Please explain confusing lumens/cree variants on cheap Chinese lights to me..

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  • Please explain confusing lumens/cree variants on cheap Chinese lights to me..
  • Apologies for ANOTHER lights thread!

    I have a Solarstorm X2 thingy like THIS

    Unfortunately, I’ve decided it’s rubbish. It could just be the battery pack that is dying, but even on full charge on my cycle-path commute it doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of decent confidence-inspiring light at pootle-commute-speeds. Weird. Anyway – a new battery pack is not much less in price than a new light.

    tThe Solarstorm 2 x Cree XML powered light is the apparently specified as ‘5000 lumens’ output.

    The replacement one I like the look of is THIS

    The design looks pleasingly cylindrically tidy – as opposed to the Solarstorm Wall-E look – and THREE Crees should equal MOAR POWER!

    BUT the one above is only listed as ‘3800’ lumens, yet it has 3 x Cree XMLs?

    How does more XML Crees not equal more mega lumens?

    Confused.

    It’s all based on lies.

    UK trading standards do not apply in China.

    The solarstorm is not 5000 lumens, and the one you show is not 3800 lumens either.

    THIS might be a better option.

    Premier Icon muggomagic
    Subscriber

    The SS uses U2 LEDs and the other one uses T6 LEDs.
    Most of the Chinese brands use the theoretical max output of the LEDs and then add a couple of thousand lumens to that.

    So will the three cree light be brighter than my existing two cree light?

    Or not.

    If not why?

    What is the difference between a U2 and a T6 Cree? Is one more-betterer?

    (Apologies – I’m not the best technically minded with the multiple abstract numbers and code things they use in this area of stuff!)

    Premier Icon aracer
    Member

    Who knows, but two Crees (or even one) ought to be enough for anybody – if yours doesn’t provide enough light then it’s broken or you’re blind. Who remembers night riding 10 years ago using halogen lights with 10% of the current lumens?

    Premier Icon muggomagic
    Subscriber

    It depends on more than just the LEDs but basically a U2 produces more lumens than the T6 for the same current (I’m not an expert, just stuff I’ve read on various light forums).

    Premier Icon binners
    Subscriber

    How many lumens does a house on fire produce? ;D

    rocketman
    Member

    It’s almost certainly be brighter but ime not particularly well controlled

    I’ve got one with 4 LEDs and it’s like a small nuclear explosion on the handlebars there’s light everywhere. It has its advantages but it’s also uncomfortably blinding if you happen to be at handlebar height e.g. people in cars

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    There are three types of lumens.

    Lumens, actual lumens, measured by a bloke in a white coat waving a wand around in front of a light. These made a brief appearance at the beginning, but died out as they’re generally underwhelming when compared to other methods.

    Lumens, rated lumens, usually based on a calculation by the manufacturer who knows how many amps are going through each LED and therefore how much light it’s producing, it’ll be about 10-15% more than the actual lumens as there’ no losses in the reflector/lense considered. They can also be up or down based on how good the LED’s are, they’re rated at the factory so you can get cheap ones or good ones with similar part numbers.

    Lumens, lies, damn lies, and quoted lumens. These may have some vague relation to the LED’s datasheet if you drove it at a silly number of amps submerged in liquid nitrogen, it may even be for another LED entirely. but it’s not the real world. These are the ones that claim 7000 lumens but barely outperform a 1500 lumen light from a reputable supplier.

    There’s also fake lights, not all ‘solarstorm’ lights are genuine, there are Chinese factories faking Chinese lights!

    As a rule of thumb, a bargain for a decent 4×18650 battery is about £40-£50, if you’re paying less you’re getting less. 4x Panasonic cells alone cost £50 on amazon UK. If you’re paying less than that for lights and batteries you’re definitely buying crap batteries and possibly a crap lamp too. That’s why plenty of people still use their original Magicshine P7 battery packs (£50 for a now very cheap light + a good battery) , but no one (?) uses the solar storm ones (£25 for a good light + a battery made form bits recycled out of dead laptops).

    There are huge threads out there with peoples experiences and reviews of various lights and links to where they bought from. I’ve even taken a punt myself and bought an unknown lamp from china, it turned out to be crap, I wrote a review and got a refund through Paypal as it was so bad.

    If you want something that is guaranteed to work buy something from an actual bricks and mortar UK shop, I think charlie the Bikemonger has some good value lights this year? They’ll be made in China, but at least someone has tested them and determined they’re good enough and not too spendy. If you want to buy form China, do a lot of research and I’d advise following someone else recommendations because there is a lot of rubbish out there and the only way to tell sometimes is to get one and try it.

    b r
    Member

    So will the three cree light be brighter than my existing two cree light?

    No idea, and neither will anyone else.

