A Solar Light With A Funny Name But Means Business - WAKAWAKA Solar Lamp Review

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ama230

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First of all I had wanted to say that I am very thankful for this forums existence. It has helped me and countless others to find inside information from alternative energy to survival gear. So before I get this show started, I had wanted to give a big sincere THANK YOU to CANDLEPOWERFORUMS.COM for making us fellow nerds and geeks informed.

It’s going to seem like I am doing a lot of product pushing but that’s not the case. I am a contracted EET so work comes and goes. When I do get the chance to review exciting and innovative products that aren’t main stream, I will do my best to get as much out there.

Note:
I do not work for these companies nor am I endorsing them. I am a normal individual that like to do reviews on products that are pushing innovation and allow the user to have a choice on what he or she prefers. I do this for the fact that I LOVE reading reviews myself and it’s nice to get a feel for a product before pulling the trigger.


Get on with the review already….

What if there was a product that not only fits the needs of 1/5th​ without power but still fits the needs of the 4/5ths​ that do have power. There is such a product and it’s called the WAKAWAKA light. Again, as many have you noticed that I am passionate about products that go beyond themselves. This niche mainly falls with alternative energy products such as thermo-electric, photo-voltaic and electro-mechanical.


Last year about this time, on a little site called Kickstarter, there was an idea introduced to have a solar lamp that would have a charge to use ratio of 2:1. So for every hour of sunlight gathered it would produce two hours of nice clean light. K.S. is a website where the normal everyday person can fund the innovative ideas of passionate individuals. This is a total game changer as it allows not only the “always have been rich” people to make a company but allows entrepreneurs to once again rise to the top.


This is a nice website, similar to Indiegogo and Etsy, which have all the same idea of allowing entrepreneurs to showcase real innovation. Then this company is also doing another campaign on K.S. so go check it out as well as many other great ideas.


As with my reviews, I try to stay non-biased but when you find something unique and totally functional it’s hard not to get emotional. This product so happens to be self sufficient and requires no battery changes. In the past we have had solar lamps as they did a mediocre job as that is not the case here.


Majority of solar products require direct sunlight, which requires the user to keep repositioning the device every hour to ensure proper charge. This is not the case now as the PV panel efficiency had jumped from 12% to 18%, which is huge, thanks to leading companies like SunPower etc and of course demand driving down costs. This allows the user to have less worry of the amount of power gathered throughout the day. Then to add, electronics getting more efficient with microprocessors using less power thanks to Samsung, instead of drawing mA, they now only draw uA.


If you keep up with the latest technology trends, you can see that this company not only has a great idea, but sources the best manufactures for components. There are only a handful of companies that do so and these are the ones that stand out. All of this is possible thanks to a Dutch company that believes in the bigger picture as we have to make the best of what’s already provided.

I am going to be doing a comparison of the manufacturers claimed specs vs. actual real world specs. Then the proof is in the pudding as you will see that the closer these two values are, the better the company is. In this world most companies inflate their values to get the consumer to bite. As the purpose of this review is to ensure the user has an educated advantage over advertisement.


Manufactures specs:


Dimensions: 120 x 79 x 24 mm

Brightness: 120 Lumens


Battery: 3 x AA NiMh rechargeable (user replaceable)

Solar Cell: .75W Mono-crystalline

IC Type: Sunboost IC


Bulb Type: 2x Seoul SMDs


Materials: Recycled Plastic


Durability: Water resistant and shock resistant


Switch Type: Tactical on/off


Modes: 1st​ click(200% = 120 Lumens), 2nd​ (100%), 3rd​(50%), 4th​(10% = 6 Lumens), 5th​(OFF), S.O.S. (Hold power button for 3 seconds to activate)


*Energy Saving Mode: When 1hr of light is left it will turn to lowest mode to not leave you in the dark.


