- May 27, 2006
The TN36 is the latest member in the high-output TN3x line of flashlights from Thrunite. But this model is distinctive for a couple of reasons – it is the highest output light made by Thrunite to date, and it is far more compact than any of the TN3x predecessors. It also based around three high-output MK-R emitters.
Taken together, it's pretty clear that this is going to be a super high output "floody" style beam. Let's see how it compares to other lights in this high output class …
Manufacturer/Dealer Reported Specifications:
(note: as always, these are simply what the dealer/manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results).
- LED: 3x CREE MK-R
- Runs on: 4x 18650
- Working Voltage: 10.5 - 17.5 V.
- Output mode/Runtime: Strobe(6510 lumens /137 minutes), Turbo(6510 lumens /119 minutes), High(2280 lumens /194 minutes), Medium(785 lumens /587minutes ), Low(116 lumens /54 hrs), Moonlight(1.6 lumens /33 days).
- Max output of TN36 NW is a bit less than TN36 CW.
- Peak Beam Intensity: 22,400cd.
- Max beam distance: 299m.
- Compact flood flashlight with high quality beam from orange peel reflector.
- Cree MK-R LED technology gives great light efficiency.
- Advanced electronic switch with low voltage indication for silent operation.
- ThruNite ITC (intelligent temperature control) technology to prevent possible light damage from overheating.
- Six modes: firefly, low, medium, high, turbo and strobe.
- Reversed polarity protection system prevents damage to the light.
- Ultra clear tempered glass lens with anti-reflective coating.
- Aircraft grade aluminum body structure with knurling for firm grip.
- Premium type III hard anodized anti-abrasive finish.
- Memory function to set any mode (except for firefly, turbo and strobe) for immediate use.
- Impact resistant: 2 meters.
- Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard (1.5meters).
- Weight: 390g without battery.
- Dimensions: 125.8 mm in length x64 mm in diameter.
- Accessories: Holster x1 Spare, O ring x2, Battery Carrier x1(inside the flashlight).
- MSRP: ~$200
Packaging is the standard hard cardboard box from Thrunite, with packing foam inside. Included with the light are several spare O-rings (of different thicknesses), holster with Velcro closing flap, spare clear switch cover, and manual. Note that there is no wrist-strap provided (nor an obvious place to attach one). I will discuss the purpose of the spare switch cover later in this review.
From left to right: Xtar Protected 18650 3100mAh; Thrunite TN36; Niwalker MiniMax Nova MM15, MM18; Nitecore TM11.
All dimensions directly measured, and given with no batteries installed (unless indicated):
Thrunite TN36: Weight: 390.4g, Length: 125.4mm, Width (bezel): 64.0mm
Thrunite TN35 (MT-G2): Weight: 571.4g (723g with 3x18650), Length: 201mm, Width (bezel): 78.9mm
Eagletac SX25L3 3x18650: Weight: 315.9g, Length: 150.2mm, Weight (bezel): 47.0mm
Fenix TK75: Weight: 516.0g (700g with 4x18650), Length: 184mm, Width (bezel): 87.5mm
Nitecore TM11: Weight: 342.6g (476g with 8xCR123A), Length 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 59.5mm
Niwalker MM15: Weight: 333.7g (without handle), 355.9g (with handle), (539g with 4x18650 and handle), Length: 114.6mm, Weight (bezel): 63.7mm
Niwalker MM18: Weight: 510.g (without handle), 534.1g (with handle), Lenth: 135.3mm, Width (bezel): 73.9mm
The TN36 is quite compact for such a high output. The head/bezel is a little wider than the body, but overall dimensions are similar to other members of this compact multi-emitter class. Anodizing is a flat black, and is in excellent shape on my sample. Body labels are very minimal, and clear. Knurling on the body handle is about typical for this class, and helps with grip. The light doesn't roll as easily as some other lights, due to the raised switch area. As with the Thrunite TN4A that I reviewed recently, there is no obvious attachment point for a wrist lanyard on this initial release. The light can tailstand stably.
Screw threads are square-cut. Lock-out is maintained by the tension of the head against the battery carrier, and a quick twist of the head is all that is required to lock out the light. :thumbsup:.
Unlike a number of recent competitors in this class, the TN36 uses a battery carrier to hold the 4x18650 cells. The carrier is reversible inside the light (i.e., works in either orientation). It seems well made, with metal end pieces and raised contacts (allowing flat-top cells to be used). Tension on the springs is reasonable – all my various protected 18650 cells fit and worked in the light. Definitely an improvement over the recent TN4A, where that carrier was very tight for rechargeable NiMH cells.
