Real World Review – Energizer Folding Lantern with Light Fusion Technology

zespectre

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9/22/2013
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A brief note about the "Real World Reviews"
The industry and my fellow "flashaholics" have developed very sophisticated and detailed methods for measuring nearly every conceivable technical aspect of the illumination products on the market. In the "Real World Reviews" I acknowledge the existence of that information, and I will link to it if I can, but will not re-hash all of the tech data. Instead the focus of the "Real World Reviews" is to take the actual equipment out of the laboratory and into real world conditions where I will to try and give the reader some idea of how the technical data and specifications translate into use under actual conditions.
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Real World Review – Energizer Folding Lantern with Light Fusion Technology
Manufacturer Link
4x OR 8x AA batteries (more on this later)

Review Link (CPF)
New Energizer Light Fusion LED Lanterns and flashlights at Target

EnergizerLantern_zpsc9081062.jpg

What you get:
A largish rectangular lantern with a fold out stand and fold out light panel.


Important operating note:
There have been complaints about "malfunctioning" lanterns that shut off after a few minutes. From the store these units have a "demo" or "try me" mode that turns them off to conserve batteries in the store while still allowing customers to get a feel for what the light can do. IF YOU BUY ONE OF THESE LIGHTS YOU HAVE TO DE-ACTIVATE THE "TRY ME" MODE!
Per Energizer
"This light comes with a "Try Me" feature enabled to protect battery life in the store. As it stated in the directions, to disable the try me mode, remove the batteries from the battery compartment and wait 10 seconds. Then you may put the batteries back into the battery compartment and wait another 10 seconds before pressing the switch."



Initial Impression(s)
The unit was taken out on three different campouts where it functioned as the main area light and cooking table light for the duration of each outing. It is a somewhat large rectangle with a fold out stand and an offset handle. The back is a large rubberized switch which is easy to find with your finger however the actual switch is a smallish area in the center of the large rubber pad so it is sometimes awkward to operate. The front is a "light fusion" diffuser panel that is adjustable through a WIDE range of motion.

The construction is generally medium grade plastic with the light panel being a more brittle feeling transparent plastic that is "laser etched" to create a large diffuser. The six LED emitters are completely enclosed at the base of the diffuser panel. There are a sensible number of screws, and a rubber-like gasket around the battery compartment. Overall it feels like a decently constructed item but it should be noted that this is NOT ruggedized in any way, shape, or form. It does appear that at least some attempt at weatherproofing was attempted and I would rate it rain resistant but NOT submergible.

The switch turns on to highest level and then you can press and hold the switch to dim or brighten the light as desired. Over testing use I have decided that if I had the option I would reverse this and have the light come on at it's lowest intensity and then ramp it up if I desired. I have two reasons for this opinion, the first being that it is HARSH to be in a darkening environment and have an area lantern BLAZE at full power right off the bat, and secondly the high power start revealed a serious flaw in the design of the control circuits which I will address later.

The amount of light from the 6 emitters is fairly astounding on high, and very useable thorough the operating range. The "light fusion" diffuser panel works VERY well though the edge opposite of the emitters can hit you with a blinding glare if you get in-line with it. I covered mine with a metalized tape to eliminate this line-of-blindness. The quality of the light is interesting, we began calling it the "portable streetlamp" because once we hung it from a tree branch it didn't really feel like there was a point source, more like everything in the campsite was simply lit from the sky. It was an amazing effect and everyone present on the campout REALLY liked it! Light coverage "felt" better than the big rechargeable Coleman fluorescent lantern and we actually stopped using the Coleman.

I love the fact that this light will operate with EITHER 4x AA or 8x AA. The difference is runtime not light level. In a pinch you could potentially steal 4xAA batteries to power something else if you ran low in a camping situation. Runtimes on high seemed to come in at about 3.5hrs for 4xAA and just shy of 7hrs for 8xAA loads (under warm summer conditions with Alkaline disposable batteries). Lowering the light level just a small amount led to dramatic increases in runtime, so much so that I terminated testing because I got bored.

About that flaw I mentioned earlier...
If the light is on maximum brightness and the batteries start to run low it will begin a "step down, blink off, resume at max" cycle. If you then press and hold the power button you can dim the light down to a point where it will function steadily. HOWEVER, if you have been running the light this way for a while at some point you will hit a crossover point where turning the light off means that it simply does not have enough juice to turn back on in HIGH and therefore it will not turn on even though you probably have many (20 or more) hours of medium or low level operation left in the batteries. To me it illustrates that this light should default to turning on at it's LOWEST setting and allow you to increase brightness, not the other way around.

