Review: Solarforce Lantern Converter (Update: New dropin came, review finished)

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Slewflash
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Review: Solarforce Lantern Converter (Update: New dropin came, review finished)

I hadn’t seen any information at all about these, so I just took the plunge and bought a Solarforce lantern converter for about $21 incl. shipping. Seeing as how it was Solarforce I wasn’t worried – it’s pretty good.


The base: Emblazoned with the Solarforce logo the base is made out of plastic although it has some loose plastic issues they’re not seen from the outside. They’re thick and hard so it’ll survive for a long time. It has three wide legs and uses a screw as a fastening system. It is very sturdy and doesn’t bend at all.


The head: Called the LT-1 the head has a plastic cylindrical lens surrounding the light orange peel diffuser. It unscrews into two parts. It has a tripod hole at the bottom and comes with an o-ring for water resistance. The head is made so it replaces just the bezel, you can leave the lens in place. At the top it has a nipple with a hole in it which is for a lanyard or keychain. At the top it also has threads which I have no idea what they’re used for are used to screw your bezel on so you don’t lose it. It diffuses really well, from horizontal, about 270° at the bottom and closer to 300° on the top. It is made out of the same matte anodized aluminum as the Solarforce L2M.



Unfortunately my current drop-in is stuck on moonlight mode (I-O I’m looking at you.), so I had to take some longer exposure shots to get the beam pattern. Actually, there is no beam pattern. It diffuses really well. Don’t worry though, in a few days my new NW drop in will be here so I’ll be able to take proper shots then (24/06/13[DD/MM/YY]) and measure % light lost.

This is an L2M by the way.

The o-ring doing it’s work.



Note: The stand was 4cm away from the box, and it already lit the whole thing up. And yes, when my drop-in arrives I will do it against a wall to show you the dispersion of light.

UPDATE: I got my XML2 NW drop in (Thank you IO for swapping my original 1st gen for a 2nd gen, I forgive the long waiting time Smile ) and I chucked it in the L2M. I took some ceiling bounce numbers with the bezel on, and with the lantern on. I placed the light meter on the desk and on the table to see if there was any difference, there wasn’t. The results surprised me.

Bezel:
floor: 15.3 lux
table: 49 lux

Lantern:
floor: 4.9 lux
table: 23 lux

Also throw numbers at 1 meter are (Note my reflector is OP):

Bezel: 19,700 lux
Lantern: 110 (yes, one hundred and ten lux.)

What I found surprising was that the light meter got lower readings for the lantern. I have a few theories.
1) The lantern does absorb some of the light (probably 30% by eye).
2) When testing normal lights by ceiling bounce, the light is pointed at the ceiling. The lantern doesn’t project light onto the ceiling, but rather to the sides which affected the reading. I didn’t do it in a completely uniform room, so it definitely did affect readings.

Beam patterns:


Conclusion: Since I don’t have a light box I can’t accurately measure the light loss. Sorry guys. However it does produce light which you are able to look at without blinding yourself. It works relatively well albeit quite expensive for what it is.

When compared with a tail standing light, the surrounding environment is much dimmer (when indoors), and this leads me to believe it will only be useful when there is no ceiling to ceiling bounce such as in outdoor environments, or places with really high ceilings. So for indoor stick to ceiling bounce, but for outdoors this is great for putting on the floor to light everything on the floor up without it being in your eyes since it doesn’t actually light up the stuff above it.

Slewflash 

Edited by: sb56637 on 08/26/2014 - 17:26
MRsDNF
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Thanks Slewflash. looks like a top quality product It certainly looks different to the usual run off the mill diffuser. Whats it like if you look directly at it?

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

Slewflash
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Imagine putting a piece of paper over your light, and turning it on. Its like 5 times brighter on the diffuser and reflector. I’ll edit my original post when my working drop in gets here though to give a real performance review.

Slewflash 

djozz
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That is very nice lantern-maker, it makes for thw best lantern I have ever seen, thanks for the review!

jacktheclipper
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Cool

Gurthang
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The LT-1 is a great accessory for any SureFire “C” thread light not just the SolarForce L2. You can also hang it using the top hole and a thin lanyard.

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Thanks for the review! It looks like a nice lantern; friendly light.

Slewflash
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UPDATE: I got my XML2 NW drop in (Thank you IO for swapping my original 1st gen for a 2nd gen, I forgive the long waiting time Smile ) and I chucked it in the L2M. I took some ceiling bounce numbers with the bezel on, and with the lantern on. I placed the light meter on the desk and on the table to see if there was any difference, there wasn’t. The results surprised me.

Bezel:
floor: 153 lux
table: 490 lux

Lantern:
floor: 49 lux
table: 230 lux

Also throw numbers at 1 meter are (Note my reflector is OP):

Bezel: 19,700 lux
Lantern: 1100 lux

What I found surprising was that the light meter got lower readings for the lantern. I have a few theories.
1) The lantern does absorb some of the light (probably 30% by eye).
2) When testing normal lights by ceiling bounce, the light is pointed at the ceiling. The lantern doesn’t project light onto the ceiling, but rather to the sides which affected the reading. I didn’t do it in a completely uniform room, so it definitely did affect readings.

