Today I have a specialty light, with the BLF LT1 Lantern, designed by forum members at the Budget Light Forums (BLF) and manufactured by Sofirn. The BLF LT1 started off 3 years ago as an offshoot of another BLF light the Q8 and shares a similar design internally with several components. Forget the other battery powered lanterns you have seen in the past, this one puts them all to shame. This will probably end up being a longer review so sit back and enjoy, it’s not like any lantern you have seen before.
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Packaging & Accessories
The main focus of this project was the light itself and as a result the light has generic packaging to prevent damage during shipping, not to attract buyers in a retail type setting. It ships in a plain brown package. Inside you get the manual which features the UI diagram, and a few spare orings, spare button and a orange o’ring that I put on the top of the light. The manual is pretty comprehensive and well written including a UI diagram, the aspect ratio is kind of squished though so I have included a link to the PDF copy
My light came with 4x Sofirn 3000mAh 18650 preinstalled. Each battery had a sticker on the negative terminal to prevent the light coming on during shipping. They ended up leaving a little residue that I had to clean off, so make sure you remove that before using the light.
The light is made of anodized aluminum. The bottom half is the battery carrier and very similar in overall design to the Q8. The rear tail cap is removable, the knurling is similar on the LT1 but it doesn’t have the flats milled in. Internally the cells are isolated from each other. Button top batteries are recommended with this light. There are two ¼ 20 tripod mounds, one on the bottom and on on the ring in the middle of the light.
The head silicone button as the BLF Q8 which features the T from Throfire (the Q8’s original manufacture). It has Orange LED’s inside that are on all the time as a locator function which you can adjust the brightness of or turn it off via the firmware. The button goes red when charging, and green when charged too. Opposite the button is the USB-C port used for recharging, and it has a larger silicone cover that fits flush.
The diffuser is a thick hard plastic with a smooth gloss surface finish. It’s a very stiff piece and feels very solid. It does a great job of diffusing light from both the top and bottom emitters. Above this there is a small grove for an oring that I have placed the larger orange oring for looks. At the top there is a large folding metal hanger that fits tightly. This allows for securely hanging the light from a branch, tent, or ceiling.
Size And Weight
This is a larger and heavier then most of the LED, battery powered lanterns on the market but the build quality here is far better then anything else and it’s far lighter then the old steel and liquid kerosene lanterns. Weight with the 4 included 3000mAh Sofirn 18650 batteries is 641g. I measured overall length at 176mm, maximum diameter on the head at 68mm, minimum diameter at the body at 50mm.
LED’s & Beamshots
This light is using a total of 8 Samsung LH351D emitters, 4 in 2700k 90 CRI and 4 in 5000k 90 CRI. The result is a light capable in its stock form of 600 lumens, and variable tin anywhere between a warm 2700k and a very nice neutral 5000k all at an impressive 90 CRI. Light is evenly diffused out the sides via the emitters on the top and bottom. Not much light is thrown up, instead it’s thrown more to the sides, so I find myself turning the light some if I need to read with it or walk with it.
On the inside of the head there are some additional solder points that can be bridged to use more of the 7135 chips to increase the peak brightness of each group of LED’s. This only works when you are using more of one group of LED then the other, and decreases runtime, and increases heat. If you want to do this I would encourage you to read the long threads over on BLF first.
Runtime and Heat
For my runtime tests, I ran the light in it’s default warm tint of 2700k with 4 of Sofirns included (Optional) 3000mAh button top batteries at it’s maximum brightness in it’s out of box configuration. Runtime here is just super impressive with total running out to 9 hours and 50 minutes before falling below 1% relative output. While this is dim it’s still useful light. Even at 95% relative output the light can sustain itself for 6 hours before starting a significant decline. Remember too this is only with 4X 3000mAh batteries, you could upgrade to 3500mAh batteries and get another 2000mAh to extend the runtime further. The light does have temperature regulation built in and it’s configurable in the UI. The top gets warm to the touch but not hot. LVP kicked in at 2.912V and the cells were all evenly, so running a matched pair of batteries with this light would be a wise idea.
The light will also run with the head off and powered by a powerbank at full output. This could be helpful in an emergency situation or if your charging batteries externally and still need the light. It will also run while charging but at a reduced output.
The UI on the LT1 is a modified version of Toykeeper’s Andrul. It’s well designed with lots of features but you don’t need to know how all those optional features work it if you don’t want to.
