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MiniMag LED conversion kit.

4Lorn1's picture

MiniMag, great little tool and very popular, especially when paired with a headband that makes it hands-free, if you use one trot over to Wally World and look in their sporting goods department for a LED conversion kit made by NiteEze, great price at just under $5. These units greatly extend the life of the batteries. At that price if it saves a four pack of AAs it has paid for itself.

The LEDs are also more rugged than the tiny incandescent bulbs. A good thing when your alone in the dark deep under a house and one less thing to worry about. Changing those tiny bulbs by feel in a tight spot is a pain.

Down side is that with the LED conversion in you lose the ability to focus the beam. No great loss. The beam, even with a new lamp and batteries, never had much throw and is always uneven. With the LEDs, it has three, the light is a soft and very even light that is easier on the eyes for work within 10' or so, where these lights are best and mostly used anyway.

The light is also slightly less bright and a bit bluer but, given the soft and even light of the LEDs, it doesn't seem to be noticeable. I quite like the light produced by the LEDs. The light is only slightly on the blue side and colors in this light are easy to differentiate. Possibly more than in the light from the normal incandescent bulb as they, especially when old and the batteries run down, tended to be more amber in color.

Orange, yellow, age yellowed whites, brown and some shades of red tending to look much the same. Add a little sweat in the eyes and a little dirt on the insulation and it can be, in the words of George Carlin, 'Heavy mystery time'.

Picture the scene from 'Abyss' where the guy has to cut the wire and can't tell the green from the red. An important issue for an electrician sorting wires by color and working in boxes with multiple circuits where only one is off.

The $5 kit gets you a plastic disc incorporating the three LEDs with a couple of prongs that fits where the normal incandescent bulb goes and a replacement reflector. Fitting the kit is child's play. Even a construction helper, or a mechanically inclined gorilla, not that there is much difference, could handle it.

Keep known good batteries in the flashlight. Unscrew the head of the flashlight, pull out the reflector and old bulb. Insert the LED assembly. If it lights up insert the new reflector in the head and reassemble. If not pull the LED assembly and reinsert after rotating it 180 degrees. Two prongs and two holes it will go in only two ways so simple trial and error.

It comes with instructions

Edited for spelling.

Edited 10/22/2005 9:19 pm ET by 4Lorn1

(post #123691, reply #1 of 13)

Golly, that was a long post for a $5 item.

Sounds like a good idea.  Thanks.


"When asked if you can do something, tell'em "Why certainly I can", then get busy and find a way to do it."  T. Roosevelt

"Put your creed in your deed."   Emerson

"When asked if you can do something, tell'em "Why certainly I can", then get busy and find a way to do it."  T. Roosevelt

(post #123691, reply #7 of 13)

Why bother with a Mag Light, and a head strap to hold it. There are several excellent dedicated headlamps out there. Once you've owned a good one you'll never want a mag light again. Well, unless you need a weapon. For years I used Petzl Zoom headlamps. The last one was a PrincetonTec, and now I have several PrincetonTec LED headlamps. They are $22 on the Sierra Trading Post website, including energizer batteries, lifetime warrantee on the light and they're USA made. I'm still on the original batteries on all of the LED lights after one year. Just go to a decent camping store or look online and get a real headlight.

(post #123691, reply #10 of 13)

Re: "Why bother with a Mag Light, and a head strap to hold it. There are several excellent dedicated headlamps out there."

It is a matter of size, shape and adaptability. The headlamps are an odd shape. Pretty bulky even in the AAA models. The AA ones are even more volumetrically challenged. I have tried a few. None fit comfortably in a pocket when not in use and Few are very handy held in the hand. Most are only comfortable to hold or use if worn on the head. Wearing a headlamp all the time is not a great option unless you have Borg fantasies. The Mag and its headband are easy to store and handy either way, worn on the head or in the hand.

The MiniMag fits easily in a pocket or on the belt in its sheath. Also fits nice in a screwdriver slot on an electrician's tool pouch. The head band, little more than a length of 3/4" nylon webbing and a bit of velcro, folds up and slips into a pocket or can be hung from the belt. These don't deteriorate like the elastic on most headlights, I have one ten years old that still works well, and take up a lot less room than the harnesses seen on larger headlamps.

On the esoteric side the head of the MiniMag can be removed and the unit stood on end as a 'candle', handy in an emergency even if it only gives mood lighting, enough light in a fair sized room to avoid people running into each other but not much more than that. It will, possibly more usefully, also fit into a 3/4" hole. Handy for identifying or examining a stud bay when I'm fishing cables.

The helper drills a hole in the plate and looks into it to see if the light is visible. Also handy for identifying locations in a ceiling to someone in the attic. Finding a lit bulb, even a small one, in a dark attic or crawl space is easy.

(post #123691, reply #2 of 13)

I love my Mini Mag. Wonder why Mag doesn't make a LED flashlight.

