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Thread: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

  1. #1
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    Default Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Over the last 10+ years I've engaged lights with low modes - primarily as a battery saving measure.

    In reality, I almost never made use of these lower power modes, having carried spare cells. They are actually never needed, as you never run out of cells.

    The only point to low modes is not waking up someone at night or being discreet. Not to save the battery or extend the runtime.

    I've traveled with a Malkoff M61LLL in a 9P "FiveMega" Surefire with 3x123 and I don't think I got to even half the charge over the entire trip. And I had at least a dozen spares. And I had a second light of course.

    yeah, it's nice to have it -- if you need it.

    I have a feeling if I get stranded in a coal mine or something deep for days at a time, I will come out and still have spare batteries with me and lots of runtime left.

    e.g. remember the coal mine disaster - the 2010 Copiapó mining accident - if they lowered me the some lights and extra batteries into it, I would probably say, no thanks, I got plenty. Just engage the 5 lumen mode for the next 30 days. /joke
    Last edited by etc; 05-23-2018 at 08:38 AM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I couldn't disagree more (probably just because our use cases are different). On some lights, and for some purposes, I use low modes more than high. Anything from camping to working on vehicles, tasks around the house when the power is out, etc. Almost everthing close up is far easier to do with a lower amount of light. 15 "surefire lumens" seems to fit the bill perfectly. Their LX2 is an example of a light with a low mode I use way more than high.

    Especially nowaday's where the lights are coming with high modes well into the hundreds or thousands of lumens, low mode is so extremely useful. This is clearly demonstrated for me by the fact that I have three surefire 6Ps on my counter. One with a very low 3.7v bulb that I use for all around the house or close up task work. One with a 6v for an in between amount of light. And, one with a 9v for taking the dog out at night. By far the one that gets the most use is the 3.7 with the least amount of light. If I were to collapse these three lights into one light with three brightness levels, the mode that would get the most use would be the low mode.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    As long as the light has a bunch of modes, I'm happy. So the Zebralights are perfect for me. When I'm backpacking, the super low modes are great for not blasting my eyes if/when I wake up for business at 2am. The medium modes are nice for night hiking - I don't need 600+ lumens, nor do I want to run the battery down. But I still want to be safe hiking solo, so low modes won't do it. Every ounce counts, so I don't carry spare batteries. And the high modes are there for when I need them occasionally, trying to see further in the distance or trying to scare away a racoon going after food or whatever.

    I could get by with an AA headlamp most times, but I don't want to risk it so I take an 18650 lamp and usually come back with a ~70% full cell anyway.
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I've used various "low" malkoffs over the last 10 years.. I switched back to regular Malkoff M61. Even the regular high-powered module gets such significant runtime that low modes are pointless.

    really the event that made me switch to M61 was using the 18650 Hound Dog and other around 1000 lumens - 300 lumens seems barely acceptable these days.

    there is really no point to low anything with the introduction of dual modes such as M61HOT that gets 5 lumens on low and mega turbo lumens on high. And even on high I got enough spare cells with me to run for days.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I did find out one thing though. In a power outage, you want the least lumens possible. due to attracting attention. When the entire city block or half the town is out, your 1000 lumen light might draw unneeded attention. I found out it stood out in a dark town like .. well, you know what.

    like a neon sign, that said come and get it. I got lights, generators, food and more. the average sixpack joe likely got none of the above. No spare lights and no genny and no cold food.

    in a power outage, you don't want a 5 lumen light to save batteries. Like many here, I have enough spares I can last for years - on "high" mode.

    you want a 5 lumen light to be discreet and not attract criminals.

    the other side of the coin is, you want to bump into the 1000 lumen mode if things get interesting and the unneeded attention heads your way.
    ****** Malkoff Devices ****** “Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

  6. #6

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I'm still not exactly sure what you are trying to say. I'm going to try to summarize you here
    • I never use low power modes
    • I never run out of cells
    • low is useful for being discrete
    • low is not useful for conserving power
    • high power modes have plenty of run time
    • M61 (single mode with 425 lumens) is perfect
    • I have enough cells to use high for days
    • low is pointless because there are lights with low and turbo (?)
    • 1000 lumens is a lot


    Some of these are contradictory. I'm never really sure if you are talking about low modes in general or dedicated single mode low lights.

    There is a certain elegance in using the correct tool for a job. Or writing succinct poetry. Or engineering something to use the fewest resources. Efficient low modes are not hard to appreciate.

