Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kipor IG1000P Review

Quick review of Kipor sinemaster IG1000P
This unit was sent to me for review, by the good folks over at Kipor Power Systems North America. I wanted to give them a special shootout, because without them and companies like them, I wouldn’t be able to do many of my reviews for you guys. With that being said, this is not a paid review, I don’t work for Kipor, I don’t own any stock in the company and I am not being forced to say nice things about this unit. I’ve only been provided a sample unit for testing and evaluation.
The IG1000p is an inverter style suite case generator, with 900 running watts and 1000 surge watts. It features a 53.5 cc 4 cycle, engine, which is kept inside of a double walled sound enclosure to keep the unit between 54 and 59 db when running. It also features a 0.7 gallon fuel tank, allowing the unit to run for up to 4 hours at the maximum 900 watt rating. It produces clean sinewave power, similar to that of utility power and comes in at hundreds of dollars less than its popular competition (I’m speaking of Honda and Yamaha). Like its competition, it features a high quality proven design, that’s been around since the early 2000’s, it has the ability to be paired with other units in its series via a parallel kit (ig2000p ig2600p) and comes with a 2 year warranty for residential use and a single year for commercial.  The unit is C.A.R.B. and EPA compliant, allowing it to be sold in places like Canada and California (which usually have the toughest emissions standards, resulting in a lot of generators being banned from sale there).  Safety features include a low oil shut down and inverter overheat protection

This unit was mainly designed with portable power in mind, with a dry weight of only 30.8 lbs. I found it interesting that the unit actually weighs nearly a full pound less than 5 gallons worth of gas (31.5 lbs). It lasts longer, provides more maximum wattage and is still lighter than most rechargeable type power packs and many mobile solar solutions. It’s possible uses includes camping, tailgating, power outages, yard work, powering small power tools ,recharging  small solar systems during  storms or low sun months and can even be used for small outdoor parties.
The IG1000P comes with a few accessories, including a brass spark plug tool, dc charging cable, oil filler cup, spare bosh spark plug as well as the owner’s manual.
As far as the exterior goes (go over exterior features) drain hoses on front going from carb
Hidden is the inverter unit, the main difference is no surging, variable rpms clean power.
Like having 2 generators in one

When I first got the unit, the first thing I noticed was it was covered in oil.  I thought the worst and was ready to contact kipor, but I decided to do a google search first and found that this was a common issue.  The unit was shipped via ups (known to throw around a damage packages) and apparently was placed upside down long enough for any residual oil left from factory testing to leak out of the exhaust and or intake. The issue did not affect functionality, but did require me to clean up with paper towel before I could safely operate the unit. After the cleaning, I added conventional 10w-30 oil, filled up the gas tank and took the unit outside for the first start.  The unit to my surprise started with the first pull (after a series of primer pulls, with the ignition off to get fuel through the pump and into the carburetor bowl). The unit ran smoothly, but initially was quite noisy.  I took my phone out and measured a db level of 82 right next to the unit and around 75, 23 feet away (this was in the normal running mode).Running the unit in the smart throttle mode didn’t fare much better, with a difference of just a few db at the same ranges. This was far off of the manufactures claim of 54 – 59 db, but after a few hours of running, the unit seemed to quiet down.  Further running seemed to decrease the sound level even more. I can only assume that the exhaust portion of this unit needs to be broken in before reaching the desired level for a few hours.  My last measurements came in as low as 73 db right next to the unit, 61 db 23 feet away and as low as 56 db around 43 feet away. I’m sure the unit would have produced quieter ratings if it were tested as the manufacture does in an open field. I do real world testing, with objects in close range that would allow sound to be bounced around. Overall the unit is still very quiet and will be around 40 % quieter than a traditional generator. As far as voltage and Hz, I plugged in my p3 meter and found that the unit was outputting a steady 120 – 125 volts and 59 – 60 hz. Running AC items between 1 and 300 watts, the unit seems to like to stay at its idle speed. Anything high will result in increasing rpm’s depending on load.  The DC function only provides 5 amps, so the unit will pretty much stay at idle. The manual states that the unit needs to be in the full running (non smart throttle mode) in order to charge a battery, but I found that the unit still produced enough voltage to fully charge in the lower mode. You might charge slower, but that may be a good thing, since the full output mode brought a nearly dead 100 amp hour battery to nearly an overcharged level in less than 3 hours.
As far as issues, I didn’t notice too many, just that the gas filler neck is a little narrow, requiring the generator to be filled slowly to avoid spills. The unit is also somewhat high pitched, thanks to the tiny 53.5 cc engine. While it is quiet, the high pitch ness seems to carry sound further than a larger displacement unit of similar sound ratings.
After running loads for the first 10 hours an initial oil change is needed. This is known as the break in oil change, because it allows various bearings, seals and other components to be properly lubed for long service life and also gets rid of any contaminants left over from the manufacturing process.  I should also note that the manual specifies that the unit should not be run more than a 50 % or 450 watt load for the first 20 hours during this period. Subsequent oil changes come in at 100 hours of use.
I’ve been reviewing this unit for close to a month and a half, putting a total of 23 hours on it. The first 20 hours was spent with light loads, such as small fans, laptops, CFL light bulbs and battery chargers. I also ran larger loads, such as a 25 cu in side by side fridge and a few others, but only after the unit was properly broken in and the oil changed around the 10 hour mark. Running the test loads resulted in a total fuel consumption of only 2 gallons worth of fuel.  The AC loads were measured with a p3 kill a watt meter and dc loads with a standard multi meter. Sound measurements were taken with a free cell phone app and also a calibrated db meter in A weighting.  All of the fuel run through the machine was 87 octane, containing up to 10 % ethanol, which is the maximum allowed according to the manual. No fuels containing methanol are allowed. I treated my fuel with a special stabilizer, specifically designed for fuel containing ethanol, which is something that Kipor and many other manufactures recommend.

