Lumapower IncenDio V3 Upgrade review
Here is my review of the new Lumapower IncenDio V3 Upgrade: the latest incarnation of Lumapower’s CR123 powered, Every Day Carry light (EDC).
This light has been through quite a few iterations and shows the refinement of a late-generation product. Here’s a brief little history of the Incendio
Mar 2008, V1, The Incendio is first introduced
Sept 2008, V2, some improvements, such as a serviceable switch mechanism,
removable, longer clip etc.
Oct 2009, V3, The Incendio received a major upgrade, the body is now hard
anodized and redesigned. Max output is increased, construction
improvements, the smart UI is introduced.
Now from Oct 2009 to current day (July 2011, about 1 year 9 months) we have 3 new iterations.
V3 (R5 XP-G). A large circuit update, the light levels are rebalanced and now there are 4 modes (previously 3) and the LED has been upgraded to R5 XP-G.
V3+, this is a major body upgrade, with a much improved clip, changed switch assembly allowing more reliable operation and easier activation as well as other construction improvements.
V3U (upgrade). This is the final iteration with more construction improvements. These are subtle improvements, however. They include:
- Removable circuit retainer upgrade, allowing easier driver upgrades in the future.
- Added Brass contact between circuit and battery tube which means better heat
management and electrical conductivity.
- All new reflector design to improve beam profile.
- Improvement on tail switch construction, which improves water resistance.
- Add mechanical reverse polarity protection to protect driver circuit.
- Lumapower's "Zero Bonding Construction" to the LED module to improve anti
While I can appreciate the refinements Lumapower has put into this light, and am quite impressed with the end product; I am hoping Lumapower takes all the lessons learned during Incendio development and just implements them all into future lights, the first time!
The Incendio can run effectively on primary CR123 cells but achieves highest performance when used with rechargeable Lithium ion (hereafter referred to as Li-on) cells (RCR123).
Ricky at Lumapower sent me a review sample of this latest release. I’ll do a thorough examination and see how it fares. Please note that some details have been re-printed from my previous V3 Incendio review as these have not changed.
Specs and Information
The IncenDio is a multi-mode CR123/RCR123 cell light that has four levels, selected by the forward clicky. It features Lumapower’s latest user interface, named “Smart UI” that will be described below.
The specifications (as quoted from Lumapower) are as follows:
Standard LED: Cree XP-G
2 versions are available:
- R5 (Cool white tint) bin version: (Max ~350+ emitter lumens)
- R4 (Neutral white tint) bin version: (Max ~320+ emitter lumens)
The IncenDio achieves highest output using Li-on rechargeable batteries (such as RCR123’s). Using regular CR123 batteries (3.0V), one gets 240+ emitter lumens max output.
Runtime: On Ultra: 75 minutes, on medium: 3.7 hours, on low: 35 hours (CR123)
Brightness Levels: 5%, 15%, 40%, 100%
7-350 lumens RCR123
7-240 lumens (CR123)
- 4 output levels (no SOS/Strobe, low-medium-high-ultra mode sequence)
- 2-way memory locking system (Smart UI)
- Ample knurling
- Forward clicky with momentary-on. Tailcap lockout available.
- Square threads
- Double side AR-coated lens
- Orange-Peel textured reflector
- Anti-roll features and tail-stand capable
- Type III Hard Anodized (Grey), T6063 aircraft grade aluminum
- Overall length : 80mm
- Body Diameter: 20.0mm
- Max Diameter: 20.5mm
- Weight: 37g (without battery)
The included accessory kit is generous and includes:
- Stainless steel lanyard loop
- Small holster
- Extra tailcap button (black)
- Extra o-rings (black)
- rugged tweezers for adjustments and servicing
- A special bonus for early adopters: a Lumapower diffuser kit, for lantern style use.
Retail price for the IncenDio is about $60
The holster is a bit on the thin side but seems effective. It has elastic sides to hold the light and can be belt mounted. The tweezers are a nice touch and are rugged enough for servicing the light. It seems odd that a wrist lanyard was not included.
The diffuser kit is very nicely made and is an excellent, useful accessory. It fits on the head of the light and provides a lantern-like effect. I believe it is included for the first set of customers (100 or so), but will be an optional extra for later purchases.
First Impression: Well Made, Compact Little Powerhouse
The IncenDio impresses with its refinement and compact size. Construction is top notch with a handsome dark grey hard-anodized finish. All parts are well matched and no flaws were found in the finish; also the square threading is solid and smooth, and should be quite durable.
There is an ample amount of knurling that is reasonably grippy without being too aggressive.
The steel wire clip is much longer and stronger than before, as is very useful for pocket carry.
While the knurling is effective, I do find the ergonomics of the light are greatly improved by adding a simple rubber o-ring to the light. There is a groove just ahead
of the clip that is a perfect fit. The o-ring improves the gripping ability of the clip and also provides a secure ridge for a cigar grip.
The clip is held in place by a stainless steel tailcap retainer that covers the entire back edge of the light. This provides increased durability as well as improved appearance. The re-designed retainer also improves button access and now has an o-ring groove to improved waterproofness of the tailcap assembly.
It would be nice if Lumapower added a matching stainless bezel to the front of the light, but this would likely increase the length and cost of the light.
