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Sellers of led lights on aliexpress Very love to cheat. Each headlamp they have is powerful and bright, each comes with the most capacious battery. That is, it seems to be easy to buy a good headlamp. And now the buyer wants to buy a headlamp for aliexpress, looks at the specification, reads or sees another honey-oozing underview on YouTube. Or he goes to the nearest store, listen to the nightingale trills of the seller and spends a labor ruble on a frank * obviously. So I will try to make sure that you have a normal, bright and reliable headlamp on your head.

my personal TOP 10 handheld LED lights for 2022 are HERE

If you are reading this text, then you have an interest in buying a headlamp. I will try to explain all the basic nuances of the right choice and help with a model that suits your needs, since a lot of them have passed through my hands.

important links:

  • I strongly, exclusively strongly recommend that you read my guide to choosing LED lights before reading this text. There are a lot of interesting points that will intersect with the text of this article.
  • how to choose 18650 battery for flashlight or headlamp
  • choose charging for Li-Ion batteries once and twice

Frame. Size, weight and material.

The body is made of plastic or aluminium. Plastic reduces cost and weight, but negates heat dissipation from the LED. Yes, and they don’t put something bright in a plastic case, in reality you should not count on a constant brightness of more than something on the order of 150 lumens and a maximum of 300 lumens. In a few top-end, expensive branded rechargeable headbands with a plastic case, there can be about 500 lumens short turbo mode.

However, I will say frankly, in order to shine under your feet and at arm’s length, 150 lumens will be enough for you more, more than.

For the most part, plastic headbands are powered by AAA AA or a built-in battery.

However, on aliexpress you can buy a headlamp with a plastic case and 18650 power. It will be discussed in the list of headbands at the end of this comparison.

Aluminium case more durable and reliable. There are 2 formats.

Monoblock

T-shaped

Classic form. Shorter length, often better heat dissipation, keeps maximum brightness longer. Easier to plug in charger.

You can play with optics by installing additional LEDs and control buttons.

L-shaped

Longer. Often easier.

A huge plus is the ability to use such a headlamp as a manual one.
The second plus is that there is often a magnet in the battery cover. This extremelyhandy in a home or car repair situation

Remote block

This design allows you to significantly reduce the weight and size of the head unit, as well as place 2 batteries in the battery compartment, which will significantly increase the duration of operation in all modes except turbo. Why? Because the compact remote unit is forced to deal alone with the heat generated by the LED.

The second plus is that you can keep the battery pack in your pocket in winter, they will not freeze.

A great example of such a lantern — Nitecore HC70. Models from Fenix ​​(HP2530) proved to be structurally less reliable (the wire does not withstand frost well, the cover fastening in the battery pack breaks out).

The second version of the remote block is extremely, extremely common in the basement and low-quality segment. It is in it that the most popular headlamp for aliexpress is made (the one with a zoom, with a lens and T6 LED).

There are almost no headlamps on the market with an external battery pack in this form, which is a pity. From the modern I can name only a couple of olight models, for example Olight Array

There are many such headlamps on aliexpress and they differ only in the greed of the seller and the degree of lies about brightness.

+ price (main plus)

+ ease of repair

+ built-in charger

+ the ability to somehow, but enlighten a hundred meters

+ reliability (lottery — as lucky). My father’s headband of this type worked for about 4 years under heavy load. It might have worked longer, but there was no time to repair it, he just took a spare

— disgusting light distribution: either a circle, outside of which there is darkness, or a square with veins. Although, of course, this is a matter of taste.

— no stabilization, brightness sags sharply as it discharges

— PWM flicker (strobe effect in the light on fast moving objects)

— low brightness, no more than 300-400 lumens.

— dirty blue light

— moisture protection at the level of rain

— due to basement outbredness, 100% lottery with quality.

— There is no protection against overdischarge, if you do not turn it off in time, it will kill the batteries.

Brightness

What many are stubbornly chasing … And in vain, often.

As a rule, the maximum is more or less prolonged brightness for a classic 1×18650 headband is now about 1000 lumens. This is more than enough for the typical needs for using a headband — to shine under your feet or a little on the sides through the bushes. The same dacha will be illuminated in its entirety. Here, for example, how the best, in my opinion, inexpensive headlamp with aliexpress shines — Sofirn SP40 (in fairness, his older brother Wurkkos HD15 better)

why did i highlight prolonged bold? The flashlight can also be made brighter, since 2020 there have been more and more models on the sst40 LED with a turbo of 1800 lum. But in this size it will be very difficult for him to remove excess heat and so that the flashlight does not overheat, the electronics simply quickly reset the brightness.