Handle with care
I have been careful with this lantern through three campouts and it still has a scratch on the diffuser panel due to it's exposed design. I consider this a relatively fragile light to be hung or placed at the campsite and LEFT ALONE, I do not think this unit will handle even slight abuse very well so don't give it to the kids to play with and don't use it to walk around in the woods. It did get left out in a fairly heavy rainstorm (running) and suffered no ill effects from that. Pay attention to which way the battery compartment locking screws turn, the material is soft and I suspect it could be easily broken.

2013_300HS_0469_zpsdff7a417.jpg

Other assorted items
I wish the switch had a cover, or a lockout mode. I did find the light turned on once when I unpacked at the campsite. I handled this situation by taping a piece of cardboard over the switch for storage, something I shouldn't have to do.

I took some glow-in-the-dark-paint and painted the white battery cover. It gave the lantern a nice "find in the dark" mode that "self charges" every time I run the light <grin>.

When closed, the "light fusion" diffuser panel is exposed and easily scratched. I had an old fleece bag that I put the light in for transport but during the use the panel got a small scratch anyway. Energizer should include a bag or cover.

You shouldn't need a tool of any sort to change batteries, but you do (coin, screwdriver).

My battery compartment was slightly mis-alligned. I had to trim some plastic so I could remove two of the batteries.

2013_300HS_0470_zpsa7a1a308.jpg


Summary:

I have pointed out a number of flaws in this light, especially from a camping perspective and this may sour your opinion on this light but there is one thing that I really need to give a small neutron star's worth of weight to and that is the quality of usable light produced. In my opinion Energizer really has created something special with their "light fusion" diffuser panel and in all the years I've been camping I have NEVER found a light that gave such an even, overall area light without having an eye searing point source. I cannot stress it enough, I LOVE THE QUALITY OF LIGHT FROM THIS UNIT and that sways my final rating heavily.

With the following changes


  • ruggedized form
  • sliding cover over the switch
  • reversed the mode to low-at-on (so you could use every last bit of battery juice)
  • made battery changes tool-less
  • included a carry bag or case
  • and possibly, mold the white battery cover in glow-in-the-dark plastic


I would give this light a full five-photon rating even at a considerably higher price point. Unfortunately what we have is a lantern with truly excellent light output, light quality, and runtimes, that is distressingly fragile for it's intended use and as such it gets a rating of;

Three (out of Five) Photons - Approved for general (careful) use in the Real World.
 
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T45

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"The back is a large rubberized switch which is easy to find with your finger however the actual switch is a smallish area in the center of the large rubber pad so it is sometimes awkward to operate."

I saw this lantern at Target and fiddled with it for a short while and your assessment of the switch is very accurate. I think this lantern and its configuration is very interesting and quite useful. Let's hope Energizer puts some of your refinements in an upgrade. Your real world review was informative to read. I will keep up with the series.
 

Poppy

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zespectre,
This was an excellent, real world review!

I bought this lantern in part based on your review, in part because I was curious about how well it handled the GLARE that MOST lanterns produce, and because I wanted to see if it could be adapted to run on 18650 batteries.

In short, I think that it handles the glare well.

I jumpered a single 18650 battery into it, and it only ran on high for about 15 minutes before it started blinking. It appears that 4 volts is it's cut-off on high. However, I found that if I put the battery into a power bank, that boosts the USB output to 5 volts, that the light ran for about 3 hours on a single 3100ma 18650 battery.

Power banks can be obtained with different capacities, and would have to be mounted externally, but they can be recharged from a car's power port, or any other USB source.

I drilled a hole in the side of the lantern, and inserted a USB cable through it. I soldered the power leads to the battery box, and hot glued the cable at the hole to weatherize it, and anchor it. This essentially makes it a rechargeable 18650 lantern, that has variable, regulated output, with little glare as compared to other lanterns.
 
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Aquanaut

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I love the fact that this light will operate with EITHER 4x AA or 8x AA. The difference is runtime not light level. In a pinch you could potentially steal 4xAA batteries to power something else if you ran low in a camping situation. Runtimes on high seemed to come in at about 3.5hrs for 4xAA and just shy of 7hrs for 8xAA loads (under warm summer conditions with Alkaline disposable batteries). Lowering the light level just a small amount led to dramatic increases in runtime, so much so that I terminated testing because I got bored.

If the light is on maximum brightness and the batteries start to run low it will begin a "step down, blink off, resume at max" cycle.

I love this lantern. I had 2 power failures in the last 2 weeks lasting 4 hours, and decided to purchase this lantern for such occasions. Even using a reduced brightness setting, the light was quite acceptable for routine tasks during the power failure. What was especially nice was the near uniform 360 degree distribution of light around the room, with only a few diminished light areas.