    FWIW I bought a 5000 lumen light from ebay for £17 a month or so ago. It’s about as powerful as my old Exposure Toro, which was rated at 700 lumen. But for £17, it’s good enough.

    Premier Icon muggomagic
    Subscriber

    How many lumens does a house on fire produce? ;D

    Plenty, but a quite difficult to helmet mount, so would have to go on the bars. 🙂

    It’s all to do with the exchange rate, 1 European lumen is currently worth 3.62 Chinese lumens, but the situation is complicated by the regional lumina multiplier that’s applied in the various regions of china. In the north of the country this can be as high as 2.25.

    Alternatively it all just made up to try and sell you stuff, the chinese lights are bright enough and plenty cheap enough but you need to take their claims with a pinch of salt.

    Premier Icon survivor
    Subscriber

    A friend has the one pictured in OP’s post. Rubbish and is probably dimmer than the probably decent solar storm he has as well.

    Don’t bother with it.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Member

    thisisnotaspoon wrote:

    Lumens, rated lumens, usually based on a calculation by the manufacturer who knows how many amps are going through each LED and therefore how much light it’s producing, it’ll be about 10-15% more than the actual lumens as there’ no losses in the reflector/lense considered.

    Also LEDs are rated at room temperature and they produce rather less at typical working temperatures, which is another 10-15% less.

    The issue as you say though is the made up numbers – I’ve got no particular objection to using lab rated lumen figures as it does at least give you a decent way to compare, as the losses are similar for all setups (optic gain – ie how many lux you get in the area of interest rather than how many lumens you’re wasting lighting up the trees – makes a more significant difference and nobody mentions that).

    Premier Icon AlexSimon
    Subscriber

    There are copies of copies of copies around.
    Randomly buying lights off ebay or dx or anywhere else is likely to bring mixed results.

    Even though I have had a good Solarstorm X2 (still use it on my head), I was looking for a second light and decided to look through lots of threads to find something that I knew was an ‘original’ design with consistent production and good feedback.

    I went with a Nitefighter BT21 from Gearbest in Neutral LED format.
    It’s about the same brightness as the X2 but with a nicer beam pattern and neutral colour.
    I then went to a recommended battery seller off ebay to buy the battery.

    Everything is running great.

    Nitefighter also do a brighter model – the BT40

    (Edited because the first link was to the full package instead of the just the light unit)

    Premier Icon muggomagic
    Subscriber

    As mentioned above, you are better off buying from one of the Chinese warehouse places like kaidomain, gearbest or dx. Amazon and eBay seem to be flooded with the knock off ones.

    Thanks for the info guys. Very helpful. I shall peruse various options a bit more. I’m hopefully looking for something less than £25 which will make my cycle-path commute pleasingly and satisfyingly well-lit..

    For this I will be needing some kit of bar-mounted nuclear explosion..

    It also needs to be genuinely waterproof too.. as the commuter lives outside (with the lights left attached).

    And the light unit needs to be cylindrical in shape.

    Probably an impossible ask! 😆

    grum
    Member

    Sounds like the one you’ve got is either a fake or defective. The one I’ve got (with a helmet light as well) is plenty bright enough for techy DHs and blasting through the woods etc.

    Premier Icon muggomagic
    Subscriber

    Be aware that gearbest is experiencing some difficulty with the nitefighter lights right now. It seems that they have run out of stock of BT21 and BT70, but are not updating their site or customers that have placed orders.
    I had a BT21 on order for a couple of weeks, contacted them after a week and they said they were waiting stock that would arrive within 3-5 days, waited another week and it was still going to be another 3-5 days so I just cancelled and got a refund as I didn’t really need it anyway. Lots more talk on mtbr light forum of similar issues.

    Premier Icon bigblackshed
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    I’ve got a very cheap 1,000,000 lumen Chinese lamp. Batteries last about an hour, they may well explode next time I charge them. But for £17 its pretty good. It has been known to burn the bristles off a boar at 30 paces, but also on occassion to be as bright as the flicker-in-the-eye of a post menopausal nun.

    It doesn’t really matter about the led, its about the quality of the reflector. My Hope HID still out performs lots of led lamps. It’s a shame I have to use a 90mm stem to mount the battery. Then again the whole ensemble is suitably retro.

    Premier Icon Northwind
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    no_eyed_deer – Member

    Thanks for the info guys. Very helpful. I shall peruse various options a bit more. I’m hopefully looking for something less than £25 which will make my cycle-path commute pleasingly and satisfyingly well-lit..

    For this I will be needing some kit of bar-mounted nuclear explosion..

    It also needs to be genuinely waterproof too.. as the commuter lives outside (with the lights left attached).

    And the light unit needs to be cylindrical in shape.

    Probably an impossible ask!

    I’ve not done that sort of long-term outside use but the Magicshine mj-856 might tick all your boxes. Not as bright as the brightest, but an excellent beam pattern, always been waterproof for orrible scottish weather, good enough to race night downhill and enduro races with. Constant outdoor life is more insidious with damp, though.

