On this page I investigate Maglite flashlight LED conversion issues and find out tips for original Mag as well as various third party MagLite LED upgrade kits.
Maglite LED Upgrade Flashback
Let's be honest there are die hard Mag fans out there. But those who are most critical perhaps considered MAG outdated for some time. That is until now ... Because Mag introduced the MAG-LED family and jumped back in the game.
However, even before that, there were and still are extensive 3rd party kits for Mag to convert to LED.
It was the Mini that started the upgrade craze
Conversion of the Mag flashlights started on the minis, but without Mag's active paricipation. Folks converted them with 3rd party LEDs in droves. That is until recently ... Why?
Because reluctantly and belatedly, but finally MAG came out with it's own LED version in this class - for the AA and AAA (2 and 3 AA alkaline battery) models.
C and D series
MAG also began selling OEM grade conversion LED kits for a few models in C and D series (2-4 cells only.)
Mag Solitaire is a kind of forgotten child. For now, there is no original OEM upgrade to LED available for the Solitaire series that I know of. Since this is the least popular among heavy and dedicated Mag lovers, expect this to be fixed or they pretty much can scrap the Solitaire line.
MagLite LED Upgrade
Original OEM grade upgrades
No surprise then that conversion upgrade is real easy. You can upgrade any C or D size Maglite® flashlight (2, 3 or 4 cell). Just do as you would with replacing the halogen bulb. Except this time put back the MAG-LED module. (Same collar acts as base heat sink I presume. But plenty extra heat sink and a precision driver is provided with the replacement MAG kit.)
The old bright mini lights (halogen lamps) are so resembling LED units from earlier designs, no wonder MAGlite mini flashlights take to LEDs like duck to water.
Important: Maglite LED Upgrade kits are based on CELL Number Size. Example: 2 Cell, 3 Cell and 4 Cell. They must mirror match the numbering of your existing 2 Cell, 3 Cell and 4 Cell Maglite®.
These are the ONLY retrofits approved by MAG. Do other conversions at your own peril. You could easily overdrive or undersink your third party LED. If you love your MAG and I know you do, Don't screw with it. Respect it so that you make even the upgrade a work of art.
Third party conversions
I do not recommend using just any third party conversions for vital parts of your AA and AAA Cell Mags. Here is Why ...
It is common sense, but just take a look at the C and D OEM conversion LED modules - how well crafted they are.
You cannot possible pack such integrated heat sinking punch in the smaller size. And there is no way you could use larger dimensions - it simply won't fit. You could make DIY shortcuts, a lot of smarter-than-thou may offer that kind of bulldust on the Net.
I don't and do not recommend.
Again. Respect your Mag. It IS and engineering marvel. So make the conversion a work of art too, just as intended.
That said, there are three extensive third party Maglite LED upgrades I found. Tektite and Terralux bulbs and Nite Ize kits.
Tektite bulbs for AA, AAA and Solitaire Mags are claimed not to void your Mag warranty . These upgrades use Nichia LED bulbs.
At present Terralux bulb conversions will void your Mag warranty.
Terralux has 3 Watt Luxeon LED bulbs to upgrade your Mag Rechargeable flashlight.
If your upgrade bulb does not light up ...
Note: Replacement bulbs are LED units and they use DC power. They only light up if light flows in the right direction. So if your battery does not light up, just rotate it 180 degrees so you effectively change pin positions.
At present Nite Ize conversions will void your Mag warranty.
A company called Nite Ize developed a conversion kit for your AA mini and C-D series (1-6 cells). For the AA mini they offer a 1 Watt Luxeon LED upgrade with plenty heat sinks, (bacause of this it has my preference) and a 3-unit LED package as a replacement for your current single halogen bulb and a replacement for your MAG reflector.
For the C-D series they offer an unspecified single LED unit with seemingly very little to offer in the heat sinking department.
They also offer a tail-cap switch replacement with two different types. One is a simple switch, the other is a multi-function switch that also includes various dimming and even strobing functions.
And a real beaut': a fiber optic light bender conversion kit for your mini MAG AA. (Pictured red flashlight with fiber optic upgrade cap and light bended where needed to accomplish precision task.)
However, there is a caveat ...
There is no reliable review available on actually how these not original Mag OEM factory upgrades and conversions stand up. That said, I have found a few, largely unspecified reviews claiming that the 1 Watt after-market replacement pack was an improvement on the mini MAG AA. But these are mostly dated from the time when Mag-grade factory replacements were not available. (If you find recent forum submissions or reviews other than from Nite Ize, please let me know, and you'll be thanked for the service to my readers.)
Let this following quote serve as a reminder:
(from Nite Ize Web site, one extensive third party kit provider)
"Replacing the original bulb with the Nite Ize® L.E.D. Upgrade Kit will void the MAG Instrument® LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY covering the AA MINI MAGLITE® flashlight."
I'd be on the lookout too, but if you did try this conversion, keep me posted how it worked.
Here you can find all the stores that stock Nite Ize Maglite LED upgrade and conversion products. There are quite a few of those stockists putting faith in the products, so if you put up with your warranty being void your conversion might just work:
Tip: Use dummy batteries. 3 Watt Luxeons generally require no more than 4.5 Volt to run (3 battery cells.) So if your flashlight is built originally for more cells (4-6), don't dispair. Use batteries without charge that are there just to fill up the space. You should be able to find them in C and D cell sizes. And they are claimed to compliment both alkaline and NiMh (rechargeable) batteries. Here is where you find them: http://batteryjunction.com/csidubafor45.html
Again: Mag, the original MAG OEM holder does not endorse or recommend 3rd party conversions.
More harmless third party conversions
You can consider even more harmless so called conversions from third parties, such as installing various clips, directional holsters etc to convert not just you Mag light but also you Mag Lite (pardon the pun.)
Of course, you can grade it back too ...
Maglite LED D Cell Flashlight (2, 3 and 4 Cell) replacement bulb is the old krypton bulb.
So while you can convert your old D Cell MAGs you can actually "degrade" them back to the former warmer color too. You can change back the LED module to the Krypton lamp that is as usual with all Mags stored in the tail cap.
Trademark Note: All Mag, Nite Ize, Tektite and Terralux brands and their derivatives (Except for MAGology) are trademarks and the property of the respective owners.
My other Maglite articles
I compare all Mag models and Mags to other leading models.
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