Near future of flashlights

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Strintguy

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I've been thinking about my first Surefire 6P and how far we've come in a short time. What is the next leap? LED's, batteries, etc. What will the next, say 20 years hold for us light-lovers?
 
Str8stroke

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Ironically you state that as though the 6P is outdated. Due to the design, it is fairly future proof. The newest led will fit via drop in, and the newest battery can fit! :)

So whats next.
My generic guess, Ultra high efficient LED's with multi tints, super nano computing drivers, insane outputs, perhaps super capacitor batteries?? I will have a app that I can control my light via blue tooth or Wifi. I can goto work and check on my light via my Iphone.
Seriously, I think nano computing and nano battery tech is where the next huge break through comes. Were getting "close". Look how much power is packed into the new Smart Watches from Android and Apple.
 
chaosdsm

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The only problem I have with current tech is low runtimes, especially with the smaller battery lights - 1x AAA, 1x AA, 1x 123A.

So what I hope for, definitely within 20 years, but hopefully much sooner is:
A> 150 lumen per Watt on average LED's, & better than 200 lumen per Watt efficiency from high-end LED's.
B> New battery chemistry that introduces a significant boost to energy density without reduction in the safety factor over current Lithium Ion tech - these are already being worked on - some of these advances will be discussed during the upcoming Next-Generation Materials, Chemistries & Technologies conference http://www.knowledgefoundation.com/next-generation-batteries/battery-materials/ but I've heard of others.
 
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Keisari

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The only problem I have with current tech is low runtimes, especially with the smaller battery lights - 1x AAA, 1x AA, 1x 123A.
That's one thing that might change pretty soon: those antiquated battery form factors. Of course they are all here to stay, I like all those sizes, and the mainstream audience still prefers alkalines(they would prefer zinc carbon had they not been replaced by cheap alkys, and on the other hand they might start slowly buying more primary lithiums if volumes go up and prices go down).

But let's face it: many flashlights would be a lot nicer with flat or prismatic cells. Sometimes they could even be integral to the flashlight host. I like comparing this to cell phones. They don't use standard cylindrical cells, even their propietary battery packs have not contained those in ages, and many don't have a user-replaceable battery(sometimes for a reason, sometimes plain stupid). I can see a lot of potential especially in compact flashlight sizes competing against 1*AA, 16340, 1*AAA and even smaller. Something that's flatter and maybe shorter than the equivalent cylindrical cell, has more capacity and is not limited to looking like a piece of pipe. There's a gap between the "photon" style and those comparatively large but still underpowered(or 1-minute wonder) tube style "keychain" lights. Yeah, I know there are prototypes and niche products to fit this gap, but these have not been popularized or properly mass marketed yet.

I might also want prismatics in larger illuminators, I mean in the kilograms range. The size of a traditional tube/pipe flashlight(including historical multiple C or D, modern 1-3 18650 or 26650) is the most suitable size for cylindrical cells IMO.
So what I hope for, definitely within 20 years, but hopefully much sooner is:
A> 150 lumen per Watt on average LED's, & better than 200 lumen per Watt efficiency from high-end LED's.
B> New battery chemistry that introduces a significant boost to energy density without reduction in the safety factor over current Lithium Ion tech - these are already being worked on - some of these advances will be discussed during the upcoming Next-Generation Materials, Chemistries & Technologies conference http://www.knowledgefoundation.com/next-generation-batteries/battery-materials/ but I've heard of others.
This is pretty much what I'm expecting in the near future. Gradual improvements. Nothing drastic, but all of these stack up to make a very noticeable difference in, say, 4 years. A huge difference in 8 years. This can be observed when we consider today vs. spring 2011 or today vs. spring 2007.