As far as overall likes and dislikes

Fuel savings (like having 2 generators in one with low idle)
Low sound output
Light enough to be placed high on a shelf for storage or during an emergency (Detroit flood). Also allows people who previously put off buying a generator because of high weight.
2 year warranty
Overall reliability (easy starts, consistent output, no weird quirks)

Narrow fuel filler neck opening…..most modern epa certified gas containers glug and will cause a fuel spill
Dc charging voltage is fairly high, when compared with other units and the alligator clips provided too small.
Besides that, no real problems with this unit

I know I have a lot of first time generator buyers who may be viewing this video and are looking for a few tips to get started
Get a fuel can of at least 2 gal, get regular 10w-30 oil, find something to drain oil and run the unit at least 15 feet away from house and other structures also don’t run near open windows.
Other tips include
Use automatic battery charger for unattended use
Use high quality synthetic oil after the break in period is over
Run the unit out of fuel for long storage, as the fuel shut off on this unit also acts as a spark interrupter….this allows fuel to possibly gum up the pump and carb and also rot fuel lines.
Also change oil as recommended
Use carb drainage screw and tube to get rid of all possible fuel
Get battery operator co2 detector
Buy power usage meter to figure out which of your items will run on this unit…..keep from overloading it…look for startup wattages. This will also help you check the health of the inverter unit.
Get a good heavy duty extension cord.
So in closing, this unit has been totally reliable for me, no real issues to speak of. I find it to be a great value compared to the more expensive units, because it has the potential to last just as long as them. After running it through its paces in 90 degree weather  for over 1 month and making sure it did exactly what the manufacture said it wood, I can confidently recommend this unit for you guys.

As far as additional videos, I’ll post a few demos of it running various loads at the end of this video, but I have already posted the initial unboxing / setup and the first oil change video available in the description below.

So as always guys, I hope you enjoyed this review, peace!

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Been gone for 2  years, but the reviews are coming back soon!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nextorch MyTorch AA PC Programmable LED Flashlight 70 Lumens

Nextorch, a company known for their high quality led flashlights has just rolled out a new series of  lights called my torch. These lights are available in many different output and battery configurations including an 18650 with  200 lumens, 3AAA with 150 lumens 2AA with 140, and a 1AA with 70 lumens. The lights all share the same high quality building materials such as a hard anodized aluminum body, high powered cree led and on board electronics to regulate light output. Quite possible the most popular feature is the ability to program them with different flashing and light level modes via a usb connection. The lights are supplied with a mini usb cable which plugs in beneath the bezel of the head when twisted upward. A link to a free software download is supplied in the manual, which a user must download in order to customize the light. The lights  can however be used directly out of the box, but come preset with only 3 levels of brightness (high, medium and low...No flashing). Over the past two months I've had the opportunity to review the 1AA my torch, testing it for everyday and emergency use. From my experience I hope to give my readers an accurate idea of the usefulness and dependability of the light, without getting too technical.

