Lumintop HL3A Headlamp Review (2800 Lumen, 18650, Multiple LED)

Are you a fan of the FW3X series of lights but ever wished there was a right angle version you could use as a headlamp and had a magnetic tail? If so, your light has arrived, with the Lumintop HL3A, in a nutshell it’s a right angle version of the FW3A. Thanks to Lumintop for sending this to me to review. Since I have reviewed several other FW series of lights I will try to keep this review a bit shorter. 

 

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging of the HL3A is similar to the other FWXX series of lights, but larger because of the additional accessories. It’s a brown retail box with a line drawing of the light on the front but limited technical info. Inside accessories include an extra o’ring, pocket clip, and a nice headband. The headband here is nice, it’s a 3 piece design and the elastic has the silicon grip material around the inside.I especially like the orange accents, it really brightens up the light and helps with visibility too. 

 

Construction

The light is made from aluminum and is hard anodized in a fairly flat black. Machining here is good, what I expect from Lumintop. The tailcap here is magnetic and quite strong. It’s a one piece design with the body tube and features a small lanyard hole. The body piece has a square stubbled knurling that looks almost milled in place, it’s fairly aggressive for a headlamp. The threads are long on this model, raw, and square cut. 

The head is kind of large to accommodate the 3 LED’s. It sticks out a ways from the body, more then most of your typical right angle lights. There are very shallow reliefs milled into the sides and tops, more for style then heat dissipation I think. Inside there are springs on either side of the battery. The button is large, and flat on the top of the light. It’s an electronic switch and presses easily and it should work with gloves well too. 

 

Size & Weight

I measured the length of the light at 81mm, diameter of the body at 23.4mm, and length of the head at 34mm. Weight for the light with a battery without the clip is 102g. 

For an 18650 headlamp the HL3A is quite short and small yet the head still has a decent amount of thermal mass. However this makes it less suited for pocket EDC in my opinion. The head just sticks out further then I want. That said the magnetic tail here is a nice addition and it’s quite strong. 

The headband is good as mentioned before, it has an orange silicone mount for the light. While you can unthread the head while on the mount to change the battery it’s more difficult than removing the light itself.

LED & Beamshot

My example of the HL3A here is running three Cree XPL-Hi Cool White at 6500k. I like the XPL-Hi emitter but Cool White isnt my favorite tint. Thankfully there are other LED’s and tints available including Cree XP-L HI 5000k, Nichia 219C 4000k, and SST20 at 4000k. The XP-L Hi’s produce the most peak lumens at 2800, the Nichia’s about 1600 lumens. 

The beam is using a Carclo style optic here, the specific part number isn’t mentioned but it does a good job of creating a flood. Good for even diffused light up close and decent amount of distance too at higher outputs. No complaints here.

Runtime

For my runtimes I used a Sony VTC6 battery. The light will accept button tops or flat top cells but for max output I would recommend a non protected battery and the light is using factory calibration. On turbo the HL3A instantly starts stepping down in output, possibly quicker then any other light I have measured. At the 30 second mark where the FL1 standard is, it’s making significantly less light than it does when you turn it on, but here is where I set the 100% of relative output. At 1 minute it’s making 50% of this value and at 2 minutes it’s making 20%. Here it remains stable for 7 hours of runtime before stepping down a few more times and running at its lowest mode. LVP here isn’t a defined value, just the lowest output. If you decide to purchase this light just expect the bulk of the output to be about 20% of it’s claimed peak value. That said this is more than enough for most close up headlamp tasks.

Maximum temps I saw during my runtime was 35.2 (95F) degrees celsius at the 35 second mark.

 

UI

The UI here is standard Andruil, and I think it ‘s pretty well suited to a headlamp. I will link to my FW3A review in case this is your first time seeing Andruil and include the diagram below. It looks a little complicated but once you get a hang of it, it works pretty well 

Mechanical lockout here isn’t an option due to those exposed threads and single tube design. 

 

Pro’s

  • Small and Compact
  • Andril firmware allows you to really set the light level where you want and need it for optimal runtime. 
  • Several LED’s and tints to pick from.
  • Magnetic Tail

\Con’s

  • Max output starts decreasing almost instantly

 

Conclusion

If you need a headlamp with a lot of output for a very short amount of time with a good UI and good build quality the HL3A is a good choice. To me it’s disappointing how quickly it starts to ramp down in output that’s true of most of the FWXX series of lights, so it’s not surprising. That said I like the rest of the light quite a bit. Andril adapts itself well to a headlamp with either the ramping mode or stepped modes. 

 

The Carclo style optic gives you a nice even beam that you can even customize if you wish by swapping it out. Modding potential here is pretty good as you can get easy access to the LED’s through the front. Other emitter mods, turboglow are all options here too. I think the reliability here should be pretty good too due to the design changes vs the FW3A. It has a single tube design, and no tail cap issues because there isn’t a tail cap. The head also has retaining rings inside so there is less to move around and cause an issue. 

 

So if you love the FW3A and wished there was a right angle version to use it as a headlamp, this is your light. Go check it out.  

