Customer Review

632 of 645 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maglite second-gen LED flashlight deserves a second chance, September 11, 2010
This review is from: MagLite ST3D016 3-D Cell LED Flashlight, Black (Misc.)
[Remark on Nov 27, 2011]
Amazon has combined the 2-D and 3-D cell versions of Maglite LED flashlights into one product page. The following review was original written for the 3-D cell version. See my other review if you are looking for the 2-D Cell version.

==== Original Review follows ====

This Mag-Lite ST3D016 3-D Cell LED Flashlight features the second-generation LED technology by Maglite. You may be alarmed that many of the older Amazon reviews are highly critical about this product. However, please note that the 2nd-gen LED Maglite was not even available before May 2009. That means earlier reviews were all based on the inferior first-gen Maglite LED flashlight.

The 2nd-gen Maglite LED flashlight offers many improvements over the first-generation version:

1. Brighter LED:
The new Maglite uses a Luxeon 'Rebel ES' 3-Watt LED as light source (check my Customer Image to see how it looks like). This LED is significantly brighter, whiter and more energy-efficient than the previous 'Lux III' LED used in 1st-gen Maglite.

2. Improved Heat Sink:
The overheating problem found in 1st-gen LED modules has been solved. That is, the light no longer dims down after just a few minutes of operation.

3. Better Power Management:
The new Maglite maintains constant power consumption of 2W as long as battery voltage is above 3.5V. That means it produces the same brightness whether powered by 3x NiMH cells (3.75V), or 3x alkaline cells (4.5V). When battery voltage drops below 3.5V, the light dims down gradually to conserve power, instead of abruptly drops dead like in 1st-gen. (See my Customer Image for chart of Input Power vs. Battery Voltage)

4. Sharper Focusing:
The 'Spot' mode is now very tight, with hardly any spill over. The 'Wide' mode is more even, without an ugly black hole in the middle. (See my Customer Image for beam shots)

Some other observations:
- Light output of this Maglite 3-D LED flashlight is rated at '104-lumen'. I have no reason to doubt this number, because it is significantly brighter than the Maglite 2-AA mini LED, which is rated at 69-lumen. This claim is also consistent with the spec sheet of Luxeon Rebel ES LED, with the input power at 2W.

- The battery life is rated at '72-hour'. This number seems a bit optimistic to me. Based on energy calculation, a set of three alkaline D-cells should be able to power the light at full power (2W) for about 20 hours. After that, the light will start to dim down gradually over the course of next 30-40 hours.

The only 'shortcoming' of this 3xD-cell Maglite is its size and weight. It is true that you can find other LED flashlights that also advertise '100-lumen', but powered by just 2xAA or even 3xAAA cells. However, the total energy stored in each D-size alkaline cell is about 7x greater than that in one AA cell. So by using three D-cells instead of two AA cells, this Maglite is able to burn at full brightness for 10 times longer. Most other LED flashlights only provide full brightness initially, when batteries are fresh. Physics don't lie. Marketing people do.

Bottom line:
Don't be discouraged by outdated negative reviews! This 2nd-gen Maglite LED flashlight is a very capable, rugged workhorse. Of course, if you need a more compact unit, then consider the MAGLITE 2-AA Cell Mini-Maglite LED Flashlight instead. It offers the 2nd-gen LED technology, too.

[Update on Feb 23, 2011]
I did a comparison between this 3-D Maglite and its 2-D cousin (ST2D096), and found them to be identical in terms of brightness and beam shape. The only difference is in runtime (about 20 hours for 3-D, 12 hours for 2-D). So just pick one depending on your preference in size.

[Update on Oct 26, 2011]
A reader informed me that the latest 3-D Maglite is using 3rd-generation LED, possibly Cree XP-E. I just confirmed this at my local Costco. The new package says '131 lumens' (previous one says '104 lumens'), and the LED inside has a square green base (previous one has a rectangular white base).
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Tracked by 12 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 63 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 13, 2010 5:17:28 PM PDT
R. Anand says:
As always, a great, well thought out review.

What D cell alkalines do you recommend and how often do recommend monitoring them for corrosion? Does anybody make a true d-cell NiMH?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2010 8:52:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 13, 2010 8:52:49 PM PDT
R. Anand,
I don't have any preference on alkaline D cells. Mostly because I seldom use them. Whether it is Duracell, Energizer, or Rayovac, they are all the same to me.

