Instructables

Mining cheap, bright white LED bulbs from Harbor Freight Flashlights

Picture of Mining cheap, bright white LED bulbs from Harbor Freight Flashlights
hf flashlight.jpg
The Harbor Freight 27 LED flashlight, Item # 67227 or 69567 is a great deal, even if you just plan to use it as a flashlight.  The list price is $5.99, but it's very easy to find coupons online or in your local newspaper ad to get the flashlight for $3.50 or less.  And it comes with batteries!

The flashlight is an absolute godsend if you have a use/need for high brightness LED bulbs.  The 27 LED's in the flashlight each have a forward voltage of 3v and a forward current of 50mA.  In comparison, white LED's cost $2.50 for a package of just 2 at RadioShack.

With just a soldering iron, a multimeter, some wire, and a "third hand" (either store-bought or homemade), you can extract all 27 LEDs for whatever nefarious purpose should suit you.
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Take the flashlight apart

For some reason, my flashlight body is orange.  The newer ones have blue bodies, but are otherwise the exact same.

Unscrew the three Phillips head screws on the back cover, then pry the back cover off with a flat-bladed screwdriver. This will reveal four more Phillips head screws--remove these.  Remove the batteries also.

The top cover, lens, and reflector should all be fairly straightforward to remove.  After removing the batteries, snip the two wires leading between the circuit board and the battery compartment.

The magnet on the back of the cover is useful for retaining the screws.  Keep the magnet, screws, and hooks for other projects.
photony5 months ago

OK geniusssss(genieii?) I am looking to COMBINE 4 or so of these TOGETHER...WHOLE to make photography lighting...where do I start? How much voltage, etc...

They are currently free. (one per customer per day) LINK (2014-02-15, expire 2014-02-28)

etcmn6 months ago

Thanks for the tips. I bought a full case of these at Harbor Freight with the same idea. I got them for less than $3ea which is definitely a lot less than 2 dozen LEDs would cost me anywhere else.

Also big thanks for the link to the LED calculator. I'm a fair hand at household electrics (110/220V) but quite lost when talking about low voltage parts.

georion8 months ago
Radio shack prices DO suck $16 plus tax for 4 foot cable rthat everyone else sells for $4!
pfred28 months ago
I tried doing this with their aluminum flashlights but the ones I took apart had bad LEDs in them. I took them apart because about half the LEDs died in a couple of those flashlights I have. The rest died quickly using them too. So they were just defective I suppose.

I have a 27 LED flashlight and so far it is OK. I should pick up another just to pull the LEDs out of it. Like you say, it is cheaper than buying them at Radio Shack. I imagine the flashlight body itself might make a nice project box too.

Really when I use my flashlight I only like when the nose lights, not the panel. So I guess I could just take the panel LEDs off and still have a flashlight. I'll have to get one and investigate.
ironsmiter pfred28 months ago
The only trick will be cutting the switch leads for the 24 led panel and rewiring it to the 3 led panel. That willturn it into a "regular" on off switch.

If you don't, then it will take up to 3 clicks to get light coming out. :'(
pfred2 ironsmiter8 months ago
As it is now I have to click a couple of times in order to get the front to light.
Sjoerd X8 months ago
Instead of taking them apart for the LED's, $2.50 will get you 100 LED's from eBay:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lot-of-100pcs-5mm-Round-LED-Super-Bright-Bulb-Electronics-20000-MCD-White-Trendy-/390693244759?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5af721cf57

(or search for other colors, they are often cheaper then white)
pfred2 Sjoerd X8 months ago
I haven't used Fleabay in years. By the time shipping is calculated there goes your good deal!
foobear Sjoerd X8 months ago
Have you tried these ones from ebay - are they good? That's a great deal
Sjoerd X foobear8 months ago
Not those specific, but got good experiences with cheap stuff from china. Chinese vendors will refund or resend you when there is a problem with the product; they really like their positive ebay feedback.