I ran a runtime test using 8 eneloop HR-3UTGA batteries rated at 1,900mAh. Using an MH-C9000 charger-analyzer, I did an IEC capacity test and the 8 batteries measured between 1,963 and 1,973mAh. Starting at full brightness and waiting for the lantern blink off, I measured over 20 hours of run time.
 
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Poppy

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As I mentioned above, I soldered a USB cable to mine so that it can take power from a power bank.
I picked up a (supposedly) 1800ma bank from five below for $5. I am sure that it is less. At any rate, I tested the lantern on LOW and it ran for 14.5 hours before shutting off. The battery was still at a safe 2.8 volts.

The only disconcerting thing is that the light set up this way gives no warning that it is about to shut off, no dimming... no blinking, just OFF. But on the other hand, it is great that the output remains the same, lasts more than what is needed for a single night, and the power bank can be recharged from the car's cigar lighter (with a USB output converter) each day.
 

Poppy

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Another run-time test...
59 hours on low 30 lumens, with four Duracell 2400 NiMH batteries.
Very respectable :thumbsup:

Actually the output must have dropped along the way, somewhat, because I don't think it could be quite that efficient, but it was very good anyway you slice it.
 

Poppy

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bluemax_1 did a nice comparison of the:
1. Energizer 300 lumen LED folding lantern with light fusion technology,
2. the Streamlight Siege, and;
3. the Ultimate Survival Technologies UST 30 Day lantern.

the comparison is HERE
 

Poppy

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I don't know if the product was updated, or just re-packaged, but the 300 lumen output has been changed to 330 lumens.

Also with the little pop-up lantern the output has be upgraded to 165 lumens from 150.

I doubt, that the 10% difference would be noticeable except if the were held side by side.
 

Lynx_Arc

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I don't know if the product was updated, or just re-packaged, but the 300 lumen output has been changed to 330 lumens.

Also with the little pop-up lantern the output has be upgraded to 165 lumens from 150.

I doubt, that the 10% difference would be noticeable except if the were held side by side.
Most likely The LEDs themselves have been "updated" or are a lower Vf which tends to increase output on most LED lights. It may slightly decrease runtimes the one way to tell is to compare the current draw of older vs "updated" to see if the change is measurable.
 

Poppy

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Most likely The LEDs themselves have been "updated" or are a lower Vf which tends to increase output on most LED lights. It may slightly decrease runtimes the one way to tell is to compare the current draw of older vs "updated" to see if the change is measurable.

I used a 6V SLA charged at 6.22 volts, and tested both units.
The 300 lm unit drew 0.58 Amps high, and 0.04 amps low.
the newer 330 lm unit drew 0.62 Amps high, and 0.06 amps low.

Ouch!, I just hooked them both up to the same battery and compared them side by side.
The newer is definitely brighter, BUT it is a cool white, not a neutral white as before. :(
 

Lynx_Arc

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I used a 6V SLA charged at 6.22 volts, and tested both units.
The 300 lm unit drew 0.58 Amps high, and 0.04 amps low.
the newer 330 lm unit drew 0.62 Amps high, and 0.06 amps low.

Ouch!, I just hooked them both up to the same battery and compared them side by side.
The newer is definitely brighter, BUT it is a cool white, not a neutral white as before. :(
HERE is a post about the different LEDs that could be in these lanterns.
 

Poppy

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I used a 6V SLA charged at 6.22 volts, and tested both units.
The 300 lm unit drew 0.58 Amps high, and 0.04 amps low.
the newer 330 lm unit drew 0.62 Amps high, and 0.06 amps low.

Ouch!, I just hooked them both up to the same battery and compared them side by side.
The newer is definitely brighter, BUT it is a cool white, not a neutral white as before. :(
I have a few of those 24 LED Satellite tent lanterns. I think they put out about 30 lumens. I am now even MORE impressed with these Energizer lanterns. While I'll still use a satellite lantern for inside the tent when camping, it is NOT a good power outage light. Whereas the Energizer pulls 0.58 Amps to put out 300 lumens, the satellite pulls 0.72 Amps to do perhaps 30 lumens!
 

Turbo DV8

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I just bought one of the 330 lumen versions for myself. I love the diffusion panel, but it has two serious design goofs. First, I started using it with the four supplied Energizer alkaline cells. The light ran on high for maybe ten minutes, then shut off. After a few more tries, it would not even turn on. Not enough juice from four alkaline cells, even though it is advertised as being able to run on four. Second, I threw four Eneloops in and just let it run on high. About an hour and a half later, I notived it was much dimmer. When I switched it off and back on it was at full brightness. I threw four more Eneloops in it and measured the current draw through the cells. About 750 mA. Twenty minutes later it had risen to 850 mA. An hour in I noticed the light looked a lot dimmer again. The current had dropped to 650 mA. Ten minutres later it was abourt 550 mA. I switched the light back off and on, and it turned on at full brightness and was drawing 950 mA.

