Solarforce L900 vs. Solarforce T700 vs. TrustFire SSC P7-C

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Sorry, no beam shots at this time. I will have to borrow a camera that can be set for manual exposure before attempting those. I had thought about setting up all three lights at one time and shooting a single picture in auto mode, but the sheer logistics of finding a suitable target at least 100 ft away that is wide enough to encompass all three beams is .... daunting. Three tripods (or equivalent) spaced such that the beams are perpendicular to the target, get them all lined up and fired up without attracting un-wanted attention etc.
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Overview:
These three lights are actually very similar in total light output. They do, however, have different beam patterns. The stated lumen levels are 700 for the T700 and 900 for the two P7 lights. In practice, the two P7 lights seem to put out more total light at close range, but the distribution of that light is very different.

It is no surprise that the two P7 lights are more flood style. Not only due to the P7 chip characteristics, but also due to the Orange Peel reflectors. The T700 with its three "Premium Q5" LEDs has a three lobed smooth reflector that does a surprisingly effective job of throwing light.

The TrustFire SSC P7-C, being a two cell 18650 light with a smaller reflector than the L900, is a relative bargain in light output at $54 US. The catch is that it does not throw as well as the other two lights. I have not tested run times yet, but I expect the three cell lights to run longer also. It is a cheap backup light that puts out prodigious quantities of light at close to medium distances. It does have some primitive personality quirks that caused me to judge it harshly at first, but I have come to appreciate its brutal simplicity.

Edited 10/24/2008:
Final Conclusions:
It has been about a full month now with these lights and I have to say that the L900 has really become my favorite. At first I was enamored with the concentrated hot spot of the T700, but over time I find that I always grab for the L900. I just love the super smooth beam. It also throws amazingly well for a P7 light. In very dark environments you get useful throw out past an estimated 600 ft. In light polluted areas where you have poorly shielded building lights or parking lot lights that cause your eyes to close down a bit, the effective throw range is more like 300 to 400 ft. Such a nice beam, no artifacts and a very smooth transition to the hot spot. The very large hot spot. Very simple, no modes. Highly recommended for security work. It has really become my go-to light.


Edited 12/11/2008:
It has now been about three months of daily use and I am even more impressed with the L900. It has shown itself to be durable and reliable. It never fails to impress those who use it. A new model is now available, the L900m which is a two cell version using the same reflector and body, but which has been shortened to account for one less 18650. The new version also has a two stage driver circuit that shows excellent regulation characteristics. Check out posts 55 through 60 for more impressions and detailed runtime graphs from jirik_cz and others. The L900 in either variation should be on your short list for P7 based lights.

Thanks to all who participated as well as those who were content to only read.

Best regards,
DGM
 
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metawaffle

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So, how do each of those lights handle running for extended periods? The cheap P7s have a reputation for overheating, obviously, which I imagine the Trust Fire would still have issues with. Does the L900 resolve this issue - can it be run for long periods without concerns about damaging the light?
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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how would the ultrafire 1000L P7 led compareto these?

I don't have the 1000L, but several things stand out from the pictures and specs.

- The 1000L is another two cell 18650 light, so it is naturally shorter than the T700 and L900 with three cells each.

- The 1000L reflector is 58mm in diameter as opposed to the L900 at 72mm. I have not measured the Trustfire light, but the pictures show the 1000L to have a larger reflector, and should throw a bit better, but I would not expect worlds of difference.

- The 1000L threads are not anodized, whereas both Solarforce lights and the Trustfire light are all anodized thread units. This lets you "lock out" the light by just turning the tail cap slightly.

- The 1000L is a three mode light, the L900 and Trustfire are both single mode, the T700 has seven power levels, strobe and SOS. It also uses a unique, as far as I know, two button interface to move power levels up or down. This works extremely well and is very intuitive. The strobe is triggered in two ways. You can hold down the "up" button for one second, or you can do two partial press activations of the tail clickie. You can lock it on by continuing the second press to latch the switch full on. Very intuitive, very quick, very easy.

