Review: Klarus G30 (with runtime graphs)

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zak.wilson
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Review: Klarus G30 (with runtime graphs)

This Klarus G30 was provided by Swi from Banggood for review. Use coupon code 5b952c to get the G30 for $60 (40% off).

Quick Review

The G30 is a 3×18650 tube-shaped light about the size of a Red Bull can. It uses a neutral white Cree MT-G2 to produce 2450 lumens on its highest mode with a large hotspot and bright spill. Today, there are soup can lights that put out over 9000 lumens and smaller 1×26650 lights that reach 3000. It’s easy to wonder whether something like the G30 is still relevant.

In my opinion, it is. All of those big-numbers lights have some fine print clarifying their limitations: 9000 lumens for 150 seconds, followed by 1800, or 3200 for 90 seconds, followed by 1000. The G30 has no such fine print: under typical conditions, it makes 2450 lumens until it hits the low-voltage stepdown – about an hour with my 3000 mAh LG HG2 batteries. It takes another 30 minutes to step down to the lowest mode, at which point the batteries are around 3.1V. The G30 is a light to use for extended periods of time, not just to show off for a few seconds. The G30 also costs substantially less.

The beam of light the G30 produces is the nicest I’ve seen on a higher-output, mass-produced light. The tint is a nice 5000K, slightly to the rosy side of sunlight. The color is fairly even across all parts of the beam. The hotspot is large, as one would expect from an emitter that dwarfs even the XHP70. The transition to spill is a smooth gradient and the spill itself is quite bright. This is not a pure flood light, and my testing suggests the claimed 220m FL1 throw is underrated: I measured 265m using Ceilingbounce and my Nexus 5. This considerably exceeds that of any of the ultra-high-output soup can lights in their stepped-down modes. The G30’s performance reminds me of the FET triples popular with hobbyists, but with a useful runtime of 60 minutes instead of 60 seconds.

The camera doesn’t do it justice; I could see everything in this space pretty well.

I do have some complaints, however and most are to do with the user interface. It’s not bad: it has shortcuts to the lowest, last used and (momentary) highest modes, as well as strobe, because, of course, we all use strobe regularly. A short press of either switch turns the G30 on to the last-used mode, additional short presses cycle through modes in a descending order and a long press turns it off. From off, a long press on the side switch turns the light on in low, and a long press on the tail switch turns it in high until released. The shortcut to high is available while on, but first it cycles through off, which is a little awkward. More awkward is that a double-click is a shortcut to strobe from on or off. That means attempting to cycle through modes too quickly activates strobe. A second double-click from strobe activates SOS. A short press returns to the previous state. A long press turns the light off.

If G30 were a pocket EDC light, the potential to accidentally activate strobe while changing modes combined with a long-press to turn off would get the G30 an immediate negative review. I see the use cases for the G30 being a bit different though: it gets turned on to the desired mode and then used for many minutes or even hours. Sure, I’d prefer a different UI without blinky modes, an additional sub-lumen mode, and the ability to change modes in either direction, but I find the G30 UI acceptable for its use case. The shortcuts from off are nice to have, and the three higher modes are evenly spaced, visually. My one other UI complaint would be that the side switch is hard to find by feel, but the presence of a tailswitch makes up for that.

I like the G30. It’s a good size, with good performance, a nice looking, useful beam and an acceptable user interface. It’s well-suited to use around the house, in a car, ATV or boat and for hiking and camping where a large amount of light is needed for a long time.

  • + Stable output
  • + Doesn’t overheat under most conditions
  • + Nice 5000K tint
  • + Nice beam shape
  • + Compact size for a 3×18650 light
  • + Shortcuts to low, last-used and (momentary) high
  • - The UI can be a little awkward
  • - It’s possible to activate strobe by accident while cycling modes – this is annoying enough to get its own line item aside from the general awkwardness
  • - No anti-roll – there are flats on parts of the body, but they don’t make it to the edge

Details and technical analysis

Accessories

The G30 includes a user manual, lanyard and spare O-rings. A holster would have been nice because it’s a great size for carrying on a belt holster or attached to a MOLLE backpack. I’ve been using a Nitecore EC4 holster. It fits nicely. Here’s everything in the box.

Modes and user interface

The readings I took with my integrating shoebox were a close match for advertised output on every mode.

Advertised lumens Tested lumens
15 20
300 294
900 936
2450 2400

Throw, however was considerably higher, which is consistent with my perception that the G30 has more throw than the average 1×18650 tube light.

Advertised throw (meters) Measured throw
17 (calculated) 24
77 (calculated) 95
133 (calculated) 167
220 265

The UI is as follows:

Initial state Action End state
Off Short click either switch Last-used steady mode
Off Long click side switch Low
Off Long click tailswitch High (momentary)
Off Double-click either switch Strobe
On Short click either switch Next mode (H -> L)
On Long click either switch Off
On Longer click tail switch High (momentary; returns to previous mode on release)
On Double-click either switch Strobe
Strobe Double-click either switch SOS
Strobe/SOS Short click either switch Previous state (steady mode or off)

Batteries

The G30 uses three 18650 batteries in a series configuration. The batteries always have a higher voltage than the LED requires, so the only voltage-related dimming is the intentional stepdown to prevent over-discharge of the batteries. Reverse-polarity protection is advertised, but I did not attempt to install batteries incorrectly to test it. All 18650 batteries, flat or button-top, protected or unprotected fit and make contact in the G30.