    When I'm out backpacking with a single Eneloop in my headlamp (and an L91 as an emergency backup) boy do I appreciate battery conserving modes. I can stretch out that Eneloop for 5 days easily. During a power outages and camping trips I try to make sure the family has lights with reasonable low power modes. Not for security but so I don't have to be constantly recharging batteries.

    You keep saying that you have plenty of spare cells. You don't consider it the least bit inconvenient to change out dead cells? To be suddenly thrust into darkness, halting all activity while you dig out a fresh battery?

    Many lights will automatically switch to a low mode when the battery is at ≈10% capacity. It alerts you to the low battery while giving you many hours of backup light. Would you rather have 1 minute of 500 lumens or 2 hours of 5 lumens when a battery is on its last legs?
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    One of the things I love most about my HDS is the low mode flexibility. If I'm going backpacking, for example, it seems crazy to carry more cells just so I can blind myself with unneeded light. Less than five lumens is usually plenty with dark adapted eyes and no ambient light, an it allows a single CR123 to last for a week long trip.

    Usually if I'm using a flashlight it's because there's some activity I'm doing, such as hiking, climbing, etc, and I'd much rather focus on that activity than worry about packing extra cells and changing them out.

    Now it is fun to have a light that will drain it's battery in 15 minutes with a blaze of fiery glory, but I consider those more toys than tools.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I'm in the same boat as most of the other posters. I use the low and high modes a lot. 90% of my lights have multiple modes and I much prefer them. When I'm using my light while working at night I don't need or want 600 lumens bouncing back and blinding me. 50 lumens is perfect. But if I'm walking around in the woods I love switching to the 600 lumen high mode to spot something way out.

    It's just like a pair of jeans. Do guys wear the same pair of jeans to work and then out on the town? Sure, but you're either afraid to get them dirty at work or they look like hell at a restaurant. Much easier with a clean pair for going out and a pair of Carhartts for work.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    To me it's like headlights on a car. If regular beam (low) isn't enough, switch to high.

    I keep plenty of cells too. But at the same time I want to change them as little as possible.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Quote Originally Posted by parametrek View Post
    I'm still not exactly sure what you are trying to say. I'm going to try to summarize you here

    o be suddenly thrust into darkness, halting all activity while you dig out a fresh battery?


    I am never 'suddenly' thrust into darkness. My li-ion cells are not regulated for the most part and slowly decline towards zero. And do not cut off like Eneloops.
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Quote Originally Posted by etc View Post
    I am never 'suddenly' thrust into darkness. My li-ion cells are not regulated for the most part and slowly decline towards zero. And do not cut off like Eneloops.
    Do you typically use protected or unprotected cells ?

    I haven't seen @reppans around for a while, but the perspective of a sublumen fanatic would be helpful to add to this conversation ....
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    regulated --> of course I meant to say protected. Kind of. Dislexics of the world, untie.

    A protection circuit introduces just another thing that can break, for the ultimate in reliability use either primary cells or UNprotected Li-ion cell (Not cells since they don't stack up nicely)

    A light that has one cell can use non-protected cells, anything with 2 or more needs a protection circuit to detect that are you at zero and need to swap.

    That's why I like the 18650 Hound Dog by Malkoff. It slowly descends versus walking off the cliff like its bigger brothers.

    But no, I am never ever thrust into darkness.
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I am going to try to restate this more clearly.

    I've never found myself in a situation where I wish I had more runtime. where I run out of cells and thrust into darkness, suddenly or not and then have to navigate by candlelight.

    I've frequently found myself in situations where I wish I had more lumens.

    Having to preface all of this I used to use single-mode lights.
    And still often do.
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Quote Originally Posted by etc View Post
    I am going to try to restate this more clearly.

    I've never found myself in a situation where I wish I had more runtime. where I run out of cells and thrust into darkness, suddenly or not and then have to navigate by candlelight.

    I've frequently found myself in situations where I wish I had more lumens.

    Having to preface all of this I used to use single-mode lights.
    And still often do.
    I'm a city slicker and don't find myself in caves, or coal mines, but you never know? I find myself using the lower modes more often in the city, but have needed some output at work.

    I was here in Miami during hurricane Irma last September and lost power for 84 hours (3.5 days). Candles did most of the heavy lifting, despite me having tons of everything at my disposal.

