviews, and I wanted something with some more power.

Manufacturers appear to have come and gone, so don’t be surprised if the bulb you want is no longer around.

One downside with many inserts is you lose the focussing ability. In some cases they are do much brighter it doesn’t matter.

Terralux has a good range of inserts, with a balance of cost, features, output and availability. They are readily available on eBay US.

Candlepower Forums has in depth discussion and reviews, detailed comparisons etc. As the space changes so quickly, many of these are out of date.

Regardless of which bulb you choose, it should by preference be regulated. This keeps a constant brightness and gets best possible use out of the batteries. You don’t need to throw them away until they are fully used up, and lose very little brightness as they discharge.

Alkaline batteries have limits on how much power you can pull out of them. Essentially, if the bulb you choose will flatten the batteries in under 10 hours, the battery won’t give it’s full rated output.

When I started this I was going to do lumen comparisons and shots of beam patters, but honestly, it changes so fast, and others have done this already. I figured I would just put down my experience and you can pick bulbs on your own.

5 lights, all Terralux’d

Bulbs disassembled

Bulbs disassembled

Maglite 4D CellTLE-300M-EX
The brightest insert I could buy, with 3 x 2w elements. It’s not focusable, but so bright, it doesn’t matter. 3 brightness levels. The three elements produce a consistent beam pattern. 700 Lumens. About $70

All the other bulbs have been discontinued already.

An eBay search shows most bulbs are around 100 – 300 lumens and about US$20ish.

They are all an upgrade. Every brand and model seems to differ in it’s focussing.

Factors I would consider are

  1. Price
  2. Lumens Output
  3. Focus – ability
  4. Regulator

Not pictured is my Maglite solitaire, it was upgraded with one of these.

image image
Yes, that is an active device, there is a regulator in the round disk.

For about $150 all up, it was well worth doing the six lights.

One Response to “An LED Birthday for all my Maglites”

  1. me2 says:

    I’ve found the super bright unit not so good in reality. The focus of the beam is too bright to walk with. Great for a spotlight though.

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