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/8namuJR

Pickup the Lumintop HL3A at http://www.lumintop.com/hl3a.html

Frelux Synergy 2 in depth review (LH351D, 14500, Made in the USA)

Today I have a special light on my review table, the Frelux Synergy 2. If you are a long time subscriber you may remember that in October of 2018 I reviewed the original Frexlux Synergy 1 side-by-side flashlight. The Synergy 2 is the larger big brother and brings lots of new improvements and upgrades to the side-by-side format, and is almost entirely made in the USA. Let’s settle in for a longer review and look at the Synergy 2.

 

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Frelux Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/frelux/

Frelux Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/265291334054570/

 

Packaging

Packaging for the Synergy 2 is a custom made cardboard box. It’s basic, but neatly done with just the Frelux logo and slogan on the top. The inside flap has a quote and a US flag to remind you the light is made in the US. Inside, the light is protected by a laser cut black foam protector. Accessories are a Frelux sticker and little quick start manual with a link/QR code to download the full manual. 

 

Construction and Machining

The Synergy 2 is made from US sourced 6061 aluminum. It is offered in a large variety of anodizing colors with Black, OD Green (what I have here), and a blue being the core colors at the time of review. The clip is made of grade 5 titanium and is also available in  raw, gold, and blue colors. 

It’s a side-by-side battery design, with the batteries in a parallel circuit. At the front of the light you have two brass contacts that have physical reverse polarity protection provided by a circuit board surrounding these contacts. The result is a light that’s a little picky on 14500 batteries if you decide to run those. Button tops are required, and watch the diameter of your cells too. Frelux has a list of tested batteries that are known to work with the Synergy 2, and it’s probably best you stick to those. VapCell’s 1100mAh models seem to be the best option (14.09mm). My 800mAh Keeppowers (14.41mm) were a bit too large in diameter.

The Internal Construction is a neat design; you have a brass threaded rod spanning the length of the light that threads into the head section, goes through the middle and tail section, and then the tail nut tightens everything in place and provides compression on the o-rings on each section to provide water resistance. The switch up front is an electronic switch, but it’s a very satisfying feeling too; it’s solid and crisp. The switch also has a mechanical lock feature which I recommend using during carry. Just rotate it clockwise and the button physically can’t press the e-switch. There isn’t any visual sign it’s locked, which is a little disappointing, but it’s an effective solution and keeps the UI simple. The Synergy 2 doesn’t carry a formal water rating, but Ben has tested it in a 8ft column of water overnight without a problem, so it should be ok in most situations. 

The tail brings the light all together; externally it has a nice USA engraved on one side of the black button and the battery orientation diagram on the other. The tail nut is a cool piece it’s what holds the entire light together and holds the clip on the light (along with the dovetail) during battery changes via an o-ring, which is a nice improvement over the Synergy 1. Internally there is a circuit board with three springs-two for the batteries and one for the brass center rod.

 

Machining 

One of the reasons why I enjoy this light is all the machining content that is shared on the Frelux Instagram page. I am a want-to-be machinist. I enjoy watching several YouTubers make stuff, and just want a machine to play with. Ben of Frelux produces these lights in his home shop with a Brother CNC machine. Make sure you check out the video version of this review for some of this machining footage.

What’s somewhat unique here is how he has setup the 4th Axis on his machine along with the four sided pallet design, to maximize his machining times and get the most work done per cycle. With the pallet design it’s almost like a 5th axis machine. He designed a tool that mounts in the mill to allow the mill to rotate the parts in the fixture and continue machining without human interaction. The Synergy 2 took all of this into account during the design process. It allows him to maximize his time while the CNC is running to get the next pallet of parts ready and do other finishing and assembly tasks. The end result is a light that was designed with production and keeping the overall final product affordable in mind. All tumbling and anodizing is done in house for tighter tolerances on quality. Even the soldering of sub components, finish assembly, packaging, and shipping are done at the Frelux headquarters. 

 

Size and Weight

I measured the overall length at 95mm, width at 41.6mm, and thickness at 21mm not including the clip. Weight with Vapcell 14500 batteries is 6oz or 170g. This makes for a decently heavy light for its size and material. This design inherently has more material left after machining than a typical cylinder light. More aluminum could be removed through more complex machining internally, but it would greatly add to the complexity and overall cost. As far as competition there really are not many other side by side AA lights on the market to compare it to, so can we say class leading? 

Retention

The retention of this light is interesting. I have to first start with the size and how that impacts its pocket carry. I enjoy carrying a 14500 sized light, especially in warmer months as I wear more shorts. Since cargo shorts are no longer fashionable or accepted in my house, the result is less pocket space and an EDC to suit. With jeans it’s a bit of a different story. I find that despite the added width of the side by side format, there is still room for the light in my left front pocket and my phone deeper down in the jeans pocket. It’s too big for the coin pocket that you typically find on the right front side of many jeans. This is where the Synergy 1 was just about the perfect size.

That said one of the Synergy 2’s new features is it’s tension adjustable pocket clip. This is a neat design, the clip is retained in a dovetail in the tail section and then the tail nut that holds the tail section on to the light controls the clip’s ability to slide closer or further away from the body, thus setting the tension. It can be very tight or fairly loose, so it’s adjustable to a variety of different pocket materials. That said the very end of the clip isn’t flared out much so it can sometimes be a little hard to get started onto a pocket. Frelux does include a small adhesive vinyl sticker to place where the clip makes contact with the body to help prevent excessive wear on the anodizing. It’s a nice touch but I wish more then one was included in the package.