The original poster first mentioned "near future" and then fast forwards 20 years. I would say 20 years from now is very distant future, extremely hard to predict and a whole another discussion. We tend to overestimate near future developments and underestimate long-term development, as progress in high tech is typically relative to each preceding generation and as such sometimes even exponential. There's further distortion when making long-term predictions as our view on the near future is based on approximations: The Jetsons had superficial improvements to their 1950's lifestyle such as futuristic cities, flying personal vehicles, robots and stuff, but nothing really groundbreaking like Internet or cell phones(IIRC).

Miniature fuel cells are one specialty vaporware that's been "coming in 18 months" for about 18 years. I don't expect them to ever replace batteries - that would be pointless and backwards. We are probably also way past the point where it was reasonable to think they would replace internal combustion engines in small cars, as engines might have become too advanced for that and will anyway soon be replaced by battery powered electric drive. But at some point in somewhat near future small fuel cells could be a viable just-a-bit-more-expensive alternative and even superior in some specialty applications. I don't want to refuel my laptop, but would love a small "power bank" powered by fuel to recharge not just my flashlights but any portable electronics. I would be ok with directly refueling a flashlight too. Not too different from a fuel-operated lantern.
 
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idleprocess

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As 3D metal printing gets cheaper and more accessible, I believe you'll see some interesting work done with bodies that weren't previously possible with conventional production methods.

In the future, everything will have a USB port on it and it may become the connector of choice for low-power DC electronics - especially with the capabilities of USB Type-C being able to deliver tens of watts of power. I suspect that we'll start to see the increasingly ubiquitous USB battery bank powering all sorts of gadgets other than discharged cell phones - headlamps are an obvious choice, although clipping some other light sources in are equally likely.

Who knows where battery tech is going. Conventional Li-Ion seems to be nearing its limits, so I doubt we're going to see 18650's break through to 4000mAH. The alkaline form-factors live on - thankfully low-self-discharge NiMH is around to make them more bearable. Perhaps the growing interest in lights with integrated USB Li-Ion charging will get more and more of the general market interested in the 18650 and other common li-ion form-factors since messing with the cell is largely optional, much like the swappable innards of big-name PC's were in years past. Other technologies keep getting announced - anyone remember "Cambridge Crude" or EEStor - but stubbornly refuse to condense into something more solid than vapor on a timeline short enough to plan on. I agree that fuel cells are kind of silly for flashlights, although they're seeing some niche for larger portable electronics such as pro video cameras and other cost-is-no-object-but-runtime-is applications.

LED technology has matured to the point that it's kind of boring - we're not going to see leaps and bounds like we did during the heady climb from Luxeon to XR-E to XM-L. It's down to incremental improvements in efficiency and more important improvements in production, durability, thermal tolerance, and cost cost cost since the focus for big manufacturers is general lighting and other frontiers not yet conquered by LED. A benefit of this is that heatsinking requirements will drop steadily to the point that the all-plastic flashlight will eventually make sense for LED's of surprising brightness.

There is a possibility that the humbler incandescent and its close halogen cousin will see some revival as manufacturers funnel money into crash programs to try to keep them efficient enough to manufacture in the general lighting market under rising efficiency standards. So-called "2x" bulbs are available for mains-powered A19 bulbs - perhaps this tech can be adopted to lower-wattage DC flashlight bulbs.
 
RetroTechie

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As 3D metal printing gets cheaper and more accessible, I believe you'll see some interesting work done with bodies that weren't previously possible with conventional production methods.
I don't think 3D printing in general (plastic, metal or otherwise) will revolutionize flashlight production as much as some other 3D printer applications. Rather it'll make it easier to produce some difficult-to-machine designs. And the odd "print your own flashlight!" here & there... :)

LED technology has matured to the point that it's kind of boring - we're not going to see leaps and bounds like we did during the heady climb from Luxeon to XR-E to XM-L.
Indeed. We're not quite there yet, but theoretical limits are approaching. Expect improvement more in color spectrum, cost, durability @ high temps, etc.

A benefit of this is that heatsinking requirements will drop steadily to the point that the all-plastic flashlight will eventually make sense for LED's of surprising brightness.
There is at least ONE benefit of LEDs turning less of their input power into heat: the possibility of insane-output lights in very small form factors. Think 2000, 3000+ lumens lights in 1x 18650 size, or keychain lights that do jobs previously done by bigger lights.

