The 9-volt battery powered PALight from Light Technology is unique in that it is always on. When not in use the PALlight's single LED has just a trickle of current energizing it, just enough to make it easier to find in the dark -- sometimes. They claim that the battery "will last for years" in the off position, but we were unable to get any timeframe less ambiguous than that from the manufacturer. Other sources claim two years. There are three rubber-encased models, the “Sure-light” and “Survivor-light” in both “Original” and “Plus Gold” specification ($20 and $25), and the One Star ($25)
The Sanoprene rubber body is a boxy 3 x 1 5/16 x 1 inches, 2.9 oz. with a clear convex lens on one end. That's pretty bulky for use as a pocket light. We also found that the rubber case, which makes for a very grippy, non-slip light, can make it difficult to extract from your pocket.
The case splits in half to access the battery. A metal band circling the middle holds the two halves together, with a slot and tab to hold the band together. The 9-volt battery just snaps into place in the plastic internal housing that also holds the circuit board and tiny LED. The light is water resistant, but not waterproof. While the light withstood our drop tests, the case doesn't provide much crush protection.
There is a reflector behind the lens and together they brighten and focus the beam from the LED into a very consistent and defined circular beam of about 12 inches at a distance of 40 inches. This is a good feature for some uses, but can be disconcerting if trying to use light your way while walking or to light up a larger area. The Original is moderately bright, the Plus Gold and One Star rate among the brightest of all the single LED lights we tested, and unlike others, there is no hot spot at all to the beam, it is very even.
This is in contrast to the red and green LED models. The green we've come to expect to have a poor quality beam and these are no different, just limited because of the lens. The red, surprisingly, also showed rings, unevenness and a hot spot, something we've generally not seen; red is usually very good. Neither would be a good choice, which is unfortunate since the variable intensity of the One-Star model would be a useful feature for night vision retention.
Pressing the molded-in button in the rubber case actuates the switch underneath and results in a different response depending upon the model. The Sure-light is a simple on and off, nothing fancy. Each press of the button on the Survivor cycles through a half-bright beam, full bright beam and a so-called “strobe” which flashes the LED at two-second intervals for “signaling.”
The One-Star cycles through seven levels of brightness in about three seconds, from dim to full bright as you hold down the switch, stopping at full bright. Let up on the switch when you reach desired brightness; a second press of the button turns it off. It sounds like it would be a real bother, but we didn't find it nearly as annoying as we expected. For most up close uses, the dimmer settings work fine and the three seconds isn't so long that it creates problems for the most part. We had a difficult time distinguishing between the brightest three settings; any difference is barely noticeable.
Battery life is about 50 hours on the dimmest setting, only about 25 hours on high. Obviously that would change the longer the light is in storage as the always on mode slowly drains the battery. This would not be a good choice for a survival kit, both because of this and because it's too fragile and could be easily damaged if stepped on.
There lower half of the case has a pair of holes, actually tunnels, that accept an optional safety neck lanyard ($2.25). Threading it through the holes isn't easy.
Light Technologies' PALights are made in the U.S. and come with a limited lifetime warranty.
For more information, check Craig Johnson's LED Museum
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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
Email: Doug Ritter
First Published: June 7, 2001
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© 2001 Douglas S. Ritter & Equipped To Survive Foundation, Inc.
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