Review: Thorfire TK4A 4xAA Cree XP-L flashlight

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WalkIntoTheLight
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Review: Thorfire TK4A 4xAA Cree XP-L flashlight

This is a review of the Thorfire TK4A flashlight. It is a 1100 lumen high-output light that takes 4xAA batteries, uses a Cree XP-L LED, has a single-button electronic switch interface, and has 5 output levels + a hidden strobe.

The light was provided by Banggood for review purposes. You can find the light on their site here:

ThorFire TK4A on Banggood

Update: there is a discount code for this light: TFTK4A which drops the price to $29.99.

There is also a brief video review of the light I put up on youtube, here:

Overview:

This is a well-made light, with impressive output, and a nice simple user-interface. It is constructed of aluminum in the traditional “beer-can” format, and takes 4 AA batteries. I recommend quality rechargeable NiMH cells for best performance, but the light can be used with regular alkalines if you wish.

It is nice to see another competitor in the 4xAA space. I like this format of flashlight, because it allows for high output and performance, without needing to use lithium-ion cells. AA cells can be bought anywhere for a cheap price, and are very safe. The downside is a larger flashlight than a lithium-ion light, but in my opinion that’s not too important unless you’re carrying it in a pants pocket everyday. The Thorfire TK4A is not an every-day-carry light. It is a light meant for outdoor use, or for tail-standing indoors to light up a room.

It is slightly smaller than other 4xAA flashlights I compared it against, and this makes it a little more comfortable to carry in a jacket pocket. The light has mode-memory (including across battery changes), so quick access to your favorite output mode is easy.

I think this makes a good light for outdoor walks at night, or for storing in your car glove-box for emergencies. Somewhere where an EDC light either isn’t bright enough, or is too floody to throw the beam very far. While I wouldn’t call the TK4A a “thrower”, it does light up a good distance for most outdoor uses (much farther than an EDC). It also has good run-times.

An overview of the specs follow. I give more details later in the review, as well as a comparison to other lights. Note that I am providing my own measurements here, not the manufacture’s specs. While my measurements are different, I praise Thorfire for not playing ANSI FL-1 games with the run-times they list. The run times Thorfire gives assumes no step-down in brightness, even though the light does step-down to prevent overheating and thus gives vastly longer FL-1 run-times. You can find the manufacturer’s specs in the site link above.

Pictures follow these specs.

Modes: 6 (moonlight, low, medium, high, turbo, and strobe). Switch is a recessed electronic button on the side of the light (it won’t accidentally be triggered in a pocket or back-pack). The light has mode memory, stored by a long-press when turning off. Single click to turn on the light or to advance modes. The moonlight mode and strobe modes are “hidden”. Moonlight is activated by a long-press from off. Strobe is a double-click. Neither the moonlight or strobe can be memorized as the default-mode.

LED: Cree XP-L, 5700K cool white.

Size: 110mm long, 40mm diameter.

Weight: 166g without battery, 270g with 4 Eneloops installed.

Construction: Black anodized aluminum. Waterproof and drop-proof (1 meter). Good grip on body. Threads are nicely cut, and came lubricated. Plenty of space on tail for a good lanyard.

Warranty: 2 years.

Battery type: 4xAA NiMH or alkaline. No battery carrier is needed; the cells are placed directly into the light after unscrewing the tail cap. (And unlike some cheaper 4xAA lights, the light does not come on unexpectedly when installing fresh batteries.)

Output: turbo, 1150 lumens, high 300 lumens, medium 120 lumens, low 25 lumens, moonlight 0.1 lumens. Graphs included below. Output is flatly-regulated, except for pre-programmed step-downs for thermal protection. (More details below.) That is, you’ll get 1150 lumens on turbo with fresh batteries, and you’ll still get 1150 lumens when they’re mostly depleted.

The moonlight mode is a nice level; a true moonlight mode. If you’re familiar with Zebralight lights, it’s about the same brightness as the brightest setting for moonlight on most of their models. Great for seeing in pitch dark, or for reading a map without ruining your night vision.