The TN36 uses a single electronic switch to control on/off and mode switching. On both the TN4A and TN36, there is a hard plastic outer switch cover with a clear centre (used to show the blue LED indicator underneath). There is a stainless steel ring surrounding the switch, which holds the switch cover in place. Here is a close up with the LED illuminated from my TN4A review, as the switch cover is identical:
Actual switch feel is about typical, and there is a definite "click" when making full contact. Scroll down for a discussion of the user interface.
There is an extra clear switch boot included in the package – but this is not a substitute for the external switch cover. Rather, it is a replacement for the clear button surround underneath the external switch cover. Please see my TN4A review for a series of pics showing how the covers are assembled (common for both models).
The TN36 is distinctive for its use of three MK-R emitters – I haven't seen that before. The MK-R emitter is a new multi-die design from Cree, capable of very high output.
As you can see, the three MK-Rs are at the base of a shallow textured reflector, with overlapping wells. The MK-R emitter is actually a composite of four dies together, making one very large group emitter (i.e., similar in design to the old MC-E emitter). This head design and choice of emitter is clearly optimized to produce a massive flood light.
Scroll down for beamshot comparisons to other recent high-output lights.
The TN36 uses a single electronic switch for on/off and mode control. Turn the light on by a single click (rapid press-release).
From on, change output modes by holding the switch down. The light will cycle between constant output modes in the following order: Lo > Med > Hi, in repeating sequence. The light has mode memory, and will retain the last constant output used when turning off and back on.
To access Firefly, there is a shortcut accessible only from off: press-and-hold the switch.
To access Turbo, there is a shortcut from either on or off: double-click the switch. To access Strobe, double-click the switch again (i.e., need to be in Turbo mode). Double-click again exits to Turbo (single click turns off, as always).
There is no mode memory for the shortcut modes.
For more information on the overall build and user interface, please see my new video overview:
As with all my videos, I recommend you have annotations turned on. I commonly update the commentary with additional information or clarifications before publicly releasing the video.
As an aside, if you want to get an instant notification for every new review that I post here on CPF, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel (the vids go public at the same time). Just mouse over my logo watermark on the top right-hand corner of the video for the subscribe feature to open up. You may need to tap or click, depending on the platform you are using to watch. :wave:
There is no sign of PWM that I can see, at any output level – the TN36 is fully current-controlled.
Strobe was a very fast tactical strobe of 19.4 Hz. Quite disorienting. :green:
A standby current drain is inevitable on the TN36, due to the electronic switch in the head. I have measured this current as 14.3uA on my sample. Given the batteries are in series in the carrier, that would mean that 3100mAh 18650 would be fully drained in about 25 years (theoretically). Since this is below the self-discharge rate of Li-ion, it is not at all a concern.
Note that you can easily break this current by unscrewing the head slightly, thanks to the anodized threads and use of a battery carrier. I recommend you do for this for lowering the risk of accidental activation – it certainly is not necessary from a current drain perspective.
And now, what you have all been waiting for. All lights are on protected 18650 ICR chemistry batteries, except for the MM18 which is on Samsung 20R INR 2000mAh cells. Lights are about ~0.75 meter from a white wall (with the camera ~1.25 meters back from the wall).
For the MM18, I am only showing the beamshots where both the MK-R emitters are activated (but not the XM-L2). I am also including the Vinh Nguyen modified MM15 (MT-G2) lights, as their overall output is close to the TN36. I am forcing the Daylight white balance on my Canon camera for all the Niwalker lights below, in order to more accurately compare tints from the different tint classes of emitters below.
Note: No matter what white balance I use, these comparisons will never be entirely accurate for tint. Try to focus on the relative beam comparisons
It is always hard to compare high output lights (especially "floody" ones) at this ridiculously close distance. But a few general observations present themselves.
First, the TN36 is indeed very floody – it has one of the least focused beams of all the lights above. It also has one of the highest outputs, close to the MM15vn dome-on mod (which produces the most output I've seen in a hand-held light). It's interesting to see how much this differs from something like the 6x XM-L2 Olight X6 (which is frankly a very throwy light).
Since you can't really tell too much from these standardized up-close beamshots, so let's move on to my basement. For your reference, the back of the couch is about 7 feet away (~2.3m) from the opening of the light, and the far wall is about 18 feet away (~5.9m). Below I am showing a couple of exposures, to allow you to better compare hotspot and spill. The camera is set to a Daylight white balance for all lights below. All lights on Turbo.