Inital thoughts

I first got the light about two months ago, with no idea of how it operated besides the information provided on the product page. It was packaged in a high quality white box with a plastic window to display the light. Inside was the light, user manual and included usb cable to program different modes into the light. After opening and slipping a rechargeable AA inside I found the operation to be quite easy. At the tail section there is a reverse click switch, which allows for quick cycling through modes. The tail switch also has a glow in the dark cover that will allow the light to be seen in the dark. The light came with three different lighting modes preset, high, medium and low, but can accept up to 50 stored modes. Upon close inspection of the light , I found high quality battery contacts, a nicely anodized body with brick like knurling and a high quality polymer lens. All of the features and quality of materials used made a great first impression, especially considering the light sales for around $30.

  • Bulb: Cree XP-E R3 LED (cool white)
  • Output: 70 lumens - 5 lumens
  • Runtime: 120 mins - 50 hrs
  • Battery: One AA
  • Distance: 262 feet
  • Material: Aerospace grade aluminum 6061-T6
  • Finish: Type II Hard-anodized
  • Dimensions: 4.72" x 0.762" / 120mm x 19.2mm (Head diameter 1.04" / 26.4mm)
  • Weight: 1.96oz / 56g 
  • Electronics: Fully regulated, usb connectivity 
  • Uses: Camping, everyday carry, emergency
  • Cost: $30 (depending on seller)

My experience

I used the light mostly as an everyday carry item along side my cellphone, wallet and knife. The hard anodized body was strong enough to resist damage from metal on metal contact with the knife and accidental drops onto concrete. Even though the my torch uses a polymer lens, damage was not sustained thanks to it being recessed deeply into the bezel and protected by a metallic ring. Sometimes I like twist operation lights more than switch operated because of accidental activation mishaps. With the my torch, the switch requires a little more force in order to activate so I never experienced an accidental activation. When using the light for illumination I found the 70 lumen output adequate for most uses. It was more than bright enough to light up my back yard as well as a dark parking lot. The lower outputs were also useful when indoors at night or working closely on a task. I also had the chance to program in additional modes such as a 10 hertz strobe and flashing beacon. These modes were not used on a normal basis, but will come in handy for self defense or any other type of emergency. Lastly the light is waterproof, featuring two O-rings at the head and tail section. Although not made for diving the my torch will resist weather and the occasional splash.

Thermal control and regulation

The my torch only produces 70 lumens of light, so excessive heat was not an issue. The light comes with a pretty good heat sync, so noticeable heat from the emitter was near nonexistent. In some more powerful AA lights that produce over 100 lumens I found excessive heat throughout the entire body, including the battery. This can be potentially dangerous with the use of some lithium 1.5 volt cells as the heat can cause them to violently vent. With the my torch, the entire lower body was cool to the touch, even after a full battery cycle.
As far as regulation, I found the light to produce constant output through most of the batteries cycle life. With a 2100 mah rechargeable cell I got 2 hours of bright light and 4 hours of useable light at a reduced output. I found that with the lower powered led, I tend to get more run time than with more powerful aa lights making the same run time claim.
Programing the light

Programing the light is one of the easiest things to do. All that is needed is the downloadable software link in the manual, an internet connected computer and the supplied mini usb cord. Once the software is downloaded all one needs to do is twist up the bezel, put a battery in and turn it on. The last step is to simply plug in the mini usb cord. Once the light is detected by the software it will turn off and go into programing mode. There a variety of pull down menus and sliders allow you to choose infinite lighting and flashing mode to upload to the light. The modes can also be previewed and displayed on the light while connected.When up to 50 setting are chosen a user needs to hit the download button to save them to the light. The settings can also be saved to the computers hard drive for later retrieval. One nice extra is the ability to load your saved settings on the my torch site for other user to use your settings.

