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Thread: LED or not

  1. #1
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    Question LED or not

    Some people have told me that LED lights don't cut through smoke very well; some people have told me they do. What's the real truth?

    I'm looking for a right-angle light to hang on a coat.

    One firefighter told me that non-LED lights cut through smoke better but that, at least in his experience, lighting through smoke isn't actually particularly important. He prefers LED so as to have a brighter, longer-lasting (per charge) beam for utility purposes.

    But I've just read an older thread here in which someone said LED cuts through smoke better.

    Since I'm only just starting the basic firefighting course in a couple weeks, I have no experience to guide me. What kind of bulb cuts through smoke better, and how important is that anyway?

    Two lights in particular I'm considering are the Streamlight Survivor and the Pelican Big Ed. My station doesn't issue any kind of coat light so I'm pretty much free to pick whatever I want.

    If it makes a difference, I'm with a suburban FD, with actual structure fires few and far between. But of course I'd still want my gear to be ready for one in case I ever actually do get in one...
    -Justin J. "JJR512" Rebbert

    The comments and opinions I express are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of any employer or volunteer organization with which I am associated. Nobody is responsible for anything I say other than I alone.


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    I too have heard the same two arguments. Streamlight has discontinued the Survivor lights in anything but LED. So if you want Halogen/Xenon, it's Pelican or nothing.

    Here is how i break it down:

    Halogen/Xenon bulbs in Anglehead flashlights:

    Pro's:
    1. Bright, warm light. 72 lumens on the rechargeable. 48 lumens on the C battery version.
    2. Beam Color cuts smoke well.
    3. LIFETIME Warranty.

    Con's:
    1. High wattage gives poor battery life.
    2. Can be damaged by shock and vibration.
    3. Can be damaged if the bulb gets wet.
    4. Bulbs have a limited life. Can and do burn out, without warning.
    5. Produce heat and can create a spark if the bulb shatters.
    6. Streamlight has discontinued the Halogen versions. So it's Pelican or nothing.
    7. Uses C batteris which cost more, are heavier and make the light physically larger.

    Pelican Big Ed Xenon Rechargeable:
    Light Source: Xenon (Primary) Krypton (Back-up)
    Battery Burn Time: 2 hrs. (Primary) 5 hrs. (Back-up)
    Charging Time: 2.5 hrs
    Weight: 20.48oz Rechargeable version, 20.32oz C version.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    LED Anglehead Survivor flashlights:

    Pro's:

    1. Extremeley bright. Cuts better then most Halogen bulbs. High Beam: up to 21,000 candela peak beam intensity; 100 lumens; Low Beam: Up to 7,500 candela peak beam intensity; 32 lumens
    2. Bright white color offers much more light then any halogen/xenon bulb.
    3. Super low wattage gives super long battery life. Survivor LED battery life:
    Runtimes: NiCd – High: 3.5 hours; Low: 10+ hours; Flash: 7+ hours :::: Alkaline – High: 4 hours; Low: 14+ hours; Flash: 7+ hours
    4. Impervious to shock and vibration.
    5. LED's lifespan is usually 50 times+ that of halogen bulbs. Unlikley to ever need replacement. Survivor LED rated for 50,000 hours.
    6. Produces little to no heat. No chance of sparking.
    7. LED's do not typically fail instantly. They degrade slowly.
    8. Survivor light has the option of using a AA battery holder so if you have no rechargeable batteries, you can use easily available AA batteries.
    9. LIFETIME Warranty.
    10. Super lightweight. Do not have exact weight but it is less then the Big Ed by far. (We have both)

    Cons:

    1. Sometimes Higher initial cost, although offset dramatically by never having to buy spare bulbs.
    2. Intense white light can reflect more off of smoke. But the cutting power is worth it in my opinion.


    So i see it as a no brainer. Much longer run time and no fragile bulb to fail. I am going with LED. What little possible smoke cutting power a Halogen bulb may offer is not worth it to me because of all the downsides to it.

    Just my opinons.

  3. #3
    Forum Member truckedup133's Avatar
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    WD.....as usual....has done his research and it shows. The LED is definitely worth the money. HOWEVER, it is little to no help in a fire. No doubt it comes in handy on extrications, rescues, etc after dark. But for actual firefighting purposes, take it or leave it....jmo.

