UV Mineral Lights

 
Rock collecting is a cheap hobby.
Fluorescent rock collecting is an expensive hobby.

The mineral lights needed to prospect for our magnificent glow rocks are expensive, and serious lights are only available from a few manufacturers.   There are many different kinds of lights out there; some are simply not suitable for fluorescent mineral collecting.  They are usually the cheap alternative and the buyer will be greatly disappointed.  For reference, an example of these types of lights is listed at the end of this page.

If you are new to the hobby you might want to learn more about UV and the various light sources (shortwave, midwave, longwave, blacklight) before diving into the review.  Links to manufacturers are here.

You can expect to pay >$240 for a reasonable portable shortwave field mineral light, and powerful home display lights can be a thousand dollars or more.  There are lower cost entry level lights which will allow you to play around and learn - see if this hobby is for you.  But expect to invest some money in serious lights if you catch the glowbug.   Below is a list of current manufacturers and a short summary of each.  The ones who I consider really serious about our hobby (as of Dec 2016) are reviewed in the shortwave Mineral Light Review.  

If you are here just for the Mineral Light Review, jump ahead now.  
You can also read the
FAQ about mineral lights; your question may be answered there.

Mineral Light Basics

(and what not to buy)

Entry Level Lights

There are many entry level lights on the market.  Prices range from a few $ to a ridiculous price of $150.   Some are simple 4 watt blacklights.  Some are garbage 390/395nm LEDs.  Some low-power shortwave lights might be a way to see if you're really interested in the hobby before dropping several hundred dollars on a real light (but anything over $75 merits serious thought about a real light).

Be aware that the really cheap ones are.... cheap.  Fluorescent tube blackights are longwave and really replaced by LED flashlights - fewer fluorescent minerals are found using a blacklight.  Unfiltered shortwave lights are garbage.  More below....

 

The small 4W/6W/11W shortwave lights are very low power and will only light up a small area, in spite of outlandish claims of UV power. Some have ridiculously low-power LW/SW bulbs, and filter windows so small you'll be lucky to light up a stamp.

These lights are economical but really only "toys".  If you get bitten by the "glowbug" you will soon be looking for a high-end mineral light.  

Field Lights

The first SW light most people own is a medium power, portable shortwave field light.  Battery powered, they are used to go collecting at night, at shows, club meetings etc.  While there are a few low-end lights which will marginally do the job, if you're serious about collecting there are only a few companies who offer lights made for today's hobby.

These lights are the focus of the Mineral Light review.  Get some ideas about what to look for in a light by studying the review.  What you learn can be applied to almost any light on the market.

fyrfly engenious.JPG
Convoy S2+ 365nm UV

Longwave Torches/Flashlights

365nm longwave LED flashlights are a must.  Note that these lights must have a UV pass/visible blocking filter - a must for any light used with fluorescent minerals - even LED lights.

Convoy C8 365nm Flashlight

This light is the next generation Convoy - the Convoy Redesigned.  It offers almost 3 watts of UVA output (radiant) and is unbelievably bright.  Currently the best LW flashlight on the market.

 

Convoy S2+ 365nm Flashlight

A new, amazing, and affordable LW flashlight, the Convoy S2+ - replaces the need for a portable fluorescent LW light.  More information in the "Equipment" section of the GlowNotes Blog.  If you want a high-power UVA flashlight, this comes highly recommended.  (around $22)

Display Lights

High wattage lights (AC powered) are used to illuminate large collections, museum displays, and other types of mineral displays.  The same manufacturers who offer portable field lights also sell a complete line of the high-powered lights.   Learn about selecting a portable light and apply what you've learned when it comes time to spend $700 to $1,500 on a big light...

Looking for a state-of-the-art longwave 365nm (LW) LED display light?  Check this out: http://www.minershop.com/051718/html/ultra-365.html

Recent Posts in the GlowNotes Blog - Equipment Category

Suppliers of Mineral Lights

Colorgems is a small European company started from one person's hobby and passion, collecting fluorescent minerals. They are new to the UV light business (late 2016) and, although it appears that they offer some interesting lights we discovered them too late to be included in the review.  

Colorgems also has a large assortment of fluorescent minerals and jewelry.

The most exciting (to me) thing about Colorgems is they are located in the Netherlands - until now, we have not had a European manufacturer of lights.  This should help expand the hobby for our friends across the pond.

The folks at Engenious were hobbyists at first, then realized everyone wanted their lights, there were very few options on the market for affordable UV light fixtures, and even fewer high quality fixtures. So after a bit of trial and error and playing with multiple lights and LEDs Engenious was born.