    I remember going out right as the storm was hitting to remove some limbs from near my neighbors' condos and using my M2 Convoy. I had it on high (2.8A/XM-L) and welcomed the output, but mostly, it was the lower modes over the outage.

    For listening to the radio on the couch, three 'cup candles' were fine for navigating around my 3-4 rooms. I'm no firefly fanatic, but I do appreciate the ability to go down to 1-2LM and if that means the battery lasts longer, than "that's a good thing!" as Martha would say.

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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Quote Originally Posted by etc View Post
    I am going to try to restate this more clearly.

    I've never found myself in a situation where I wish I had more runtime. where I run out of cells and thrust into darkness, suddenly or not and then have to navigate by candlelight.

    I've frequently found myself in situations where I wish I had more lumens.

    Having to preface all of this I used to use single-mode lights.
    And still often do.
    Wish I could say the same. Years ago I was escorting the dog on our nightly trip to the backyard when my light apparently decided the battery was no longer sufficient to sustain the selected level. I was left in pitch dark, with a set of wooden stairs between me and the house. At that moment, I realized I had a deep and abiding preference for lights that step down to a lower level as the battery depletes. Even a gradually dimming tail is better than bright-bright-bright-dark. I didn't need more lumens, but I did need more runtime.

    Different use case scenarios for different people.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I use my low modes more than I do the high modes.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    If you've never found yourself suddenly in the dark due to bad equipment selection or faulty performance, good for you. I hope you never do. Those of us who have, appreciate a gradual decline of light as a "heads up".

    I'll buy what I like, you buy what you like.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Ah yes...Uncle Reppans. He has been an influential dude in my flashlight journey. I am also a fan of the super lows that Zebra provides and it's one reason I couldn't get back into the MDCs after I sold them off, as they weren't even close to their low low specs. I think starting as low as you can and only going up to the amount of light that you actually need makes a lot of sense. The Zebralights seem ideal for this.
    Quote Originally Posted by archimedes View Post
    Do you typically use protected or unprotected cells ?

    I haven't seen @reppans around for a while, but the perspective of a sublumen fanatic would be helpful to add to this conversation ....

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I used Med mode the most. That's why I love lights starting from M/L/H. 20-30 lumens is perfect.

    low and high are usually for fun.. at least for me.

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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Quote Originally Posted by elzilcho View Post
    Wish I could say the same. Years ago I was escorting the dog on our nightly trip to the backyard when my light apparently decided the battery was no longer sufficient to sustain the selected level. I was left in pitch dark, with a set of wooden stairs between me and the house. At that moment, I realized I had a deep and abiding preference for lights that step down to a lower level as the battery depletes. Even a gradually dimming tail is better than bright-bright-bright-dark. I didn't need more lumens, but I did need more runtime.

    Different use case scenarios for different people.
    There is such a light. It's called Malkoff Hound Dog 18650. On a *non*-protected cell, it has a very long tail. You can see it coming to its end many hours before its final proton.

    For that matter, a surefire 6P with a Malkoff also gradually declines towards zero for hours and hours. You can get let's say about 1.5 to 2 hours of full lumens and then the decline begins - roughly speaking.

    if I carry multi-cell lights that require protected circuits, then I also carry a spare. if I can carry a spare cell, I can carry a spare light.

    sometimes surefire G2x, sometimes a 1x123 4/7 light - Quark.

    full powered lights that generate close to 1000 lumens do not mean that poof and you are left in the darkness.
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  21. #21

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    A lot of lights do that, it isn't reserved to the Malkoffs. Even those that start at a measly 50 lumens can support a diminishing tail.

    But that behavior sounds like evidence that lower power levels are indeed an extremely useful way to preserve battery life. Maybe I misunderstood your thread title?

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I love low modes. I want enough light to see something clearly, but not so much that my eyes have to adjust to it.

    My HDS is programmed to start at 3.3L and that's where it stays most times I use it. My next level up is 33L and that's as bright as I go with that light except to check the battery by going to max (100L) and look for the light to step down.

    I recently bought the Thrunite Ti3 with 0.04L/12L/120L levels and I love the output levels they chose for the 1st and 2nd modes. Someday I'll use the 120L level, but usually if I need more light, I pull my holster light rather than my tiny AAA light.

    My first "quality" light was the 4Sevens Quark AA which started at 0.2L. I put a 14505 battery in it (high capacity but very low current) and it can only provide enough current for the moonlight and low modes, but the run time is great (3+ months?). Anyways, giving up the medium and high modes in order to use a super capacity cell didn't bother me in the least.