The good

The light offers a lot for a low price, you get full regulation, a hard annodized body and decent output. The ability to program in up to 50 of any setting you want is another plus, along with its ability to use standard and rechargeable AA cells.

The bad 

The my torch comes with no spare O-rings and doesn't include a carry lanyard. The downloadable software is only available to windows users and the only way to program is through a computer. The beam is designed mostly for throw, so as far as doing up close tasks it has a really tight hot spot rather than spill.

Final thoughts

Overall for its features, specs and low price I would definitely recommend this light. The reliability even as I am still using the light is flawless. Unlike some other lights I've used it doesn't mind using alkaline or rechargeable cells and it makes a great gift for a flashlight lover. The my torch AA may not offer an extremely high light output, but is more than enough for basic tasks and possible emergencies. One doesn't need to spend a lot of money to get a really good pocketable light.

To get a my torch AA of your own, please visit amazon.com

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Midland ER102 Emergency Radio Review

The ER102 is one of  many emergency radios currently available online for between $30-$60. It's cheap price and plentiful features are sure to draw in a ton of  customers who are in the market for a high quality radio, wanting not to spend a ton of money. Midland has been know to make high quality radios for over 50 years, so choosing the ER102 is an easy choice vs lesser known brands.  The ER102  has a ton of great features, things like a cellphone charger, 4 different ways of powering it and the NOAA weather radio with automatic alerts are a must in an emergency or camping situation. In addition the radio features a bright 3 led area light, hand crank generator, built in battery with wall charger, and a large digital screen which reads tons of useful information. All of the features come together in a lightweight 1.5 pound package which takes up about as much space as a portable 7 inch television. I also found the same functions to be quite easy to use, despite the high number of things the ER102 can do. For the past 2 months, I've had a chance to experience every aspect of the radios ability to work in an emergency. Thunderstorms, high winds, heat waves and even a 9 hour power outage. I am glad to say that the ER102 performed its various tasks without a single issue or annoyance.

Quality of main Features:

The radio has pretty good build quality, despite the fact that it is almost entirely made out of hard plastic. Seams are sealed correctly to allow for all weather operation and the buttons, switches and dials have a nice tactile feel. The use of a 2 tone black and grey color scheme helps to break up the plastic feel a bit. At the top of the radio is a foe leather stitched carry handle that feels nice in the hand. Probably the most important aspect of a radio is the quality of reception. I never found a reason to have to raise the telescoping antenna once while using any of the 3 radio bands, so reception is good. Reception on the weather band side is extremely strong, since it uses the "PLL drift free technology".  PLL keeps the radio on it's current frequency without any human adjustment, besides selecting the specific channel you want. The technology also allows the ER102 to receive weather broadcasts from a station up to 50 miles away. The only thing a user has to do is choose one of the 7 radio channels via a slider switch and the radio takes care of the rest. On the AM and FM side, the reception is very good, even though they lack the previously mentioned PLL technology and instead use a manual tuner dial. There is a 3 position rotary switch for choosing 1 of the 3 bands, with the top two positions reserved for AM and FM bands. Once the desired band is selected, the small tuning dial can be used to brows through and fine tune a radio station. With the AM or FM band chosen the screen switches from is usual time readout feature and instead goes into a current frequency readout mode. There is also a weather alert symbol and current temperature readout, which stay constant throughout all modes of operation.  The Screen is very easy to read and has a high contrast ratio for viewing in direct sunlight. Under lower light conditions a button at the top, which doubles for an alert shut off also cycles the back light on for a few seconds. Another important area is Speaker quality, which I can report is pretty good.  The single speaker provides mono sound, but still provides a well rounded full range sound quality. Audio can also be heard through the use of headphones, thanks to a built in 3.5mm headphone jack located at the rear.

Extra Functions and Features Quality:

The non radio functions like, the cellphone charger,  hand crank, flashlight, alarm clock and thermometer performed equally well compared with the radios main functions. The cellphone charger, located at the rear uses a standard female usb port, which is much more useful that multiple adapter tips that have to be carried in a separate bag. The usb port is powered via the hand crank generator or the included wall adapter. Most of the time the hand crank will be used, so the charging port should be used for extra talk time during an emergency. The hand  crank as a whole performs good with all of the radios functions. Besides the cellphone charger, it recharges a small 650 mah battery pack to work everything besides the phone charger. It can also power the radio independently from any of the other 3 power sources. There is also an emergency 3 led flashlight, which is actually quite bright. It provides somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 lumens, which is plenty of light to see around a house when the power goes out. The alarm clock and thermometer are very useful in providing the current time, a wake up alarm as well as the current temperature around the radio. The thermometer also doubles as a freeze alert warning when sub zero temperatures are reached. This could be a vital life saver for those that camp outdoors during the winter months. Overall the radio performed great with not a single issue noted.