Spectroline Gem and Mineral Inspection

Compact ultraviolet lamps effective for gem and mineral inspection. These portable inspection lamps feature a powerful, high-intensity LED and a lightweight, yet rugged, anodized aluminum body, to minimize corrosion and assure long shop life.What makes it interesting? Write a catchy description to grab your audience's attention...

UV Systems

UV Systems has been in business since 1992 and is recognized by most as the leading manufacturer of mineral lights for the fluorescent mineral hobby.  They offer portable field lamps, as well as high-end display lamps and are well known for their technical contributions to our hobby.

Their entry level field light is included in the Mineral Light Review.

UV Tools

UV Tools is a relatively new manufacturer of mineral lights.  Their focus is on low-end, small battery powered lights.  They offer a line of higher powered lights also.  Their little low-cost "AA" powered light might be a great way to get your feet wet and learn about the hobby, upgrade to a more powerful, serious light later once you've caught the glowbug.

Their entry level field light is included in the Mineral Light Review.

Way Too Cool

Way Too Cool offers a broad line of products with perhaps a dozen different field lamps of varying power and different combinations of shortwave, midwave, and longwave.    Another long list of AC display lamps rounds out the product line.

Their entry level field light is included in the Mineral Light Review. 

Raytech Ultraviolet

Recently it appears that this link is not working and I cannot find Raytech''s mineral lights on the web.  Raytech is another old-timer in our hobby, around since 1958.  They offer a low-end line of mineral lights that have not changed for many years.  Like UVP, their product line is aged and seems neglected.  As of March, 2017 their web site doesn't seem to be working beyond the front page.   I'll leave this link up until I get clarity....

UVP Mineralights

UVP, back in its heyday, was an innovator in the world of mineral lights.  Tom Warren (often called the grandfather of fluorescent minerals) was the founder of UVP.  Today their product line is aged and seems neglected.

Please reload

The ones NOT to buy

Cheap, unfiltered shortwave lamps - Garbage!

Ebay is filled with SW lamps for $15 to $25 that offer up the world of fluorescence for pennies on the dollar.  These lights are UNFILTERED and completely useless for the fluorescent mineral hobby.  They will often be shown with a specimen of willemite/calcite from Franklin NJ and you will see a washed out glow from the rocks.   That's about the only rock you'll be able to see any fluorescence in, and even those wonderfully bright fluorescent specimens will appear washed out.   Even worse, some have photoshopped pics of  our rocks with their lights, as if the light was causing the fluorescence.  

Bottom line - if you don't see a filter on the light (a dark glass allowing only a purple/violet light to escape), don't waste your time.  Our UV lights generate a lot of visible light in addition to the UV.  This light must be filtered by UV pass, visible blocking filters.  These filters are the most expensive part and many unscrupulous (or uneducated) sellers try to sell lights which don't have them.

Cheap, longwave (UVA) blacklight lamps and flashlights - Not much better!

NOTE: There is one exception to this.  The Convoy S2+, recently marketed from China, uses a Nichia high-power 365nm LED.  With a filter installed, it outperforms any longwave  portable light on the market today.

Longwave lights have their place in our hobby but the first time buyer must be aware that only a small percentage of fluorescent minerals will react to longwave (LW).  The bright, multi-colored specimens you see in the Nature's Rainbows photo gallery almost always require a good SW light.

Worse - there are many different types of cheap LW lights.  Some are simple LED flashlights which put out more visible light than UV.  Others are ordinary, low power blacklights.  The first time buyer will quickly tire of these lights, and any attempt at photography will simply result in a blue blob.  $20 probably won't break the bank but these are not lights for serious collectors.   For more about LED UV flashlights read this Glow Notes blog post about filtered and unfiltered lights.

 
 

Trying to figure out what light to buy?

Check out the portable UV Mineral Light review.  It will help you make an intelligent decision about most any type of shortwave light.

Email comments or suggestions:

Home

Nature’s Rainbows is a non-commercial web site maintained entirely by volunteer hobbyists and contributors.  Our mission is to provide information about UV and luminescence, premium fluorescent mineral photos, and a fluorescent mineral database for the enjoyment of FL mineral collectors around the world.  Information on this web site is covered under a Creative Commons License.


Feel free to contact us with comments and suggestions.

Like us on Facebook!

  • reddit
  • Facebook Social Icon

Subscribe to our RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feed to get new posts delivered directly to your desktop!