(post #123691, reply #3 of 13)

Picture the scene from 'Abyss' where the guy has to cut the wire and can't tell the green from the red.

That was a great tech moment in a movie, showing how something so little can make a biiiiig screw up.

Rebuilding my home in Cypress, CA

Also a CRX fanatic!

YAY!  I love WYSISYG editing!  And Spellcheck!


(post #123691, reply #4 of 13)

Got me one of those LED conversions today.  Way cool!  And it's incredibly brighter than the bulb was.  When I removed the lamp it was black inside, so just a new one would have been a great improvement by itself.  I like the longer battery and emitter life with the LEDs, and I don't miss the focusing at all.  They never were much good as a search light anyway, and the smooth flood from the LED is much better than the lamps ever had.  This is very similar to a kit I saw a couple years ago that was around $20.  As I remember it had a very small red LED that would flash as the battery was getting low, or something like that.

(post #123691, reply #5 of 13)

Re: "is very similar to a kit I saw a couple years ago that was around $20."

Yes, the price differential was the kicker for me. The little red 'low battery' light was a cool sounding feature but, IMHO, more a gimmick than a great value. Particularly given the price difference. I have seen LED conversion kits and bulbs going for up to $50 each so the $5 version, at Wally World no less, was quite a surprise.

Of course maintenance people, renovators and electricians in particular are more interested in flashlights than most new construction carpenters but the MiniMag seems to be a perennial favorite. Its relatively voracious appetite for batteries, about five hours per set, and delicacy of the bulbs, replace the bulb every second change of batteries for reliability, its only weaknesses. The LED conversion corrects both problems, at a very reasonable price.

How often does that happen? A good product gets better for cheap.

Something this good I'm tempted to buy a bunch of them. Before they figure out how good they are and quadruple the price.

(post #123691, reply #6 of 13)

Go with a Surefire 6P or a Streamlight Scorpion.  They run off of two 3 volt batteries. Brighter than a 4D cell mag. A bit pricey but very good.

(post #123691, reply #8 of 13)

You have got to be kidding.

Those are massive overkill for every day use. Brightness, beyond what is needed within about 10', mostly within arms length, is unimportant. Shelf life, about 10 years, and cold weather performance, the strengths that might justify the cost of the lithium batteries, aren't applicable for normal use. My pocket is pretty warm and my lights get used almost every day.

The Mag goes for about $8 including a set of batteries and handy sheath. The ones you recommend $42 + S&H to around $60 minus batteries and sheath. The C123 batteries $2 each, in a 12 pack, to $10 for a pair while standard AAs, available about anywhere, go for around $.32 each in a 24 pack. Worse case about $1.25 each at the convenience store in a four pack.

Those are good flashlights for an emergency pack or wilderness duty, especially the Streamlight LED version for about $60 because the others only giving a couple of hours of light, but for what I do the MiniMag is more cost effective. I will keep those in mind next time I plan a mission to plant mines in OBL's jockstrap.

I have used my MiniMags for years and despite a lot of abuse they are still kicking. Run time is about five hours usable light with the incandescent bulb. Don't know how long the usable run time is with the LED conversion but they claim four times the run time. From what I can tell real world life would be about that on a set of fresh AAs.

Why would I want to spend $60, plus batteries and S&H to get what I already can get, already have in my case, for about $13. Unless you are made of money and/or want bragging rights more than you need an effective tool at a reasonable price.

Edited for clarity.

Edited 10/23/2005 1:00 am ET by 4Lorn1

(post #123691, reply #11 of 13)

It was just a suggestion. I didnt say you HAD to go buy one.

ps - for the record your points are correct. Expensive yes.

(post #123691, reply #12 of 13)

Sorry if I came on too strong.

Carpenters get passionate about their hammers and power tools. Electricians, especially nut case ones, are opinionated about their flashlights and simple hand tools. I could, and have, post more than a few pages about pliers too. But then again Have you ever noticed the look as a carpenter opens a package with a new Douglas. Trembling hands. Sweat on the upper lip. Pretty pornographic.

(post #123691, reply #13 of 13)

Totally understand. No worries my friend.

(post #123691, reply #9 of 13)

The 2 3v batteries cost more than the LED conversion itself cost me.  I use a single LED, one AA CMG flashlight as a pocket light.  I like the fact that it only uses one AA battery, and a lithium AA has lasted me over 2 years.  It's not very bright, but I would probably go with a luxeon LED if I needed more brightness.

The Surefire 6P has a 1 hour burn time on 2 123 batteries.  The Streamlight Scorpion has a 1 hour burn time, but the luxeon LED version has 4 hours max .  All are  truely great flashlights, but probably more suited to police, fire, search and rescue etc than say an electrician in an attic.  Also the minimag with the LED kit is only about $15, and it's a pretty good little unit.  If it's not bright enough there are other battery operated lights more suited for long term use than the small streamlight or scorpions. 

The 6p and scorpion are impressive though.  Truth is they are too bright for close work.  They will practically blind you at close range.