The modes are nicely spaced, and I especially like the separation between low & medium, and between high and turbo (I personally like 4-5x jumps in output). I find this light is very useful as a general-purpose outdoor light.

Run-time: I’ll break this into two separate categories. The run-time if you leave the light on until it’s almost dead (including the step-downs), and the run-time if you don’t let it step-down and run it continuously on the intended brightness level. Step downs are 3 minutes from turbo to high, and 33 minutes from high to medium. See the run-time graphs below for more detail. It is easy to click the switch to go back to the higher level and override the step-down. I’m a little puzzled why the need for a high-to-medium step-down, because it’s not needed for heat control, and as mentioned earlier Thorfire does not use it as an excuse to list high ASNI FL-1 run-times.

With step-downs: turbo 11.5 hours, high 11.6 hours, medium 12 hours, low 2.5 days, moonlight 1.5 months (I didn’t test this, it’s just an estimate). Note this is with regular 1900 mAh Eneloop batteries. About 25% longer run-times will be achieved using a battery with a higher capacity, such as an Eneloop Pro.

Without step-downs: turbo 45 minutes, high 3 hours, medium 12 hours, low 2.5 days, moonlight 1.5 months. Again, this is with regular 1900 mAh Eneloop batteries.

Throw: 30000 candela. This represents a throw of 350 meters, to 0.25 lux. It’s not going to blind astronauts on the ISS, but it will give you a good distance for most outdoor use. It’s comparible to most 4xAA lights. The Thorfire has more lumens than other 4xAA lights, but the wider hot-spot gives about the same lux level.

Heat: Heat is dissipated well due to the large thermal mass. The light will begin to get quite warm after about 10-15 minutes on turbo (continuous). I wouldn’t recommended overriding the step-down too many times, unless it’s cold outside or you’re fighting off vampires.

Tint: 5700K cool white. This is a more neutral “cool white” tint than in most cool white lights, which is nice. I like warm tints in the 4000K range, but that is often too warm for most people. 5700K is a good tint for many people, and won’t give you that “ghostly bluish” light that cooler tints give. For comparison, 5700K is about the same color temperature as daylight.

Beam pattern: It has a bright hot-spot, but not a super-throwy beam pattern. It’s about what you’d expect from an XP-L in this size reflector.

PWM: I could not detect any PWM either with my eyes or with a high shutter speed camera. If it uses it, it’s very high frequency. I’m guessing from the flat regulation, that constant-current is used rather than PWM, but I’m not sure.

Tail-stands: yes.

Operation:

Electronic push-button. Press to turn on in last-memorized mode. Press to advance modes, cycling back to low -> medium -> high -> turbo. Press&hold to turn off and memorize the current mode. Press&hold from off to turn on in moonlight (moonlight can not be memorized). Double-click to strobe (strobe can not be memorized).

There is a LED light in the push-button to indicate battery level (when the light is on). Green when batteries are 50% or more charged. Orange when the batteries are less than 50%. I find it works pretty well, and gives you plenty of warning before the batteries give out. It’s nice to have a battery indicator built-in, rather than do odd button-click combinations to give you a battery indicator flashing sequence.

My impressions:

Pros:

- Bright! At 1150 lumens, it’s the brightest 4xAA light I know. Throw is decent, too.

- Well made. Seems like it competes well with more expensive lights in this category. I actually prefer this light over my much-more-expensive Sunwayman D40A.

- Flat regulation. This light won’t dim at all until the batteries are almost dead.

- Switch is easy to find and operate in the dark, but recessed enough to not accidentally turn on.

- Modes have decent spacing.

- This has a true moonlight mode.

- The LED battery indicator on the switch is a nice touch.

Cons:

- I don’t know why they implemented a half-hour step down from high. It’s not a big deal, and easy to override, but I’ve never seen such a long step-down period before. Maybe they did it so no matter what mode you start in, you’re guaranteed the light will last all night?

- I can’t really think of anything that bothers me about this light. It does what Thorfire claims, and more. If I had to complain, I’d complain that Thorfire underestimates the run-times and candella. They even slightly under-estimate the max output. Go figure!

And now, for some pictures.

First, the box.