4 hour battery life with rechargeable pack, over 24 with 3 AA cells

Extra functions like the back light, alarm clock, usb port, thermometer

build quality

bright flashlight

PLL drift free technology

included AC adapter



Digital tuner dial for AM and FM slightly too sensitive

Back light only stay on for a few seconds

No carry bag included

Features and Specs:
Channels 7 Weather
Frequency band 162.400- 162.550 MHz
FM/AM Frequency AM 530 ~ 1700 kHz, FM 87.9 ~108.1 MHz
Unit Dimensions (H x Wx D) in 6 x 8 x 2
Unit Weight (lbs) 1.2
Package Size (H x Wx D) 6.45 x 9.88 x 2.55
Package Weight (lbs) 3.3
Display Size (W x H) in 3 x 1
RoHS Compliant Yes
Power Requirement 3 AA or 6V DC
Crank Recharging 2 TPS x 90 sec= 60 minutes operating time
Operating Temperature Range 10– 50 C
Alert 1050 Hz tone
Certification Part 15

  • 7 Preset Weather Channels
  • Alert Override automatically switches from AM/FM to warn you of hazardous conditions
  • 3 Alert Types- Display, Voice or Flashlight
  • Flashlight Visual Alert perfect for the hearing impaired
  • AM/FM Radio allows you to stay informed
  • 4 Sources of Power- Alkaline Batteries, AC Adapter, Crank or Rechargeable Battery
  • Alarm Clock - Wake to local Weather, AM/FM or Buzz
  • Thermometer with Freeze Alert
  • Telescoping Antenna provides crystal clear reception
  • Water Resistant
  • USB Connector- Allows you to charge your cell phone in an emergency
  • Uses 3 AA alkaline batteries (not included)
  • All Hazards Alert - in addition to important weather announcements your radio will also receive other emergency announcement such as:
    • Child Abduction Emergency (Amber Alert)
    • Nuclear Power Plant Warning
    • Biological Hazard Warning
    • Civil Emergency Message
    • Fire Warning
    • Landslide Warning 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

HQRP 6Watt Monocrystalline Flexible Solar Panel Review

With storms, blackouts and tornadoes being a major threat to the stability of power, I recently began looking at solar panels for a lightweight alternative power source during an outage and for summer outdoor use. I was looking for something that wasn't quite as heavy as a traditional fixed position panel and the highest wattage wasn't necessary. I came across a few 5-7 watt thin film folding panels, which were very nice but were also well over my budget at over $100. I then began looking at the flexible panels, which were still pretty expensive, because of their use of expensive solar technologies. It wasn't until late in the search that I came across inexpensive panels using the more common crystalline solar cells, which wouldn't flex as much but were much closer to my budget. One such panel was the HQRP flexible 6 watt, which fit the size preference and budget restraints. The HQRP panel unlike other flexible panels on the market is extremely light weight and can conform to seemingly limitless 12 volt power applications cheaply. The 11 ounce weight, 22 inch height and 6 inch wide footprint makes it light enough for home and camping use, while the $39 price tag makes it a great value vs CIGS fold up panels. The HQRP panel can be used in either fixed or totally portable applications thanks to its included mounting materials and 4 metal grommets. This means that a user can permanently mount the panel to a roof structure or temporarily to a tree via the metal grommets. The panel also has the ability to bend 30 degrees, allowing it to be mounted to a backpack or other uneven surface safely. The flexible 6 watt panel is all weather rated, so it can be used year round without an issue. Over my month of experience with this panel, I recorded its performance in various weather situations and any damage it incurred as a result. To my surprise, this tiny panel was more than up to the task of being used for a small backup power source in just about any situation.

