[REVIEW] Camping light from Amazon

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jeff51
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[REVIEW] Camping light from Amazon

I acquired this lamp from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07G24SFYF/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_...

There are several venders selling the same light at slightly different price points. I paid $13.99 in 12-2018, as of 1/25/2019 it goes for $18.77.

The package includes the lamp, a plastic hook with cord for hanging the lamp, a micro USB charging cord, an unmarked 18650 rated by the seller at 2000mAh, and a set of instructions. When I bought the lamp it was rated at 350 lumens.
The ad was later updated and now the light is rated at 800 lumens (Hummmm).

Accessories

The seller says it has a lifetime guarantee with a 90 day refund.
Seller lists 30 2835-LEDs as being the light source.

Description
The battery inserts into a screw capped tube in the bottom of the lamp. The battery runs up the center of the lamp and it makes for a nice compact package. The supplied battery is a non-protected flat top. The battery cap is magnetic so the light can be attached to something metal. On parts of the battery tube the threads are not as deep as the rest. It looks like the tube was not quite round when the threads were cut. But it still the cap fits just fine.

It weighs 4.7oz w/o battery and the included battery adds another 1.5oz.

There are 6 LED strips distributed around the internal battery tube. Running vertically each strip has 4 white LEDs separated by a single red LED in the center of each strip.

White LEDs

Red LEDs

It will run off the USB charging cable without a battery. The instructions recommend against this as it “will result in unstable light and gear disorder”.
(I’m pretty sure everyone here has a gear disorder…. And clearly several are unstable).

On top of the light is the power switch, a micro USB charging port, and a collapsible loop for hanging the light. The switch seems to be well sealed against water intrusion. The USB port plug is snug and looks like it can withstand the elements. The battery compartment has an O-ring and needed a bit of lube to insure a water tight fit and smooth operation. The plastic top and bottom seem to be sealed to the center light tube with glue. I would not hesitate to use this in a hard rain. The box says the light rated IPX6 which is pressurized spray. The instructions rate it to IPX7 which is a dunk to 1 meter depth.

Observations and Tests
The construction is excellent considering the price point of this lamp. The plastic top and bottom have no flex and seem well attached to the central tube. The light tube also seems quite sturdy. I think this would survive falls onto grass or dirt without problem. Not sure about bouncing it off concreate. It might suffer some cosmetic damage.

The UI:
First click = High.
Second click = Medium (or median as the instructions tell us).
Third click = Low (or weak as per instructions).
Fourth click = Solid Red.
Fifth click = Flashing Red (steady pulse, no SOS).
Sixth click = Off.
You have to click through all the modes to turn it off. At least it goes from brightest to red to off without any full white blinkies.

The lamp is rated at 350 lumens or 800 lumens (depending on the ad listing). I’m not setup to do any real lumen measurements (yet). But I do have a photographic light meter, a lux meter, and some other lights to compare it with using the ceiling bounce method and a very non-calibrated light box. It was hard to judge this light because it radiates in a 360 degree pattern. A wild ass guess puts the light at 250-400sh lumens.
When you first power it up the first impression is – Gee it’s not that bright. There is plenty of light for indoor emergencies. Outdoors it’s not going to set the night on fire, but would work for a picnic table or working under a car.

Using a fresh 30Q battery I measured 0.6a at the tail cap on high, 0.17a on medium, 0.04a on Low, and 0.51a on red.

Battery

The supplied battery is a flat top unprotected cell. A solder blob battery will fit. A protected cell is too long. The battery has no mAh markings and is rated by the seller at 2000mAh (according to the ad copy). The battery tested 1695mAh and 59mOhm. That’s about 85% of the rated capacity. Hummmm… About as good as a pull from an XP era laptop.

Using the freshly charged supplied battery the lamp ran for 124 minutes on high before dropping off the voltage curve and dimming down. I pulled the battery and it was at 2.5v. There is no low voltage protection and letting the lamp continue to run can result in battery damage. It’s a shame a protected cell won’t fit or the maker include a low voltage shut off.

Recharging the battery inside the light drew 0.63 amps max and I measured 4.25volts after it finished a charge cycle. So it is slightly overcharging the 18650. The power switch acts as a charge indicator. It’s red when charging and orange-yellow when finished (the instructions say it should turn green).

The magnetic battery cap will hold the light upside down (like from the underside of a car hood). Placed on a smooth vertical surface, in my case a file cabinet, the light slid all the way to the floor. I would not recommend sticking it on a car door unless there is some trim or something to keep it from sliding. It would stick on a rougher surface.

What’s it look like?
On high the light is soft and well defused and has no hot spots around the circle of light like so many other cheap lanterns. The top and bottom create shadows in the corresponding areas. I can’t measure color temperature but it is certainly on the blue end of the spectrum. That was pretty much a given considering the cost. But it’s not bad.

Medium and low are nicely spaced and the blinking red is plenty bright for a road side warning. Unfortunately the PWM is very noticeable on medium. On low it is downright nasty.
Take a look at the accompanying O-Scope shots of the PWM. The horizontal scale is 2ms. Look how short a time the low power setting is on during a cycle. Yuck.
Is this the nastiest PWM like – ever?

PWM High

PWM Medium

PWM Low

PWM Red

Here is a PWM Shot of an inexpensive headlamp for comparison

Notice the huge difference!

The form factor is great for a camping type of lantern. It’s plenty bright on high for a tent light and has a useful flashy red. Medium and low are tough to deal with because of the PWM. But in a power pinch when you’ve don’t have 175 other pocket rockets tail standing around the house, it would do.
The lack of low voltage protection is a real shortcoming. The battery is crap. I would call this close but no cigar.

Note that a long protected cell will fit as long as the cap is not fully tightened down. There is no anodizing on the threads so the light will come on, it’s just not water proof used this way. I can’t see any way to open this light up. The form factor is really nifty. It’s a shame the PWM is so nasty. I think it would make a nifty host to mod with some high CRI LEDs and a better driver if there was some way inside the thing.

RobertB
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These used to be as low as $7.95 a couple years ago on Amazon. I’ve got three of them, and use protected Sanyo 3500mAh NCR18650GA’s in them. They fit the Fenix CL25R as well, which is what these clones are modeled after. The PWM doesn’t bother me at all, but mine are two years old if that makes a difference.

You can get the Lee Filter to knock the cool white down to the 3800k range

https://www.goknight.com/lee-filters-205-half-cto-lighting-gel-sheet/

jeff51
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Robert,
Thanks for the link. Seems like they have really good prices on gels.
I wonder if the Fenix versions have such a crappy PWM. Seems like it would be an easy thing to fix.
Guess the designers never actually have to use the light to look at a moving object.

kuzuna
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I have one of these with a slightly different UI, where you have to press and hold to get into the red modes, separating them from the white modes. I paid $11 or $12 on AliExpress for just the lantern by itself. There are also some with 5-mode chips available for slightly less. Mine will take protected cells. It seems like you can find these all over the place on the usual sites with a variety of different UIs. Besides the UI not being good (I hate that you have to cycle through the higher modes to get to the low), my main complaint is that you need a tool to pull up the hook if it’s laid flat on the head. Not too bad though.

RobertB
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jeff51 wrote:
Robert, Thanks for the link. Seems like they have really good prices on gels. I wonder if the Fenix versions have such a crappy PWM. Seems like it would be an easy thing to fix. Guess the designers never actually have to use the light to look at a moving object.

The PWM doesn’t bother me. My lights are hanging at a campsite, not looking at moving objects