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    WD6956, thank you for all the info and summarizing. I do have a question or two. About LED lights, you say, "Cuts better then most Halogen bulbs." But about halogen lights, you say, "Beam Color cuts smoke well," and in your conclusion, you say, "What little possible smoke cutting power a Halogen bulb may offer..."

    It seems that twice you say halogen cuts through smoke better, but you also say that LEDs cut through smoke better than most halogens. So I'm a bit confused about which one you are saying cuts through smoke better.
    -Justin J. "JJR512" Rebbert

    The comments and opinions I express are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of any employer or volunteer organization with which I am associated. Nobody is responsible for anything I say other than I alone.

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    Default LED...all the way...

    I work for a dept that has streamlight halogens on all the trucks. And every shift I clip one on to my scba. And every fire that I've had, I've pulled my streamlight LED strion off my radio strap and can see WAY better than anyone else.

    The LED is brighter, lasts longer, is more durable. The difference is that it's brightness actually reflects off the smoke more and therefore "cuts" through less. Kinda like driving with your brights on when it's foggy outside.

    But when there is that much smoke, the light isn't what guides you, it's just what makes you visible to your team. And when you use your light is when you're checking out a attic on a smoke investigation and/or in a larger house once the powers been cut.

    Get get the C4 streamlight right angle, you will not be dissapointed.

    B Frame

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    we purchased survivor led alkaline lites 2 yrs ago. we also have some of the big ed's. we like them both. the only issue we have had with the survivor led lights is that when the batteries get low there is no indication, they just go out where ever u are. stay safe

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJR512 View Post
    WD6956, thank you for all the info and summarizing. I do have a question or two. About LED lights, you say, "Cuts better then most Halogen bulbs." But about halogen lights, you say, "Beam Color cuts smoke well," and in your conclusion, you say, "What little possible smoke cutting power a Halogen bulb may offer..."

    It seems that twice you say halogen cuts through smoke better, but you also say that LEDs cut through smoke better than most halogens. So I'm a bit confused about which one you are saying cuts through smoke better.

    Sorry about being a bit confusing. I was working on one hour of sleep in the past 24 hours.

    Halogen/Xenon bulbs are not as intense as an LED light. They also are warmer in color (More yellow) then the pure white of LED lights. Because of that, the glare is less on smoke. Easier on the eyes. LED's are very intense and will throw a beam through thick smoke quite well, often better then any Halogen, BUT, they also create a lot of glare with light reflecting off the smoke. To some people, this is annoying, to me? i can deal with it.

    To have a better idea of what i am talking about, go to any shop (or find a buddy) who has an LED flashlight of some kind with a single, super bright LED, often refered to as C4 or Luxeon LED's. Any LED SureFire light will have one as will many of the new Streamlight lights. Even the new MagLight LED lights in all sizes use these. Then take a comparable Halogen/Xenon type light and go to a dark room. Turn each one on seperatley and project them at a wall and look at the beams and the reflection. Then aim the light vertically and don't stare into the beam, but look at the lens of the flashlight. You will see that the LED light hurts your eyes it is so intense. That is that pure white light that can give you excess glare.

    My anglehead light on my coat comes in handy for most outside chores and general lighting use. In a fire, it is never my primary search or navigation light. It's main purpose is to light up the area right around me so i can see my hands on the floor, see a search line, hose, etc. And it acts as a beacon for others to see me. I have yet to have any issue with it not working well in smoke any worse then a Halogen light. But i much prefer the reliability of the light over any others.

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    I do actually have two very similar Surefire 6P variants, one a classic 6P with a xenon bulb (or some kind of halogen) and another with an LED, so I'll try what you were talking about.

    But if I understand what you're saying, it's that the LED throws more light...some of the more light gets to where you want it, and some of it glares back. If you can deal with the glare, there is, in fact, more light getting to where you're pointing. Is that pretty much it?
    -Justin J. "JJR512" Rebbert

    The comments and opinions I express are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of any employer or volunteer organization with which I am associated. Nobody is responsible for anything I say other than I alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JJR512 View Post
    I do actually have two very similar Surefire 6P variants, one a classic 6P with a xenon bulb (or some kind of halogen) and another with an LED, so I'll try what you were talking about.