Charge time: 1 hr sun = 2 hr @ 100% light ( approx 100 Lumens)


Runtime (1 Full day of charging = 8hrs of sunlight): 200%(will switch to 100% after 30 seconds to save battery), 100%(8hrs), 50% (16hrs), 10%(80hrs)


Actual Specs: Very close measurements compared to manufacturer specs


Dimensions: 120 x 79 x 24 mm

Brightness: 120 Lumens (Nice warm flood) (They under promise and over deliver on this)


Battery: 3 x AA 1000mah NiMh rechargeable( user replaceable)


Solar Cell: .75W Mono-crystalline (Anonymous manufacturer as its just waste silicon from IC manufacturing )


IC Type: Sunboost IC (Samsung IC right on the board)


Bulb Type: 2x Seoul SMDs (Bright and warm, definitely grade A LEDs)


Materials: Recycled Plastic


Durability: Water resistant and shock resistant (Take a nice fall or slight downpour)


Switch type: Tactical on/off (Solid Feel)


Modes: 1st​ click(200% = 120 Lumens), 2nd​ (100%), 3rd​(50%), 4th​(10% = 6 Lumens), 5th​(OFF), S.O.S. (Hold power button for 3 seconds to activate)


*Energy Saving Mode: When 1hr of light is left it will turn to lowest mode to not leave you in the dark.


Charge time: 1 hr sun = 2 hr @ 50% light (40-50 Lumens) (They under promise and over deliver on this) OR 1hr of sun = 1hr of 100% light (60-80Lumens)


Runtime(1 Full day of charging = 8hrs of sunlight): 200%(will switch to 100% after 30 seconds to save battery), 100%(8hrs), 50% (16hrs), 10%(80hrs)


The specs were spot on or as close as they get as this company did do their homework and studied hard.


The here is the good stuff that everybody like on here, the photographs of the Iconic Device.

The first picture is of the front of the packaging as you would receive it. I had purchased mine from amazon and absolutely love it, as I was a little too late for the first K.S. campaign.
2012-12-11143615.jpg


Then the second picture is of the back of the packaging. This shows the user of how the product is generally used in various positions.
2012-12-11143634.jpg


Then for the third picture is of the light out of the package and in charging mode with the PV panel facing the sun. Then it is next to a poster to show the user the instructions on how to work the light. Love that there is pictures and no confusing ikea phrasing
2012-12-11143933.jpg


The fourth photograph is a close up of the lamp itself. This is the front of the light with the Sunpower Mono-crystalline P.V. panel facing you.
2012-12-11144210.jpg


The fifth picture is a close up of the back of the light. As you can see that the two Seoul Semiconductor LEDs near the top and below that is the large black power button.
2012-12-11144356.jpg


The sixth photo is of the top of the light. There is a single green indicator that blinks faster according to to level of light receiving. So lower the light conditions, the slower the blinking. Then higher the light conditions, the led will blink faster. This was a difficult shot as I am using my phones camera and the ISO is not that sensitive.
2012-12-11144439.jpg


The seventh picture is of the light next to the competition. This shot is to show the general size of the light next to a D.Light S 250. These light have the same basic functions but the D.Light is much larger. I use a different panel to charge my D.Light as the one that came with it charges twice as slow.
2012-12-11144812.jpg


As we are onto the night shots....

For the eighth picture in my review, it is of the WAKAWAKA shining in my bathroom. It is definitely as bright as the D.Light, I modded with an XM-L T6, at 200 lumens. This is not very noticeable to the eye but on paper it is. This is of the WAKAWAKA on high mode(200%) lighting up my entire bathroom. The shot is ugly as with other lights I had to turn on the flash but its so bright I do not need to here.
2012-12-13105344.jpg



Then for the ninth night shot. It is of the D.light s250 on High mode, which is well above 200 lumens of nice flood. This is just to show you that it is not only compact, it can shine with the best of them.
2012-12-13104645.jpg


The tenth photo is of the two lights side by side to show in comparison of how their beam profile is. Each handles their own and you can see that they do a very nice job of lighting up the place. On the left is the D.Light s250 with a XM-L T6, then on the right is the WAKAWAKA untouched. It is rare that I do not need to modify the lamp in order to be more useful.
2012-12-13105610.jpg


Then for the eleventh and final picture of my review. This is a graph of the regulation of major competitors lights. There are a few that are able to hold their brightness for the claimed times. Not a problem for the WAKAWAKA!
regulationspecs.jpg



Then as the review gets close to an end, I always like to do a general overview of the form, fit and function. This is where I give my critique on what they could have improved on if needing be. This is not to say that anything is perfect but always could use some improvement.