 

Grip in the hand is still fairly comfortable. If I choke up a bit I can still get all 5 fingers on the light. It’s a kind of modified pistol grip, if your thumb is on the light jimping on the top, the jimping on the bottom ends up fitting well with my middle finger. I do wish the jimping was slightly deeper and a little more aggressive. 

LED & Beamshots

The Synergy 2 is using a Samsung LH351D LED at 5000k and 90 CRI. This is a great emitter in my opinion and is quickly becoming one of my favorites that’s in current production. It’s a nice combination of tint, output, and high CRI. It’s surrounded by a smooth fairly deep reflector, with an anti reflective coated glass lens on top. There is just a hint of tint shift in the very center of the beam. I only noticed this when shining it at full power onto a white surface, it’s not noticeable during real world use. The resulting beam does have a pronounced hot center and ring at the edges before you get into the spill. Practically this isn’t a bad thing and the deeper reflector helps the light throw better than I initially expected. That said, I would prefer to see an orange peel reflector to smooth that transition out a little further.

This light is using a driver that Frelux had designed specifically for this light and it’s circuit boards are produced and populated in the USA. It has a ramping UI that I will speak more about here in a minute. The light is capable of running on the three most common chemistries of AA sized batteries. Standard Alkaline batteries, Ni-MH producing a maximum of 250 lumens, and Lithium Ion 14500’s producing a maximum of 700 lumens. The driver features memory, Low Voltage Protection(LVP), and temperature protection as well. No PWM was noticed with either battery type. 

 

Heat and Runtime

I ran three runtimes a few times with this light to see the differences. I focused on rechargeable batteries since that’s what most people will run this light with most of the time.

For my test with 14500’s (Lithium Ion) I used 2x VapCell 14500’s. Mine happened to be flat tops which won’t run in this light, but thankfully some small 1mm magnets worked to get around this until my button tops arrive. I got three minutes of the highest output before this light stepped down due to thermals. As you can see the heat continued to increase here but everything was pretty tame, peaking at 33.4C (which is basically body temperature). It’s a safe temp, almost too safe, as I would prefer a bit longer runtime for a little more heat. From there the light ran at 42% relative output for 2 hours and 13 minutes, before stepping down to about 18% relative output and running for another 10 minutes before shutting off. LVP was measured at 3V for each cell.

Next for my runtimes I tried with some older Eneloops (4000mAh Total). Simply put the output here is extremely stable for the entire runtime, and the light ran until 2 hours and 20 minutes of output. The last test I did was with some Amazon Basics High Capacity Ni-Mh batteries. These are said to be rebranded Eneloop Pros but at about ½ the cost. Mine averaged 2475mAh each after testing the cells independently. Overall runtime here was 3 hours and 4 minutes. The extra roughly 800mAh buys you about 45 minutes of extra very stable runtime. Heat on either Ni-Mh was basically ambient temps.

While the light does run on the three different chemistries of batteries, it’s my opinion that the best option is really lithium ion 14500s as these give the most output and still a good amount of runtime for an EDC style light of this size. Alkalines should be the battery of last resort due to their lower output and potential for leaking; it would be a shame to damage the light from preventable corrosion. Since the batteries are in parallel the light will run with only one battery if you wanted. Same outputs, but just less runtime. It can be a weight savings measure or if there was only one cell left in the package in an urgent situation.

The driver has one odd quirk that you should be aware of if you run the light until low voltage protection kicks in. If it takes longer than 30 seconds to change the batteries there is a good chance the light won’t turn back on with fresh cells. The solution is to just leave the tail piece off for 2 minutes to reset the driver. The technical reason for this is there are two sets of code for each voltage range the driver operates on. This could have been eliminated but it would have increased the driver’s parasitic drain, which no one wants. 

 

UI

The Synergy 2 is using its own UI system, but don’t let that be a worry. It’s simple and familiar. It’s a simple ramping UI. From off, a long press of the button will give you a shortcut to the lowest mode of output. From here a long press again will start the light ramping up in brightness which takes about 2 seconds to reach the top output. Unlike other flashlights there is no flash to let you know you’re at the top or bottom of the range, but this isn’t an issue as the light just stops and doesn’t cycle over. While ramping you can stop anywhere and press the button again to reverse your direction of the ramp. Double press from on or off to jump to maximum output. There are no blinking modes on the Synergy 2, and I don’t miss them personally. 

 

Pros

  • Great emitter choice, nice tint and high CRI
  • Multi Chemistry battery support (Alkaline/NiMH & Liion)
  • Impeccable Fit and Finish
  • Made in the USA!
  • Lots of color options but they are not always all available or published.

 

Cons

  • No moonlight mode, lowest mode of operation is approximately 2 lumens with Ni-MH batteries and 5 lumens with 14500s.
  • The light is a little picky about the length and diameter of 14500s
  • The side-by-side format takes up a decent amount of pocket real estate. 

 

Conclusion

The Frelux Synergy 2 is a unique light in the flashlight market. It’s a custom light in the sense that it’s made by one man in his garage in the USA, to exacting standards. Everything about it but the LED and eSwitch are custom designed for this light and made in the USA. Ben machines the light himself, anodizes them inhouse in a variety of colors, solders the USA made circuit boards, and does final assembly and testing himself (and sometimes with the help of the kids). The result is a light that has very tight quality control and superb attention to detail. 

