Object/Subject Review: Lumapower EDC LM32
Lumapower has been in the illumination business for about 10 years now, and has been making LED flashlights since 2006. They've got several lights that they're well known for, but their new EDC series will be my first experience with Lumapower. So far the new EDC series consists of the LM21 (single AAA or 10440 li-ion), LM31 (single AA or 14500 li-ion), LM32 (double AA), and LM33 (single CR123 or 16340 li-ion). They've also announced that the series will include the LM22 and LM36. They've confirmed that the LM36 will take a single 18650 li-ion, and my guess is the LM22 will take two AAA. Each light in this series has the same look, with knurling on each end and a smooth portion in the middle where the brand and model number are printed. They have matching anodizing and green tail switch boots, with a glow-in-the-dark O-ring in the head, so they look pretty slick as a family.
Thanks to Ricky at Lumapower for supplying the LM32 for review.
Iíll be reviewing the LM32 in two sections: first, Iíll discuss the light objectively (the facts about the light itself), then Iíll discuss the light subjectively (my impressions about the light's performance when used for specific applications). This is a good quality, budget EDC style light, so I'll be reviewing it as such. If you have any other specific applications you'd like the light tested for, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Below is a video "quick review" you can watch in just a few minutes, if you're not up for reading the full review right now:
The LM32 comes in a pretty fancy package, mostly clear/white with some iridescent-like lettering on the front. The package includes the LM32, a user manual, two spare o-rings, and a lanyard.
The LM32 is a simple, long and skinny 2xAA EDC-style light. It's got a slim design, and it's only a little longer than it's two batteries. It feels light weight but still strong enough to hand a little abuse. The anodizing is a shade of medium-dark grey.
The EDC LM series all use a Cree XP-G emitter, which tends toward having a tight hot spot with a little spill. So, even though the LM32 has a small reflector, it has pretty decent throw for a light it's size. The emitter is centered in a small white ring, which helps send the most possible light out the front. The LM series all feature a glow-in-the-dark o-ring in the head, which keeps out water and adds some style (and possible functionality) at the same time. My review sample uses a mildly textured reflector, which helps to smooth out the beam at the cost of a little throw. I have been informed by Lumapower (as of 6/3/12) that they are currently planning to replace the textured reflector with a smooth reflector.
The head of the LM32 has three lightly knurled bands that add grip and style. The grip here is helpful for battery changes, which happen by removing the head. The body is smooth, and slightly smaller in diameter than the head and tail. The only thing printed on the light is the brand, model, and s/n on the side. The tail section is one piece with the body, and has the same light knurling as the head. The tail also has two very small holes for a lanyard at the end.
The switch of the LM32 is relatively small in diameter, and has a stiffer-than-normal feel, which means you have to apply decent pressure to use the switch. This makes accidental activation unlikely. It is a forward-click switch, which means that you can press the switch half-way for momentary on, or press it all the way to click into constant on. The switch is also used for mode changes. The switch is made from GITD material, making the light easier to find in the dark.
Because the switch is fully set into the tail, the LM32 can do a solid tail stand, though it's a bit high-centered because of it's length.
Now, let's take the light apart!
Without the use of tools, the LM32 comes apart into two pieces. (A pair of tweezers can totally disassemble the light, giving easy access to the LED if desired.)
The LM32 uses a mechanical reverse-polarity protection design. The positive terminal of the battery makes contact with the center circle, which is set back just a bit from the raised area around it. This means that only the positive terminal can make contact here, so if the battery is inserted backwards, no electrical connection can be made.
The LM32 has just a few square, anodized threads. The shortness of the threaded section keeps the overall length down, and means it only requires a few turns to remove the head. The square cut and the anodizing on the threads will help them last longer, and in addition, the anodizing allows the LM32 to use a mechanical lockout feature, where the light can be slightly unscrewed and prevented from turning on at all until re-tightened (the threads will not make any electrical contact until tightened down). This is useful for long term storage or transport (or if you're really afraid of it coming on in your pocket).