As for the design, it is very different, as it has multiple form factors to make it very versatile. Each little detail has a unique feature such as the slide out stand to the hang hoop. This adds very little bulk but does wonders to the functionality. It is light and easily used with the large rubber power button, making it easy to use in the dark.

Then there is an indicator LED at the top to tell the user on how much light is bring collected. The LED will blink faster as the absorption of photons goes up. This is a nice feature as it will help the user reposition the device intuitively with the perpendicular plane of the sun(fancy words for directly facing the sun).

The only suggestion I would make for this light is to use a large glow in the dark button instead of a solid rubber one. This would allow the user to find the light at night safely and quietly as nobody likes a loud neighbor when sleeping. I had just backed the new project on K.S. as it has refinements, so please check it out and at the same time help other developing countries.

Thank again for reading my review of another exciting and unique product. Hope you all are getting some joy off these cool products as I know I am. If there are any questions, comments or suggestions please do not hesitate to fire away. I will do my part and get to them as quick as possible with as much information on hand.

Thank you for your time,
Eric Ramirez
Ama230
 
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GreySave

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Interesting. It looks like a gimmick but there are a lot of reviews from purchasers on Amazon and they LOVE this light. It is fairly rare to see a solar light receiving top reviews......
 
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ama230

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I can assure you the claims on this light are 100% accurate. This company under promises on specs and over delivers on actual use. This is all achieved by a 800maH nimh battery, which is nuts.

The gimmick now is buying any other type of lantern. Check out kickstarter as they have a new model called the WAKAWAKA Power, which is the second gen. and it only gets better from here.
 
ToyTank

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This look interesting! Thanks for doing the review I have to say first I'd replace those 1000mah AA with some eneloops!

Usually you see amorphous cells and horrible 5mm leds in things like this. Good for them for spending money where it counts as far as material go. I don't see a few features I'd want maybe the next version is adding them them like USB power in and out maybe a multiband radio. I'll have to check it out.
 
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DaveG

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Looks cool,the hole for bottle mounting is a good idea.
 
ToyTank

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The V2 is on kickstarter and I've pledged to support it and I should get one from the first production run(May?). The V2 hase USB in/out and 1000 cycle li-ion. This is looking to be a great EDC backup!
 
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SemiMan

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This look interesting! Thanks for doing the review I have to say first I'd replace those 1000mah AA with some eneloops!

Usually you see amorphous cells and horrible 5mm leds in things like this. Good for them for spending money where it counts as far as material go. I don't see a few features I'd want maybe the next version is adding them them like USB power in and out maybe a multiband radio. I'll have to check it out.

If you check out the lights for Africa program and similar ones, the approved lights, i.e. ones that have gone through testing, normally have a crystalline cell, NiMH or Lithium cells and 1/4W - 1W class LEDs from quality suppliers. These are not toys, they are meant to be reliable replacements of kerosene lanterns and to be economically feasible they need to last several years.

Semiman
 
ToyTank

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If you check out the lights for Africa program and similar ones, the approved lights, i.e. ones that have gone through testing, normally have a crystalline cell, NiMH or Lithium cells and 1/4W - 1W class LEDs from quality suppliers. These are not toys, they are meant to be reliable replacements of kerosene lanterns and to be economically feasible they need to last several years.

Semiman

Thanks for the information. I may have to do some research on "Africa program" lights, I'm know nothing about them. I guess I was comparing them to the lights I see in department stores and sport shops in the US- IMO they are more gimmick than useful tool.
 
Lynx_Arc

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I am skeptical of this lantern myself... after reading 3 pages of review on Amazon.com it looks like a fanboy fest instead of finding anyone with serious technical expertise I see blatant promotionalism there like people were asked to go there and hype it. I would like to see someone with one of these compare it in real world usage to known lanterns for performance as I am unfamiliar with the lanterns posted in the graph given and why include a 120 lumen mode that only runs for 30 seconds? this is just plain stupid for a lantern and IMO in the way even most lights with a boosted high mode will run for several minutes... 4-5 before they switch down to a lower mode. I'm skeptical of the runtime/output and comparing this to lanterns that nobody in the forum have never seen a review of is meaningless IMO. After the bragging about the engineering of this thing they hamstring it with subpar nimh batteries... to me that says something about the mentality of the folks running the show... It is akin to promoting a racecar and then skimping on the engine itself.
 