 

It has creative design features too, like you can mix and match body pieces with other Synergy 2’s to create your own color and button combinations. The door is open to different materials for the body sections and buttons too, if he chooses to make this not only a custom light but a highly customizable one too. 

 

The adjustable tension clip is a smart design that I find works pretty well, and being deep carry I find it’s retention is good tool. It stays in place too during battery changes, which is an upgrade over the Synergy 1. This isn’t all the clip does though; it can also be used to tighten the brass nut that keeps the center section mounted to the head too. 

The Synergy 2 does all this at a price that’s less than your typical custom light that’s made in the USA. It’s a light I have thoroughly enjoyed watching develop on the Frelux Instagram  account, and mine will definitely be in my EDC rotation. I imagine I will carry it more when I am wearing jeans vs shorts due to its width, but that’s largely a personal preference with how I carry a knife and smartphone too.

These are truly custom made lights at this point, with Frelux taking preorders and then producing lights in batches and finishing them to your color specifications. So if you are interested in one, be prepared for a potential wait. Wait times so far have been fairly reasonable in my experience, with Frelux being careful about how many preorders they take. So if you want one, make sure to join the Frelux Facebook page and follow them on Instagram too so you know when preorders open.

Overall this is a fun light and one you should definitely check out if you want to get something unique, custom designed, and made in the USA.

Frelux Synergy 2 Order Page:  https://frelux.com/
Synergy 2 Manual:  https://frelux.com/pages/s2
Frelux Instagram Page:  https://www.instagram.com/frelux/
Frelux Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/265291334054570/

AVHzY CT-2 USB Power Meter Review

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/2PFDmX1

The bare CT-2 Meter https://amzn.to/2Wkcqaz
The CNC Cased CT-2 Meter https://amzn.to/3bm3rcS

Check out all the offical specs at https://www.avhzy.com/html/product-detail/avhzy-ct-2-usb-power-meter-cnc-aluminum-alloy-casing

Kizer Noble Knife Review (Ki4550, S35VN, Titanium, Sebastian Irawan)

Today I have a new knife from Kizer on my review table; the Kizer Noble. It was announced at Shotshow 2020 and is a flipper style knife with a 3.5” blade, 3.25” effective cutting edge, titanium scales, urban style EDC knife and it comes in at just 3 ounces. This is a prototype version that Kizer asked if I would be interested in taking a look at and I jumped at the chance. The expected launch date is sometime in July of 2020 but that may be delayed due to the pandemic situation. That said, like all of my other reviews, I will remain impartial and give my true opinions on it, good, not so good, and ugly. 

Knives are something I have been wanting to get into on this channel, so if you too want to see some more knife reviews, give this video a Like or leave a comment and smash that bell icon to be notified of the next review. 

 

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The Basics

In case you don’t know who Kizer is, they are a Chinese knife brand making high quality yet affordable knives. They are known for using genuine blade steels and other materials and high quality workmanship at affordable prices. They are one of the origins of high end Chinese knife manufacturing. Kizer is creating new designs and partnering with respected custom knife designers in the knife community too.

 

The designer of this knife is Indonesian Sebastian Irawan, and if you follow him on social media like I do, this knife is very much in his style.  He has worked with Kizer in the past with a few other designs like the Raja, and Kobold for this year. The speed holes not only achieve a reduction in overall weight, but you can tell they are part of the design element and overall aesthetic .

 

The Noble is a flipper design, and it has a very small tab with some jimping at the top of the tab. Despite it’s small size the blade flips well with a light switch style motion. The small tab also helps comfort in the pocket too. I like how Kizer has chosen to label the steel at the very bottom of the tab too keeping the blade cleaner of markings.

 

Stats & Comparison

Some official Stats from Kizer.

  • Overall length came in at 7.875”
  • Blade length is 3.50”
  • Cutting length is 3.25”
  • Blade width is 0.75”
  • Blade thickness is 0.13”
  • Steel is CPM-S35VN
  • Weight is 3.0 oz
  • MSRP is expected around $155 mark
  • Screw sizes on this are T6 and T8 Torx

 

Compared to other knives

The knife is fairly ambidextrous in my left hand. I had no issues flipping it and when closing I was easily able to pull the lock bar back with my thumb to close it. The clip is reverseable to the left side scale. I will add the caveat I am fairly ambidextrous myself so what’s easy for me might not be quite as easy for you.

 

Packaging

Packaging for the Kizer Noble is quite nice. It’s a flat black box and once the inner sleeve is removed you get a bifold flat black box. Inside is a small folder containing all the paperwork (Manual, Warranty, etc.) and a cleaning cloth. The knife is then inside a nylon pouch with a Kizer vinyl patch sewn on. It’s a nice presentation.

 

The Good 

The Noble is made from Grade 5 TC4 Titanium with a smooth, very tumbled finish. All the edges here are nicely chamfered where they should be, no complaints there. Inside the scales have been milled to reduce weight bringing the overall weight down to 3 ounces on my scale. The lockbar has a steel insert and I didn’t find any lock stick.  If you would like to see a takedown and cleaning video, let me know in the comments below. 