As with all series lights, it is dangerous to use batteries that are not the same make and model, in similar condition and in the same state of charge. Reverse-charging can occur if one battery has much less capacity than the others or is discharged while the others are full. Reverse-charging can cause a fire or explosion. The G30 reduces the risk by stepping down to lower modes when the total voltage is low, blinking the side indicator light red and eventually periodically blinking the main LED to get the user’s attention. It does not, however shut off completely, and I discharged a set of batteries to 2.12V, 1.91V and 2.18V, which is below the recommended minimum for any standard chemistry 18650 cell.

There is a battery indicator under the side switch, showing green, yellow, red or blinking red depending on the battery voltage for a few seconds after the light is turned on. Slightly loosening the tailcap breaks the connection to the batteries, locking out the light. The low-voltage stepdowns seem a little conservative to me, starting when the batteries are at about 3.6V each, but with three cells in series, a bit of conservatism reduces the risk of dangerous reverse-charging.

Output and runtime

The G30’s series battery configuration provides for stable output in all modes as the batteries drain. There is a thermal sensor, and it will throttle output after 8-10 minutes on max in warm, still air, but cool air, any amount of wind or the airflow from walking with the light is sufficient cooling to prevent throttling. When throttled, the G30 increases output again if cooled. The surface of the light gets warm to the touch, but never so hot as to be uncomfortable to hold.

High, cooled:

Cooling test – fan applied at 18 minutes:

  • Medium-high (900lm), uncooled:

On high, with cooling, times were as follows using LG HG2 3000 mAh batteries:

  • 80%: 66 minutes
  • 50%: 66 minutes
  • 10% (FL1): 90 minutes

On medium, times were:

  • 80%: 217 minutes
  • 50%: 217 minutes
  • 10% (FL1): 229 minutes

Advertised times of 100 minutes and 340 minutes to 10%, respectively were with 3400 mAh batteries. The former sounds about right, but I think the latter is optimistic.

The standby power consumption is 0.25mA, which would drain the batteries in about 16 months. For long-term storage, the tailcap should be locked out.

Ergonomics and construction

The G30 is the size and shape of a Red Bull can. It’s comfortable for users with various hand sizes to hold and works well in a holster attached to a belt or backpack. The tailswitch is easy to press with an index finger in an overhand grip, though I found it a bit awkward with my thumb. The side switch can be hard to find by feel, but it’s possible to index from the flat on the opposite side. The body has light knurling on the middle section, but I found myself wishing it was a little more aggressive when using the light with gloves. There’s a lanyard hole on the side of the body, not the tailcap, and I’ve actually been using the included lanyard, which I usually don’t find useful with lights.

Size comparison: Acebeam K70, Klarus G30, Nitecore EC4, Convoy S6 (triple), Zebralight SC62w (broken)

The flats on some portions of the body don’t extend to the edges and do not prevent rolling on a flat surface. The light rolls easily when set on its side on my desk, only stopped by the lanyard, if installed. It can tailstand, and is fairly stable doing so, but the tailswitch protrudes just enough to keep it from sitting perfectly flat.

The machining is good, with no visible marks, smooth, square-cut threads and smooth, thick anodizing. The threads and O-ring came fairly dry, and I would suggest lubricating them.

Modification potential

I’ve decided to start including modifications in reviews. Some people just can’t leave well enough alone, and I’m one of them.

The G30’s bezel is glued in place tightly enough that I couldn’t get it off with a strap wrench even when warm. Two large strap wrenches might be sufficient. I did find pictures of a removed bezel on BLF, so I know it’s possible. The only change that would make much sense to me is a different MT-G2 with a warmer tint or higher CRI, but it’s possible to use other 6V emitters like the Nichia 144A, Cree XHP50 or Cree XHP70. Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of the MCPCB. I quite like the beam of the stock G30 though, so unless an exciting new 6V LED shows up, I’m not rushing out to get a second strap wrench.

Ceilingbounce – flashlight testing and runtime graphs for Android

my9221
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Thanks for your review & pictures!

HorizontalHunter
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Quote:

The G30 is a light to use for extended periods of time, not just to show off for a few seconds. The G30 also costs substantially less.

The beam of light the G30 produces is the nicest I’ve seen on a higher-output, mass-produced light. The tint is a nice 5000K, slightly to the rosy side of sunlight. The color is fairly even across all parts of the beam. The hotspot is large, as one would expect from an emitter that dwarfs even the XHP70. The transition to spill is a smooth gradient and the spill itself is quite bright. This is not a pure flood light, and my testing suggests the claimed 220m FL1 throw is underrated: I measured 265m using Ceilingbounce (link is external) and my Nexus 5. This considerably exceeds that of any of the ultra-high-output soup can lights in their stepped-down modes. The G30’s performance reminds me of the FET triples popular with hobbyists, but with a useful runtime of 60 minutes instead of 60 seconds.

This is the reason I bought mine. Mine gets used for recovering game after dark and is perfectly suited to that task in my opinion.

One thing that’s missing is a good holster for it. I ended making one for mine.

Thanks for the great review.

Bob

Vegetarian: vejiˈte(ə)rēən/noun: old Indian word for lousy hunter.