When I first got the panel from the delivery driver, I noticed just how lightweight it was for a 6 watt module. I remembered how heavy 5 watt fixed frame panels were in the past when I got them and was shocked by the HQRP panels minuscule weight. The first thing I thought was that the panel was of low quality because of the low weight, but upon opening the box and inspecting I quickly changed my opinion. Inside of the box was the panel nicely, protected by a foam shell along with mounting materials and a single sheet of paper with helpful instructions. The panel itself was protected by an additional plastic sheathing which prevented any scratching damage to the laminated plastic face. Once I got the panel in my hand and saw that it used grade a solar cells, a fully sealed junction box and nicely sealed corners, any reservations about quality quickly went out the window. Almost immediately I took the panel outside and hooked it up to my multimeter. I got readings of 20 volts open circuit at between 300-400 milliamps (depending on sunlight and shade), which is right in line for what a new 6 watt panel should put out. I decided to leave the panel on my deck without any mounting, to see how it would hold up under various conditions. Within a week of having it out there, a series of strong thunder storms and high winds rolled through. The panel was tossed around and fell a few times with only minimal damage to the corners. I am happy to say that the damage was easily repairable and didn't affect the performance of the panel. The next three weeks consisted of some light rain and extremely hot 100 degree weather. The panel to my surprise didn't warp or deform in any way, despite the laminated plastic front cover. One thing to note is to not immediately touch the panel after it's been in the sun all day. It's surface can reach temperatures well over 100 degrees in direct sunlight and can burn skin. So to sum up it's durability, the panel passed all tests with flying colors.

Using the HQRP is quite simple, it comes with a 22 inch length of positive and negative cabling, which can output to a variety of different devices. All a user needs to do is connect the ends to either a charge controller, female cigarette lighter adapter or other appropriate connectors to get power from it. I primarily used the female 12 volt adapter and some alligator clips to connect to small draw devices and batteries. I tested the panels charging ability via a few small 12 volt power pack units. These units had batteries ranging from 4 amp hours to 10 amp hours, which is about average for camping and outdoor use. I found these power packs to charge from the panel in as little as 5 hours to a maximum of 8. I should note that these battery packs didn't require any regulation like a charge controller, because they have regulation equipment built in. As far as testing the panels ability to run 12 volt devices directly, I used a small 12 volt fan as well as a tiny 12 volt light bulb. Both the fan and the bulb required around 7 watts to run at full tilt. Even though the panel was rated for only 6 watts, it had no problem powering one device at a time in good sunlight. The panel was also used to run a 12 volt to 5 volt dc usb converter, which I used to charge cellphones and other usb powered devices. Since the converter fully regulates incoming power, I saw no difference in charging times from wall adapters and the solar panel charge.

HQRP panel passed all the durability and charging tests that I could throw at it. It went through storms and low light conditions without a single hiccup or problem. It's size and price make it an excellent value vs other more expensive solar types, meaning anyone on a budget can buy one. The panel might not be the most powerful, but it's ability to charge communication devices, run fans directly and charge batteries for larger items makes it a best buy on my list. To get an HQRP flexible 6 watt panel of your own, please follow the links below.

Link to HQRP's site

Amazon.com link

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nitecore EZ AA R5 Review (The best EDC light on the market)

The nitecore EZ AA R5 is a lightweight and powerful flashlight, engineered to the highest standards in build quality and advanced regulating electronics. It combines extreme portability and the use of a single aa battery, to make one of the best EDC flashlights on the market. There are plenty of lights out there that can claim the same quality, but none come close to the size and power of the nitecore EZ AA. The AA produces 160 lumens in a package that will easily fit in a shirt or pants pocket. Besides the small size and powerful led, making it special is the fact that it can run without the need for an expensive power cell. Like the name implies, the EZ AA runs of of the same cell that you can find  in just about every electronics store. Quite possibly the most popular battery cell on the face of the earth, the aa battery. Usually a single aa cell usually would not produce enough energy to deliver the lumen output of the nitecore EZ AA, but thanks to the latest in dc to dc converter technology, the nitecore is able to boost power to adequately run the powerful cree led. As of this posting, the EZ AA holds the record for being the worlds most powerful 1 aa flashlight and after using it, I absolutely agree. Over the past month I have been carrying the AA, to see how it held up against my every day tasks. I performed a variety of tests including, battery draining, pocket wear and useable light output. Without spoiling the results I can tell you that the AA delivered  power and performance in a 1 aa light that I have never seen before.