The blade is running on ceramic bearings, and the blade itself is made from domestic U.S. Crucible Industries’ CPM S35VN. It’s widely regarded as a fantastic price to performance steel for EDC uses and the stone washed finish helps hide any scratches it picks up during use. I have this steel on other knives and have been happy with its edge retention and relative ease of sharpening. The blade’s grind is a great slicer with its full flat grind style, that transitions to a “mild” Tanto.

Personally, I am not a huge Tanto fan but this one is mild, and I have found it to be quite useful, especially when opening packages where I don’t want to dip a tip too deep into the contents. The blade spine is rounded, so may present a bit of a challenge on your guided angle sharpening systems, but it is uniform so I don’t think it will be too large of an issue. Where the Tanto meets the belly the grind isn’t super uniform side to side but that’s nitpicking.  Overall, it’s a good blade and one that shouldn’t be too hard to sharpen at home if you are comfortable with multi angle blades.

 A few notes about construction here, the screws holding the knife together are all using T6 Torx screws. They do have some blue locktight on them but it’s very weak and they were easy to break free with a quality driver like my Boker Wiha Torx driver set here. The pivot is using a T8 Torx screw.

 Blade centering from the factory is perfect to my eyes. There is no side to side or up and down play, and lockup is a consistent 50% on my flips.

Kizer’s warranty is a limited lifetime warranty against parts and defects. They will usually ship replacement parts to consumers at low or no cost for those that want to do their own repairs. Depending on who you buy from the retailers can also help with repairs if needed. Shipping it back to Kizer in China is an option too but that does add significant time and cost. If you are doing you own knife maintenance, I don’t see a problem with this approach.

 

The Not so Good

Deployment here is quite good, smooth and easy, but like most frame locks it all depends on where your fingers land. This has a narrow width handle that I like when in my pocket, but this also means my fingers sometimes rest on the lock bar, making it harder to deploy. A quick shift of the finger position and all is well. My ZT-0460 has a similar design and problem. Maybe it’s just how I hold a knife. On the Noble at least your fingers have the speed holes to guide your hand for a comfortable deployment. The flipper tab itself is small, but does have jimping, and it stays out of the way; it’s not going to peck at your pocket contents. Overall, it functions well with a light switch style flick. 

Balance point on this knife is about an inch behind the pivot, not ideal but it’s not something I don’t notice to be honest. When I hold the knife in my right hand, I get a bit of a hot spot on my pointer index finger on the bottom of the scales if I really grip tightly, not a huge thing but something to mention. 

 

The Ugly

I like deep carry clips. If a knife or flashlight rides up too high in my pocket, I just don’t end up carrying it as much, and I like to conceal my EDC and I usually find it’s more comfortable too. This brings me to the clip on the Noble. It’s deep carry, and personally I like the design, but at least on this prototype it feels thin and kind of flimsy and it doesn’t make great contact with the scale (*took out “body” because it sounds like “your body” not the knife body) squarely. This hurt pocket retention, it never fell out of my pocket or came close, but it also doesn’t feel quite as secure as I would like. On thinner pants like dress slacks, it could be more of an issue than jeans. The clip is 3D milled clip out of titanium and it feels like it’s just one snag away from snapping.

I spoke to Kizer about this and they are taking it seriously and plan to make some revisions before the knife goes to production. To be fair, I have not had a problem with the clip snagging or anything during daily carry for several weeks. 

 

Conclusion

My use for this knife is an urban EDC and in the office. There isn’t a ton of texture here for rough or tactical use but for me that’s not the market this knife is designed for. For urban EDC it works well. It’s lightweight overall, and the blade is slicy. It’s an excellent package and letter opener, and has stood up to a bit more rigorous use with some cardboard breakdown duty and thick plastic strap cutting with ease. Despite the smaller flipper tab, the knife opens well as long as you don’t have your fingers on the lock bar. (Duh)

Personally, I like the look of it, and I feel like this is one of those designs that is going to be; love it or hate it. The speed holes save weight and the milling around them adds some style. I like that you can see through it as well as the flow-through construction. It’s more second factor cool and that works for me. 

Overall I am a fan of the Kizer Noble, it ticks my boxes for an urban EDC knife, with good materials, good value, and an interesting but functional design. Kizer has said they expect the production version of this knife to ship out to retailers in July of 2020, but production and shipping are difficult right now so that is subject to change. MSRP is expected around the $155 mark according to Kizer. Some of the well-known knife retailers like BladeHQ have it listed already and have an email notification that you can sign up for if you’re interested. If you like what you have seen here, go check it out!

 

Full Image Gallery: https://imgur.com/a/X466PZb

Kizer’s official website for the Noble http://www.tizi-outdoor.com/goods/details/1321

See it at BladeHQ https://www.bladehq.com/item–Kizer-Noble-Frame-Lock-Knife–106912

BLF LT1 Lantern Review (Variable tint, 90 CRI, Insanely Long Runtimes)

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. 

Construction

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. 

 

UI

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.

 

Recharging

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.

Case

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. 

