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KeyLED (new model)

LEDTronics KeyLED Light, retail $8.95 to $10.95 (
Manufactured by LEDTronics ( or call 1-800-579-4875
Last updated October 21, 2000

LEDTronics KeyLED Light

The new KeyLED Keychain Light from LEDTronics is an upgraded version of their original KeyLED.
Housed in a chrome and black bullet-shaped casing, this flashlight was designed to be kept on your keys or on a purse zipper and always be ready for you when you need to shed some light on the subject.

Powered by common watch batteries and constructed with aluminum & O-rings, this tiny 2.1" by 0.6" powerhouse was designed to be with you for life.


When you receive this light, the batteries for it are included on the retail card. Open the battery compartment and install them (see below) and you're good to go.

To attach the keyring on this newer model, you probably won't need any tools, and can pry open the keyring attachment loop with a fingernail. Once it's started, it goes on easily and stays on securely. Like the previous model, remember you only have to do this once.

To turn the light on, you simply grasp the body of the light in one hand, and give the tailcap a clockwise twist, and presto, you've got light.
To turn it off, give the head a little twist in the opposite direction (counterclockwise, in this case) and it goes off.
This new KeyLED is also equipped with a momentary (push-on) button on the tailcap, which you can press inwards to quickly flash the light, send Morse code, or read your watch with.

Two models of this light showed up at my doorstep; one produces a narrow, bluish-white beam; the other produces an even narrower bright red beam. Both are focused tightly enough to light up something across a large room at night.
If you remove the end cap (as if changing the LED bulb) the beam will widen considerably; however you will lose weather resistance until you screw it back on. If you need a wider beam for a specific task, this is handy to know.

One thing I really like about the KeyLED series of lights is that the LED bulb can be CHANGED without a whole lot of trouble. All it takes is a pair of wire nips; even scissors will do in a pinch, so that you can snip the wire leads on the new LED to the same length as the leads on the original LED that comes with the light. All you need to do is unscrew the top until it comes off. The LED will easily come out by gently pulling it straight out. A new LED will then slip right into the socket.

A word of caution here though: some kinds of LEDs don't appreciate being hooked up backwards; so you should look at the LED you are pulling and put the new one in the same way.
When you look at the LED from the side, one part will be fat, and the other will be thinner. Put the new LED in so the fat and skinny parts of its insides are pointed the same way as the old one, and you shouldn't have any problems.

For this light, that shouldn't have to cost a lot.
The LR44 batteries this light uses are very common, and are used in calculators, watches, laser pointers, and other common devices. If you have to pay more than fifty cents apiece, you're paying way too much. (A good price is 10 for three bucks.)
To change the batteries in this light, you unscrew the bottom cap until it comes off. Dump the old batteries in the garbage, and get out three new ones.
To make battery installation a little easier, hold the barrel of the light horizontally in one hand, and slip the new batteries in, one at a time, with the other hand. Insert the batteries button-end (-) first. Once all three cells are inside, you can turn the light base-up if you wish, and screw the end cap back on.
If you hold the light open-end up right from the start, you may find the batteries have a tendency to go in crooked or get stuck halfway inside. Tip them back out and try it horizontally and you'll probably have a much easier time at it.

Battery life testing is currently in progress. Since I just received this light, these results are not yet available.
The manufacturer states battery life can exceed 58 hours (ten more hours than the original KeyLED); this is probably achieved with very intermittent use. When burned continuously or for extended periods with no rest, this will likely decrease somewhat.

Like its predecessor, the new KeyLED is fabricated out of aircraft aluminum, and because of that it is hightly doubtful that this light can be easily damaged or destroyed.

Rubber "O" rings seal both the bottom and the top, plus the beefy lens assembly is also watertight.
The KeyLED is weather-resistant, but not 100% waterproof. I found the push-on button on the base to leak quite handily; even more so when it is pushed in.

A limited lifetime warranty covers the flashlight against failure or defects; however, breakage caused by accident or abuse isn't covered.
Construction is similar to that of the original, and that means very few loose parts to become broken.

The initial series of tests showed the light to take punishment with impunity. Being dropped and thrown onto a hard surface did not cause any visible damage, and it survived fine being run over by a motorized wheelchair on low-nap carpeting. A visual examination showed the LED did not wiggle loose at all; it appears to be kept in place by a molded receptacle built into the flashlight's lens assembly.
Claims of high shock and vibration resistance seem to be quite valid indeed.