I am only using the stock model MM15 and MM18 for comparisons here:
These shots confirm that the TN36 (3xMK-R) is definitely producing more output than either the stock MM15 (2xMT-G2) or MM18 (2xMK-R). It also has a truly "floody" beam profile, with the least distinction between hotspot and spill.
Something else that you may notice above – for Cool White, my TN36 sample is definitely green-yellow tinted. In contrast, my MM18 sample had very cool MK-R emitters (with noticeable blue-tint in the periphery). This is likely just natural variation in the selection of Cool White tint MK-Rs, but I personally prefer this somewhat warmer sample on my TN36 (i.e., I would rate them at the warmest end of Cool White, bordering on the coolest end of Neutral White). I don't know if this is typical though, and it may be very much a lottery what you receive.
Given the middle of winter here, I'm afraid outdoor shots are not feasible.
All my output numbers are relative for my home-made light box setup, as described on my flashlightreviews.ca website. You can directly compare all my relative output values from different reviews - i.e. an output value of "10" in one graph is the same as "10" in another. All runtimes are done under a cooling fan, except for any extended run Lo/Min modes (i.e. >12 hours) which are done without cooling.
I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values (ROV) to estimated Lumens. See my How to convert Selfbuilt's Lightbox values to Lumens thread for more info.
Throw/Output Summary Chart:
My summary tables are reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. Please see http://www.flashlightreviews.ca/FL1.htm for a discussion, and a description of all the terms used in these tables. Effective July 2012, I have updated all my Peak Intensity/Beam Distance measures with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter (orange highlights).
The TN36 is currently the highest output stock light I've tested. :wave: The MM15vn dome-on mod by Vinh is the only thing I have that beats it at the moment. The TN36 is also one of the floodiest models I've tested, in terms of its overall output relative to center beam throw. As you can see above, peak throw intensity is about the same as the dome-on MM15vn (despite the ~9% higher output of that model in my testing).
Let's see how the rest of the output levels compare:
As usual, my output measures correlate very well with Thrunite specs, at all levels.
As always, my standard runtimes are done under a cooling fan. Previously, I used to use AW 2200mAh protected cells in my 18650 testing (for their excellent consistency and ability to fit and work in any light). After considerable testing, I have switched to a few of brands of protected NCR18650A cells (3100mAh capacity). I have found a few brands that show good correlations and internal consistency, and that collectively can fit and work in all of my lights. I have now moved to using 3100mAh cells in all my 18650-class reviews. :wave:
Let's start with a comparison to other lights, all running protected 3100mAh ICR-chemistry 18650 batteries (sticking with stock lights)
One of the important things to note above is that unlike the Niwalker lights (MM15 and MM18), the TN36 does NOT step-down quickly on Turbo. There is a very slight drop-down in output at ~10 mins into the run, but it is not very significant (i.e., you can't see the difference by eye). Like my recent TN4A, there is a more significant step-down as the cells near exhaustion – although it still extremely bright at this point. The TN36 thus seems to be using a very similar circuit to the TN4A
I'm actually quite surprised by this, given the high output level of the TN36 – that is a lot of output in such a small body, which means it gets very hot very quickly. Frankly, I don't find this light very comfortable to hold in the bare hand on either Turbo or Hi. Certainly, once it's been on Turbo for a couple of mins, I can no longer stand to hold it in my bare hand.
Keep in mind that the runtimes above are all done under a cooling fan. To see the effect of heat on throttling output better, let's see what happens if I don't use a cooling fan:
As you can see, without externally supplied cooling the light quickly drops to ~50% max output within 7 mins of continuous runtime. After another ~10 mins, there is a very minor dip in output, and it continues at this level until the batteries are exhausted. Note that this more pronounced step-down level is slightly brighter than the defined Hi level – but considerably reduced from the cooled Turbo run, of course.
While these results make a lot of sense (and are encouraging from a safety point of view), I still personally find the light too hot to hold by hand at any point during the Turbo runs above, even after step-down.
Finally, let's see if other higher drain rated battery chemistries perform differently from my standard protected Panasonic NCR18650A ICR 3100mAh batteries (again, all under a cooling fan):
There really isn't much of a difference in the output level or runtime pattern, beyond the expected runtime differences of the different rated capacities. There is a slight bump in initial output with these high-drain-rated cells (especially the INR), but you can only detect this with a light meter. The higher drain-rated cells do step-down later in the process (i.e., there isn't much runtime left once step-down occurs at the end of the runs).