The LM32 has a spring in the base, where the battery makes contact with the switch. When the spring is uncompressed, the battery sticks out from the body just a bit.
The only accessory included with the LM32 is the lanyard. It is black and light grey, and is designed to be quickly removable by squeezing a lock mechanism and separating into two pieces. Lumapower does have a diffuser tip and holster available at extra cost.
The LM32 has three brightness levels, Low-Medium-High, accessible by turning the light on and off using the tail cap switch. To turn the light on, press the switch once. To move to the next brightness level, turn the light off then back on less than 2-3 seconds. When the light is not used for longer than a few seconds, it defaults back to Low, so you can know that when you go to pick it up and use it, it will always start in Low.
Light in Hand
White Wall (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1/10"
Indoor Shots (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 1"
Outdoor Shots (Low, Medium, High)
ISO 100, f/3.3, 2.5"
Submersion: Lumapower makes no claims for IPX-X ratings of the EDC LM series, so I have not tested the LM32 under water. It does have o-rings in all the appropriate places, so I'd guess it can handle a little moisture, but I'd recommend keeping it out of the water.
Heat: The LM32 gets a bit warm on high, but not hot enough to be uncomfortable.
PWM: The LM32 uses pulse-width modulation for the low and medium modes, visible only when you move the light very quickly, and not at all audible.
Drop: I could find no claims by Lumapower of the drop resistance of the LM32, so I tested it by dropping it from a height of about 1 meter into grass and carpet, and can find no evidence of damage.
Reverse Polarity Protection: The LM32 has mechanical reverse polarity protection, which means inserting a battery backwards will not damage the light (see the "Construction Quality" section for more details).
Over-Discharge Protection: The LM32 does not accept lithium ion batteries, so over-discharge protection is not required.
All light that we see as white is actually made up of several different colors put together. The relative intensities of the different colors in the mix are what determine the tint of the white we see. For example, cool white LED's have a lot of blue, and warm white LED's have more red or yellow. This measurement was done on a home made spectrometer. Note: the peak in the 900nm region doesn't really exist, it's a piece of the second-order spectrum that's showing up here because of the high intensity of the light source.
Output, Current Draw and Runtime
Note: Lumapower's runtimes stated as xxx/xxx represent time to 50%/time to 1%. ANSI runtime ratings are the time it takes for a light to fall to 10% of it's original output. I've been informed by Lumapower that their lumen ratings are "emitter lumens", not "out-the-front lumens". They will be making measurements of the OTF lumens and I'll update this with the new info when I receive it. For low mode, the time stated is not a direct measurement, but an estimate calculated from the current draw and battery capacity. I've also been informed that Lumapower used 2500mAh batteries for their NiMH runtime tests, mine are only 1900 mAh.
Update: Lumapower has given me their OTF lumen measurements: 170, 80, and 3 lumens for High, Medium, and Low (respectively).
Note: The vertical axis of the graph below represents a relative brightness measurement using a home made light box. The horizontal axis is time in hours:minutes:seconds. Runtimes are stated in hours:minutes:seconds. These graphs may be truncated to show detail. All runtimes were done with two fully charged Eneloop AA batteeries.
