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What LED throws the farthest? Answered

I want to make an LED headlamp and need to know how to make the light go the farthest. Should I get 4 smaller less bright LEDs or 1 mega powered one.Jack?

5 Replies

snowluck2345 (author)2011-03-12

Get an XPE R2, the newer ones have a larger die size. This makes it harder to focus. Get a large aspheric lens and use that to focus the led. A maglite makes a good host fora 52 mm lens

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ac-dc (author)2010-03-21

We might as well start by remembering "farthest" is not the only consideration, more important is to consider what tradeoff of distance vs other features or cost you need.

In other words,  it actually only needs to throw far enough.

However to answer the question a bare LED of any type has very poor spot focus, that focus is achieved by your choice of lens in front of or reflector around the LED.  Doing this there are many LED that can throw a good distance. 

Some will say that the smaller the LED die the easier it is to focus into a small area and it is true except that proportionally you get the same result with a larger die (and thus higher power) LED, you just need a correspondingly larger reflector for it and all else being equal the larger the reflector the more efficient it is.

Generic answer - get a Cree XP-E LED and a large deep reflector rated for a tight beam shape of say 7 degrees or less.  A lens will focus it even tighter but for a headlamp it may be too tight and a lens has less efficiency than a decent reflector does.

One thing that is definitely not going to do well at all for throw is a bunch of 5 to 20mm encapsulated type LEDs, even with a great reflector around them they will not do well at all in comparison to a single or group of power LEDs each with their own lens or reflector.

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UziMonkey (author)2009-02-03

LEDs will have a diffusion angle in their specs. Those with a narrower angle (lower number) will be more directional. You might also want to hack up a flashlight and use the reflector to keep all the light going forward as well.

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Joe426 (author)2009-02-03

I'd say a bunch of 5mm bright white ones would work well for that.

You'll find some great deals on 5mm to 20mm LEDs here.

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