There are also several models with XHP70.2 LED that can output even more. As an example, Olight Perun is on the right with its 2000 lumens in turbo.

And here is the most the most important momentwhich many do not suspect or do not take into account. The greater the brightness, the greater the heat dissipation. For this simple reason, a good regular-sized headlamp will only be able to digest and deliver a brightness level of 400-500 lumens for a long time. The maximum brightness, whether it’s the current 1000 lumens or something higher, is limited to something like 1 minute before the case heats up and the thermal cutoff is triggered. There is no thermal cutoff in a cheap headband for a simple reason — the primitiveness of the circuitry. But there is no reason to worry about this. No matter how many thousands of lumens the seller writes, the brightness simply does not reach the level at which the thermal cutoff would work.

Here are the Skilhunt and Olight specs.

But what promises Led Lenser.

In one case, I say theatrically “I don’t believe it!”. In the other I see the truth and a normal, convenient selection of modes. In which one? decide for yourself -)

The only one headlamp known to me, which really and without fear of overheating of the case holds 1000 lumens — Acebeam H30. This is a very expensive, very bright and very good model. An uncompromising choice for those who are looking for the very best and are ready to spend money on it. Due to the capacious 21700 power supply, its T-shaped case is slightly larger than usual, and this excess metal just removes all the excess heat. If they show you some other headband and say that it constantly, without drawdowns, holds 1000 lumens, they are blatantly lying to you. If you are convinced otherwise, ask for confirmation in the form of a graph.

I have a bunch of real work schedules for the headbands that got into the reviews, so I’m talking about what brightness you should expect and how long I’m talking with full confidence.

Perhaps, only for fishing, the headband requires such brightness, in all other situations in the open air, seemingly nondescript 200-300 lumens will be enough for you (or even they will be redundant), where are these 4000 lumens from the gifs below?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwoselyOZ50

Here is a graph of the same H30.

But what about freaks for 3, 5, 7 LEDs? A vivid (only in a figurative sense) example is Litwood, often mentioned here, disgusting in all its characteristics. However, in aliexpress and other stores in bulk such a constructive burp, with a difference only in the logo and the degree of lies in the specification. I held such headlamps in my hands — they terrible.

Why do they make them if they are so bad? Elementary — the abundance of LEDs will impress an inexperienced buyer, he begins to feverishly calculate that they say one (two / three) thousand lumens from the main one, and even half of the additional ones, wow, what brightness comes out in the end! But in reality, a tiny current is distributed between them all and only for fully charged batteries, it will, in an exceptionally short time, approach in its maximum brightness to normal for ordinary headbands. Then the brightness will begin to decline rapidly as the discharge progresses. Of course, it is not worth waiting close to the declared thousands of brightness. Neither LEDs nor batteries will allow you to get such numbers.

The meaning of all this:

  • Even in the top bright models of normal brands, 1000 lumens will be 1-2 minutes at the most, even if they can give more brightness in the turbo. In the exceptional majority of headlamps, 1000 lumens is the maximum brightness limit, and you should not wait more than one minute from time. Then the case warms up and the thermal cut-off is activated, which drops the brightness to something on the order of 400-500 lumens.
  • Zoom, T6 LED, plastic case, powered by 2 or three AA — all this clearly says that they are lying to you, promising something more in brightness than 300-500 lumens.

Nutrition

There are 4 options. Let’s take a look at each.

AAA

The vast majority of AAA-powered headlamps will be plastic, low power, and lightweight. In the best case, it will give out more than 80-100 lumens for at least a long time and the maximum real brightness will not exceed 200 for a simple reason — the power supply is not powerful enough for greater brightness. Of course, I’m talking about its normal duration, and not a flash that drains batteries in a few seconds.

Of course, this does not prevent sellers on aliexpress from promising the same 1000 lumens. Well, for example, Litwood, again known among fans of the ultra-budget

Only once have I seen a microscopic (and really cool) browband with 1xAAA power. Lumintop HL AAA

As a rule, it is 2xAA or 3xAAA.