You can go to to look for real D-cell NiMH (with capacity 9,000mAh to 11,000mAh).

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 9:34:32 AM PDT
R. Anand says:
Thanks for the quick reply.
I found these two:

My thought was to have the MagLite as an emergency light. What would your recommendation as to the type of battery to put in it? Have you tested either one of these? I know from your reviews that claims of low discharge rates are not always what is real. What charger that handles D-cells do you like?

I have based a number of buying decisions based on your reviews and I want to thank you again for your sharp insights. You should have your own tech blog!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 7:38:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2010 7:47:21 PM PDT
Both the Accupower and Maha NiMH D-cell looks like quality products. But I have not used them personally.

If you routinely use the Maglite, then it is worthwhile to invest in a set of 10,000mAh NiMH D-cells. But in your case, since you want to use the Maglite for emergency only, I suggest using alkaline D-cells instead of rechargeables. Consider the following:

- The cost of full-capacity NiMH D-cell is about 10x that of alkaline D-cell, and that's before factoring in the cost of a good charger that can handle D-cells.

- Each alkaline D-cell actually packs about 50% more energy than a 10,000mAh NiMH cell. That means longer run time in case of emergency.

- If you only use this Maglite for emergency 50 hours a year, it takes about 10 years for you to get back you money's worth

- You can store alkaline cells up to 10 years. In contrast, ordinary NiMH cell needs to be recharged every 1-2 months to keep them fresh. Even LSD NiMH cells need to be recharged once every year or two. The worst thing is to find out your rechargeable batteries are dead during an emergency.

As a compromise, you can use three LSD AA cells together with D-cell adapters in the Maglite for routine use. They are good for at least 4 hours per charge. Keep another set of three alkaline D-cells as standby in case of emergency.

Posted on Sep 14, 2010 9:15:52 PM PDT
W. Costley says:
Thanks for the review of this light, NLee. I have this model that I purchased as a combo deal with the MiniMag AA and I love it. I just have one recommendation for anyone planning on using AA to D-cell adapters for this light: try to buy at least one adapter that has a large negative contact area and use it for the last battery inserted into the body. Otherwise, the spring inside the tail cap will not make contact with the last battery and as a result, the light will not turn on. (I found this out the hard way.)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 9:39:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2010 9:39:46 PM PDT
What Bill said is correct. The very last battery must have a full size negative terminal, to make contact with the over-sized end spring. I use one D-shell adapter from the La Crosse BC-900 package for this purpose. The other two cells I can use the D-shell adapters from Sanyo eneloop power pack.

Other people have mentioned the use of a copper penny between the last cell and the end spring. That should do the trick too.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2010 11:00:41 PM PDT
R. Anand says:
Is the 2nd generation LED plainly marked? How do I know for sure that I am getting a fresh new unit and not some of the previous backstock?

Thanks for your all your help!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2010 2:12:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2010 6:07:41 PM PDT
On the packaging of the new Maglite, you should see little white boxes containing specifications such as '104 lumens' and '72-hour'. The old package made no such claims.

Both the old and new packages claim '3W LED'. But the LED used are different. If you look straight into the front end of the flashlight (with the LED turned OFF, of course), the new Rebel LED has a rectangular substrate, and a clear dome the seems slightly off-center. The old LuxIII LED only shows a clear dome.

In the battery cap of the old MagLite D-cell LED flashlight, there is a spare Krypton light bulb inside. The new model does not contain one.

I just uploaded a zoomed-in picture of the new Rebel LED to the Customer Image section.

Posted on Nov 3, 2010 2:00:51 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 4, 2010 11:40:06 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2011 4:01:09 PM PST
E. Kostachek says:
Dear NLee the Engineer;
I sure appreciated your review of the Maglite #ST3D016. I purchased one from Amazon; Tools & Hardware. My packaging did not have the little white boxes listing "104 lumens" or "72 hours" so I wondered if I really got the ST3D016 or not. But your post regarding the description of the new Rebel LED bulb along with your photo helped me to see that the light I received really had the new Rebel bulb as well as no spare bulb in the base. My bulb matches exactly your photo. Thanks for helping out those of us who do not always have all the facts.
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