I agree that fuel cells are kind of silly for flashlights (..)
Oh come on! I'll take an alcohol- or sugarcube powered light anytime. Question is just one of practical issues / cost / size / reliability, not one of wanting it. :cool:

There is a possibility that the humbler incandescent and its close halogen cousin will see some revival as manufacturers funnel money into crash programs to try to keep them efficient enough to manufacture in the general lighting market under rising efficiency standards.
Not gonna happen. Incandescents as we have them now, are not the product of a limited research budget, but a chosen (!) balance between materials' physical limits, efficiency, durability, and cost of replacing bulbs. Make 'em last longer, efficiency goes down. Make 'em more efficient, and you have to replace 'em more often. No 2 ways about it, nothing that more research would fix that hasn't been researched / fixed already. Products @ different points in that spectrum are already on the market. And as the market for incandescents will slowly shrink, so will any budget for further research. It'll take a long time, but incandescents will go the way of the steam engine. :wave:

Personally I expect biggest advances in battery tech. Especially I'm hoping for batteries where unstable / volatile electrolyte (in paste or gel form) gets replaced with nano-scale structures that don't involve an electrolyte in between at all. Turning batteries into large capacitors of sorts, but with large capacity and many of conventional batteries' drawbacks removed.

That still has a long way to go... :sigh: And while some battery advances may seem quick, the overall market of products that actually materialize, is a slow-moving one. So your 3400 mAh 18650 isn't going to be a 3400 mAh 'supercapacitor' overnight. Either it'll be a research product not available on the market, ridiculously expensive, or you'll see it coming years before it hits local shops.
 
bladesmith3

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I am surprised that people are still so in love with incan's. my grandmother still believed that candles were going to replace electric lights. I love new lighting technology. I am looking forward to seeing what comes next.
 
markr6

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I'm actually bored right now. What else will come? Seems like there will need to be some major breakthrough in LEDs or batteries. An increase of another 20 lumens or 100mAh in an 18650 doesn't do much for me. At the moment, my SC62w with 3400mAh cells are more than I need. Of course, we're always waiting for the next big thing and whatever improvements may come.
 
idleprocess

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I don't think 3D printing in general (plastic, metal or otherwise) will revolutionize flashlight production as much as some other 3D printer applications. Rather it'll make it easier to produce some difficult-to-machine designs. And the odd "print your own flashlight!" here & there... :)
Patents are a bigger encumbrance on 3D printing technology than most realize. The reason we have the plastic-filament variety suddenly blooming onto the hobbyist market is largely because the patents expired and enterprising folks armed with most of the recipe via the patent filing realized that these devices commanding 4-and 5-figure prices could be produced at 3- and 4-figure costs. As other patents expire for the many other technologies out there, I believe there will be similar reductions in price to the end user.

I doubt that 3D printed flashlight bodies will make a huge splash in the mass market, but in the upper end they could prove interesting. But perhaps this isn't quite a near-future possibility yet for much more than prototypes and one-off's.

Oh come on! I'll take an alcohol- or sugarcube powered light anytime. Question is just one of practical issues / cost / size / reliability, not one of wanting it. :cool:
It's not a matter of want so much as some practical limits on fuel cell technology. They're inherently less efficient than a battery. They engage in combustion, which means they need oxygen, exhaust, and produce waste heat. All small fuel cells that I've seen require exacting proprietary fuel. They don't scale down to something flashlight-sized. And finally there's cost - they're fairly expensive to acquire and operate.

Could happen with some unforeseen breakthroughs - lord knows the auto industry is desperate to make them work on an automotive scale neverminding the immense technical and cost hurdles - but then we're outside of near future.