By default the light comes in smooth ramping mode which I personally like, but a stepped mode is available as well. To turn it on you click the button. To adjust brightness just press and hold till you reach your desired brightness. The light will give a quick flash at the top and bottom to let you know it’s at its maximum. A quick double click gives you turbo too.
To adjust the tint of the light a quick double click and hold will then start ramping the tint and just stop when you get to your desired tint. Fairly easily you can get the light into a mode where tint varies with output level too, so warmer at lower outputs and fully neutral at maximum output. You can turn this on or off by double clicking and holding a couple of times till the light flashes. It’s a neat mode that mimics an incandescent bulb.
Lastly if you want the light to be even more basic, there is a muggle mode you can put it into to hand off to someone who just wants an on off light at reduced output for increased safety and a dead simple ease of use.
For the more advanced features (Blinkies, strobe, aux button settings etc) you are going to want to consult the manual diagram. I keep the little printed manual in the Speaker case I keep my light in for transport.
The light charges via a built in USB-C port which is great to see! On batches 1 and 2 of the light you must use a USB-A to C cable, but in batch 3 which is shipping now USB-C to C cables are fully supported. It’s nice to see full compatibility with both standards available.
In my charging testes, I used the 4 Sofirn 3000mAh batteries that started at 2.92V and charged them to full at 4.05V in 10 hours and 15 minutes with the highest observed speed being 1.5A. This is on the slow side, while safe an conservative, I would have liked to see more like 2A charging.
I did briefly test the light with my solar charger too, and it works fine as I would expect. Given the long run times your probably not going to get a full charge during most days but it would be a great way to top the light up in an emergency situation or out while camping or hiking.
So while not included with the light I thought I would mention this light fits beautifully in a case designed for a JBL Flip 3 or 4 bluetooth speaker. I picked up a Xanad case and the light fits great in it, and there is even space for a spare Samsung 2A charger and cable I had laying around. For $10 this is a no brainier in my book, Here is a link if you want to pick one up too.
- Even beam (flood) with variable tint
- Super long runtimes.
- Easy yet powerful UI
- Solid robust construction
- Previous versions (1 & 2) were not able to charge via USB-C to C, but Version 3 (Shipping now) can.
- A bit of a slow charge time
You might have never thought you needed a lanter, but I am telling you this is the real deal. I live in the midwest and May & June are traditionally the months where we see the most amount of tornadoes and sometimes power outages. While you probably have a flashlight or several like I do, a lantern like this is really better for area lighting. It’s also great for camping, I would have killed for this when I was a Boy Scout camping, for all types of night activities etc.
The combination of high CRI and variable (Warm tint) makes this truly a dream to use, there is no cool white here to washout colors and blind you, instead only pleasing warm and neutral tints with high CRI to help show the beauty of the nature you’re in. It’s nice around the house too just for area lighting or to read by if you wanted too. In muggle mode kids would love it too.
Super long runtimes means it’s very power efficient for the light it produces, but with that built in recharging via USB-C means it can be charged via solar panels too, to charge during the day, and light up all your night activities and repeat. While my version 2 here doesn’t support C to C charging, version 3 that’s available now does. The only downsides is the weight, it’s not light weight, and depending on your tent or how you want to try and hang it, it could be a bit of a challenge. You can remove batteries if you want to reduce weight and runtime, and maybe we will see a 1 battery version in the future. Remember it has those ¼ 20 tripod mounts too.
If you can’t tell by now I am a fan of this light and recommend it without hesitation. It’s a pretty decent value and blows the competition away. If you’re looking for a great father’s day gift for the man who likes to camp, hunt or fish this is a great choice. If you want to build out your storm prep kit for tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards this is a great add in.
If you stuck around to the end of this review I sincerely appreciate it. Views during COVID have not been what I was expecting so if you have friends who like to camp, please consider sharing this video and blog post with them as I think this light has a wide appeal to non flashaholics too. Thanks for watching and stay safe.
Buy from Sofirn Direct (Group Buy) https://sofirnlight.com/?DIST=QkFO
Sofirn Amazon with batteries https://amzn.to/2S6Swx0
Sofirn Amazon without batteries https://amzn.to/2xasFgp
Sofirn AliExpress https://bit.ly/2Y7V8ys
Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/IHJClHH