    Yeah, those two might work. The SureFire Xenon bulbs are super bright though, so the test i described may not be as convincing. But you will have the idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by JJR512 View Post
    But if I understand what you're saying, it's that the LED throws more light...some of the more light gets to where you want it, and some of it glares back. If you can deal with the glare, there is, in fact, more light getting to where you're pointing. Is that pretty much it?

    Yes, that is what i am saying. You get a much more powerful beam and with that power will come some glare.

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    I guess I am going to be the differing viewpoint on this topic.

    I have used Xenon Black Dot bulb Survivor flashlights for over 20 years. In fact the last new flashlight I bought was a Xenon Black Dot bulb Survivor. I chose that over an LED Survivor because of my experience of working with a fellow instructor in the burn tower with an LED Survivor. What WD6956 says is absolutely true about the LED Survivor the light is MUCH brighter and it does create that brights in the fog effect that to me makes it much more difficult to see in smoke. The Xenon Black Dot bulb Survivor does not have that brightness so it does not create as much of the brights in the fog effect.

    If the purpose of the flashlight is to BE SEEN and not to see in smoke then the LED is probably a better choice. If the purpose of the flashlight is to see in smoke then I will take the Xenon bulb. None of them works all that good but I prefer a more focused less glare casting flashlight.

    I will say I believe Streamlights decision to stop making the Xenon Black Dot bulb version of the Streamlight xl90 is a bad one. I guess if my Survivor ever takes a dump I will have to look elsewhere for a new flashlight.

    My best advice for finding a flashlight you will like is to see if anyone you know is using one you are thinking about buying and see if they will let you try it out in smoke.
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia

    This place gets weirder and weirder every day...

  11. #11
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    Default Vulacan Light

    If I was you I would purchase a LED right angle Streamlight for your coat. I would also purchase a Streamlight Vulcan. At work I have a right angle on my coat, and the Vulcan on my gut belt. The Vulcan comes with a quick release seat belt strap so you can carry it on a gut belt or shoulder strap. The Vulcan cuts through smoke very well...

    http://www.thefirestore.com/store/pr...houlder_strap/


    This is what I carry mine on......

    http://www.thefirestore.com/store/pr...r_escape_belt/

    Good luck in the academy Brother! Stay safe.
    FDNY 343 9/11/01 WILL Never Forget!

    (W-6)

    "We Lucky Few We Band of Brothers." William Shakespeare

    "let no man's ghost return to say his training let him down. "

    D-P-T

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My best advice for finding a flashlight you will like is to see if anyone you know is using one you are thinking about buying and see if they will let you try it out in smoke.
    Thats the best advice so far. Get your hands on an LED and a halogen, or incadescant bulb, and see what works best for YOU
    .

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    Sorry guys, it's been a while since I have posted on here, and posted this as a new thread instead of a reply to a active thread. Let the ball busting begin.
    FDNY 343 9/11/01 WILL Never Forget!

    (W-6)

    "We Lucky Few We Band of Brothers." William Shakespeare

    "let no man's ghost return to say his training let him down. "

    D-P-T

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    Let's try this again

    ` If I was you I would purchase a LED right angle Streamlight for your coat. I would also purchase a Streamlight Vulcan. At work I have a right angle on my coat, and the Vulcan on my gut belt. The Vulcan comes with a quick release seat belt strap so you can carry it on a gut belt or shoulder strap. The Vulcan cuts through smoke very well...

    http://www.thefirestore.com/store/pr...houlder_strap/

    This is what I carry mine on......

    http://www.thefirestore.com/store/pr...r_escape_belt/

    Good luck in the academy Brother! Stay safe.
    Last edited by TruckSixFF; 01-30-2011 at 03:27 PM.
    FDNY 343 9/11/01 WILL Never Forget!

    (W-6)

    "We Lucky Few We Band of Brothers." William Shakespeare

    "let no man's ghost return to say his training let him down. "

    D-P-T

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    Who said that we busted balls??