Personally I expect biggest advances in battery tech. Especially I'm hoping for batteries where unstable / volatile electrolyte (in paste or gel form) gets replaced with nano-scale structures that don't involve an electrolyte in between at all. Turning batteries into large capacitors of sorts, but with large capacity and many of conventional batteries' drawbacks removed.

That still has a long way to go... :sigh: And while some battery advances may seem quick, the overall market of products that actually materialize, is a slow-moving one. So your 3400 mAh 18650 isn't going to be a 3400 mAh 'supercapacitor' overnight. Either it'll be a research product not available on the market, ridiculously expensive, or you'll see it coming years before it hits local shops.
Honestly, near-future, 3600mAH 18650's might materialize at an eye-watering price relative to more pedestrian 2600mAH-3100MaH flavors.

Longer-teram ... I've seen press-releases, tech blog bits, and the occasional periodical article on countless battery technologies over the years ... and pretty much none of them have materialized into anything. Li-Ion's and Li-Poly's many contemporary variants will probably see an ever-slowing trickle of improvements until the technology is tapped out. Lithium is mentioned in a lot of the phys-science pieces I see since it's so advantageous and they're still working with anodes, cathodes, and electrolyte. Flow batteries might become a real thing for larger-scale operations ... and maybe they won't. For small cells, perhaps we'll see a sufficiently evolved variant of one of the common chemistries to fork off into something new.
 
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Not gonna happen. Incandescents as we have them now, are not the product of a limited research budget, but a chosen (!) balance between materials' physical limits, efficiency, durability, and cost of replacing bulbs. Make 'em last longer, efficiency goes down. Make 'em more efficient, and you have to replace 'em more often. No 2 ways about it, nothing that more research would fix that hasn't been researched / fixed already. Products @ different points in that spectrum are already on the market. And as the market for incandescents will slowly shrink, so will any budget for further research.
Agreed. There's also one more factor: the convention of limited lifetime, planned obsolescence. DDR-made general lighting bulbs had longer lifetime, had the same efficiency and I would claim they were not any more expensive to manufacture(and if they were, it was because of the socialism and not engineering reasons). Not saying that the free world's choice to make them worse to increase sales was any better than socialism. :rolleyes:

The incandescent lightbulb as a general lighting product to be sold in the consumer market has pretty much come to an end already. As we know, it is being slowly outlawed in the EU, has been in Australia(or was it NZ), and will be in many other countries. Commercial use is mostly gone a long time ago, and even crappy flashlights have LEDs.

There are "better" incandescent or halogen Edison-screw bulbs for a higher cost, but those are a short-lived and temporary attempt to cash in. They will only be legal to sell for a while. Whatever "technology" this junk has over the low efficiency self-destructing type is nothing new and has been very basic in high powered small filament bulbs for decades. I mean, already implemented a long time ago and obsolete for a while.

It'll take a long time, but incandescents will go the way of the steam engine.
wink2.gif
Are incans still in widespread use in the NL? In Finland this change already took place over just a few years. It might be global sooner and faster than we would have believed. Took me by surprise at least. Today it seems that it's mostly obsessive retired people hoarding lightbulbs because new technology is always something evil.

It was kind of retro to see some IKEA lightbulbs in a friend's house last year. There was actually a time when they sold incandescent lightbulbs. Good times. :crackup:

Patents are a bigger encumbrance on 3D printing technology than most realize. The reason we have the plastic-filament variety suddenly blooming onto the hobbyist market is largely because the patents expired and enterprising folks armed with most of the recipe via the patent filing realized that these devices commanding 4-and 5-figure prices could be produced at 3- and 4-figure costs. As other patents expire for the many other technologies out there, I believe there will be similar reductions in price to the end user.
The plastic filament type is also relatively low-cost, compact and safe. No high temperatures or significant fire hazard, not much to worry about toxic fumes and no nasty UV exposure. Pretty cheap in small scale anyways. No wonder it's popular among the maker geeks. Plastic protruders are about as safe to operate on the kitchen table as a microwave oven, probably not more of a health risk than a laser printer and undoubtedly safer than indoor smoking. I don't expect the same popularity and success with DIY powder metallurgy, regardless of patents.
 