The detailed specs

The Nitecore EZ AA is a tiny light for its power, coming in at only 3.3 inches in length, .67 inches in diameter and only weighing .81 ounces without the battery. This makes the AA around the same size as most aaa lights, without sacrificing anything in power and performance. One of the nicest features is the ability to tail stand, allowing the unit to be used as an emergency light for camping or home use. The nitecore also features some of the highest quality components, including an anodized aluminum exterior, covered in a type 3 hard coating to resist wear and tear. The same coating is wrapped in a nicely textured knurling, allowing for easy operation of the light and a firm grip in the hand. The AA features an O ring, which allows the unit to have an IPX-8 waterproof rating. It also features an impact resistant, optical grade glass lens with an anti reflective coating, allowing for the most efficient light output possible. The rating states that the AA can be under water at a depth of 1.5 meters for 30 minutes, without any water penetration. This makes it perfect for the occasional accidental drop in a puddle. Beneath the lens is an orange peel textured aluminum reflector, which allows the nitecore to project an even spread of light over a wide area. At the heart of the unit is the 10mm neutral white cree xpg r5, which delivers up to 160 lumens while still being extremely power efficient. Powering the led is a sophisticated dc to dc power converter. The converter not only boost voltage from the power cell to the led, but also limits harmful amounts of energy from damaging the bulb. The nitecore can handle a variety of different battery technologies including, alkaline cells, Nimh, NiCD, disposable lithium and the rechargeable 14500 lithium ion battery.

Drain testing

Over the course of a month I put the EZ AA through a variety of battery tests. The first was on it's ability to provide maximum light on a NiMH cell. For my testing I used a combination of an 1800 mah and 2600 mah NiMH cell. The 1800 mah cell provided around 20 minutes of maximum output and around 1.5 hours of useable light while locked onto the maximum setting. The 2600 mah cell provided around 1 hour of bright light and around 3 of usable light. The run times for the lowest setting are 13 hours for the 1800 mah cell and 25 hours for the 2600 mah cell. During some tests I switched to a normal alkaline cell, which had much lower overall performance. The alkaline was only able to achieve around 30 minutes of bright light at the max setting and around 35 minutes of useable light. On the lowest setting, the alkaline cell was able to achieve a good 23 hours of light. I was unable to get a NiCD or 14500 battery for testing.


Operating the AA is quite easy, first you need to fit it with your choice of battery cell then twist the knurled head all the way to the left. Once twisted, the light starts out in it's low 6 lumen mode. To get to a different mode, the user should turn the light on, then off within 1 second to activate the ramping user interface. The light output will increase from 6 to 160 lumens, with medium and high settings indicated by 1 or 2 flashes. Once you find your desired output, just twist the light off and the setting is locked in. What I like about this UI is that the setting is saved, regardless of if the light is left off for a period of time or has the battery totally removed.

Light output

The EZ AA is rated for 160 lumens of light, but that light is spread evenly over a large area. When testing I found the light output to throw as far as 50 feet of useable light (426 feet rated throw), which is less than most spot focused competitors featuring less lumens, but perfect for it's intended use for general illumination. When testing indoors, around 10 feet from a 10 foot high wall, I found the coverage to be quite well, with around a 6 foot diameter in the highest output mode. In comparison I performed the same test with a 105 lumen led lenser p5 in spot mode and only achieved a 2 foot diamater, although with a much more focused main beam. As far as the color temperature, the xpg r5 puts out a nice netural white light, between 3,700 - 5,000 depending on output mode.

My opinion

In my opinion the EZ AA is the best light out there to use with a single AA battery. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that the other guys have, but that allows the AA to be easier to operate and smaller to carry. It is plenty bright, has desent battery life and pushes a large amount of light out to a broad area. The build quality is flawless, which will also contribute to extended reliability and a great in the pocket feel. Over my useage the AA never failed to perform and also held up to my in the pocket abuse. I honestly feel that it will be a great choice for anyone who needs to carry a small but powerful light and would definitely recommend it. The only negative thing I can say about it is that the tail stand mode is not as stable as I would have liked it.