That's about all I can say about how the 1000L compares. My instinct tells me that all of these current crop of P7 lights will put out about the same level of total lumens, barring poor grounding, build quality variations etc.

Edit with new observations: I am beginning to wonder if these lights actually have a break-in period. My initial feeling was that the T700 and L900 were fairly close in output. Tonight I have the feeling that the L900 puts out quite a bit more light and throws better than the T700. These tests are all with brand new fully charged 18650 cells. Very strange. I don't know why I would have such different results the next evening. I will keep this updated if things change again....

My 4D Magled is so out-classed by ANY of these lights that it is not even funny.

I hope those thoughts are helpful,
DGM
 
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DigitalGreaseMonkey

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So, how do each of those lights handle running for extended periods? The cheap P7s have a reputation for overheating, obviously, which I imagine the Trust Fire would still have issues with. Does the L900 resolve this issue - can it be run for long periods without concerns about damaging the light?

Good questions. I will have more to say as I get to use these on the job, but I have some observations initially:

The Solarforce L900 appears to have EXCELLENT heat transfer capability. The emitter is mounted on a pedestal that extends up into the reflector, the base of the pedestal appears to be copper, or at least a decent copper alloy, not "brassy" looking. This copper base is seated in the heavy aluminum throat and a thin white ring of heat sink paste can be seen between the body and the "pill".

The large reflector screws into the throat section exactly where the pill and its white ring of heat sink paste are located. This should be very effective in transferring heat away. The threads on the reflector and throat are anodized and very smooth running.

The battery tube connects to the other end of the throat, about an inch and a half away from the visible ring of heat sink paste and the reflector connection. Looking into the throat section where the battery tube connects, you can see that there is an anodized bulkhead with a hole milled into it. The battery contact spring extends through this hole. A little of the driver board can be seen behind the spring. To my thinking this is excellently executed. The bulkhead acts as protection against the stack of batteries crashing into the driver board should the light be dropped. All surfaces are smoothly finished. Very nicely done!

So, in short, I have high hopes that thermal management should not be an issue with the L900. The general fit and finish lend an air of confidence. At first I was worried that I did not see the, now commonplace, heat sink fins around the throat area. Now that I have seen how they have designed and constructed the light, I have no worries. Actual testing will be the final telling point, of course, but the basic design appears quite sound.

Edited to add:
I did not notice it at first, but there is a large black rubber "O" ring where the reflector screws onto the throat. All tube interfaces have "O" rings. Dual orange "O" rings at the tail cap, single ring at the throat interface.

Best regards,
DGM
 
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DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Update:

I have figured out my confusion regarding the relative brightness levels of these lights. The first night I thought the T700 was the better thrower, the second night I thought the L900 was better. Both answers were true. The first night I had been playing with the lights for several minutes, trying various different subjects and distances for testing. While I was doing this, the L900 was warming up and throttling back its light output. By the time I settled on a subject, the L900 was not performing as well as the T700. I was able to witness this myself this evening as I was beginning a run time test to measure heat. I did not expect to witness such a dramatic fall off of light with the L900. It did take about ten minutes, but there it was.

Luckily my use model does not require long run times, just a quick sweep of the shadows every so often, some places more than others. Generally the intermittent duty cycle of my usage does not seem to push the L900 into thermal throttling. The T700 maintained its brightness much better. The head got hotter, but that probably means better thermal management in the design.

So, it seems that for intermittent duty use (frequent, but intermittent) the L900 seems to be the winner for my applications. The T700 is staying in my pack because of its very nice 7 power levels (eight if you count the lowest setting as "one" rather than "zero") and very long run time at high output.

There is still no perfect light available. :)

Best regards,
DGM
 

metawaffle

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Thanks for the update, DGM. Shame about the throttling of the L900 - I was considering it for continuous use (hence my question about the heat issues).
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Thanks for the update, DGM. Shame about the throttling of the L900 - I was considering it for continuous use (hence my question about the heat issues).

Agreed, very disappointing. I was thrashing about briefly thinking of mods, but it really looks like I will have to build my own, or simply use the T700 (which is a really excellent machine) till a new generation of lights comes out.