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Amelia

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I think the near future of flashlights will be mostly about better emitters. High CRI is starting to catch on, as flashlight users are saturated with "bright light" options. So many 2000+ lumen reasonably priced lights now, it's starting to be a yawnfest as mfg. #1,344 jumps on the sun-in-your-hands bandwagon. Light consumers are starting to look for something that sets these products apart - better UI, longer runtime, better tint, and better beam pattern. 3 of these 4 can be addressed by improved emitter technology.

In the next few years, tints and CRI will improve, along with battery life. Dedomed emitters for better throw and output will become more common, and offered as a standard ordering option from the factory. I would even dare to predict that fairly soon, tuneable output emitters with adjustable "warmth" and CRI will become available.


Other than that, I see slow but certain improvements in LiIon tech - higher capacity and improved safety/reliability.


Beyon that, it's anyone's guess! :)
 
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chaosdsm

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Amelia said:
see slow but certain improvements in LiIon tech - higher capacity and improved safety/reliability.


Beyon that, it's anyone's guess! :)

Lithium based batteries are pretty much up against a brick ceiling in energy density. Panasonic has supposedly been working on a new chemistry to advance 18650's up to the 4000mAh capacity level... it was supposed to be ready by 1st quarter 2014.... but still vaporware.


RE: Fuel Cells:
Fuel Cells replacing Lithium Ion batteries may be a real option within 15 - 20 years, & quite possibly sooner. There are already "solid state Hydrogen Fuel Cell" based portable power supplies for charging pretty much anything that uses a 5V USB power delivery system up to 2 watts. I.e. Cell Phones, GPS, USB fan's, etc... And pricing is steadily dropping on the power station & Fuel Cells, though the at home charging system is still very expensive, i.e. you can buy like 40 or 50 Fuel Cell's for the cost of one charging station. Currently the Fuel Cells are on the large side, measuring 22mm diameter by 88mm long (smaller than 2 C-cell batteries) & are rated at 14 Watt Hours.
 
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Lithium based batteries are pretty much up against a brick ceiling in energy density. Panasonic has supposedly been working on a new chemistry to advance 18650's up to the 4000mAh capacity level... it was supposed to be ready by 1st quarter 2014.... but still vaporware.


RE: Fuel Cells:
Fuel Cells replacing Lithium Ion batteries may be a real option within 15 - 20 years, & quite possibly sooner. There are already "solid state Hydrogen Fuel Cell" based portable power supplies for charging pretty much anything that uses a 5V USB power delivery system up to 2 watts. I.e. Cell Phones, GPS, USB fan's, etc... And pricing is steadily dropping on the power station & Fuel Cells, though the at home charging system is still very expensive, i.e. you can buy like 40 or 50 Fuel Cell's for the cost of one charging station. Currently the Fuel Cells are on the large side, measuring 22mm diameter by 88mm long (smaller than 2 C-cell batteries) & are rated at 14 Watt Hours.

Neat!
Maybe I'm missinformed, but aren't real (not "China-mAH") 3,600 mAH Li-Ion 18650 batteries already available? 4,000 doesn't seem that far off...
 
chaosdsm

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It will be all about batteries, just like with phones. In 20 years, you'll have several times the capacity with a fraction of the charge time. Dyson just bought a company that supposedly makes lithium batteries with twice the capacity and are more stable. Who knows id THAT particular technology will be it, but batteries will be more important than ever in the future.

As far as different battery form factors, I don't think that will work in flashlights. Can you imagine every flashlight manufacturer with their own different batteries in each light?!!! Phones are a different story for many reasons, which I won't get into. For all intents and purposes, round batteries work ergonomically. Maybe there is something I'm not seeing, but odd shaped flashlights only really work at the keychain level.