The glow in the dark bezel o-ring and tailcap button are nice touches, and max output is very impressive for such a small light.
Battery availability and compatibilty
The IncenDio is compatible with Primary CR123 cells, but provides much more output using rechargeable Li-on batteries due to the higher nominal voltage of these cells (approximately 3.7V). Rechargeable CR123 cells are commonly referred to as RCR123 or 16340 cells.
Good interface: Smart UI for single or multiple modes
The IncenDio uses the now-standard Lumapower UI, named Smart UI (first released in the Tool Series Mentor light). Smart UI offers a four mode interface (low-medium-high-ultra brightness sequence with memory mode) but also offers the ability to lock-in any single brightness setting for tactical use or signaling.
Here’s how it works: the light must be on for at least 1 second or more to set the mode memory. At this stage, turn off the light and quickly pulse the light on 4 times (within 1 second). Now the light is locked into that brightness setting and works like a single mode, forward clicky light.
To unlock the light, simply pulse the light on 4 times within a second. The light is now back to the standard 4-level interface. Simple and effective.
There are no strobe or SOS modes, so the interface remains relatively clean, and simple.
Locking the mode is a bit fiddly initially, but once learned it’s easy to change from multi-level to single level interface. Adding some kind of mode-locked indication would be helpful. In any case the Smart UI should satisfy many different types of users.
Useful levels and pretty good efficiency
I found the levels on the IncenDio to be well spaced, though the maximum output pushes the thermal limits of this design.
The light has a good low mode (about 5 lumens out the front) that is quite useful and gives a nice extended runtime. This is a good, low general purpose level. Those seeking ultra long runtimes and night vision preservation may want a lower low mode.
The maximum level (about 250 lumens out the front) is impressive but should mostly be used in shorter bursts. The light tended to heat up quite a bit, getting uncomfortably hot in about 5 minutes. This will please those looking for maximum output at all costs.
The available levels are around 5 – 15 – 100 – 250 lumens (out the front using RCR123 batteries), a useful spread with even visual spacing.
I’m glad to see that Lumapower added an additional light level and rebalanced the modes. Previous models had no real medium/low modes.
PWM (pulse width modulation) is used for dimming the light. The measured frequency (as provided by Lumapower) was around 1.3 Khz. I did not detect any PWM flicker in use, though it can be observed by shaking the light quickly.
The IncenDio has good knurling; allowing for a firm grip and hand-friendly feel, but is smooth enough slide into any pocket. It’s also one of the smaller lights in its class, but still feels good in the hand.
The recessed tailcap button works well when used in a cigar grip and provides a solid feel with good feedback before latching on. The redesigned switch design improves access but those with very wide thumbs may still have problems. I did not have any issues.
Overall ergonomics are good.
Beam, tint quality
The IncenDio uses the Cree XP-G LED for max output. The tint is a pure white with a fairly even colour temperature across the beam. While the output is stark and impressive, it is a bit cold for my tastes (of course my tastes are for warmer/neutral tints and are purely subjective).
I did not notice any tint shift through the different levels.
The IncenDio uses a textured reflector that provides some throw with a reasonably smooth beam. The beam has a broad hotspot and bright, medium-wide spill. There is evidence of the dreaded Cree “dark-halo” around the hotspot. This is quite surprising since XP-G emitters tend to produce a smooth beam with most reflectors. I’m a bit disappointed since this is effectively the 3rd generation of XP-G Incendios. I would expect a more uniform beam. Nonetheless, this was not very noticeable in use; I’m just used to near perfect beams from XP-G emitters.
The emitter was well centered.
Upgradabilty, other Notes
For modding types, the IncenDio is not glued or potted, so there is easy access to the LED and the driver. Lumapower’s new “zero-bonding” construction means that all parts of the light are easily disassembled allow for future upgrades, servicing etc. I’m sure my Incendio will receive a few improvements in the future.
The driver is held in place by a brass retaining ring and positive contact. These should improve conductivity and long-term durability as the circuit contacts are not subject to any mechanical wearing. The retaining ring also provides physical reverse-polarity protection.
The tailcap switch module is a sealed unit for more consistent construction and activation.
The body threads are anodized, allowing for switch lockout when slightly unscrewed. This will prevent accidental activation.
The optional diffuser cap is great for lantern style use and is very well constructed. It seems much more refined than similar offerings from other manufacturers. It also fits many other popular lights since an extra foam strip is included to allow a snug fit on smaller-diameter lights.
Here's a comparison with the popular EX10, Ra Clicky, and common AA battery.
Here's the business end (yes the other lights are modded)
Lumapower has made an excellent, update to the IncenDio. It is a very compact four-mode light that serves well for everyday carry but can also impress at maximum output.
The improved construction and detailing are well executed, with many subtle upgrades and a very effective clip. The interface is the versatile Smart UI that offers four modes but can also be easily locked into single mode use. The Incendio’s beam quality was good, but not as smooth as some competing products.
Incendio V3+ owners should wait for a more significant update as the changes are subtle in nature and don’t warrant an upgrade. All other Incendio owners will appreciate the improved circuit performance, ergonomics and construction of the latest model.
Those looking for a no-nonsense, CR123 powered, every-day carry light should definitely give this a look.