AA14500

Before the advent of 18650 batteries, this was the only size. Now it is used only for a small number of light and compact headlamps. 14500 is the same size, but with Li-Ion chemistry and 3.7V voltage, which allows you to achieve higher maximum brightness.

As an example of a good, quality headlamp in this category — Acebeam H40

Options with 2xAA are still justified, these can be good and light plastic foreheads. Children, for example. Options with 3xAAA are already too large and with a maximum probability this is some kind of game with incredibly overestimated characteristics.

18650

The most common battery, Li-Iion in 18650 format, has dominated the lighting market for many years, but I’m sure it will lose its positions under pressure from 21700. The latter allows you to achieve much higher capacity with virtually the same dimensions and weight.

I have enough detailed text about how to choose a 18650 battery, I advise you to read.

In fact, all headlamps (and ordinary ones) are powered by batteries of this size. I will not add anything new to what has already been said. A headlamp with a 1×18650 battery, simply because of its size, is not able to digest the brightness of more than 1000 lumens that way. And 2×18650 means a remote unit, and then the unit on the head becomes even smaller and it becomes even more difficult for it to remove heat into the metal of the case. In short, again — if you are promised more than 1000 lumens, this is a lie. Well, the head unit will not withstand the heat of such brightness.

21700

Now, in the middle of 2020, there are a few models on the market with such a power supply. But I am sure that everything will change in the near future. A headband with a 21700 battery will be only symbolically more than 18650, but the increase in operating time will be enormous. If you increase the case even more, as in the case of the Acebeam H30, then you can fully use all the advantages of this battery: the ability to draw high brightness for a long time and a normal one for a very long time.

UPD. So, it became possible to buy such a powerful and inexpensive headlamp on aliexpress.

Sofirn (aka Wurrkos) HD20. full review here

Separate light (near far both), type-c charging with the ability to work in power bank mode, a magnet at the end, flexible control, capacious 21700 power, and all this for quite sane money. If you need everything at once, and somewhere for half the price of Acebeam H30, then this is your case.

LEDs

If we are talking about the cheap junk typical of aliexpress, then this is the well-known T6 LED (bluish game of unknown origin). The next is the no less well-known Cree XML-2, which for the last 5 years has been the de facto standard in all flashlights up to 1000 lumens.

Now, most modern headlamps are equipped with the more energy-efficient and somewhat brighter XPL-HD.

You can achieve greater brightness either by installing a brighter LED such as XHP50.2 as in Olight Perun (about 2000lum) or XHP70.2 (about 4000lum) as in the same acebeam H30. As I mentioned, there are only a few such models, as time has shown, even 1000 lumens is already an excess

The second method is used much less frequently, it is an array of 3-4 LEDs of standard brightness, the same XPL-HD.

Agree, there is a difference between how a few LEDs look in a normal model below and a pop-eyed misery for 10 bucks?

Less bright headlamps with a built-in battery or AA power supply use XPG XPE LEDs.

Important. No XHP90.2 and everything above CREE XHP70.2 does not exist in nature, this is an outbred notion of sellers from Ali. Accordingly, what is in the headbands, where this LED is indicated, one can only guess.

By the way, pay attention. Manufacturers of normal flashlights indicate the brand of the LED, CREE. And any ultradeshman will be simply designated as XHP50.2, for example. That is, what is there in reality, again, one can only guess …

Is zoom necessary?

Retractable optics — a matter of taste. Personally, I am a big opponent. If diffused light is needed for close-up work, then shooting range optics, headlamps with TIR-optics in bulk will give it perfectly, and often it can be easily and cheaply changed, having achieved the desired dispersion. It will be any better than a uniformly filled circle of cyanotic light.

Shooting Optics is an array of lenses that redirect light in a certain way, focusing or blurring it.

Here is a widely used example.

There is an option with a combination of short-range and long-range optics. An excellent example of this is Panda’s Bright Beam. You can also consider a number of Phoenix models, for example HM65R

As for the high beam, yes, the zoom system will somehow focus the beam into a square with veins and allow you to look beyond half a hundred meters. The question is that for headlamps there is no need to shine at such distances, so they are not made.

If you’re a big fan of zoom systems, you can vote for something like a Led Lenser and get rid of those veins in the far position. You will also get rid of stabilization, normal selection of modes and convenient controls. But you will have a beautiful and extremely expensive headlamp.