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idleprocess

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The plastic filament type is also relatively low-cost, compact and safe. No high temperatures or significant fire hazard, not much to worry about toxic fumes and no nasty UV exposure. Pretty cheap in small scale anyways. No wonder it's popular among the maker geeks. Plastic protruders are about as safe to operate on the kitchen table as a microwave oven, probably not more of a health risk than a laser printer and undoubtedly safer than indoor smoking. I don't expect the same popularity and success with DIY powder metallurgy, regardless of patents.
I too suspect that metal 3D printers will be as popular with hobbyists in 10-20 years as commercial-grade CNC machining centers are now - vanishingly rare. On the manufacturing side, on the other hand, they will likely become far cheaper and more capable as the patents expire and competitors prepared to make their money on volume rather than high margins enter the now-open market. Thus I expect them to start churning out some interesting things on the high end that were previously cost-prohibitive (think Cool Fall's entire lineup) or simply impossible.



Lithium based batteries are pretty much up against a brick ceiling in energy density. Panasonic has supposedly been working on a new chemistry to advance 18650's up to the 4000mAh capacity level... it was supposed to be ready by 1st quarter 2014.... but still vaporware.
Tesla Motors is supposedly buying all the 3600mAH 18650s that Panasonic can make. Whether we see an affordably-priced 4000mAH 18650 in another few years in significant volumes is still up in the air.

Fuel Cells replacing Lithium Ion batteries may be a real option within 15 - 20 years, & quite possibly sooner. There are already "solid state Hydrogen Fuel Cell" based portable power supplies for charging pretty much anything that uses a 5V USB power delivery system up to 2 watts. I.e. Cell Phones, GPS, USB fan's, etc... And pricing is steadily dropping on the power station & Fuel Cells, though the at home charging system is still very expensive, i.e. you can buy like 40 or 50 Fuel Cell's for the cost of one charging station. Currently the Fuel Cells are on the large side, measuring 22mm diameter by 88mm long (smaller than 2 C-cell batteries) & are rated at 14 Watt Hours.

Fuel cells have been "10-20 years away" for going on 60 years now, but stubbornly remain niche items.

Right now on Amazon I've come across two developed products - myFC PowerTrekk and Brunton Hydrogen Reactor. myFC's solution is $100, uses 5 W-H "pucks" that run $30 per 6-pack (about $1 per watt-hour), is the size of a paperback book, and provides USB power. The Brunton product is also about $100, appears to be larger than the myFC product, uses cylinders of compressed hydrogen that can supposedly produce "3 iPhone charges (4500mAH)" that run $50 per 4-pack (figure ~16W-H or about $0.77 per watt-hour), and also provides USB power. Neither of these interest me, to say nothing of exciting me - think I'd rather a stack of reusable 18650's with some mid-grade chargers whose costs of operation are basically free since power at the outlet is something like $0.15 per kilowatt-hour.

If you've got links to these products you've mentioned, I'd be interested to see them ... but I think it's going to take some unforeseen breakthroughs before we can start to bet on fuel cells.

Before betting on the much-hyped hydrogen economy (thanks, decades of badly-researched sci-fi), let's wait for it to actually become, well, economical. Because once you account for the cost of producing and handling hydrogen, you're lucky to recover half of that energy once you burn it in that fuel cell.



As far as different battery form factors, I don't think that will work in flashlights. Can you imagine every flashlight manufacturer with their own different batteries in each light?!!! Phones are a different story for many reasons, which I won't get into. For all intents and purposes, round batteries work ergonomically. Maybe there is something I'm not seeing, but odd shaped flashlights only really work at the keychain level.

I agree - I simply don't think there's enough of a flashlight market for very many manufacturers to develop proprietary form-factors for flashlights - especially when it's simple enough just to solder in some industry-standard cell(s) and seal the unit up should you feel the need need to make something "integrated".
 
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more_vampires

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I simply don't think there's enough of a flashlight market for very many manufacturers to develop proprietary form-factors for flashlights - especially when it's simple enough just to solder in some industry-standard cell(s) and seal the unit up should you feel the need need to make something "integrated".

