Olight H1 Nova Review: 500 Lumens CR123 Headlamp

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will34's picture
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Olight H1 Nova Review: 500 Lumens CR123 Headlamp

Hi all this is my review of the H1 Nova, the new tiny but mighty headlamp from Olight. This is their first attempt at an angled style headlamp and honestly they have done an amazing job here, the H1 Nova is incredibly compact and lightweight, while the output can match and surpass many other more headlamp this size.

Manufacturer description and main specs:

The H1 NOVA (NW/CW) is a compact uni-body aluminum alloy LED headlamp with an output range of 1 to 500 lumens running off of a single CR123A or RCR123A battery.

  • Utilizes CREE XM-L2 LED (NW/CW) paired with bead lens, creating clearly divided focus and flood with a smooth transition
  • High light transmission rate TIR optic lens to deliver a balanced and soft beam
  • Five brightness levels and SOS mode covering 1~500 lumens
  • Compatible with CR123A or RCR123A (16340) rechargeable lithium ion battery


I have owned many Olight products in the past but this is the first time they decided to use this packaging. On and front and back we can see the most important spec and info about the H1.

As with other Olight products, they state how long does turbo mode last before stepping down. Huge thumbs up to Olight for this initiative!

Inside the box we find this small zipper hard case:

Everything was tightly fit inside:

And here are the contents of the box: H1 Headlamp with headband, Olight CR123 battery, pocket clip, user manual and a products catalog.

The case is of high quality and of course can be re-used to store other stuff:

This 10,000mAh powerbank was perfect fit.

Build quality, size and weight:

And here’s the H1 Nova

The headband feels great and lightweight in the head and the curved silicone piece has rounded edges to prevent fatigue from extended use. Some info in the back:

One of the most important aspect of a flashlight is the ergonomics, and when it comes to headlamps ergonomics is all about the headband and silicone holder piece. I’m glad to report the Olight H1 headband is very comfortable and of all the headbands I have tested it would be on top with the Zebralight one, which is my favorite headband for 18650 headlamps. Here you can see the size comparison and how compact is the Olight.

The H1 feels tiny in hand yet very sturdy, build quality is top notch and the anodizing is perfect in my sample.

Close-up of the optics and electronics switch:
The H1 uses an optic which is very similar to that found in the baton series but it has a honeycomb texture to produce a more floody and uniform beam.
The electronic switch compared to the baton series is much larger and flat, with a very good tactile feedback.
Both elements carry Olight’s distinctive blue bezel ring around.

A flat tailcap allows for tailstand and it comes with a strong magnet inside.

No problem sticking to the fridge with battery inside.

The clip attaches surprisingly strong to the body and allows it to sit flush when clipped, even though this is a headlamp I find it easily suitable for EDC.

Fully square cut threads with smooth twisting action

How does it compare to other small CR123 lights size and weight wise? As you can see the H1 is the most compact and lightweight of the bunch, being just a couple grams heavier than the battery it uses.

Compared to full-sized headlamps and a 18650 battery:

Now with their headbands:
I weighted them with headband and battery:
-Olight H1: 66.2gr
-Skillhunt H02R with ZL headband: 131.5gr
-Armytek Wizard V3: 138.3gr
Fully loaded, the H1 is less than half the weight compared to full size headlamps! For those who do running this is a huge plus.

UI and Operation

The H1 uses the typical and easy to use Olight UI:

From OFF:
-Single click goes to last used mode
-Double click goes to turbo
-Triple click activates SOS
-Hold 1s for moon
-Hold 3s for electronic lockout

From ON:
-Single click turns off
-Double click goes to turbo
-Hold to change mode

Beam and tint

The unit I received was CW but it has a very pleasant 5,700k white tint with no hints of yellow or green, and the beam produced by the optic is extremely similar to my Armytek Wizard Pro V3 XHP50: floody and consistent, perfect for close-up and indoor use.

Olight left – Armytek right (NW)

Tailcap amp draw at 10 secs:
Olight stock CR123: 2.23A
Efest 16340 v2: 1.77A


Specs from Olight:

About the runtime test: This is my very first time doing an “automated” and accurate runtime test, I placed the light inside my ‘integrated lumen box” and used a UNI-T UT382 light meter with USB logging. Because the drivers were not supported by my Windows 10 laptop, I had to run it inside an emulated Win XP 32bit OS using Oracle VM VirtualBox. It took some time to set up but it was worth it! The meter is accurate and well built, the software is easy to operate but keep in mind that the drivers only supports Windows XP & 7, it won’t work on 10 even if you force the driver sign verification off.

The intervals were set at 1 second and the values are then exported via text into excel. For my next reviews I will have the Excel file programmed to automatically transform the readings into a chart.

In my runtime tests with the included CR123 cell I got a sightly shorter runtime on turbo than stated in the specs, but this is because I have used the light for a couple times before doing the actual test. The output starts to drop from 500lm to 180lm on the 3 minutes mark and it takes a full minute to reach about ~40% of the relative output, this is a very gentle step down and it is not immediately noticeable with the bare eyes. It then continues to put out 180lm for a bit more than 2 hours, then starts a slow drop. I stopped the test when the output was less than 10% but the H1 managed to produce usable light for more than 4 extra hours at a level a similar to moon, still enough light for reading in the dark.

With the Efest 16340 v2 cell I got a different runtime curve, the initial brightness is much higher and the runtime is shorter, you can see that the maximum output is above 100% relative to ptimery maximum. Because a 16340 li-ion holds less energy than a primary, after 1hr 30min it has a sudden drop and 5 minutes after the light shuts down completely.

Here is a close up of the first 5 minutes, here you can see that with the 16340 it has a higher and more stable output during the first 3 minutes.

At the end of the test I measured the unprotected cell at 2.73V at this point so I’ll assume it’s the LVP kicking in. It’s nice to see how with a primary cell it continues to draw power until the cell is fully depleted but when using a li-ion rechargeable it will stop it from over discharging.

Final words

Excellent build quality, tiny size, powerful performer. I’m truly impressed by this little headlamp! I’m having a hard time to think of any room for improvement Big Smile I guess it’s safe to say that when it comes to compact headllamps the H1 nova is about as good as it gets. I’ll give it a solid 5 stars.

Olight supplied this unit for me to review, and I look forward to a full sized 18650 H2 Nova Wink

Edited by: sb56637 on 09/02/2017 - 12:28
will34's picture
Last seen: 1 week 6 days ago
Joined: 12/18/2012 - 00:12
Posts: 3303

Olight also told me about their black friday sale event, up to 35% 45% discount when purchased directly from http://www.olightstore.com/

giorgoskok's picture
Last seen: 33 min 41 sec ago
Joined: 11/13/2015 - 10:46
Posts: 2587
Location: Greece

Thanks for the review Will , appreciate it .