Quick break down:
+Good throw from small package
+Even tint (cool, but no obvious green or purple)
+Nice style, matches series
+GITD at both head and tail
+Defaults to low mode
+Accepts both rechargeables and primaries
+Great price for what you get
+Easy access to guts
-Switch stiffness can be uncomfortable
-Could have a higher high
-A little to long for my taste in EDC
-Lanyard difficult to install
There are a lot of things I really like about the LM32, and not much to be disappointed with. A lot of the features I like with the LM32 apply to the whole EDC LM series, including the GITD in front and back, XP-G emitter in a compact package, and general good style. The choice of XP-G here sets these apart a little as most manufacturers are using the newer XM-L in their new lights, but these fill the niche of an up-to-date EDC with a bit of throw, because the XP-G emitter is more tightly directed than the XM-L. The GITD in both front and back is really a plus, in my book. I've seen many lights with GITD switch covers, but in my experience it's not too often that the tail of the flashlight gets much light hitting it when the flashlight is turned on. With the GITD O-ring inside the head, it gets charged every time you turn on the light. If you're afraid of revealing your position, that O-ring could be removed and you could probably find a black one to replace it, but I really like the ability to find my light easily in the dark, and see quickly which end is the front (it can be hard to tell on roughly symmetrical lights like this one).
I really appreciate the UI here. On some more expensive EDC's you can get some fancier UI's like magnetic control rings or many programable choices, but the LM32 keeps it very simple. In general, I don't like UI's where you have to click a bunch of times to cycle through modes. However, one of the main reasons for that is that I'm frequently unsure which mode the light will come on in the next time I pick it up. By defaulting to low each time, I always know where I'm starting, and I don't have to worry about blinding anyone unintentionally. Starting in low may not be considered a "tactical" light, but for a lot of purposes this is going to be what you want. Just take this fact of starting in low each time into account when considering this light for the uses you have in mind.
The only real negative I have about this light is that I wish it's high was a little brighter. According to Lumapower's specs, the emitter is getting enough current to produce 250 lumens, but they measure 170 out the front. This just seems a little low to me for a 2xAA light, and for my taste, I'd rather see it bumped up a bit (I know it would be possible, we've got 1xAA lights at 200 lumens). However, I know many people will prefer the extra run time given by the lower output, and 170 lumens is going to be enough to complete most of your general tasks anyway.
Overall, I've found that this light fills it's niche well, and for a great price you can have a very nice light.
By naming this their "EDC" series, Lumapower seems to be suggesting a certain use for these lights. Every Day Carry means different things to different people, but for me I have a few things I look for when deciding which I want to have with me at all times.
First, I like that this can accept both rechargeable and primary batteries. I use rechargeables regularly to keep costs down, and I don't want to be too afraid of costs to pull out my EDC. However, it's important to me that in an emergency I can use primary batteries as well. For this reason, I really like the LM32 as an EDC, though I think it's bested by the LM31, which can accept a single 14500 lion, AA NiMH, or AA alkaline. I really value the common availability of AA's in a pinch, and it's only slightly longer. But if you prefer extra brightness over battery convenience, the LM33 is going to be more your style.
Next, I want it to be easy to always have with me. The LM32 is a little too long for my taste, so i find it difficult to have it actually on my person. It's fine for putting in my work bag to have with me most of the time, but not small enough that I'll have it with me all the time. Also, I really like my EDC to have a pocket clip, because I want to be able to have it when I'm wearing clothes without pockets. The LM21 comes with a pocket clip, and I've been informed the LM31 and LM33 will soon be receiving pocket clips, but it looks like the LM32 is going to go without.
Also, it've important to me that my EDC have a good range of output. I want low available for most of the time, but I want very high available when I need it. The LM32 doesn't have super low low or super high high, but rather reasonable low and reasonable high. Plus, it's got a little extra throw compared to your average EDC.
On that note, the choice of XP-G leans this toward an EDC for a person who gravitates to certain tasks, namely, longer range. Up close, the tight spot of the XP-G can be a little too bright and the surrounding area a little too dim, but at distances the XP-G will do great. So generally, if you spend most of your dark time indoors, I'd suggest something with an XM-L for more flood, but if you spend more or your dark time outdoors, the XP-G would be a great choice.
For these reasons, I've found that I like to leave this light back the back door and have it available as a general purpose backyard light.
Long Term Impressions
I'll fill this part in after carrying the light for a while. If nothing get's added here, either I find nothing else worth noting about the light, or I end up not using it often.