So ... Energizer has designed this lantern to ramp down current and brightness over time, so they can inflate their run time claims. Similar to what Icon did with their lights. And it will not turn on using four alkalines even after using for only several minutes. A shame, because the lens is a real gem.
 

Lynx_Arc

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I just bought one of the 330 lumen versions for myself. I love the diffusion panel, but it has two serious design goofs. First, I started using it with the four supplied Energizer alkaline cells. The light ran on high for maybe ten minutes, then shut off. After a few more tries, it would not even turn on. Not enough juice from four alkaline cells, even though it is advertised as being able to run on four. Second, I threw four Eneloops in and just let it run on high. About an hour and a half later, I notived it was much dimmer. When I switched it off and back on it was at full brightness. I threw four more Eneloops in it and measured the current draw through the cells. About 750 mA. Twenty minutes later it had risen to 850 mA. An hour in I noticed the light looked a lot dimmer again. The current had dropped to 650 mA. Ten minutres later it was abourt 550 mA. I switched the light back off and on, and it turned on at full brightness and was drawing 950 mA.

So ... Energizer has designed this lantern to ramp down current and brightness over time, so they can inflate their run time claims. Similar to what Icon did with their lights. And it will not turn on using four alkalines even after using for only several minutes. A shame, because the lens is a real gem.

It is possible the 4 batteries in it were almost depleted from people "testing" it, as others have said it runs considerably longer on alkalines.
 

Turbo DV8

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I am sure it had some use on it from the Try Me feature, but even four fresh alkalines don't impress with run time, in spite of Energizer trying to eek more time out of the batteries by self-dimming the lantern. The alkaline batteries get down to around 1.37 volts and the lantern just shuts off. You can hear the dimming circuit kick in, if your hearing is good. On high, after 15-20 minutes, you will see the light dim slightly in a discreet step, and if the lantern is near your head, it is accompanied by a faint high pitched buzzing when it switches to the first level of self-dimming. This continues every five minutes or so, gradually dimming. I like being able to dim a lantern, but I don't want one that dims itself if I want it to stay on high. All their dimming fusion lanterns do this, by the way. I have confirmed it. The pop-up and two-way flashlight with fusion lens do it. Too bad Energizer hijacked a useful feature and employed it to self-dim.
 

Lynx_Arc

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I am sure it had some use on it from the Try Me feature, but even four fresh alkalines don't impress with run time, in spite of Energizer trying to eek more time out of the batteries by self-dimming the lantern. The alkaline batteries get down to around 1.37 volts and the lantern just shuts off. You can hear the dimming circuit kick in, if your hearing is good. On high, after 15-20 minutes, you will see the light dim slightly in a discreet step, and if the lantern is near your head, it is accompanied by a faint high pitched buzzing when it switches to the first level of self-dimming. This continues every five minutes or so, gradually dimming. I like being able to dim a lantern, but I don't want one that dims itself if I want it to stay on high. All their dimming fusion lanterns do this, by the way. I have confirmed it. The pop-up and two-way flashlight with fusion lens do it. Too bad Energizer hijacked a useful feature and employed it to self-dim.

did you try it with eneloops?
 

lumen aeternum

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I am sure it had some use on it from the Try Me feature, but even four fresh alkalines don't impress with run time, in spite of Energizer trying to eek more time out of the batteries by self-dimming the lantern. The alkaline batteries get down to around 1.37 volts and the lantern just shuts off. You can hear the dimming circuit kick in, if your hearing is good.

So the cutoff is 4 in series x 1.37 = 5.48v going to the lantern?
versus
POPPY:
"I jumpered a single 18650 battery into it, and it only ran on high for about 15 minutes before it started blinking. It appears that 4 volts is it's cut-off on high. However, I found that if I put the battery into a power bank, that boosts the USB output to 5 volts, that the light ran for about 3 hours on a single 3100ma 18650 battery."
...
"I soldered a USB cable to mine so that it can take power from a power bank. ...I tested the lantern on LOW and it ran for 14.5 hours before shutting off. The battery was still at a safe 2.8 volts. "
 

Poppy

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It is my understanding that the resting voltage of a battery is not an accurate (it is just quick and easy) way to measure the charge level of a battery. If the battery is under load, the voltage output may be considerably less. Alkalines under a similar load drop off much more rapidly than LiIons.

Turbo DV8 pointed out that the lantern self dims to extend battery life. There are a number of products that do that. IIRC, the rayovac indestructible 2AA, and Defiant 3D lanterns, also do that. There are others, I just don't recall off of the top of my head.
 
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