Something else to note above – the TN36 has over-discharge protection built into the light's circuit. :thumbsup: The TN36 shut down the light before my unprotected Samsung INR and Panasonic PF cells dropped into dangerous territory. I'm not sure what the voltage trigger level is under load, but all cells were at >3.0V resting voltage moments later. This is consistent with my protected 18650 cells, so I suspect Thrunite is using a similar cut-off level to standard battery protection circuity (i.e., maybe ~2.6-2.7V under load?).
There is no programmed timed step-down feature on Turbo – the TN36 uses thermally-mediated output control (with final output level dependent on heat and battery power remaining). I find the light gets extremely hot with sustained runtime on both Hi and Turbo. Without externally supplied cooling, you will need to manually drop down to a lower level (i.e. Med) at some point - unless you are wearing gloves, or leave the light tailstanding.
Only 3.7V Li-ion 18650s are supported. Do not attempt to use CR123A or RCR in this light. Given the relatively high drive level on Turbo, I'd recommend you use high-drain rated 18650 for this purpose (e.g., IMR, INR or Hybrid chemistries). The TN36 has a built-in protection feature, so you can safely use unprotected batteries.
Tint on my sample was definitely at the extreme yellow-green end of the Cool White tint range (bordering the extremely cool end of the Neutral White tint range). But that could just be natural variation between emitter batches – it may be a lottery what type of tint bin you get.
The TN36 is one of the floodiest beam profiles I've seen (i.e., don't expect a lot of relative throw).
There is no obvious attachment point for a wrist strap/lanyard.
The stock clear o-ring that came installed on the light made it very hard to screw the head on. Swapping it for one of the thinner black o-rings included in the package resolved this problem.
Due to the electronic switch in the head, the light has a stand-by current when batteries are installed. But this is completely negligible, and not a concern. To prevent accidental activation though, I recommend you lock the light out by a simple twist of the head.
In stock form, the TN36 is the highest output light I've tested to date. oo: Only the custom modded MM15vn (dome-on version) from Vinh outshines it - and even then, by less than 10%. The TN36 is also a full flood light, with the lowest amount of relative throw-to-spill that I've seen. And it's one of the most compact examples I've seen in this class!
Thrunite is definitely on a max output roll lately – the TN4A (which has a comparable build and identical interface to the TN36) is similarly the highest output 4xAA light I've tested. Both lights use a very similar circuit, which lacks a timed step-down feature from Turbo. This is unusual in the high-output class – most makers tend to limit use of Turbo to just a couple of minutes runtime before timed step-down occurs (although in most cases, Turbo can be easily restored by a manual off/on cycle). In the case of the TN4A and TN36, there is a thermal sensor mediated step-down that reduces output to a level intermediate between Turbo and Hi (depending on the relative heat). :thumbsup:
However, there is one practical concern to leaving the TN36 running at such high levels for extended periods – you quickly won't be able to hold it in your bare hand. As with all lights, I recommend you manually step-down to a lower level for comfort. Personally, I find I can't hold the TN36 on Turbo for any sustained period (even with the step-down). As such, you certainly want to exercise caution in picking it up bare handed, if you have left it running unattended on Turbo or Hi.
Like the TN4A, the TN36 is similarly one of the best-regulated and most efficienct 4x18650 lights I've tested. They have done a good job on the current-controlled circuit here (although note that only 18650 is supported – no CR123A/RCR). One nice feature – you can safely use unprotected 18650s, as the TN36 will automatically shut-off the light when the battery voltage drops too low. :twothumbs
Build-wise, many of my comments on the TN4A also apply here – except for the battery carrier. I am happy to report that the TN36's battery carrier comfortably takes all size 18650 batteries, including flat-top, unprotected, and high-capacity protected ones.
In terms of beam profile, the TN36 is definitely extremely floody, with relatively little center beam throw. Of course, given the massive output, you can still expect to see a good distance with this light. While I personally like the relatively warm Cool White tint on my sample, I don't know if that is typical (or if the general lottery effect is at play). I know Thrunite plans to release an official Neutral White version at some point.
Fans of max output flood lights will find much to like here – the TN36 is a very strong contender given its extremely high output for this class. And it is a really good performer at all output levels. Coupled with a compact build and serviceable user interface, I expect it will garner a lot of interest here. :wave:
TN36 was supplied by Thrunite for review.