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LED Flashlights

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Pelican Products

Pelican Products L1The L1 ($13) is Pelican Products' first LED flashlight offering (they previously introduced an LED flasher).   This single LED light is powered by four 1.5-volt LR44 alkaline button cells. Battery life is rated at 100 hours of intermittent use.  You can also use the same size silver oxide battery (size 357 or SR44) for slightly longer life or a pair of 3-volt CR 1/3N size lithium batteries for even longer life and cold weather performance.

The typical tough Pelican plastic body (1 5/8 x 7/8 in., 0.8 oz.) incorporates a pocket clip with lanyard hole and a pair of finger grips at the head end of the body that were surprisingly ergonomic, not just a styling feature. The clip ensures the L1 won't roll. A rubber encased pushbutton switch in the tail serves for both momentary activation and as robust on-off switch.  The momentary operation is almost too sensitive to give us complete confidence just placing it in a pocket or case loose, but the clip serves to compensate for that.

Innards of the Pelican L1Changing batteries is easy, just unscrew the head, push out the internal module (includes switch, batteries, circuit board and LED) from the aft end and give a tap into your palm and the batteries pop out for slip-in replacement. While not submersible like most Pelicans, it is water resistant and tough as nails. A cheap split ring is installed in the lanyard hole and the light comes with a neck lanyard with sliding bead and a pull-apart safety connector.

The head incorporates a deep reflector that proved effective at brightening and focusing the LED beam (which has minimal side scatter, but apparently enough to take advantage of). The lens provides protection for the reflector and LED and is, itself, recessed about 1/8 in., which will serve to help protect the clear plastic. 

Pelican L1 close-upThe white LED model is available in a black or yellow body; the red, blue-green and infra-red LED models come only in black. Pelican chose to use a blue-green LED instead of the typical bright green LED used by others.  This provides a far better quality beam than any green LED we have seen.

Pelican lights are is made in the U.S. and come with their standard “unconditional” limited lifetime warranty, including a 30-day money back guarantee.  The lifetime warranty excludes  “sharkbite, bear attack or children under 5.” While the “lamp and battery” are also excluded, upon inquiry we were told that they don't consider the LED a lamp, so it's covered.

For more information, check Craig Johnson's LED Museum

Rigel Systems

Rigel SkyliteRigel Systems offers a variety of 9-volt battery powered models, we looked at three; the two-white-LED “Moonlight,” and the “Skylite” and “Mil-Skylight” which also include a pair of red and green LEDs, respectively.  For a savings of only $2 over the others at $30, we can't see any reason to consider the white-LED only model.  They also offer models with infra-red LEDs ($30), which we didn't test.

On top of the boxy black plastic case (4 1/2 x 1 1/4 x 1 in., 3 oz.) is a small switch to select white, colored, or off. Next to that is a thumb wheel that allows you to vary the intensity from full bright to off.  At full brightness, the white light is as bright as the best of the other two-LED models, though the beams do not converge, there are two distinct bright spots. 

Rigel SkyliteThe ability to dial in exactly how much red or green light you need makes this perfect for night use.  The red provides an excellent beam, the green, while still of inferior quality (as green LEDs seem to be), was the best green beam of all we tested. 

Battery life was disappointing, only 16 hours at full brightness.  The lights are not water resistant in the least. (Rigel Systems tells us that improved models, which will also be water resistant, are in the works) There is a clear lens to protect the LEDs. A nice, very long (42 in.) neck lanyard is included. The change batteries you pull off the lens cap and slide the entire circuit board out of the body.  The battery attaches to the base of the board.

Rigel Systems's lights are made in the U.S. and come with a five year limited warranty.


Streamlight StylusStreamlight's “Stylus” line of 2-AAAA-cell and 3-AAAA-cell (that's no typo, there really are AAAA-cell batteries, a bit shorter than a AAA-cell and a lot slimmer, but still 1.5-volt.  Some 9-volt batteries (such as Duracell) are comprised of six of these cells.) single-LED flashlights have slim aluminum bodies 3/8 inch in diameter.  “Pen light” is the perfect description, these lights have found a quick home in the shirt pockets of doctors and EMTs.

AAA-cell (right)The 2-cell “Stylus 2” ($18) is 5 in. long. 0.8 oz, and is available with orange or red LED, the 3-cell “Stylus 3” ($22) is 6 5/8 in. long, 1.1 oz., and is available in white, blue and green LED.  The anodized and knurled aluminum bodies are available in gold, silver or black. A pen-style pocket clip is included.

The tail incorporates a push-button momentary switch and a rotary constant on switch. The Stylus lights proved waterproof in our tests. We got almost 12 hours out of each light, regardless of whether it was two or three cell. Changing batteries is easy, just unscrew the tail cap and they slide out and in. Good luck finding those AAAA-cell batteries if you need them in a hurry, however. The corner store is unlikely to have them. Many places that sell the lights, don't sell replacement batteries. The only reliable local source we found was Radio Shack where they run $2.79 per pair (Eveready brand).

Streamlight BatonliteStreamlight also offers a unique triple LED light, the "Batonlite" ($50).  This rendition of a classic Kubotan self-defense baton incorporates a trio of white LEDs into the end of a 5 1/2 inch long, 11/16 in. diameter aluminum baton (2.5 oz.). The tail cap has a momentary switch in the center and also functions as a rotary constant on switch. Both the tail cap and the Lexan lens are o-ring sealed and proved waterproof in our tests. The lens is frosted which contributes to a diffuse light for up close work.

The knurled aluminum baton holds three "N" size 1.5-volt alkaline batteries, providing 12.5 hours of full illumination. While not as difficult to find as the AAA-cells for the Stlus lights, it's still not a particularly common size battery.  The difference between a single LED and the three LEDs, powered by 4.5 volts, is dramatic, there's plenty of light for most close-up tasks.

Batonlite 3 LEDs Our unit came with so much “grease” applied for lubrication of the threaded lens/LED module (or perhaps it's there for corrosion resistance), that it eventually quit working reliably because the contacts weren't making good contact. Cleaning off the excess grease seemed to solve that problem.

A swiveling key ring collar surrounds the end of the tail cap with an attached heavy wire loop.  A 1 1/2 in. split ring is included. It makes a lot of sense to allow this popular self-defense weapon to serve double purpose as a reliable LED flashlight, where it'll get a whole lot more use on a daily basis. While they are aiming this primarily at law enforcement, it would be nice if they came out with bright, anodized colors for civilian consumers.

Streamlight's lights are made in the U.S. and come with a limited lifetime warranty.

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For more information, check Craig Johnson's LED Museum

LED Flashlight Review (click to continue to next page)

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Publisher and Editor: Doug Ritter
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First Published: June 7, 2001
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