    Just an honest mistake.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    If the purpose of the flashlight is to BE SEEN and not to see in smoke then the LED is probably a better choice. If the purpose of the flashlight is to see in smoke then I will take the Xenon bulb. None of them works all that good but I prefer a more focused less glare casting flashlight.
    Thankfully Streamlight is still offering the Vulcan lights in Halogen an Xenon. So you still have that option. I use an LED Vulcan which is ridiculously bright and works great for investigating alarms, etc. As i am not an officer, i don't carry a handlight in a fire anyhow.


    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    I will say I believe Streamlights decision to stop making the Xenon Black Dot bulb version of the Streamlight xl90 is a bad one. I guess if my Survivor ever takes a dump I will have to look elsewhere for a new flashlight.

    I too agree it was a bad move to discontinue them. But when i contacted Streamlight to ask why, their answer was what i expected, the LED's were outselling the Xenon to the point it was not cost effective to even offer the Xenon any more. On paper, it makes sense as to why. LED's have longer battery life, brighter light, no bulbs to ever fail or replace. So most departments prefer them. What they don't take into account is the visibility issue, but i guess it's not that big a deal to most people.

    As of now, the bulbs are still being made and their are parts on hand. For how long, who knows. If you truly prefer the Xenon version, i would buy another complete light while you still can from leftovers a dealer may have and buy some spare bulbs.

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My best advice for finding a flashlight you will like is to see if anyone you know is using one you are thinking about buying and see if they will let you try it out in smoke.
    Great advice. Nothing beats a hands on demo and a review from someone you know and who's opinion you trust.

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    You should be able to click Edit and then delete this thread?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
    Who said that we busted balls??

    Just an honest mistake.
    In order to bust balls.... one must have them!

    Just kidding, bro, just kidding...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by TruckSixFF View Post
    Let's try this again

    ` If I was you I would purchase a LED right angle Streamlight for your coat. I would also purchase a Streamlight Vulcan. At work I have a right angle on my coat, and the Vulcan on my gut belt. The Vulcan comes with a quick release seat belt strap so you can carry it on a gut belt or shoulder strap. The Vulcan cuts through smoke very well...

    http://www.thefirestore.com/store/pr...houlder_strap/

    This is what I carry mine on......

    http://www.thefirestore.com/store/pr...r_escape_belt/

    Good luck in the academy Brother! Stay safe.
    At my station, we have similar lights to the Vulcan. I'm not sure if it's actually a Streamlight Vulcan or some other brand/model but it's the same basic kind of light. And this is what they use now instead of the Survivor. (From what I'm told, they used to put Survivors out there for people to take in, but they started disappearing because people would leave them clipped to their coats...take the coats home...and presto, a free flashlight.)

    I'll have to check and see what kind of bulb these box lights use but I seem to recall that they're not LED. So I see what you're saying, though; for the coat light, it makes sense to get whatever kind of bulb the box light is not. That way, I have one of each kind of bulb at the ready.
    -Justin J. "JJR512" Rebbert

    The comments and opinions I express are solely my own and do not necessarily represent those of any employer or volunteer organization with which I am associated. Nobody is responsible for anything I say other than I alone.

  20. #20
    Forum Member Rescue101's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJR512 View Post
    Some people have told me that LED lights don't cut through smoke very well; some people have told me they do. What's the real truth?

    I'm looking for a right-angle light to hang on a coat.

    One firefighter told me that non-LED lights cut through smoke better but that, at least in his experience, lighting through smoke isn't actually particularly important. He prefers LED so as to have a brighter, longer-lasting (per charge) beam for utility purposes.

    But I've just read an older thread here in which someone said LED cuts through smoke better.

    Since I'm only just starting the basic firefighting course in a couple weeks, I have no experience to guide me. What kind of bulb cuts through smoke better, and how important is that anyway?

    Two lights in particular I'm considering are the Streamlight Survivor and the Pelican Big Ed. My station doesn't issue any kind of coat light so I'm pretty much free to pick whatever I want.

    If it makes a difference, I'm with a suburban FD, with actual structure fires few and far between. But of course I'd still want my gear to be ready for one in case I ever actually do get in one...
    See if you can borrow one of each,get in the Smokehouse and draw your OWN conclusion. In my experience either is OK as you won't be seeing a lot anyway. I like the extended run time of the Led,but thats just me. T.C.

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