Pro’s

  • Even beam (flood) with variable tint 
  • Super long runtimes.
  • Easy yet powerful UI
  • Solid robust construction

 

Con’s

  • Weight
  • 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

 

Conclusion

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

Thrunite T1 (1500 Lumen, 18350 EDC Flashlight)

In my last review I reviewed the Wowtac W1, but today I am taking a look at the Thrunite T1, the W1, bigger and slightly older brother. The T1 has been out now for a few months but this is my first time getting my hands on one. The light uses as larger 18350 battery with more runtime, a larger Cree XHP 50 LED with more output upto 1500 lumens, with tint options, and features ramping UI. Thanks to Thrunite for sending this over to review and look at. 

 

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Packaging & Accessories

Normal brown cardboard Thrunite box here, On one end is the line drawing of the light and it’s name, on the other is the emitter option that is in the light which here is the Neutral White option. The light comes protected in foam, and it’s accessories include the Thrunite branded button top protected 1100mAh 18350 battery, deep carry pocket clip, Thrunite branded lanyard, extra o’rings and USB port cover, MicroUSB cable for recharging and the user manual. 

 

Construction and Description

The T1 is an EDC style flashlight that’s made from black anodized aluminum. It features a flat magnetic base with a pretty strong magnet. The clip attaches at the rear only of the light and is not fixed in place. It’s a dual direction clip, more on that later on in the review. The body has a milled texture that we have seen on other Thrunite lights like the TH10 V2, and TC15 I have reviewed previously. 

Inside there is a large stiff spring, and a solid post in the head. It works with the rather long 18350 that comes with the light, and more standard unprotected sized batteries too without rattle. Threads are fine and square cut.On the head itself it has the eswitch that’s fairly quickly with LED’s underneath to indicate charging status. Opposite the switch is the MicroUSB recharging port and silicon cover. Water resistance here is good and it’s rated at IPX-8 and survives my bucket test easily.

The bezel has a large silver accent. The lens is anti reflective coated. Underneath is a large shallow reflector that swallows up the large Cree XHP-50 LED nicely. Centering is good on the LED within the reflector.

 

Size & Weight

I measured the length of the T1 at 70mm long, 22mm at the narrowest point, and 26mm at the widest point between the button and charging port. Weight with the included battery and clip came in at 71.4g. The light is IPX8 water rated.

The Wowtac W1 visually looks very similar to the Thrunite T1 but the Thrunite is large in pretty much all dimensions just slightly. For those that don’t know Wowtac is Thrunites sister brand. The two light share the same switch, clip, and charging port design. The bezels are the same style but dimensions are slightly different. 

 

The Olight S1R Baton II is frequently compared to the T1 because it’s a popular light of this form factor. It’s smaller in all dimensions since it runs a 16340 battery. It only carries head up, which you certainly have to get used to. It’s much more visible in the pocket because of it’s blue bezel and reflector, vs the T1’s black tail cap in deep carry. Runtimes are better on the larger battery of the T1, as well as turbo is brighter with 2.5 times more runtime before step down and the T1 comes with a tint choice. 

 

Retention

The T1 features a dual direction deep carry pocket clip which means it will clip onto the brim of a hat or batman mask if you want. The light carries with the tail up, deeply in the pocket which I like. I like to put the clip opposite the button on most lights like this because i can find the button easier by feel, but on this it interferes with the USB cover slightly when trying to put it in your pocket. Overall a good but not perfect carry. 

LED & Beamshot

This light is using a Cree XHP 50 LED. Mine is in the neutral white tint, but cool white is also available if you prefer. The beam here is mostly floody from the short orange peal reflector, but has a large bright center to give it some spot. I do notice quite a bit of tint shift. The center is warmer and the spill is cooler with a bit of a blue tinge.

 

Runtime & Heat

For such a small light that produces 1500 lumens on turbo, the runtimes here were pretty impressive. Turbo lasted a solid 2 minutes before it was done stepping down gradually. It ran from 2 to 15 minutes at about 35% relative output, then stepped down slightly to 30% relative output for the bulk of the runtime out to 55 minutes. From here the light started to sag out to about 68 minutes and eventually stop with low voltage protection kicking in at 3.065V.

 

Heat here is manageable given the 1500 lumens turbo mode lasts for 2 minutes. At 1 minute I measured 109F, at 5 minutes 105F and at 10 minutes 103F. 

 

Official lumen ratings were 

  • Turbo 1500 Lumens then 408
  • Infinity High 685 Lumens
  • Infinity Low 15 Lumens
  • Firefly 0.5 Lumens
  • Strobe 550 Lumens

No PWM was observed via eye or oscilloscope. 

 

UI

This light features a ramping UI Thrunite is calling infinite UI. I like it quite a bit. If you long press from off you get firefly which is 0.5 lumen. If you single click to turn on the light will come on in the last ramping mode used. To adjust the ramp you long press and hold once one. Let off the button when you get to your desired brightness level. If you overshoot or undershoot each time you let of the button the direction reverses. Double click to go to turbo and triple click to go to strobe. 

 

Recharging

USB-C recharging would have been nice, to see here but instead we have good old MicroUSB. Since this isn’t a brand new model I won’t fault it too much. The included 18350 battery is a button top protected 18350 that’s on the long side at 39mm but it’s capacity of 1100mAh is the current maximum available which is nice to see no corners were cut. 