ToyTank

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I am skeptical, but still interested enough to get the V2. I can do a review, but I won't have it until May.

The V1 took 2 months to get funded on kickstarter. V2 was funded in 2 days. That shows a high level of confidence from the community IMO.

I don't think I'd use the 30 second mode, but the only time I use turbo on any of my lights is short bursts, although could be a couple minutes not 30 seconds.

The amazon reviews do seem to lack real 3rd world use, but I can't see anyone who uses this light off the grid year round buying it from amazon or leaving a review. I think that says more of the yuppies who buy and use this for weekend camping than any guerrilla advertising.

I agree with the subpar cells. I think everything is a compromise-it is easier to slap in high quality cells than swap the leds or solar array. For $39 shipped there is only so much meat on that bird.

I can't believe there is not more CPF members who own this thing. I'd love to hear more reviews from flashaholics.
 
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I am skeptical of this lantern myself... after reading 3 pages of review on Amazon.com it looks like a fanboy fest instead of finding anyone with serious technical expertise I see blatant promotionalism there like people were asked to go there and hype it. I would like to see someone with one of these compare it in real world usage to known lanterns for performance as I am unfamiliar with the lanterns posted in the graph given and why include a 120 lumen mode that only runs for 30 seconds? this is just plain stupid for a lantern and IMO in the way even most lights with a boosted high mode will run for several minutes... 4-5 before they switch down to a lower mode. I'm skeptical of the runtime/output and comparing this to lanterns that nobody in the forum have never seen a review of is meaningless IMO. After the bragging about the engineering of this thing they hamstring it with subpar nimh batteries... to me that says something about the mentality of the folks running the show... It is akin to promoting a racecar and then skimping on the engine itself.


I know a bit (okay more than a lot) about solar lighting. I have not reviewed the actual unit, but I have read the specifications. My thoughts on the original:

- Solar cell was over hyped. They claimed at that time to be using a "great" cell, but given the frontal area of the unit, the cell was middling. They are claiming to be using Sunpower cells on the new one. Those are the most area efficient cell you can buy.

- They are using a small cell energy harvesting chip from a small semi company. Really not rocket science to do MPPT and a circuit for a single solar cell, but at least it take out the risk

- LEDs are of okay efficiency from a name brand supplier. Nothing to write home about

- Cells are tolerable and likely can meet their run time claims. I don't see anything staggeringly wrong, though I can't say their implementation is earth shattering .... x current for x amount of time ... whoopee. You would think they solved the world's energy problems. I think they could have been a lot more creative in the modes of operation

- Price of the new one is claiming to be I think 150 after the Kickstarter (going off memory). Whatever it was, I thought they were nuts for a volume product. Their margins were going to be very very healthy.

In essence it is a tolerably implemented unit that does nothing special and nothing bad either.
 
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ama230

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To address some issues among all the professionals on here?

The light has a very good mono-crystalline cell on it, as its in the 18% range.

The batteries in the unit are user replaceable and are only 800mA LSD NiMh's. The brand is unknown but they are very light in weight.

I had replaced the cells in mine with some eneloops as it requires some soldering the cells together.

The LEDs could be replaced as they are soldered on the Large PCB with the electronics on the back.

This light is not for walmart etc... Its purpose is for the people without power and when they go to use it, it just works.

The mission is when you purchase this light you are providing one for someone else. As with alternative energy, its a lifestyle of responsibility and not thinking of one's self.

Having stated all of the above, buying this light is not going to blow away a rayovac 300 lumen lantern. For its size it holds it ground as being functional. One hour of charging yeild two hours of bright useable light.

The runtimes are proven and the brightness is maybe 5% over rated but for its size, there is nothing like it out there.

The whole idea of this light is not for someone whose is on the grid. In africa and other third world countries they only have access to nimh batteries at best, so the whole idea is to make it user replaceable and with as little user knowledge as possible,which is pretty cheap at under a $1 a cell. We pay cheap prices for great cells here in the US, but for 3rd world applications they only make a $1 a day and the market markup is tremendous. Think of our economy on a lot smaller scale but with the same principles.