Beam patterns:


Conclusion: Since I don’t have a light box I can’t accurately measure the light loss. Sorry guys. However it does produce light which you are able to look at without blinding yourself. It works relatively well albeit quite expensive for what it is.

When compared with a tail standing light, the surrounding environment is much dimmer (when indoors), and this leads me to believe it will only be useful when there is no ceiling to ceiling bounce such as in outdoor environments, or places with really high ceilings. So for indoor stick to ceiling bounce, but for outdoors this is great for putting on the floor to light everything on the floor up without it being in your eyes since it doesn’t actually light up the stuff above it.

Slewflash 

MRsDNF
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Thanks for the update Slewflash.

 

djozz quotes, "it came with chinese lettering that is chinese to me".

                      "My man mousehole needs one too"

old4570 said "I'm not an expert , so don't suffer from any such technical restrictions".

Old-Lumens. Highly admired and cherished member of Budget Light Forum. 11.5.2011 - 20.12.16. RIP.

 

southcovekayak
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Just came back from a 5 night camping trip in upstate NY – was very dark. Lights were very useful. Saved alot of space in the kayak/canoes from our usual Rayovac 3D lanterns. Plus we are getting double duty out of the SF hosts. The ‘new’ base is definetly a plus, though I have seen the price creep up over $20, so no bargain there.

Real find on this trip was a 4 18650 battery box w a Goal Zero Luna LED light strip – simply awesome.

TSellers
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Would it be possible to get the weight of the Solarforce lantern kit? Have you seen any Chinese sellers listing that Goal Zero BTW? Would you say that light strip can replace the need for the Solarforce Lantern kit? What would the estimated tint be? For example I’m wondering if a light with the T4-7C emitter may be a nicer warm tint for camping than the tint of the Goal Zero?

Regards, TS

photon1k
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That base looks useful. It wasn’t available when I bought my lantern a couple years ago. I was so underwhelmed with mine that I never bothered to measure the output or even use it, despite being an avid camper. The diffuser eats so much light that I didn’t consider it useful. I don’t even know if I still have mine. Sad

Edit: Thank you for the review and the photos!

southcovekayak
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I don’t know about the weight, its not listed on the package anywhere or on the website. Its no lightweight piece of plastic, that is for sure, (re Backpacking) but it its important toyou, I can check w a neighbor who has a postal scale.

The Luna to me is a great piece of equipment. I am surprised by how useful it is and now we each have one, which made for a very lit up backwoods campsite at dinner time. Good run time on the 4x battery box, though we didn’t run any down to failure or protection trippage. Its a bright white/cool tint, not warm at all.

Can it replace the lantern adaptor -yes, but its much more directional. It does a good job of staying where you bend it to. And its a different sort of light too, maybe it would be my first choice if I didn’t already have the adaptors and the SF hosts…

As far as light loss, absolutely, though I don’t think its worse than the Ray O Vac or Coleman lanterns… I have a very warm drop in and that make for the nicest light but we keep them turned down in brightness most of the time. Heat buildup hasnt been an issue the way we use them (either style).

I have never seen any units similar in style to the LAL lights from GZ out in the marketplace, though I bought some of my entire kit from Ebay sellers and saved big over other retail prices. 12V E27 bulbs, strip bulbs, etc can make up a heck of a 12v based off the grid cabin, emergency usage, camping, etc set up.

Send me a PM if you want some photos, comparisons to SF host sizes, etc. Slewflash, thanks for the info about that threading and the bezel, never crossed my mind… neat touch though.

TSellers
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Thanks for the update. So I’m thinking that perhaps for camping while backpacking where weight is a major consideration, and I will also have a headlamp, perhaps the simplest solution is one of those $2.00 diffusers from FT (of which I have an assortment already that I’ve never really used) that I can put on a flashlight. I really like the tint of the T4 that I have in my Solarforce lights, but for backpacking I’ll probably carry a Spark SL6S-740NW which has a T5 XM-L2 emitter in it, as it is pretty lightweight and has the best heatsinking of all my current lights.

Regards, TS

mhanlen
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I wish more of these were available, for other lights.

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Thanks a lot for the review! Frontpage’d and Sticky’d.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

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Thanks Slewflash, you cleared up 2 things that I missed completely, the tripod mount (I wondered wth that threaded hole was for, didn’t even occur to me to mount it!) and the threaded cap for the bezel, sheer genius! Looks fantastic with the crenelated ring on top as well, “crown me!” Totally totally missed it.

I really like this, dedicated a black L2P to it and moved my EDC+ Triple Nichia 219 to a Blue L2P just so the lantern would be all black. Smile My drop-in is a VinhNguyen54 Nichia 219 5 mode w/memory. Never thought I’d use flashies, but it could come in handy sometime in a lantern as a guide or beacon so whatever.

For the review, for the newsflash on the couple of mystery features, Thank You! Smile