Nitecore Explorer (EC1, EC2, EA1, EA2) Round-up Review: RUNTIMES, BEAMSHOTS, VIDEO+

jhc37013

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I'm starting to really get into to 2xAA lights, I mean sure I've always kept a handful for emergencies but now we are in the 400lmn range with good runtimes. It started for me with the Quark X AAx2 then the ET D25 Clicky and now this EA2, it's not just the output but also the compact size.

The 18650 will still rule for me but these outputs on just 2AA's is mind blowing, sure the body is longer but it's also narrower so EDC'ing a 2xAA isn't all that bad these days. Of course you can always throw in a couple alkalines put it on medium and you have light for probably as long as you need it, it's always been a good feeling knowing you can do that but now you can also get that 350-400 lumens if needed without resorting to lithium batterys.
 

fyrstormer

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These seem to be the most blatant exploitation of the ANSI testing protocol for marketing purposes yet.
The point of a standard in the first place is to define what is considered important enough to measure. If the lights are built to meet the standard, then the standard is working properly. If the lights were not actually useful in real life, that would mean the standard was poorly written, not that the manufacturer is cheating. Certainly the manufacturer can build the product to meet whatever spec they want, but if a standard exists, it is reasonable for the manufacturer to assume that the standard describes how a well-performing product should work. It's not their fault if the standard is defective.

Anyway, I like the way these look. I wonder if Nitecore could be talked into making a Ti version? :D
 
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selfbuilt

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Has anyone tried taking the clip off on the EC1?
Yes, I have. I recommend the use of a flat-tip jeweler's screwdriver.

A phillips-head screwdriver (even a jeweler's model) typically has very fine endings in the size required to fit through the clip openings. I would be worried about stripping the heads if I tried to use one. A flat-tip screwdriver has a wider head for the same diameter body. Just pick the size that just makes it through the opening in the clip, and you are good to go.
 

davidt1

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I really like the size/throw/price ratio of the EC2. It's easily the smallest 18650 light in the picture. It also has the best symmetry and proportion of all the new Nitcore EC lights. Thanks for another fine review.
 

biglights

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Yes, I have. I recommend the use of a flat-tip jeweler's screwdriver.

A phillips-head screwdriver (even a jeweler's model) typically has very fine endings in the size required to fit through the clip openings. I would be worried about stripping the heads if I tried to use one. A flat-tip screwdriver has a wider head for the same diameter body. Just pick the size that just makes it through the opening in the clip, and you are good to go.

Thanks Selbuilt that worked, I was worried about stripping the screws. I love this light, but not the clip, always seemed to get in my way. PERFECT now :thumbsup:
 

selfbuilt

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My continuous red mode runtime on the EC2 is still progressing, but I thought I would share my heat/runtime results so far.

I measured surface temperature using a thermal probe attached to the body right next to the red LED. Basically, this probe was taped in the middle of the "Nitecore" label beside the red LED. I have sorted the table below by the increase in temperature over background room temp.

Explorer-temps.gif


Consistent with these measures, the EC1 samples (and to a lesser extent the EA1) felt subjectively quite warm to the touch by 1 hour into the run. The whole body felt warm, suggesting a significant power draw off the battery (i.e., it is not just the LED that is heating up).

As you can see in the runtime results in the table, heat was indeed indicative of a high current drain (you can't escape thermodynamics :rolleyes:). There is a clear inverse correlation - lights with low runtimes (indicating high power drain) got warm quickly. Of course, battery capacity has a role here, but there is definitely a very wide swing in power efficiencies among my samples.

Anyway you look at it, <3 hours runtime on the EC1s is disappointing. My EC2 seems to have the best performance - negligible heat, and >4 days runtime so far.

What I don't know is whether these findings are specific to the models in question (i.e., are the EC1 and EA1 always that much worse than the EA2 or EC2?). Or is it simply highly variable across all models? unfortunately, I have no way to answer this, given that I only have one of each. I would be curious to hear other people's experience with runtimes on continuous red.

Regula white mode runtimes are progressing on the other lights, I should have the E2A results up by tomorrow night. :wave:
 

regulator

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Thank you Selfbuilt. It looks like there is a definitely a flaw in the circuit design or manufacture. That's a bummer. I hope they are watching and take quick action to head this off.

Maybe the EC2 delay will help insure that it's circuit is good. The red mode should have super low current draw for long runtimes.
 

selfbuilt

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Hopefully someone can confirm whether the bezel ring is removable without damaging the light. I hope it's not press-fit.
I've tried to remove mine using a mouse-pad underside, but no luck so far. But that doesn't mean it wasn't screwed in - just that with nothing to grip on to, it's hard to see how to get it off. :shrug:

Thank you Selfbuilt. It looks like there is a definitely a flaw in the circuit design or manufacture. That's a bummer. I hope they are watching and take quick action to head this off.
Maybe the EC2 delay will help insure that it's circuit is good. The red mode should have super low current draw for long runtimes.
I've sent my results back to Nitecore, so we will see what their engineers have to say.