Any idea on investing on the future is a great idea, fail or not!
 
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The light has a very good sunpower monocrystalline cell on it, as its in the 18% range.

The runtime are proven and the brightness is maybe 5% over rated but for its size, there is nothing like it out there.

- The unit you have pictured and reviewed at the start of this thread ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT HAVE SUNPOWER CELLS. Sunpower cells are fully back contact and without front grid lines. These have grid lines. They do look like monocrystalline but could be anyone's cells. It looks like 8 cell pieces


- I read the companies website and it does not state that the version you tested uses Sunpower. It does state that their new version with USB is based on Sunpower and the limited pictures seem to confirm this.

- While there may be no product exactly like this, there are quite a few of similar specification and quality: http://www.lightingafrica.org/specs.html


Semiman
 
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Lynx_Arc

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@lynx - If amazon reviews are your final say so in a purchase you are going to be disappointed, I can guarantee this. The whole idea of this light is not for someone whose is on the grid. In africa and other third world countries they only have access to nimh batteries at best, so the whole idea is to make it user replaceable and with as little user knowledge as possible,which is pretty cheap at under a $1 a cell. We pay cheap prices for great cells here in the US, but for 3rd world applications they only make a $1 a dayand the markup is tremendous. Think of our economy on a lot smaller scale but with the same principles.

Any idea on investing on the future is a great idea, fail or not!
I don't go by amazon reviews to find out if stuff it typically good or not but to discern problems with it and see if it is bad. I get suspicious when there are no ratings below 4 on there with no criticism of the product of shills and fanboys. As for the cells I don't see how a low capacity 800 or 1000mah AA nimh is going to be much cheaper than a 1500-1600mah when bought in a decent size purchase in manufacturing. The difference in cost between the two probably doesn't add up to even $1 for a company that cranks out 100 or more units I would think... $1 more on a $40 light is pretty much meaningless in price as you probably can see the same light priced that variance online anyway. The light is an interesting idea but IMO a separate dedicated solar panel charging system and separate lights/lanterns are probably a better idea and cost may not be that much difference. I don't like all in one stuff because when one part breaks you can lose complete functionality whereas separate items would still possibly perform one broken and on working.
 
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I've decided to pull my backing on the V2~ I keep getting spam from them wanting me to vote for them here or there I'm still 5 months away from even getting the light:ironic: I expect that a little but it is about daily. Maybe I'll get one when when they come out...

I'm also getting a bit annoyed by the constant over enthusiastic self promotion like their crap don't stink and how awful their competition is. They are not unicef and they did not make LENR commercially viable or any other miracle.

I get suspicious when there are no ratings below 4 on there with no criticism of the product of shills and fanboys.

I'm still not sure about the reviews but after getting the spam wanting me to do crap for them I say they certainly would not be above gorilla advertising. Amazon has a good return policy though~you can test drive it.
 
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I've decided to pull my backing on the V2~ I keep getting spam from them wanting me to vote for them here or there I'm still 5 months away from even getting the light:ironic: I expect that a little but it is about daily. Maybe I'll get one when when they come out...

I'm also getting a bit annoyed by the constant over enthusiastic self promotion like their crap don't stink and how awful their competition is. They are not unicef and they did not make LENR commercially viable or any other miracle.



I'm still not sure about the reviews but after getting the spam wanting me to do crap for them I say they certainly would not be above gorilla advertising. Amazon has a good return policy though~you can test drive it.
I tend to avoid products that use deception and dishonest tactics to promote themselves and I consider asking for reviews/endorsements from people that have yet to receive their product.... dishonest. Time will tell about this group and their products either they will succeed and their product will be known more than a gimmick item or they will be stuck in that category and slowly fade away replaced by name brands that slowly catch on to the usefulness of certain functions and features.
 
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Battery: 3 x AA NiMh rechargeable (user replaceable)

Solar Cell: .75W Mono-crystalline

Charge time: 1 hr sun = 2 hr @ 100% light (80-100 Lumens) (They under promise and over deliver on this)


You see, I do know what I am doing w.r.t. this technology so I need to call BULLS--- on this claim.