    A useful rule of thumb ime… The XML LEDs are the cheapest way to get massive power and so when you have a manufacturer that just wants to make a huge theoretical lumen claim, and doesn’t really care about actual performance, they will always use XMLs these days. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a good XML light but it does mean that most lights that suck these days, use XMLs. Often lots of them. Also any light with more than 2 XMLs, attached to a 4 cell battery pack is taking the piss.

    Meanwhile the XPG is a harder LED to make a really bright light with, and more expensive per lumen, which means that when a manufacturer chooses an XPG they’re more likely to be doing something clever and quality. You can make an XPG light that sucks but mostly you don’t bother, you make an XML light that sucks instead.

    It’s kind of annoying… Even cheap lights make more than enough power, the question now is all about what you do with it. But that’s hard to quantify or make ebay ads around so instead of going “1600 lumens with a great beam” the main selling points are always “20000 (fictional) lumens”, and probably a beam pattern from hell with a patch a foot wide that’s brighter than daylight.

    This…

    How many lumens does a house on fire produce?

    and this…

    f you want something that is guaranteed to work buy something from an actual bricks and mortar UK shop, I think charlie the Bikemonger has some good value lights this year? They’ll be made in China, but at least someone has tested them and determined they’re good enough and not too spendy.

    led me here…

    to buy this… for £40. Plenty bright enough for a hacker such as myself. Less likely to burn my house down. Probably.

    Pity it’s discontinued now 😳

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/1000-lumen-rechargeable-bike-light-a15ln

    sideshow
    Member

    I have both a solarstorm x2 and a cree 3 x T6 that you want to replace it with. The solarstorm is definitely brighter although more focussed to I like having the T6 on bars for a wider beam and solarstorm on head. Each cost less than £20 on ebay and were nice and bright all last winter so maybe yours is just a fake of a fake or broken.

    b r
    Member

    Also any light with more than 2 XMLs, attached to a 4 cell battery pack is taking the piss.

    Got 3 XML’s on mine, and managed a 3 hour night ride last week with probably an hour at full power – but now have a 6 cell battery, so hopefully mean less ‘throttling’ back 🙂

    Premier Icon johnnystorm
    Subscriber

    Torchy the Battery Boy is doing a 1000 lumen job for £20 on ebay.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    Torchy the Battery Boy is doing a 1000 lumen job for £20 on ebay.

    Is he? I couldn’t see it when I looked at the weekend

    lightman
    Member

    A lot of posts, but none mentioned that an XM-L will only put out around 1000 Lumens in optimal lab conditions, meaning, as said above, counting for heat/glass loss, a single properly driven XM-L at full power will give you around 800 Lumens and that will get less the more leds you add to small light due to the heat issue.

    That figure would probably drop to around 300-400 lumens max each for any light with more than 2 leds.

    Usually when the Chinese start selling/advertising stuff, the figures are only 10-20% inflated, but all it takes is for one of the liars to up the figures a bit and then everyone joins in, and then you get the stupid figure we’re on now.
    The problem is, is that it works for the less informed buyers, so they buy the light with the biggest number.

    As for saying that there are fake Solarstorm/Magicshine lights out there, do you guys not understand that those lights ARE the fakes?!

    The Chinese rarely design stuff themselves, they wait for companies around the world to design and make them, then they just copy them and think of a stupid name to sell them under (it usually takes a few trys to find a stupid name that buyers like!).

    There is probably very little difference between all the similar Chinese lights for sale (head unit only), only the speed of manufacturing. The ones that last longer are probably the ones that have had a bit more time spent on building them and making sure all the screws are tight and there is heatsink in all the correct places.
    The battery packs are where you are better just making or buying your own, see my reply here.

    Premier Icon ianbradbury
    Subscriber

    Part of the issue you’re having is not about the amount of light, but also about how it’s distributed. For cycle path commuting, as opposed to navigating forest singletrack, you may be better off with a more road-specific light, such as the Ixon Core or Axa GreenLine 50.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Subscriber

    As for saying that there are fake Solarstorm/Magicshine lights out there, do you guys not understand that those lights ARE the fakes?!

    It’s an LED in an aluminium case, with a bit of glass up front, and aluminium reflector round the side and a bit of electronics in the back. I don’t think anyone looked at the the Magishine when it came out and said “that’s a fake Lupine”. It was just another light, but this time it was from a factory in china, not a shed in the USA. It was also very cheap, and even Troute admitted well made (and the battery and charger were OK too). Since then there have indeed been ‘fake’ Magishines (there’s 10’s on DX alone), and later Solarstorms.

