Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

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Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby iceclimb » Jul 24, 2012 3:49 pm

So I like to play with LED's, not as much as Kevin and some of the others, but somewhat. One day I was searching around for LED stuff and found that there is a place in china that sells "Bike Lites" with Cree XML T6's in them. They are marketed as "1800" Lumens, and have a headband and handlebar mount. Since they are relatively inexpensive ($30 + shipping) I thought I'd give one of them a try. The tough thing about them is that there are a LOT of Ebay sellers, and online sellers of similar items ranging from about $30 to over $70. I purchased mine from the link below.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/CREE-XML-T6-LED ... 4533wt_986

It arrived today, so I figured I'd give my first impressions of it, without having taken it underground yet. I might get the chance at MadRats, but will at least get the chance to have a bunch of other cavers play with it.

Lets see, the shipping took a little over a week, it comes from China. First impression was that the packaging was terrible, plain brown box with electronics stuffed into it. Taking out the light revealed a pretty cheap headband... with a really bad light connection. Essentially the light has two prongs on it, and an O ring gets wrapped around a post on the headband. It holds the light, but this isn't expedition caving worthy gear. I'm not sure I really care about that because I'll use screws to mount it to my helmet, but it's something to think about.

The battery pack was next, a small nylon case with what appears to be 4 shrink wrapped batteries inside. There is some kind of velcro strap thing that I guess is to mount it to a bike, I haven't yet figured out how to put it on my helmet. (Although that is somewhat trivia) Batteries lead out to a wire with what appears to be stolen from a piece of stereo equipment. I know this will need to be replaced or otherwise secured, mud, dirt, water will all get in here. I'll put some time into that at another time.

At this point I was questioning my sanity... then I opened the light and was pleasantly surprised. The light housing is made of metal! Nicely machined, threads are clean and good, and there are gaskets between all the pieces. I think this piece is well made. The reflector and LED do produce a pretty hefty center bright spot, so if that bothers you... this is not the light for you. There was some talk on one of the forums about an aftermarket reflector or diffuser, but I don't have those. It is BRIGHT... and the spot is really a spot with pretty harsh falloff.

So, I should probably get back to work now, but I'll maybe take some photos of the stuff, and see what I can do about making this more cave worthy, and less headache inducing. Still.. for $30 I wasn't too displeased, still not sure it's an expedition worthy caving lamp.. but I'll give it a try and see what it can do. If nothing else, it'll work on my bike when I ride in to work in the mornings. It's bright enough it might scare off (or attract) bears. I think if I see a bear I'll try to quick put the light into strobe mode, so when the bear charges me it will seem like an old time movie.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby NV Guide » Jul 24, 2012 6:16 pm

I purchased a similar one of these on ebay as well. The 1600 lumen headlamp one. Head was well constructed and used a good emitter. Other than that the rest was almost useless. Head band was OK.

Pulled the lamp apart and tore out the switch and driver.

Ordered new driver and am trying to locate the right switch.

Plan on setting this up to run on 3.7v double 18650 packs.

Lets post our progress and see what we can come up with.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby agosnell » Jul 25, 2012 1:27 am

I have the cree 1800 (non modified) and it has been on at least 8 caving trips on average 5 hours per trip. I bought 3 xtra batteries for it.

I also have the cree 1600 (non modified) and it has been on at least 5 caving trips on average 5 hours per trip. I bought 2 xtra batteries for it.

I am not easy on my gear and have gotten both of them in the water (the head unit) and they never went out.
These lights are awesome, especially for the price.

I did notice one time that when the battery went dead, the light never dimmed, it just went out.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby Chads93GT » Jul 25, 2012 8:04 am

A friend bough three of those. One is the spot lamp version. T lit up suprise pit like crazy. Anywhere you pointed it you could see through the fog. It was nuts.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby BenS » Jul 25, 2012 6:18 pm

How bright are these lights on "normal brightness" and what is the battery life like? They didn't have that info on the ebay page.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby NV Guide » Jul 26, 2012 12:50 am

Most XM-L's are around 750 lum. The highest I've seen is a 1300 lum.
The 1300 was driven at over 4A.

As for battery life, I will be keeping track and let you know.