0.75W cell, NiMh battery, 80-100 lumens for 2 hours with 1 hour of sunlight.


Let's make reasonble assumptions:

0.75 watts
95% electrical efficiency (I am being really kind here)
90% cell output (due to increased temperature of 100% sun)

That makes the cell effectively 0.65 watts which in one hour will collect 0.65 watt hours.

NiMh are at best 80% efficient power in to power out. So of that 0.65 watt hours collected, we can use 0.52 watt hours.


LED driver efficiency 93% (realistic at low power levels) so of those 0.52 watt hours, we can get 0.48 watt hours to the LEDS.


And yet they claim 80-100 lumens for 2 hours after 1 hour of charging which means, the efficiency of the LEDs is between

(2 * 80) / 0.48 and (2 * 100) / 0.48


or ....... between 330 an 400 lumens / watt .... pretty impressive figures and of course impossible.


Even if I assume 100% is 0.5 of 200% or 0.5 * 120 = 60 lumens, then the LED efficiency is

2 * 60 / 0.48 = 250 lumens / watt .... still impossible

EVEN WITH NO LOSSES ---- 2 * 60 / 0.75 = 160 lumens / watt .... of "nice warm" ... nope, still not possible with today's technology


Therefore, even their most basic claim, charge time versus light out is an impossible lie. It's not possible with NO losses, and not remotely possible with fairly low per component losses.



Oh, but I am just getting started ....

1000 mAh, * 3 NiMh = 3.6 watt hours

8 hours claimed run time at 100%

= 0.45 watts to power the LEDs with no losses at 100%

But we only have a 0.75 watt panel ... and would need at least 0.9 watts for 2 hours without any losses which is not possible.


Oh, remember it was claimed "about 100 lumens at 100%" ... that means over 200 lumens/watt at 0.45 watts .... of "warm" light. Again, beyond state of the art even in cool white. 60 lumens at 0.45 watts is 130 lumens/watt ... which is pretty high for warm but believable perhaps except there will be losses in the driver.



Perhaps you would like to do a real review and actually test the light output?

Semiman
 
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I can assure you the claims on this light are 100% accurate. This company under promises on specs and over delivers on actual use. This is all achieved by a 800maH nimh battery, which is nuts.

The gimmick now is buying any other type of lantern. Check out kickstarter as they have a new model called the WAKAWAKA Power, which is the second gen. and it only gets better from here.


A real engineer AND reviewer only "assures" when they have verified the claims independently. You have not.
 
Lynx_Arc

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Even if I assume 100% is 0.5 of 200% or 0.5 * 120 = 60 lumens, then the LED efficiency is

2 * 60 / 0.48 = 250 lumens / watt .... still impossible

EVEN WITH NO LOSSES ---- 2 * 60 / 0.75 = 160 lumens / watt .... of "nice warm" ... nope, still not possible with today's technology
While there is actually LED out there that can manage 200+ lumens/watt now I wouldn't expect a company that goes cheapskate on nimh batteries to save a few cents to but use second or third tier binned LEDs. I'm guessing the ones in this are probably 100-140 lumens/watt at best and without a good buck circuit if it uses 3AAs there could be just a linear regulator on the batteries to control output after all I see no claims to what circuitry is involved perhaps someone that gets one of these will rip it apart and then we can see.
 
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While there is actually LED out there that can manage 200+ lumens/watt now I wouldn't expect a company that goes cheapskate on nimh batteries to save a few cents to but use second or third tier binned LEDs. I'm guessing the ones in this are probably 100-140 lumens/watt at best and without a good buck circuit if it uses 3AAs there could be just a linear regulator on the batteries to control output after all I see no claims to what circuitry is involved perhaps someone that gets one of these will rip it apart and then we can see.

200+ perhaps from Cree and even then debatable whether that is shipping and they are large LEDs run at low currents. They are also quite cool.

These LEDs were described as "warm" and are Samsung and from the pics, are not high power LEDs. Let's say they are more 4-4500K. I would be surprised if they are over 130-140 at best and that would be at 25C.

Either way, there is no chance this product is meeting its stated specs and if the reviewer had gone over some basic math and with his "stated" in the past expertise in solar (which I question) it should have been obvious.

Semiman
 

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