    Factories making competing products is competition. Factories churning out things that look like Magicshines, Solarstorms, Nitefighters with recycled laptop cells are fakes.

    bartimaeus
    Member

    Have a read of this: http://flashlightwiki.com/Cree. Basically CREE have been through a number of generations of LEDs e.g. XPG, XML and XML2 and within each generation of LED there are ‘brightness Bins’ which are batches of the same LED at different levels of quality. So an XML-U2 is brighter than an XML-T6 for the same current. You will notice that the Chinese claimed lumens can sometimes be higher than the theoretical max output at the highest possible current… so utter rubbish.

    Your light also has a driver which regulates the actual current delivered to the LED and a cell or battery which delivers the current/voltage. My XML2 torches run at 2.4amps on HI and 0.9amps on MED so there is no possible chance that they can give the claimed 1770 lumens but if they are T6 then HI is somewhere around 900 and MED is maybe 450. The only thing that matters to me as that MED is fine for general riding giving 2.5 hours or more on a single cell, while HI is very bright and lasts about an hour. For £6.50 that will do just fine.

    Stevet1
    Member

    Dug my 10 year old L&M solo logic lights out last night, a massive 320 lumens at full power but always seemed plenty bright enough.

    Premier Icon aracer
    Member

    lightman wrote:

    As for saying that there are fake Solarstorm/Magicshine lights out there, do you guys not understand that those lights ARE the fakes?!
    The Chinese rarely design stuff themselves, they wait for companies around the world to design and make them, then they just copy them and think of a stupid name to sell them under (it usually takes a few trys to find a stupid name that buyers like!).

    Where are the originals then?

    A lot of stuff is designed in China. Plenty of genuinely novel stuff (I can think of a few companies doing that just in one small market area I know about) and also a lot of stuff which is a new take on existing stuff but not particularly novel – which is what Magicshines are. Magicshine might not be the original, simply rebranded, but it’s a genuine version of the Chinese original. And yes, there are inferior copies of things like this out there (see also SJ4000 which is a Chinese original with inferior copies).

    Premier Icon aracer
    Member

    Fergus O'Loughlin wrote:

    Have a read of this: http://flashlightwiki.com/Cree. Basically CREE have been through a number of generations of LEDs e.g. XPG, XML and XML2 and within each generation of LED there are ‘brightness Bins’ which are batches of the same LED at different levels of quality. So an XML-U2 is brighter than an XML-T6 for the same current.

    The trouble with some of these lights being sold on ebay is that there is no way to check the bin of the LED without removing them from the heasink, so the unscrupulous could claim U2 bins for LEDs which aren’t.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    The big issue with these light sets is the batteries – they are terrible. Possibly pulled out of recycled batteries that have died.

    Best thing to do is buy the lights and get some decent batteries (and a charger) from somewhere else. It’s still vastly cheaper than it used to be.

    Stedlocks
    Member

    Torchy has those 1000 lumen hobbies back on the bay again…..I just bought one, so will report back!
    My mate has one, and I couldn’t believe the quality for £20…. I have been using a set of Ay-Ups for a few years, and this £20 thing is brighter, with a very nice, clean beam pattern.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    I’m still using my Lumicycle LEDs from, erm 2010 or so, they work perfectly, put out more than enough light to ride with at night and when a switch got a bit inconsistent, they repaired it and had the light back to me in the space of five days.

    Ditto, still have a fully functional Exposure Joystick from 2009, still going strong. A later Joystick from a year or so back stopped working, Exposure fixed and returned it under warranty in under a week.

    I don’t really get why people keep buying what are basically disposable cheap lights from eBay, waiting for them to break, then repeating the cycle. I’d rather spend more initially, have lights that work reliably, can be repaired rather than junked and don’t mean I’m constantly throwing more cheap electrics into the global dustbin.

    I don’t fully understand why people who would happily spend £2.5k on a carbon full-suspension frame seem reluctant to invest in decent lighting. Yes, I understand that the £250 odd I spent on a Lumicycle light is a fair whack, but break it down into an annual cost and I doubt it’s that much more than people are throwing at random eBay lights over the same period.

    And while it might not matter to you, both Lumicycle and Exposure are British companies who manufacture in the UK and I kind of like that. Anyway, sorry about that interruption. I realise everyone has different priorities and YMMV, but I would at least consider spending a little more for long-term dependability and quality.

    Premier Icon mattbee
    Subscriber

    With regards to the cheap v expensive argument, I suppose that as well as actual expendable cash available it also comes down to use.
    I reside at night a fair bit in the winter, usually at least once a week. I went through a few different Chinese lights but decided the amount of use made spending Exposure money was worth it.
    My wife rarely rides at night for fun so she will just use my Chinese lots on the odd occasion she wants to come out. No point spending lots for them to be in a drawer for most of their life.
    She commutes daily by bike though so for that she has a set of Exposure lights which have lasted over 12 months of pretty much daily use.

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