Experiences with the LED ball-shaped bulbs and the battery box by Kahlert-Licht (art. no. 11305, 60897)
You’d like to make a small diorama with an illuminated building? There are hundreds of different bulbs, LEDs and other lighting solutions available on the model railway accessories market which usually work with a transformer. However, these items are not cheap and regularly need some minor soldering work which might put less experienced modellers off.
Looking for a simple, reasonably priced solution, we discovered two products which don’t even require any basic knowledge of electrical engineering. German-based company Kahlert-Licht offers within its Christmas manger lighting range some warm-white LED ball-shaped lamps (art.no. 11305) which, thanks to their compact design, also appear to be very suitable for illuminating purposes on dioramas or model railway layouts. As an appropriate power source, the 'Kahlert-Licht Box' (art.no. 60897), a brown plastic container with a small switch, is available from the same manufacturer.
The box has got approximately the shape and the size of a 4.5 Volt lantern battery which is nowadays not very common anymore. Apart from the above mentioned switch, the removable lid comes with three double-pole sockets. The box takes three 1.5 Volt AA batteries (which are not included when you purchase the product) and provides an electric potential of 4.5 Volt. Like a lantern battery, the Kahlert-Licht Box uses two metal strips as terminals. Hence, the lid of the box could be put straight on top of a lantern battery as well (for this purpose, the lid can be purchased separately).
According to the manufacturer's statement on the packaging, the LED ball-shaped bulbs work with a nominal electric potential of 3.5 Volt and are equipped with series resistors. They connect to the battery box through a thin two-core cable (we measured its approximate length: 57 cm / 22.4 in) and a two-pin jack. As the batteries provide direct current, you have to make sure that the jack is connected to the socket observing the polarity (the positive pole of the jack is marked with a white dot; you will find corresponding instructions on the packaging). Setting up a working connection is therefore pretty easy.
The already mentioned packaging is adequate: a see-through plastic bag closed with a folded cardboard strip which provides some necessary information about the manufacturer and the product. However, you won't find any English writing on the packaging at all, although we bought all items in the UK (nor is there any instruction leaflet). No problem for us as Germans, but if a company supplies international markets they have to think of their foreign customers as well. Nevertheless, the provided lighting technology is self-explaining and rather foolproof.
The LED bulbs produce a yellowish ('warm white') light which is slightly focused ('spotlight effect'), but there is still plenty light shining to all directions, too. Hence the ball-shaped bulbs are suitable for illuminating the interior of model buildings as well as for lighting certain areas, e.g. if you use them as miniature spotlights.
The LEDs made by Kahlert-Licht produce a very bright light, and we didn't notice any change in brightness even when all three miniature bulbs were connected to the battery box at the same time. We can't tell you how long a set of fresh alkaline batteries would last if you leave the lights on all the time but that doesn't really matter to us anyway as we will switch them on for demonstration purposes only, e.g. during a presentation of an illuminated diorama.
By the way, we paid GBP 4.50 for the battery box and the same price for each bulb (purchased in April 2012).
The warm-white LED ball-shaped bulbs and the matching battery box by Kahlert-Licht provide an easy-to-use, reasonably priced lighting solution for model railway layouts and dioramas. Electrical engineering skills are not necessary and your soldering iron can stay in the drawer. As the product convinced us in every respect, our verdict is 'highly recommended'. Nevertheless, Kahlert-Licht should think about providing international customers with some information in the English language.