So you are looking to spruce up your old MagLite lumens with a MagLite LED Convert kit?
LED upgrades for MagLites are available and for the most part they are easy to install.
So, lets get into the nitty gritty…
Short On Time? Here Is The Bullet List:
MagLite Mini Bulb LED Upgrade
Upgrade 2 Cell MagLite to LED (C or D batteries)
Upgrade 3-6 Cell MagLite to LED (C or D batteries)
Serious MagLite LED Upgrades
- FireFly 3-6 D Cell LED Upgrage XM-L2 (older style head)
- MagCharger 800 Lumen LED Upgrade For Rechargeable MagLite (older style head)
- 2,000 lumen 3 Cell LED Upgrade for MagLite Flashlight 3x Cree XP-L HI LED (newer style head)
- 5000 Lumen 6 Cell LED Upgrade For MagLite Flashlight (newer style head)
Who Wants A MagLite LED Conversion Kit?
First off lets decide if it is even worth it to you. A good question to ask yourself all of the time is “Is it worth it?”
Straight out of the gate I want you to know that even the best MagLite upgrades will just barely come close to what you could expect from decent lower price new flashlight.
With that said maybe you have some sort of emotional connection with the light.
Maybe it was a gift or it was a parents or grandparents.
Maybe it was an old police friends duty light.
Maybe you really like the style that it represents or you need it to match a look you are going for or a costume.
Maybe you just are up for the challenge and it is fun project just to do.
Like I said, for the money you will spend on a good upgrade you could buy a considerably better flashlight.
So you really want to be a MagLite LED Convert? Okay, here we go… Lets upgrade that flashlight bulb with a LED conversion kit and get a better beam!
New of Old Style MagLite Head?
This will effect what time of upgrade you can use. If at the beginning of the serial number there is a D then “usually” it means that you will have the new style. But, they did produce a couple of old lights with a beginning D.
To make sure you need to measure to the bezel depth. With the bezel off you measure down to the internal lip.
The new style will have a depth of around 3/4 of an inch. The old style will be around 6/10 of an inch (about an 1/8 less space). With the old style and less space you will have to adjust which upgrade unit you are going for.
Upgrade just the Emitter? Or Also Batteries?
If you really want to take this upgrade to the next level you will look at LED drop ins that can handle a different set of batteries.
With the ability to use Li-ion you will get your light way closer to new flashlights on the market and you will be able to recharge your light.
At the least I would urge you to not use regular alkaline batteries and use some good rechargeable batteries like Eneloops.
Most likely upgrading to LED technology will increase your battery life just because LEDs take way less power. Most of these are so easy you will not even need MagLite LED bulb replacement instructions.
Now The LED Upgrades For MagLites
Upgrade Mini MagLite To LED
If you have one of the Mini MagLites with a two prong incandescent bulb and you are happy with all of it aside from the brightness an maybe the battery life you are only a quick 10 minute change away from getting some thing way brighter that will take less power to run.
This is one of the top replacements and upgrades for the smaller mini MagLites. It will only work for the mini MagLite that has an incandescent bulb as this is specifically an upgrade from those units.
Coming in at 150 lumens and 4 hours of run time it is a big increase from the incandescent bulb but you do have a much cooler white look in the light. It is easy to install as you just unscrew the flashlight head, unscrew the cap that holds the lens and reflector in place and then reassemble with this in place.
This bulb replacement should fit in any light that is designed to run on 1 or 2 standard AA cells and uses a 2 prong incandescent connection.
It is easy to install by simply removing the current bulb and plugging this one in as you would with any bulb replacement. The advantage of increased battery life, durability, and brightness is worth it if you really want to stick to your older flashlight. It is listed at 100 lumens with just 1 setting.
Upgrade 2 Cell MagLite to LED (C or D batteries)
Some upgrade options only work for 3 cell flashlights and more. There are a couple that will work for the 2 cell flashlights, here they are.
A simple upgrade from a 2-3 Cell C or D flashlight to a Luminus SST40. This will only fit in lights that are originally incandescent lights and will not work for MagLites that are LED from the factory.