Contents:

I believe the contents are supposed to also include a carry-pouch, but my review item did not include this.

Various pictures of the Thorfire TK4A.

Here it is compared to other 4xAA lights, for size.

These are pictures showing the LED battery indicator in the switch.

This is the beam shot, alone:

These two pictures show an area 100 feet away, lit by standard household 100 watt lights, and then with the Thorfire lighting up the area. Camera exposure was fixed across the two pictures. It gives you some idea of the throw (admittedly, not a very good idea, but I didn’t know how else to illustrate it).

This is a output graph of running the light on turbo, until dead. Note there are two step-downs: one at 3 minutes, and another at 33 minutes.

Here is a blow-up of the turbo graph for the first hour, better showing the step-downs.

This is a output graph of running the light on high, until dead. Note there is a half-hour step-down. I’m not sure why they implemented this one.

This is the output graph on medium.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading.

Edited by: WalkIntoTheLight on 05/05/2017 - 06:44
WalkIntoTheLight
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There is a discount code of TFTK4A which drops the price to $29.99.

IMO, this light is a steal with the discount code (and is a good price even without it). BTW, I don’t receive any compensation if you buy the light or anything else like that. It’s really just my opinion.

tzmxxhh
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Great review, nice light. I`d like the code. Thank you!

WalkIntoTheLight
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tzmxxhh wrote:
Great review, nice light. I`d like the code. Thank you!

Hi, thanks, I sent you a PM with the code.

I still haven’t heard back on whether or not I can post it publicly.

marsalla
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I love mine. simple and effective

lamper
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Looks good for a 4AA; can you send the code? Thanks

WalkIntoTheLight
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lamper wrote:
Looks good for a 4AA; can you send the code? Thanks

Sent.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Hi, I have been told I can post the code publicly.

The discount code is TFTK4A which drops the price to $29.99.

You can get the light at the following link:

https://www.banggood.com/ThorFire-TK4A-XP-L-1100Lumens-6Modes-High-Power-LED-Flashlight-AA-p-1104932.html?utm_source=bbs&utm_medium=rob&utm_content=chendongling

ImA4Wheelr
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Wow, another high quality TK4A review.  Nice work and thank you for the discount code.

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Beachlogger
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I just asked this in the other review, thanks for the review btw, I see you have the crelant v4a, which one do you prefer?

RobertB
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This Sofrin is the exact same light for 29.99 on amazon prime. No code needed

WalkIntoTheLight
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Beachlogger wrote:
I just asked this in the other review, thanks for the review btw, I see you have the crelant v4a, which one do you prefer?

I definitely prefer this one. The Crelant is okay, and will throw further (because of its XPL-HI), but only on fresh batteries. The Crelant dims as the batteries deplete, so it’s really only powerful when the batteries have a good charge.

The other thing I don’t like about the Crelant is that it comes on whenever you change the batteries. Not a big deal, but an annoyance nonetheless.

The Crelant does have a nice brightness ramping function, that you can program into its 2 modes (but unfortunately does not memorize over battery changes). But again, since it’s a linear ramp, it’s really difficult to program a good low mode.

I don’t think the Crelant is a bad light, it just seems like they cut a lot of corners to produce it cheaply. I don’t find that with the Thorfire.

Rufusbduck
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RobertB wrote:
This Sofrin is the exact same light for 29.99 on amazon prime. No code needed

!{width:50%}http://i.imgur.com/BS8Os29.jpg!


Clones being what they are, is the UI the same as well?

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PeterRamish
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AliExpress at this moment has the light for USD27.99 with a 2 dollar instant store credit = $25.99 ttl

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/ThorFire-Bright-Penlight-1100-Lumens-6-M...

firedome
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Ordered! Thx for the thorough review & coupon! Big Smile

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Hobo
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I received mine and the battery holder had some machining problems. I did not take any pictures Facepalm , but basically every of the 4 battery holes had a burr which prevented my Ikea Ladda NiMH from sliding in; Alkalines did fit very tightly. So I grabbed a round file and fixed it.
Also the LED is not centered very well, but for the low price I’m pleased.

Edit: I just noticed that the holster is missing Sad

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