You can buy a nitecore EZ AA R5 of your own from a variety of online retailers including, amazon.com and ebay.com.

*prices may vary

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Energizer 9 Led Hybrid Solar Lantern Review

The energizer corporation, legendary for their rechargeable and alkaline batteries has recently gotten into the solar business.....well sort of I should say. They just rolled out 3 new solar rechargeable products, including a spotlight, flashlight as well as a solar lantern for outdoor and emergency uses. I recently reviewed the solar lantern over the course of 2 weeks and am completely wowed by it's performance and run time. It has an orange and white plastic exterior, giving center stage to a clear acrylic light diffuser. The diffuser holds 9 led bulbs and is fully adjustable. Lifting the diffuser spreads light a full 360 degrees, while folding will cover an area of 180 degrees up to 10 feet away. Lifting the diffuser will also expose both a metal light reflector and locking battery compartment door. The door can easily be unlocked, by twisting clockwise using a straight flat headed object, such as a screwdriver or small coin. Once inside the user will notice space for 3 alkaline D cell batteries and a small secured green battery pack, located at the top left of the compartment. At the rear of the unit is a small 0.5 watt solar panel used to recharge the green battery pack. The solar cell is encased in an adjustable orange housing and uses amorphous silicon technology (great for solar efficiency in low and high light conditions). Also located around back, near the top is a 5 position switch controlling the led bulbs functions and selecting between the two power sources. The unit is pretty light weight, weighing only 1.5 lbs without the D cells, between 2 - 2.5lbs with the D cells ( depending on battery brand).

Unlike other solar lanterns I've used in the past, the energizer has a great deal of light output and tons of ingenious features to make it one of the best on the market. One feature includes the cleverness to accommodate 3 regular D cell batteries, in addition to the solar battery pack. This allows users to not have to worry about accidentally forgetting the batteries during their next camping or fishing trip. A second innovative feature is the ability to adjust the led's up or down, providing the right type of light for any application. As far as the led bulbs there are 9 total, 8 white and 1 amber. The white bulbs are located inside of twin fogged diffusers, for even light dissipation in almost infinite adjustable positions. Running at 66 lumens, the 8 white led's  provide room filling light without any dark spots or light artifacts. The single amber led provides less than 5 lumens and is intended to be a used as a night light. Even though it's light output is rather faint, the amber bulb still allows users to see basic items comfortable within 2 feet of the front of the unit. Probably one of the nicest features on the lantern, is the ability to run off of either the alkaline cells or the solar battery pack. Selecting between the two sources is easy with the built in 5 way switch. The middle position is off, while  the left 2 functions control the night light and high beam. The left position runs off of the solar power pack, the right providing the same functions runs off of the 3 D cell batteries. As for run times, the solar power pack provides 2.5 hours of bright illumination, 4 hours of total illumination. The 3 Alkaline cells will provide up to 165 hours of light, with around 4 days of bright light. Even though there is a slight voltage difference between the solar 3.6 volt pack and the combined 4.5 volts from the alkaline cells, light output is near the same.

I will be the first to admit that I am not really a devoted camping / outdoors person, so the energizers uses will come in handy mostly when I'm at home. For that use, it provides a stable lighting backup in case of a power grid failure and the occasional handy job requiring a bright light. I like it's ability to provide light, without the need for hazardous fuels or an open flame. It is more than bright enough to light up an entire room and will run for days with D cell batteries. I do however have some issues with the unit, the first being the white exterior. Not that I don't like the design, just that the white color extends to the base of the unit, so if you place it anywhere less than immaculately clean it will get dirty. The second issue is that there is no charging or battery life indicator located on the unit. This would be a great feature to let me know if the unit is getting adequate sunlight and also the batteries current state of charge. The last issue is that there is no low setting for the white led bulbs.If added the low setting could extend run time a few hours with the solar power pack, or a few days with the D cells. Overall I feel that the energizer hybrid solar lantern is an excellent product, with many great features and uses. It has an affordable price, is made by a trustful company and is a necessity for those pesky bad weather situations. I would definitely recommend this product to family and friends in a heartbeat. My only hope is that energizer corrects the noted issues in later iterations of this lantern.

You can get an energizer solar lantern of your own by checking with your local retailers or by shopping various online stores.