On my interior rounds tonight, I carried the T700, and now that I have the 18650 batteries, the output is actually very very satisfying. (The T700 works best on those.) The added bonus is that it fits perfectly in my slightly modified cellphone holster (just cut a hole for the handle to drop through). The head fills the pocket snugly, no slop what so ever, and the velcro flap covers the glass. The head is so much more compact than the L900 that it really is a much better all round solution for me. The eight levels of output, quick access to strobe and totally easy user interface are all extra benefits. The over all design is more elegant and attractive as well. I do like the first three minutes of light from the L900, though I worry about its longevity. I am considering returning it for a second T700 as a backup light. (I like it that much)

Best regards,
DGM
 
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ivanchek

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Is the strobe on the T700 a real tactical/ disorienting strobe, or more of a S.O.S type strobe? Can the strobe frequency be changed?
By the way, great review/ comparison on three lights, one of which i was considering on buying.
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Is the strobe on the T700 a real tactical/ disorienting strobe, or more of a S.O.S type strobe? Can the strobe frequency be changed?
By the way, great review/ comparison on three lights, one of which i was considering on buying.

Thanks, I wanted to share my experience for those like yourself. There are some other folks here who do a much more professional job with these things, but "user reports" can be helpful.

The strobe, when powered with three 18650, is a disorienting strobe. I would guess it is in the range seven to ten flashes per second. When I shine it in a room with wood paneled walls (dark walls, not white painted) I can feel the disorientation a bit. It is uncomfortable. You just can not look into these lights, so I can not imagine what it would be like at the receiving end of things.

The strobe frequency can not be changed. The intensity of the strobe will be at what ever you have set with the two button interface.

If the long handled form factor is not an issue for you, I don't think you can go wrong with the T700. I actually like the long slender form. It was a real stroke of luck that Home Depot actually carries a cell phone belt holster that fits perfectly (once you cut a hole in the bottom).

Best regards,
DGM
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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metawaffle
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Re: Solarforce L900 vs. Solarforce T700 vs. TrustFire SSC P7-C
Thanks for the update, DGM. Shame about the throttling of the L900 - I was considering it for continuous use (hence my question about the heat issues).
Another thought:
If you really need constant duty, perhaps an HID light would be better for you?

Best regards,
Jonathan
 
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ivanchek

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Thanks for the reply. I actually think the T700 is one torch that im actually going to buy instead of just contemplating a purchase. Any ideas as to which store has this light for the best price? Where did you get buy it from if you dont mind me asking?
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Thanks for the reply. I actually think the T700 is one torch that im actually going to buy instead of just contemplating a purchase. Any ideas as to which store has this light for the best price? Where did you get buy it from if you dont mind me asking?

On my rounds this evening, I am more convinced than ever that the T700 is the solid choice. I got this one from Lighthound in Texas. Solarforce lists them as an authorized distributor in the US.

The L900 really is more of a flood, but does throw very well for a P7 light. It really heats up pretty quickly though. Eventually somebody will get the great idea of integrating some heat pipes into a genuine copper platform for these high output LEDs. I played with the idea of using a CPU cooler, but they are really not designed for this form factor.

I may be ordering a second T700 before they disappear. It seems that they may be discontinued.

Best regards,
DGM
 

DArklite

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Nice user review DGM - I've been on the fence for quite awhile re: a P7 light.
For you to want another T700 speaks volumes; I just may have to warm up the Paypal trigger finger :)
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Nice user review DGM - I've been on the fence for quite awhile re: a P7 light.
For you to want another T700 speaks volumes; I just may have to warm up the Paypal trigger finger :)

My pleasure. I have been doing my interior rounds this evening, getting in more time on both lights as the weekend progresses.

I am very convinced that the T700 is a great one light solution for a security guard. Since I have both lights, I have been using the L900 for the interior rounds and carrying the T700 in my belt holster. Surprising that it does not get in the way at all. The head is small enough, as I've said, to fit in a cell phone holster. The L900, while it has no modes, has a nice heft to it and can obviously do a little damage should the need arise. The softer beam actually works very well for interior sweeps. However, it is the kind of light, like my old 4D magled, that you carry in one hand while on tour. In this case, it is not a very heavy battery tube that is the trouble, it is the very large head. Still, a most useful light, if you don't need long single session run times. (That's why I carry the T700 at all times. Should we have a power failure, set it at level 4, which is 50%, and you get five hours of solid level output. Something like 18 hours at level 2. No testing yet at minimum.)