When your sole proprietary component maker goes out of business, your light goes permanently dark. That's the problem. I'm certain many marques have gone under forever for this.
 
chaosdsm

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myFC PowerTrekk and Brunton Hydrogen Reactor. myFC's solution is $100, uses 5 W-H "pucks" that run $30 per 6-pack (about $1 per watt-hour), is the size of a paperback book, and provides USB power. The Brunton product is also about $100, appears to be larger than the myFC product, uses cylinders of compressed hydrogen that can supposedly produce "3 iPhone charges (4500mAH)" that run $50 per 4-pack (figure ~16W-H or about $0.77 per watt-hour), and also provides USB power. Neither of these interest me, to say nothing of exciting me - think I'd rather a stack of reusable 18650's with some mid-grade chargers whose costs of operation are basically free since power at the outlet is something like $0.15 per kilowatt-hour.

Being almost brand new to market, they are both niche & expensive, but they've already dropped in price since I first saw them. The Brunton Fuel Cell's can be purchased for less than $10 each from other vendors (originally about $29 each) & the home charging station for $199 (originally about $419) & the original MSRP on the Power Pack was about $149. Charging station can also be run on solar or wind based power source for actually free charging - excluding the cost of the solar cells / wind turbine purchase ;)

If this can become a more mainstream product, then it's only a matter of time before size shrinks, mAh capacity increases, & they become even cheaper.

I don't think I can post any links to the actual developers pages without violating the Forum Rules, since they can be purchased directly from manufacturer.... but Brunton is second on market with this style.... first is still more expensive (and the maker of the Brunton product), but also has a "Pro" line that provides more power & is also both lighter & smaller than the Brunton product... just do a web search for Horizon Minipak.
 
idleprocess

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When your sole proprietary component maker goes out of business, your light goes permanently dark. That's the problem. I'm certain many marques have gone under forever for this.
Eh, anyone that gets into an exclusive supplier arrangement for what amounts to a specialized commodity without doing their homework shouldn't be managing a corporation of any size.

It can't be too difficult to get custom li-poly cells made since small R/C manufacturers seem to be able to source them easily enough - and I can't imagine that it's that much harder to step up to prismatic cells. There are plenty of "good enough" producers for both out there that so long as you gave solid design documents you can take your business elsewhere should your supplier try to roll you over a barrel ... or go under.

The main problem is the cost-benefit equation. Small-volume custom designs mean high costs. When you make some hawt autonomous hex-rotor RC aircraft everyone wants that retails for roughly a grand, spending $15 on a custom battery pack that would cost <$5 made from commodity cells might be worth it if it confers some advantages such as light weight, low volume, and a specific shape. If you're looking at the same value proposition for a ~$100 flashlight, it's a loser ... especially when the market often times expects to be able to swap out commodity cells.
 
idleprocess

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Charging station can also be run on solar or wind based power source for actually free charging - excluding the cost of the solar cells / wind turbine purchase ;)
That's not how you do cost accounting in the real world, my friend. I have run those equations many many times (for a school project a few years back and when analyzing the possibility for my own home) and that "free" solar energy has a per-kWH cost that's typically higher than retail electricity; small-wind is always higher.

Hydrogen fuel cell cycle efficiency is lucky to hit 50% on an industrial scale with heat recovery, so you're going to need more than twice the energy (probably 4x for small fuel cells) to electrolyze water or otherwise "recharge" your storage medium vs recharging a battery.

If this can become a more mainstream product, then it's only a matter of time before size shrinks, mAh capacity increases, & they become even cheaper.
Right now the concept is competing with inexpensive USB power banks that have no consumables, produce negligible heat, cost much less, are more space-efficient, offer higher power density, and don't stress their innards like a fuel cell does.

just do a web search for Horizon Minipak.
Appears to be a variant on the Brunton. Perhaps if offers superior performance in some way, but that's not immediately apparent to me.
 

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-o0(GoldTrader)0o-
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