This will work with newer or older MagLites since it comes with its own retaining rings. All you need to do is take off the old ring and put this right in and reassemble. Due to the way that the batteries are used you will get more out of this bulb replacement with a 3 cell light than a 2 cell light. This LED upgrade will take a 2 cell light up to 235 lumens or a 3 cell light up to 280 lumens.
Upgrade 3-6 Cell MagLite to LED (C or D batteries)
The bulk of the MagLite upgrade options are for this segment of MagLites. The bigger 3-6 cell lights.
Designed to fit in incandescent MagLites from 3 to 6 cells in either C or D standard types. This will upgrade your incandescent light to a fully focus-able Luminus SST40 emitter. Just unscrew the old one and screw this one in and you are done. Cheap and easy upgrade that gets you up to 325 lumens for the 6-cell light.
Serious MagLite Upgrades Down Here…
Right here we will get into some more serious upgrades both in terms of lumens but also in terms of cost. All of the previous upgrade options were under $35 MSRP. The next set ranges from $50 to $150 MSRP but can get your old tired incandescent MagLite upgrade from 800 to 5000 lumens depending on which MagLite and upgrade you choose.
Older Style MagLites With The 6/10 Depth Inside
This upgrade will take your incandescent MagLite and put a Luminus SST40 in it with the ability to have 3 Modes that top out at 800 lumens. It will not fit into lights that have LEDs from the factory.
Since this will fit in the older style if you have a D cell MagLite without a D in the serial number this is the one to go with. Just unscrew the head of your MagLite and remove the reflector, retaining ring and bulb from the switch tower. Put the retaining ring back in. Remove the bezel and lens from the MagLite head, put the Firefly in and then put it all back to together.
Similar to the previous one but specifically for the Mag Charger System from MagLite. It has a Luminus SST40 LED and is installed in a very similar fashion, easily… The only difference with this one is since it is for the MagCharger system you will lose the 3 modes and are stuck with just the high of 800 lumens.
Newer Style MagLite Head
If you have the newer style MagLite head then this is the ultimate upgrade. These drop ins can handle Li-ion batteries and range between 2000 lumens to 5000 lumens depending on the size of your flashlight and the voltage.
This upgrade is meant to run on the voltage of 3 D cells only or you can use a Li-ion battery with a small upgrade to your system.
The measurements were taken with rechargeable NiMH batteries and Alkaline cells will not perform quite as well. If you want to use this upgrade in a MagLite that can fit more than 3 batteries you will need to use “dummy batteries” or spacers since adding more batteries will increase the voltage and it may overload the drop in.
This drop in will replace your incandescent bulb with 12x Cree XTE LEDs with an output of 2000 lumens. This will truly make your old MagLite be able to keep up with some of the more current lights but it is pretty expensive, not the cheapest MagLite LED upgrade.
To install first remove the head and take out the reflector, retaining ring and low lumen bulb. Next remove the bezel and lens from the head. Drop the upgrade through the top of the head and put the included O-ring on the face. Now just reassemble. This setup comes with three brightness settings of Low, Medium, and a High of 2000 Lumens.
This upgrade is designed to run off the voltage of 6 D cell batteries or 2 IMR Li-ion cells. You can use this drop in with MagLite that is smaller than 6 D cells but then you will need to use 2 Li-ion batteries instead of D cells to meet the voltage requirement of the unit. The installation of this drop in is exactly the same as the previous and you will need spacers in your light if you intend on using Li-ion cells.
This is a top quality high lumen MagLite LED upgrade with a very powerful beam.
Final Thoughts on the Best MagLite LED Conversion Upgrades
MagLite themselves have stepped up their game but it is still not to the level of some of the other flashlight makers in the industry. So really if you want to keep your old MagLite form and step it up one of these might be necessary.
Also, like we said earlier the real reason to do one of these upgrades would be if you have an emotional connection to the light. Which is the best MagLite LED Conversion Upgrade for you? It depends on what you currently have and how much you are willing to put in to get it updated. If you really want a bright light check out our brightest lights buyers guide.
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