One thing - I will have the chance to test a second EA1 sample. The emitter on my current EA1 has failed during runtime testing (a dark spot has appeared on it, and output has dropped). I've never seen anything like this before, but it appears to be a Cree issue, not a Nitecore one. In any case, they are sending me a replacement EA1 so that I can complete the review. I will test its performance on continuous red mode as well.

My EA2 testing is done, just collecting the findings and will post later tonight.
 

Phil Ament

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I also notice that under the "Battery Options" heading of all of the Explorer Series instructions that while it says that both CR123 and RCR123 are compatible, it also has the word "Recommended" in brackets next to the CR123. I wonder what that really means and I also hope that Nitecore won't try and use this to suggest that any of our problems or any of the very disappointing run times (mainly constant on red LED) are being caused by the fact that we are using the non-recommended RCR123's.
 

selfbuilt

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I also notice that under the "Battery Options" heading of all of the Explorer Series instructions that while it says that both CR123 and RCR123 are compatible, it also has the word "Recommended" in brackets next to the CR123. I wonder what that really means and I also hope that Nitecore won't try and use this to suggest that any of our problems or any of the very disappointing run times (mainly constant on red LED) are being caused by the fact that we are using the non-recommended RCR123's.
No, the product documentation makes it clear that RCR are compatible (and supported) in the EC1 and EC2. Each model has a specific "recommendation" among supported battery types though.

Actually, Nitecore's documentation is probably the clearest I've seen yet, since it specifically lists whether a given battery is compatible or not. The "recommended" is just additional guidance. The manuals also list any specific restrictions (e.g., they identify that the battery indicator feature doesn't work normally on 2xRCR in the EC2).
 
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selfbuilt

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Main review updated with beamshot comparisons of the EC2, EA1 and EA2.

For the EA1, I have included the recent SENS AA as a comparator, as well as the Zebralight SC51 (by special request). For the EA2, all the comparators are XP-G versions of the listed lights. For the EC2, I don't have much in the way of recent XP-G lights, so had to use XM-L based comparators.

Should have the EC2 runtimes up by tomorrow. :wave:
 

bobjane

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I did a constant red runtime test with an EC1 and AW 750mAh RCR123 charged to 4.18V.

LED went out after 3 hours and 4 minutes. The body was slightly warm throughout, however the ambient temperature is only about 10 Celcius.

Battery came out reading 3.12V. I assume this means the light has its own over discharge protection since the battery's over discharge protection is supposed to be at 2.45V.
 

selfbuilt

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I did a constant red runtime test with an EC1 and AW 750mAh RCR123 charged to 4.18V.
LED went out after 3 hours and 4 minutes. The body was slightly warm throughout, however the ambient temperature is only about 10 Celcius.
Battery came out reading 3.12V. I assume this means the light has its own over discharge protection since the battery's over discharge protection is supposed to be at 2.45V.
Yes, others have been reporting the same thing. My EC2 is still running after ~7.5 days on continuous red on a 2200mAh 18650. When it finally stops, I will report the voltage of the cell.

Speaking of which, my runtimes for the white mode of the 18650 are now done:

EC2-Turbo18650.gif

EC2-Hi18650.gif

EC2-Med18650.gif


EC2-HiRCR.gif


EC2-HiCR123A.gif


Again, no surprises for the output/runtime efficiency - the EC2 was excellent for a current-controlled XP-G R5 light (e.g. look at the 4Sevens G5 for a comparison).

One thing that is different - the timed step-down from Turbo to Hi was 27 mins on all battery sources. That's longer than you normally see for most timed step-downs. Note that you can always go back into turbo by simply holding down the button again at this point.

One oddity - on my 2xCR123A run, the light stepped down to Micro instead of Hi after 27mins. I restarted the run at Hi at this point, to allow you to better compare to the other runtimes.

:wave:
 

selfbuilt

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My EC2 red light run finally came to an end last night, somewhere between 8 days 17hrs and 8 days 19 hrs runtime:

Explorer-temps-2.gif


It terms of the battery voltage though, the protection circuit had tripped at this point (i.e. 0 volts). So that means the EC2 at least did run the battery down to where the protection circuit engaged.
 

selfbuilt

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Just finished the replacement EA1 testing, and added the results to the review. The review is now complete, with revised commentary reflecting all the testing results. :sweat:

FYI, my original EA1 developed what appears to be a burnt-out area on the emitter (distorting the beam and reducing output). Nitecore dispatched a replacement, so that I could finish this review. Here are the runtimes:

EA1-HiEne.gif

EA1-MedEne.gif

EA1-LoEne.gif


EA1-HiL91.gif


EA1-HiAlka.gif

EA1-LoAlka.gif

EA1-MedAlka.gif


Note: I was unable to complete 14500 runtimes, as the body tube on my replacement EA1 was too narrow to take any of my protected 14500 cells. :shrug:

I have also tested the red light mode, and added the results to my temp/runtime table:

Explorer-temps-3.gif


As you can see, the results fit in with the general correlation - lights that drain the battery quickly on continuous red operation get hotter faster.

Anyway, that brings my detailed testing of this family to a close. Hope you found the runtimes (and everything else) useful! :)
 
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