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Well, there is Malkoff and then there are SOB (Some other Brands)

    I just got MD2 with the M61HOT module -- oh what pocket rocket it is. Lumens per size it just outruns everything else I have. I have better lights but they are far bigger.

    It did come with the copper or brass high-low "ring" that enabled a completely useless 5 lumen mode -- it got removed. Now I am cruising with just one mode - solely at the 600 lumen velocity.

    I did put the high/low ring into the another Malkoff which does about 15 / 400 lumens so that works out okay.
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  24. #24
    Flashaholic* xcel730's Avatar
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Really based on individual preference.

    Also, many people don't carry around flashlight along with spare cells. Many people don't check to make sure that their flashlights' batteries are always topped off. In the occasion when you really do need a light, but only have half battery power left, you'll be glad to at least have the low mode to consume power.

    On the flip side, based on where I live and my living habits, I generally don't need anything more than 100 or so lumens. However, I don't mind having the 500+ lumens flashlights as long as I can dial it down. This is especially true with headlamps. When I use a headlamp, it's usually for close up tasks. There are so many 1,000 lumens headlamps out there now. I myself don't know when I'll need so much light (even for outdoors). Frankly, I find it a bit scary cranking the headlamp to 1000 lumens while it's strapped on my head.

    Different strokes for different folks.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Quote Originally Posted by dealgrabber2002 View Post
    I used Med mode the most. That's why I love lights starting from M/L/H. 20-30 lumens is perfect.

    low and high are usually for fun.. at least for me.
    I am in this camp. My preference would be 20-30 lumens for "low" and 100-120 for "high". Levels below 10 or so don't do it for me personally. But I am looking around in electronic cabinets where bright lights wash out everything to my eyes.
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  26. #26

    Default Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Doesn't this come down to a question of how low these low modes are and how high these high modes are? For example low or medium modes are a good alternative to high modes that will only offer an hour and a half or an hour or less of run time. Also for lights that may have overheating issues if left on high continuously. Or when working on something no more than 2-4 feet away. 500 lumens or more is crazy overkill and actually too bright in my experience when working up close. A lower mode isn't just for extended run time. Don't want lots of lumens when you're trying to read either, etc...

    For a work light, I find 4-6 hour runtime seems to be a nice amount that you're almost guaranteed you'll never be able to completely kill your batteries in one work day. Then charge the batteries when you get home.
    Last edited by InvisibleFrodo; 05-24-2018 at 12:24 PM.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    500 lumens is not overkill if the lux is low.

    e.g. in a malkoff M61. The lumens are relatively high but the lux is relatively low.
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  28. #28

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I think it depends on the use case.

    When hiking, it's often impractical to carry a large number of cells and charging might not be possible (or slow via solar). Using a lower mode to save battery becomes pretty much a necessity at that point, whether it be a few hundred lumens for walking or that moonlight mode for camp.

    For EDC, while I like having access to a lower mode, I switched from a Thrunite Ti3 to an Olight i3e CU because of its simplicity and size. I don't miss the sublumen mode from the Ti3 nearly as much as I thought I would. Battery life is also generally not a concern, since I have easy access to charging and more cells. If I was carrying a light with a higher turbo and short runtime, I'd probably want a low mode so I don't run out of battery before I can get a fresh cell.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    Quote Originally Posted by etc View Post
    500 lumens is not overkill if the lux is low.

    e.g. in a malkoff M61. The lumens are relatively high but the lux is relatively low.
    How low is the lux going to get at 500 lumens when I'm working on something within arms reach? Even if it's a mule without any focus to the light and providing a total flood, 500 lumens is overkill. I'm lighting up something a foot and a half or 2 feet away. I say again 500 lumens is overkill.

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Low modes are a battery-saving measure are not all that useful

    I used to work on my car running Malkoff M61/6P. I found out the 300+ lumens with its relatively low lux of around 5,000 wasn't enough to reach and highlight some of the items I wanted. Deep in the engine bay and basically within arms reach.

    I switched to the Hound Dog and that did the trick with its laser-hot hotspot and tons of lumens. However it was big and expensive to throw under the car and sometimes did not fit everywhere so I switched to M61T / MD3 with its high lux of 12,000 and 400 lumens which was just the ticket and then I found out about M61HOT with 650 lumens and 18,000 lux which was even better.
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