 

I clocked the recharging of the battery at taking 2 hours 27 minutes to go from LVP of 3.065v to full at 4.125v. Maximum amperage I saw was 0.52A which is perfectly safe for a battery of this size. 

 

Pro

  • Longer runtime, and turbo output then it’s competitors due to the 18350 battery.
  • Available in NW and CW
  • Less expensive then it’s Olight and Fenix competitors
  • Head down deep carry design.
  • Ramping UI

 

Con

  • Not a particularly attractive light or unique design.
  • Included protected cell is on the long side.
  • Ramping is a little slow for my taste but perfectly useable.

 

Conclusion

The Thrunite T1 is a light I would recommend to anyone wanting more runtime or more light out of this small form factor EDC style light, without breaking the bank. It’s slightly larger then the competition but you get a solid bump in runtime and output for that, while still being affordable and giving you a choice in tints.

 

I enjoy the ramping UI here but I wish it was slightly faster. I really don’t have much bad to say about the light. It’s one I can pretty easily recommend and it’s affordable. 

 

Pickup the Thrunite T1 at Amazon https://amzn.to/2RMAAYx

Save 15% by using code 15T10430 until 4/30/2020

View the Full Image Gallery At https://imgur.com/a/IZzm8dx

Wowtac W1 Review ($26, 562 Lumen, 16340, EDC Budget Flashlight)

Wowtac has released a new small form factor EDC style light with the W1. It features a 16340 battery, onboard micro USB charging, deep carry pocket clip and tail magnet all for a very affordable price. Thanks to WowTac for sending this to me to review. 

 

YouTube version of this Review: 

https://youtu.be/4RcYz26y-GQ

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging for the W1 is much like other Wowtac models, with a brown cardboard box with minimal information. The box does suggest there may be a neutral tint version of this light eventually but it also might just be production flexibility. The included accessories is a Wowtac branded 650mAh 16340 battery, deep carry pocket clip, extra o’ring and recharging port cover, and microUSB cable as well as the manual. 

 

Construction

Construction of the W1 is pretty standard. The tail is magnetic and flat so the light tail stands well. It’s threaded for a lanyard (not included), and the 2 way deep carry pocket clip that snaps in place but can rotate. The body of the light is heavily diamond knurled. It feels nice in the hand for a small light. 

Inside the threads are square cut and anodized, the spring is relatively long in the tail cap. Inside the head there is a solid post instead of a spring. The diameter of the head is a 3.2mm larger in diameter then the body and 6 sided. It features an electronic button that requires a solid click with LED’s underneath to indicate charge status. On the back is the micro USB port and silicone cover that stays out of the way when in use. 

 

The front bezel is a bit thick and silver colored, it’s nearly flat with the glass lens with AR coatings. The optic underneath is wide and shallow with a light orange peel. The LED is nicely centered but seems small for the reflector.

Sizes, Weight, & Competition

I measured the Wowtac W1 at 68mm in length, 20mm in diameter at the body, and 24mm on the head. Weight with the battery and clip was 56.3g. The light is rated for IPX8 for 1.5 meters, so it will easily survive the bucket test here.

Comparing to Wowtac W1 to other similar lights, the two that are most similar are the Olight S1 mini Baton and Thrunite T1. The W1 look a lot like the T1 in design, with the body being knurled instead of milled and being overall smaller due to the different battery sizes in use. The Olight S1 Mini Baton uses the same sized battery as the W1 and is smaller overall. I will compare the beams between the two in my night shots. I do like that the W1 is head down for carry vs Olight’s head up design. 

Retention

The pocket clip is a push on style dual direction clip. It mounts only at the tail. It’s designed primarily for head down carry and does a nice job of being deep carry. However since the size of the head is larger I found myself needing to pull the pocket clip out a little to attach it to my jeans pocket easily.  Overall good but it takes an extra step to clip on to the pocket. 

LED & Beams Shots

The W1 features a Cree XP-G2 in cool white, while neutral white is mentioned on the package they are not available for purchase at the time of this review. The beam here is a little different. It has a small hot center, that throws decently well for a light this small. Then it has a wide, fairly weak spill. On lights this size I do generally enjoy a TIR style optic for EDC use because it does a good job of a blend of beam characteristics. There is Cree rainbow with this light in the beam with the center being warmer with some green tint and the outer spill being cooler.

There is some PWM in this light, its fairly minor and not noticeable to me by eye or by camera but I can see it via the scope. 

Wowtac lists the output specs of the W1 as the following.

  • Firefly 0.5 Lumens
  • Low 12 Lumens
  • Medium 60 Lumens
  • High 197 Lumens 
  • Turbo 562 Lumens with step down to 215 lumens after 1 min.

Heat and Runtime

Heat is well controlled on this light, after 1 minute I measured temperatures at 87F, at 5 minutes 95F, and at 10 minutes 98F. 

 

Runtime 

No big surprises were found in the runtime of this light. Turbo stepdown is large and occurs after 1 minute. From there the output fell as the battery depleted, We got another major step down at the 70 minute mark where the light faded into it’s lowest output of around 0.5 lumens till low voltage protection kicked in (2.88V) at 170 total minutes. Of this total runtime I would say about 70 minutes of that is useable light, not too bad for a 650mah 16340 sized battery. 