I cleaned all the battery and charger contacts with Deoxit from Caig. I've been using it for years and I am still impressed with how it stabilizes battery performance in those devices that use them. Since the cleaning, the T700 has performed even better.

I will update as things progress, but I am beginning to enjoy both lights for what they are. For a single light solution, I still prefer the T700 by a large margin. Keep in mind that personal taste varies. That's why so many lights are on the market. :)

Best regards,
DGM
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Major Update:

What a difference contact cleaner makes.

After my first disappointing results, I spent a while cleaning all the battery contacts and charger contacts. To spare you the suspense, the final conclusion has not changed regarding which light is my favorite. What has changed dramatically is the issue of premature dimming of the L900. I have to assume that I was witnessing side effects of contact resistance in my first 10 minute test, where the L900 became disturbingly dim.

Tonight on my last round, I decided to carry both lights, turn them both on and let them both run for a full 20 minutes. The outside temperature was a nice cool 50 degrees. Both lights warmed up, but only gently. The cool air was doing its job nicely. Both lights were brighter initially than at the end of the 20 minutes, but this time the relative brightness remained (to my eyes) unchanged. The T700 started out as a better thrower and ended up the same. This time the L900 did not do the scary "maybe I'm killing the light" kind of dimming.

Fortified by this test, I finished the night, went home and decided to do an indoor test again, same conditions as the original test. This time it was for 30 minutes. I also included the Trustfire light. The two Solarforce lights were still on the original batteries from the duty shift, no recharge. The Trustfire light had a pair of cells that had been freshly charged two days previously, but no run time on them.

All three lights blazing at once was.... inspirational. In any event, when all three lights are held within six inches of white ceiling tiles, it is apparent that they are all very close in actual energy output. The two P7 lights with differently sized and shaped orange peel style reflectors showed a kind of P7 family resemblance. The T700 with its three, joined, smooth reflectors had a hotter hot spot with an up close lobed appearance. That lobed aspect disappears by moving back about one foot. Not an issue at all.

After five minutes of my eyes being bombarded by all these photons, I was getting "light adapted". At the same time, the output of all three lights was dropping somewhat. All three were still most impressive and very useful lights, the relative brightness of all three had not changed. (An unexpected consequence of having three lights at once, relative changes can be compared with great confidence.)

At 15 minutes into the test, I began to worry about the Trustfire light. All three lights were warming up, especially the throat and head area. The Trustfire light was warming up all along the handle as well. The handle was becoming uncomfortably hot. I was beginning to have concerns about battery heating, so I turned off the Trustfire. No loss in brightness relative to the other lights, but lots more heat in the handle. Interesting.

At 30 minutes with the two Solarforce lights, I felt that my eyes and the light output had been stable for some time, probably 20 minutes. They maintained their relative brightness and characteristic beam patterns. There was one difference that was beginning to become apparent. The P7 light (L900) was very obviously warmer than the T700. Neither handle was uncomfortably warm, but the L900 was clearly much warmer, bordering on "hot". The final proof of this was when I switched hands. The hand that let go of the L900 and grabbed the T700 had that "Ahhhh this is nice and cool" reaction. The other hand had that "What are you doing to me?" reaction. The hand holding the L900 was obviously doing a little heat sinking. :) Not painful, mind you. Just noticeable.

I made careful note of the relative heating between the two units. The throat area was the hottest on both, with more heat in the L900. The large reflector on the L900 was obviously assisting with heat management. It was hottest where it screwed onto the throat, coolest at the glass end. The biggest difference was the battery tube. The T700 was of no concern at all. Warm but not troubling. The L900 battery tube was quite a bit warmer. I pulled the batteries out and felt them. The one closest to the throat was the warmest, though not disturbingly hot.