Control

An important point that many people neglect when looking at brightness.

What should be here? Ideally, of course. An ideal that is quite achievable in a number of models. Most of the models are Olight, all Skilhunt and it seems all Acebeam. Sofirn SP40, Lumintop HL18, Bright Beam Panda again show what convenient control can be done.

a) Hidden, taken out separately from the general line of “firefly” modes with something like 0.5 lum. It is very, very convenient to turn on at night and not go blind, to work in a tent. As a rule, you just need to hold down the button from OFF to start this mode. And then, as your eyes get used to it, you can gradually switch to a higher brightness.

b) Hidden, rendered separately and in the general line of Turbo modes. Why do you need to hit yourself in the eyes every time you rewind? It is much more important to be able to immediately start this mode when you need it. Usually it is 2 clicks from any state.

c) Mode memory. Definitely nice and convenient to turn on the headlamp in the same mode that was used before. Will it be convenient for eyes accustomed to the dark if you turn it off at 70 lum and turn it on again at the next 300 lum?

d) blocking. It’s not that important, but it’s better when it’s there. In some models (Lumintop HL18) there is a nice feature when in locked mode, pressing the button turns on the minimum brightness. This allows you to use the browband for emergency needs without unlocking it. Released the button and the light went out.

Usually, the L-shaped forehead can be blocked by simply unscrewing the battery cover slightly and breaking the contact.

What should not be:

a) strobe and SOS in the general line of modes. who needs to see this flickering in the eyes every time?

b) total 3 brightness modes. The maximum, as a rule, will be too bright and quickly aging battery. And the minimum is again either useless outdoors (too dim) or set too bright (for a tent)

Ideally, as for me, when there are 3-4 main modes and a firefly and turbo framing them in a hidden form with instant access.

Well, perhaps that’s all. And now my rating of headlamps. It is rather conditional, since a headband suitable for some requirements will not be interesting for others. Naturally, it is subjective and I compiled it based on my personal experience in testing and using headlamps. I completely understand that the proud owner of some Ferei will be indignant why his favorite headlamp, so powerful and bright, does not lead this TOP.

My rating of LED headlamps for 2022

No. 10 Litwood Z30 (and it goes by a bunch of other names).

Of course, there is no brightness and workmanship here. But penny the price tag and an unexpectedly good combination of diffused light, convenient for work near, and relatively tolerable distant light, make it a justified purchase for the most undemanding client. There is a built-in charger. The light is cyanotic, with wild PWM flicker at low brightness. It is quite suitable to be thrown into the glove compartment or on the country shelf for rare needs. Complete 6000mah battery, of course, complete rubbish and it is absolutely not worth buying.

+ price (!)

+ two types of light

+ built-in charger

+ low weight

— maximum brightness of about 300 lumens

— the brightness is not stabilized, it will fall as the discharge progresses

— blue light

— PWM flickering in lower modes (categorically cannot be used as a working light next to something fast moving, relatively speaking, the same cutter)

Poor workmanship and cheap plastic

— moisture protection no higher than rain

№9 Cheap rechargeable headlamp in the car to the country house

review here

Again, an excellent example of deception with a monstrous overstatement of real characteristics. The headlamp shines with a rather nasty bluish color, made cheaply from cheap plastic.

But it has a good duration of operation from a rather capacious built-in battery and built-in charging. With an abundance of good headbands, this one helped me out more than once in the country, and the drivers I knew did not get enough of him in a repair situation.

The GIF perfectly shows what this supposedly 3000 lum headband is capable of, in comparison with others. And this is the maximum brightness, which will soon fall. But for work at arm’s length, even a lower brightness is enough.

In short, rubbish, but at its price is not so bad.

#8 The most popular headlamp on aliexpress

buy here

Why is this cheap browpiece here, which personifies everything that I was so blaming here? Yes, very simple. It, again, is very cheap and will work for quite a long time when working from a pair of 2×18650. I would also call it reliable, after all, something like that had been plowed by my father for 5 years. That’s just something like that. All and sundry rivet such freaks and this guarantees a lottery with quality.

With the exception of the price and 2×18650 power supply, everything here is terrible. Cyanotic light with a nasty light distribution, a complete lack of stabilization … But if you need an ultra-cheap 18650 LED headlamp for slaughter — that’s your happiness. Just take normal batteries, and not a complete candy made of sand with tin.