UI

The UI here is the same as many other Wowtac and Thrunite lights which is a good thing. When the light is off firefly mode can be accessed by long pressing on the power button. From off a single quick tap will turn the light on in the last mode it was in (not turbo or firefly). To change modes when the light is on long pressing will cycle through the modes in an increasing order, Low, Medium, High. To get to turbo, double click on the button from any mode. Triple click from any mode to get strobe. 

 

Recharging

Recharging the light is accomplished via the built in microUSB port on the head of the light. When charging the main button turns red, and then blue when charged. Charging from LVP at 2.88V to full at 4.142V took 1 hour and 50 minutes and the maximum charging speed I saw was 0.48A which is safe for this size of battery. 

Conclusion

The Wowtac W1 is another good budget light from Wowtac, especially if you’re interested in a new small EDC light. At the price point of around $25 for a complete kit, the W1 is a good value and pretty easy to recommend to people. I do wish they had a neutral white option, that and USB-C would set this light apart from the competition.

 

The beam pattern here isn’t my favorite with it being almost more of a thrower then a small area flood that is typically useful in EDC, at lower outputs the spill isn’t that useful. The light carries in the pocket pretty well, and also clips onto a hat easily for a quick access headlamp if needed. I wish the clip was slightly longer so it rested on the body and made getting it into the pocket just a little easier. All this said this is a high value light for the price and a nice inexpensive place to start if you want to start EDCing a flashlight in your pants pockets on a daily basis. 

 

Pickup the Wowtac W1 on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2UUwlMq

View the full Image gallery at https://imgur.com/a/JsOmc88

 

Wowtac is also looking for 100 volunteers to try the W1 flashlight on Facebook @wowtacflashlights and share their feelings and help WOWTAC improve. (follow us on Facebook and join our group, contact to get a free W1) There are also weekly flashlight GAW on WOWTAC Facebook page.

Xtar MC4S Review (USB-C Inexpensive 4 bay simple battery charger)

Xtar has updated version of the MC4 charger out with the new MC4s. It’s a basic 4 bay charger, utilizing USB-C for input power for charging various lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries. Thanks to Xtar for sending this out to take a look at. 

 

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Physically

The package it comes in is small retail style box with specs and battery sizes it supports listed on it. In the box is the charger itself, a simple manual, and a USB-A (Blue  to USB-C cable. 

 

The MC4S is a simple black flame retardant black plastic charger. It features 4 bays with spring loaded clips and a pad for the positive contact. This allows it to expand to fit most battery sizes. 10440-21700 (Non protected). For Ni-Mh and Ni-CD batteries it can do AAAA through C sized batteries. The outside 2 bays are designed for the larger diameter batteries like 26650’s and C sized cells. 

The MC4s features 4 LED’s on the front, one for each bay that tells you what’s going on. When you plug the charger in at first get a self check and each bay will show green for standby. They go when charging, and then turn green when charged. 

The back features a small vent for heat control, a large sticker showing input/Output power, as well as what all cells it supports. 

I measured the charger at 100mm x 97mm by 26mm. Empty weight is 95.2g.

 

Charging

This is a simple charger, and there isn’t anything to do or options to set. The LED status on each bay tells you what you need to know if the battery is charging (red) or if it’s charged (Green). I tested 4 LG HG2 batteries that started at 2.95V and put them into all 4 bays, and started charging. Terminal voltage was 4.125V and it did this is in 6.8 hours with the maximum charge rate combined at 1.8A or roughly 0.45A per bay. For smaller batteries like 10440 which this charger officially supports this may be a bit high of charge rate but for larger cells it’s just fine. It’s worth noting that slots 1 & 4 have faster charging rates of 1A each, if used by themselves, while inner 2 & 3 have slower rates at 0.5A if used by themselves.

I also tested some AA eneloop batteries across all 4 bays, starting at 1.12V and charging to completion at 1.46V. Charge rate here started off slow but gained in speed. This wan’t a constant current charge and seemed a little spiky on my equipment but ok overall. 

Lastly this charge will charge via USB-C to C cable and charger. I used my Aukey BA-B4 I recently reviewed and had no complaints. I have seen some people suggest this doesn’t have real PD triggering but it doesn’t really need it with these power level draws. 

 

Pro’s

  • Inexpensive with current prices being around $12
  • Basic, safe, get’s the job done.
  • USB-C to C support

 

Con’s

  • A bit agressive for the smaller sized cells it technically supports such as 10440, AAAA, etc. 
  • Not going to win any speed races for your larger cells.

 

Conclusion

What you see is what you get here, this is a dead simple battery charger that does what it says in a simple yet effective manner. If your new to the flashlight hobby and want a simple charger to get you going that will support the most common sizes of batteries you will see in most lights, for a low price, the MC4s does the job. 

 

This isn’t going to be the most appropriate charge for everyone but it’s a good place to get started for many. It’s nice to see USB-C here as the primary power input but in this case it’s all about the cable and connector of convenience if your life revolves around USB-C. It’s not taking advantage of the larger amount of power that could be delivered to speed charging times.

 

Overall the MC4s is a good basic, safe, and affordable charger. I can recommend it for your basic charging needs. 

 

Full Image Gallery https://imgur.com/a/toH1zXv

Pickup the Xtar MC4S 4 bay charger on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2RfdpFY