Fenix CL09 Lantern Quick Review

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Fenix CL09 Lantern Quick Review

Fenix CL09 Lantern

Reviewer's Overall Rating:  ★★☆☆☆

 

 

Summary:

Battery:  16340 Fenix ARB-L16-700U (included)
Switch:  Twisty Tail
Modes:  7 (Low, Mid, High, Turbo, Red, Red Flashes, Green)
LED Type:  Neutral White, Red, Green
Lens:  Diffuser
Tailstands:  Yes
Price Paid:  ~USD39
From: Fenix
Date Ordered:  2017-10-06

 

Pros:

  • Compact size
  • Long runtime on Low Mode
  • Very good physical build quality
  • Good white tint
  • Magnet tailcap with loop

Cons:

  • Wrong battery included for the light
  • Slow micro-USB battery charging

Features / Value:  ★★☆☆☆

A feature complete lantern in a compact package with good white tint and reasonably price, what's not to like? But why 2 stars?! Well, long story short, either Fenix package the wrong battery or the driver overestimate the capacity of the included ARB-L16-700U Micro-USB rechargeable 16340 LiIon battery, either way, the pairing of this Fenix CL09 with the included battery is bad. The only pleasant surprise is the Low Mode can run much longer than what's claimed by Fenix -- tested ~115 hours vs 90 hours from manufacturer.

It may seems like a very good effort on Fenix's part to include/print the runtime chart (it is actually a more desirable information than the ANSI/NEMA/PLATO FL1), but this chart is only useful if it's accurate (or at least "attempts" to be accurate), rather than calculated (plotted from some weird data series scale).

 

Design / Build Quality:  ★★★★☆

The design and built quality is top notch, typical of Fenix manufactured lighting equipment. The compact design makes it very easy to carry either on person (using the included keyring attachment) or bag-carry.

The driver doesn't offer any over-discharge protection, so don't run your cell down until the battery Low Voltage protection kicks-in. I believe my Fenix CL09 has damage the included ARB-L16-700U after my runtime tests as it's showing early retirement signs... more on that in the next section.

 

Battery Life:  ★★☆☆☆

The idea of including a Micro-USB rechargeable battery is good as Micro-USB interface is commonly available almost everywhere (yes, that includes Apple's product users). However, the charging is slow... it takes almost 2 hours for the ARB-L16-700U battery to recharge fully from Red indicator to Blue using the Micro-USB port, although the label on the battery says "INPUT 5V/500mA Micro USB", but my USB meter shows that it's drawing ~0.34A from 5V source. It's faster to use your normal .5A rate charger to charge the cell.

I first tested the Low Mode runtime, with manufacturer's claim of 90 hours:

  • Battery Fully Charge
  • Starting Voltage: 4.17V
  • Ending Voltage 0.00V (not a typo, it is really that 0.00V)
  • Runtime: ~115 hours

Yup, it's more than a day's worth of runtime longer than manufacturer's claim. But tripping that battery Low Voltage protection is not a good sign.

With such excitement, I continue with the Turbo runtime test, and here is where things took a 180° anticlimatic turn. After 8 - 9 rounds of testing, using both the included ARB-L16-700U and a brand new ARB-L16-700 (non Micro USB rechargeable), I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. Not only it does not live up to the 2 hours runtime claim, it drop sharply at around 30 minutes mark to Low Mode. If I then tried to switch the CL09 back into Turbo mode, in within 5-10 minutes, the light turns off  with battery reading 0.00V (again, tripping the battery Low Voltage protection).

I recorded my first Turbo runtime testing to be ~34 minutes before the light drops to Low Mode, and subsequent tests have a much shorter Turbo runtime, the last of which shown in the following timelapse video is ~27 minutes.

Although the title says CL09 Turbo Runtime 03, it's not my 3rd time testing but rather it's the 8th or 9th, it's my 3rd uploads to youtube.

The runtime chart at the back of the packaging is either Fenix's way of a bad practical joke or it's simply bogus!

I've also tested using a primary CR123A, more than half of the claimed 6 hours runtime is spent at the Mid and Low mode instead of Turbo and High. (Yes, CL09 steps down).

The only viable option for CL09 to Turbo Mode is to use an unprotected IMR 16340 where I get more than an hour of bright output.

Light Output:  ★★★★☆

Following are all shot in my reading room in pitch black darkness... all photos are subjected to 1 second exposure setting, Fenix CL09 is placed attached magnetically at the top right approximately 0.5 meter away from the subject.

As a comparison, following are Turbo mode for other Fenix's lanterns...

and other auxiliary mode...

The output on Low Mode is enough to do night reading (but I still much prefer to read at the Mid 30 lumens mode), here is a closer shot of the Low Mode brightness...

Summary:  ★★☆☆☆

I initially had planned to give Fenix CL09 Lantern a 5 stars rating after the Low Mode runtime test, but decided to cut down to 2 stars after the Turbo Mode runtime test and discover the problem like many other lights that support LiIon 16340 and primary CR123A, this is again just another ANSI/NEMA/PLATO FL1 light that does not tell the whole truth about it's runtime behavior.

Would I recommend this Fenix CL09? Well, only if they change the battery to IMR and indicate as such, otherwise, NO.

 

Edit Note: my bad, light output should be 4 stars, copy and paste error..

still changing sig ::
Edited by: sb56637 on 10/20/2017 - 09:54