If it were a hot summer day, I would be a bit concerned to run the L900 for more than 20 minutes at a time. As it is now, they claim a 2 hour run time for this light and I feel that it would probably be ok, but I don't really know. Perhaps someone has gathered data on the safe operating temperature for Lithium rechargeable cells.

A great relief to see that my copy of the L900 did not suffer some kind of infant mortality during that first night of testing.

My conclusions are beginning to firm up:

- At target distances of between 0 to 35 feet or so, the L900 might have the edge due to the wide, floody hot spot and orange peel reflector style soft light. Not a big edge, more a matter of taste. The T700 hot spot, while smaller and more defined, is clearly brighter at all ranges.

- At target distances from 35 to 100 feet approximately, both lights are very satisfying while still maintaining their relative strengths and weaknesses. Wider softer light vs tighter brighter hot spot with a bit more contrast in general.

- At target distances from 100 to 400 feet or so, the T700 begins to flex its particular strengths.

- Beyond 400 feet, well, we have the diminishing returns of a conical beam spread. Neither light is a laser. :) Enough said.

I am really enjoying both lights, especially now that I have relieved my anxiety over the anomolous results of the first test with dirty contacts. I do still feel that the T700 is the more solid choice. Performance, features, size, weight.

Big lesson here, always clean your contacts, and please use a proper cleaner, not alcohol and not that stuff from Rat Shack.

If anything worthy occurs to me, I will update this again.

Best regards,
DGM
 

ivanchek

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On my rounds this evening, I am more convinced than ever that the T700 is the solid choice. I got this one from Lighthound in Texas. Solarforce lists them as an authorized distributor in the US.

The L900 really is more of a flood, but does throw very well for a P7 light. It really heats up pretty quickly though. Eventually somebody will get the great idea of integrating some heat pipes into a genuine copper platform for these high output LEDs. I played with the idea of using a CPU cooler, but they are really not designed for this form factor.

I may be ordering a second T700 before they disappear. It seems that they may be discontinued.

Best regards,
DGM

Once agian, thanks for the quick reply.
Do you know if any of these ship to Sydney, Australia, and how much the shipping cost would be? Can places like Deal Extreme and Kaidomain be trusted to buy from?
Also, just thought of one more question. Do any of these lights have a memory function? Or can you cycle through the modes while the torch is off?

Thanks for all the help
 

DigitalGreaseMonkey

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Once agian, thanks for the quick reply.
Do you know if any of these ship to Sydney, Australia, and how much the shipping cost would be? Can places like Deal Extreme and Kaidomain be trusted to buy from?
Also, just thought of one more question. Do any of these lights have a memory function? Or can you cycle through the modes while the torch is off?

Thanks for all the help

Let me tackle these questions in reverse order:

The only light of these three with any memory function, or any modes other than "on" or "off" is the T700. It will remember the last setting you have chosen out of eight levels of output. It has, arguably, the most common sense interface I am aware of. None of this playing with the rear switch to jump around in levels. The eight brightness settings are controlled by a simple two button up or down interface just below the head of the light (where a forward switch would be found on a Magled for instance). The strobe function (roughly 7 pulses per second) is activated with a very nicely implemented system. Two quick partial presses will trigger the strobe function. Every so often a slightly fumbled press will trigger the strobe by accident, but a simple release and press again sets it to full on. Totally intuitive to me.

DX and KD both seem to be trustworthy places. I have purchased other things from DX, but nothing from KD. DX lists the T700 as "backordered", the Solarforcestore (in HK) does not list the T700 on their site any more and they have none in stock. I don't think Solarforcestore is actually associated with Solarforce, since Solarforce home page does not list that as a dealer. Lighthound, an authorized dealer in the US, is where I got mine. Try Lighthound.com to see if they are set up to ship to you.

Another option you might consider is the Lumapower MVP:
https://www.candlepowerforums.com/threads/205174
Seems to be top notch build quality, higher price, only three levels (100%, 25%, 5%)

Here is an excellent review of the T700: (which may be discontinued)
http://www.light-reviews.com/solarforce_t700/

Best regards,
DGM
 
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