The chromed caps and black barrel make this an attractive flashlight; however I do prefer the brushed aluminum & black look of the old model. Your sense of asethetics may and probably will vary, however. You need not be ashamed to display it out in the open, dangling from your keys or belt loop.
Convenience is another positive point with this light. It hangs unobtrusively from your keys until you need it.

Once you get used to turning the tailcap instead of the head, this little light should be easy to live with and use.
One thing I didn't like however, was that the momentary-on button on the tail was unexpectedly clumsy and difficult to use; such a feature might have worked better on a larger flashlight. Here, you have to either use both hands, or get the flashlight wedged in between your middle & ring fingers just so, and use your thumb to activate the button.
Also, the mirror-smooth texture could make it a little difficult for somebody with cold, wet hands to operate comfortably.

The beam from the new KeyLED is much brighter and narrower than the older model, and most people will find it useful for more than just flashing around inside of a purse or under a theatre chair. However, it is a little too narrow to make a good "walking around" flashlight - use it for signalling and close-up tasks instead, or shine it on a white wall or ceiling to illuminate a small room that way.

LEDTronics KeyLED Light LEDTronics KeyLED Light
Narrow beams emitted from the new KeyLED flashlights.
Lights were held approximately 16 inches from the target.

Light was thrown onto bare linoleum for drop tests. Initial assessment that the tailcap leaked was made by a suction test; a true water test will be conducted shortly.
Available in red, blue, green, blue and white.

Update: 10-21-00:
I have been trying different LEDs in these things, and have come across an orange LED of unknown pedigree that just blows everything else away.
The LED has a beam width of approximately 30 which is narrowed to around 15 by the KeyLED's integral lens (the lens also cuts the brightness by about 15%) and it still outshines any KeyLED configuration tested to date. The beam is also round and consistent, which makes it more useful than the narrow, irregular beam the light normally produces.

I have also created an ultraviolet version of the KeyLED, using a commercially available (but expensive) UV LED, a Nichia model NSHU590E. This LED has a flat window and a viewing angle of approximately 120.
Since I do not have the lensed version of Nichia's UV LED (part number NSHU550E), I get the highest total radiance by leaving the KeyLED's end cap off. Using the KeyLED with the end cap on causes the UV output to drop approximately 50% or more. Some by absorption from the plastic lens, and most because the LED sits deep down inside and most of its light is wasted (absorbed by the interior of the flashlight) before reaching the aperture (the opening that the light escapes from).

The LR44 button cells that power this flashlight do not appear to overdrive the delicate LED significantly, and I have noticed no overheating or degradation of the LED chip as a result. The wide field UV emission is capable of causing an entire small room full of UV-sensitive materials to weakly fluoresce - best results are obtained when the flashlight is used within a foot or two of the intended target. If a narrow beam NSHU550E were used, this range would increase substantially.

Do you want the ultimate portable UV light?
Take a KeyLED, outfit it with a NSHU550E, and replace the plastic lens with a small round piece of Wood's glass. (Wood's glas is the deep purple glass used for blacklight bulbs & tubes - it is not expensive or difficult to obtain at all.)
Are you listening, LEDTronics?

Very small and discreet, stylish, brighter than the original KeyLED, can be relamped by the user, inexpensive batteries if you know where to look, easy to carry & use anywhere, comes with keychain & hook.

Very narrow beam not suitable for all tasks, momentary push-on feature is clumsy to use, the switch could be a little difficult to twist with cold or wet hands, light is not waterproof.

          MANUFACTURER: LEDTronics
          PRODUCT TYPE: Keychain Flashlight
          LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm. All visible colors.
          No. OF LAMPS: 1
          BEAM TYPE: Narrow, usually a magnified version of the LED's chip; outer ring
          SWITCH TYPE: Twist-on tailcap; momentary pushbutton on tailcap
          BEZEL: Removable magnifying lens
          BATTERY: 3 LR44 button cells
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown
          WATER RESISTANT: Light weather resistance only.
          SUBMERSIBLE: No
          ACCESSORIES: Small split ring, large split ring, spring clasp, batteries
          WARRANTY: Limited lifetime, excludes accident or abuse

                PRODUCT RATING:

                DURABILITY: 10
                BRIGHTNESS: 8
                USEABILITY: 7
                BATTERY LIFE: 9
                BATTERY AVAILABILITY: 4

                OVERALL SCORE: 38


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