№7 Nitecore HC70 more or less long-range flashlight

A specific thing, both in terms of the form factor of a headlamp with an external battery pack, and due to the relatively deep smooth reflector. The first allows you to count on a longer duration of work, the second on at least some range. For a headband, range is far from being so important, but there are people who are looking for it and are looking for it unsuccessfully, in general. Here you can at least somehow illuminate the distance. For close work, this model is much less convenient than a lot of competitors.

#6 Nitecore Nu32 Rechargeable Headlamp

full review here

I hesitated for a long time to place here the significantly less bright and tiny Nu25, but I decided that it was the Nitecore Nu32 that would be more justified due to the demand. This headlamp has an excellent battery capacity, enough main light for a lot of everyday needs and additional red and diffused white LEDs.

The model is light, small and comfortable. Not cheap, however, too. But from the mass of battery headbands, this one is the most powerful and brightest. I actually liked it all except no stabilization at high.

№5 Acebeam H40

full review here

This model is very specific, but excellent in terms of convenience and light for its size. A tiny headband with 14500AA power supply has a smooth brightness control, it is not felt at all on the head, it looks stylish and shines quite comfortably.

If you purposefully want to buy a LED headlamp with this type of power supply, this is what you need.

Nitecore HC65V2

full review here

Very, very peppy headlamp from Nitecore. Good bright high beam, exceptionally bright red light with 2 brightness levels. Decent neighbor. The question is that the flashlight could well accommodate 18650 power. Yes, and a couple of dipped beam modes would be more practical …

#3 Acebeam H30 is the brightest in the world

review here

The model on which I spoke in this text a lot. Exceptional brightness in turbo and the ability to fully maintain 1000 lumens without a drop in brightness. Additional LEDs with different colors. fast charge Type-C and the ability to charge the phone back.

This is an expensive and uncompromising headlamp for those who are looking for the very best. One simple fact points to the quality and practicality of this model. By the standards of the industry, the H30 is already just an antique, but it is still being produced. The reason is simple — it is initially so good that no modern headlamp has surpassed it in terms of operating time at high brightness.

№2 Sofirn SP40

review here

Despite the fact that this headband does not impress with brightness (relative to the current trend to put brighter sst40 LEDs), I put it in first place. Why? Purely due to the price-performance ratio. For just $25 you get a full set of headband and 3000mah battery. It is quite possible that even with delivery from the Russian warehouse.

The headband itself is frankly not bad for its price, and the same phoenix / naytor, having released something similar, would have declared a price tag of at least $ 50. Sofirn CP40 has comfortable light with 4000K/5000K temperature, built-in charging, nice appearance and neat assembly. Management is convenient, without any built-in strobes. There is a magnet at the end. There is even an optional tube for 18350 power!

There is only one obvious minus — there is no complete stabilization. And at such a price, it’s ridiculous to talk about it at all. But access to the minimum brightness is clearly not enough …

But precisely because of its price, it is the lowest cost option for a really decent, reliable, bright and comfortable headlamp, convenient for needs at medium and long distances for a headlamp. Up close, it is not so convenient for a simple reason — it is a reflector, it will not give blurry light.

Below you can find a comment where a person complains that he bought this one to work in a car service Expensive a headlamp instead of an ultradeshman with a zoom, and he did not like it. The focus is not adjustable and the brightness is not enough. And that’s why I’m a corrupt scribbler through and through. Of course, neither a corrupt hack nor a person for whom $25 is a high price for a headlamp should be trusted. Therefore, read the reviews in the review and video, as well as on the product page. Well, just look at the photo if it’s a bright headlamp or not.

1 Wurrkos HD15

review here

An exceptionally successful model with low and high beams in terms of price and functionality. No other major brand will offer you anything like this. And if he does offer, then with jambs such as green light and inconvenient control. Just watch the review. With Wurkkos HD15 you get everything at once and at a reasonable price.

Actually, that’s all.

The text will be supplemented if something else comes to mind (or if you help and write in a personal note, which point I forgot to highlight in the review). If you have any questions about the choice of headband — write in the comments, I will advise.

Below in the «about the author» block there are collections of other flashlights, there you can also find something useful for yourself. If you are interested in the topic of lanterns, subscribe to my channel.

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