My plan is to run it on a 2 cell 5200mAh pack.

The most annoying thing about this light is that it has low, high and strobe for modes. You also have to cycle through them all to turn it off. New driver will have 3 modes with memory.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby agosnell » Jul 26, 2012 1:26 am

I only cave with mine on brightest modes, and I am getting over 3.5 hours out of them.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby nekid » Jul 26, 2012 2:41 am

funny description,1800 lumens for credulous people!! xm-l t6 have below 1000 :)
it's not caving light. cheapie chinese BIKE light, you get what you pay for
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby agosnell » Jul 26, 2012 4:09 am

ya, I thought that at one time also....but I have a 100 lumen light from energizer that has surpassed 25 cave trips in at least 14 different caves. bought it for 29.95.

My 19.99 dollar shoes from walmart lasted 4 years on at least 180 trips, when my 140 dollar redwings lasted about 1 year and about 40 trips.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby BenS » Aug 9, 2012 10:47 pm

Any updates on modifying these lights or how well they are performing after multiple cave trips?
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby ArcticHighlander » Aug 15, 2013 9:24 pm

Candle Power & Budget Light forums have a lot of information on LED lights.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby agosnell » Aug 16, 2013 7:28 am

I have 2 of these. (1800 Lumen CREE XM-L T6 LED )
They have been in 8 caves on about 35 trips. I am not going into detail about lumens or other tech stuff. But I can say for the money...they are super bright. Brighter than a Sten. Although the light from a Sten is for lack of better words...more appealing. I found them for 22 dollars on ebay...and have not had any issues other than it takes forever (about 2 weeks) to get them from china.

I just bought 7000 Lumen 5xCREE XMLT6 LED. I only have one trip on it. It is the same light as the 1800 lumen one....except there is just more light. I thought this one would be super hot....but it was not so bad.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby greyspider » Jan 2, 2014 2:48 pm

I just discovered this thread and, like all of you, I'm always looking for a better light. A few things I think we all agree on- More light is better. Less weight/bulk is better. More rugged is better. Less expensive is better (except for the Donald Trump Grotto...).
So, since there is no such thing as "perfect", we try and get the best "compromise". I have been caving for 35 years, gone through carbide, incandescent, and now LED, which is a blessing. Most of the cavers I cave with (including me and my wife) do not do expedition caving and do not submerge our helmets in water. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of NSS cavers can say the same. Those who do those types of caving will have a different interpretation of what is a "good compromise".

I am currently using a Fenix HP11, which is an excellent light with a rugged housing and fairly watertight battery pack, puts out around 250 lumens and stays at that brightness for 4-6 hours on 4 AA batteries, then drops down to a still very useable output for another 4 to 6 hours.. It casts me arond $60. Now I am researching all the CREE headlamps, which seem ridiculously low priced for what they offer. I ordered their "1800 lm" rechargeable model, which of course can't really put out 1800 lm , but so what? Anything noticeably brighter than my Fenix (and even if the advertised 1800lm is 3 times overblown it equates to a very bright output) at the prices (between $17 and $30 for the various models) seems like a no brainer. I'll put in my review once I have it in my hands.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby CaverTyler » Jan 15, 2014 1:20 am

My g/f and myself both have $10 buck china lights, running a 5000mah battery, I get around 6hrs of run time on my headlamp, Its a xm-l T6 led headlamp, I've been caving with it for over a yr now. Been through water, mud, sand, gravel, banged on rocks, dropped and its held up great. I actually bought a spare b/c I was expecting a failure. But so far so good, and I do carry a few extra lights just in case. Also they are very bright, I run mine on low and its brighter than name brand lights. My only complaint is the bulky battery pack on the rear of the helmet. When in tight crawls it rubs the rocks, and the front light sticks out too far for my likings. Thats the only reason why I would consider running a name brand compact light.
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Re: Cheapie Cree XML T6 Led Headlamp Review

Postby rlboyce » Jan 15, 2014 4:59 pm

The main disadvantage I see with this light is the reflector is too big. For trying to see things that are far away, this is a good thing since it concentrates the light. For caving though, it will certainly give the user a tunnel vision feeling. Other than that, it seems like a good price for what you're getting.
Happiness can be measured in mud/in².
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