Pros: Useful flashlight in emergencies.
Cons: Short battery life, Battery not very durable.
I trust Costco when it comes to their products they stock on their shelves. This is an exception. I really hate this product and am very disappointed with its performance.
What is it and what does it come with.
It is just a flashlight with a spinning handle attached. The handle is used for charging the Lithium Ion battery and it does fold out of the way when using the light.
It does not come with any accessories and you are not meant to replace the battery or LED's.
How it works.
You wind it up with a handle until the battery is charged. This takes several minutes to get a descent charge. Then you press the button once to turn on the 3 front white LED's. Press the button again and all 5 LED's flash. The extra two are red LED's located on the front sides. Press the button a third time and it turns off.
It is not the easiest thing to wind. The handle does not lock in place and does move when you are trying to charge the battery.
One of the flashlights died completely (would not hold a charge no matter how much I wound it) and I went ahead and tore it apart. All I needed to do was to unscrew 4 short screws, pop out the side yellow plastic, and take off the top. You can then take off the reflector for the front 3 LED's. On top is a 3.6V flat "watch" battery. On the bottom is the handle with a series of gear wheels going to the generator. The generator has two wires that connect to the main board. The very front has 3 white LED's and on the side there are 2 red LED's.
I went ahead and took out the battery and tested it with my multi-meter. I found that the battery did not have any charge to it.
I then wound it up and pressed the on button. I was amazed that the flashlight did light up. It didn't hold a charge of course since there was no battery, and apparently no capacitor. So I guess I could use it as a flashlight if I don't mind winding it constantly (ya right).
The winding/charging handle is easy to use (but not easy to grip) and does not offer much resistance. So anyone one of any age can wind this up. This is my chief complaint because if the resistance was greater then (if designed properly) you could charge it faster. So if that was the case, I would prefer a rechargeable flashlight that was harder to wind/charge.
How long does it last?
I wound it up steadily for 1 minute (when it was completely discharged) and then set it down with it on. The light lasted a whole 15 seconds.
I then wound it up fast for 1 minute. I left the light on and from the beginning I found that the light was a little brighter. But in 20 seconds it was very noticeably dimmer. In about 45 seconds it was completely useless. So once again, not a very long life span.
It is difficult to keep that fast pace up for very long, I could not imagine winding it up fast for more than 2 minutes.
When I first bought the set, I left one in the truck for emergencies. Well I had a flat tire at night and had to replace it and initially this was the only light available. First off the battery life was very short and I had to continually wind it up. Second, the light brightness was completely inadequate. It was impossible to see where the tire tool was going and I basically lowered the tire by touch. The light output was completely inadequate. A worker brought his own flashlight and we just ended up using that one.
I would estimate that the brightness is about the equivalent to a 1 AAA battery Maglite.
Who is this for?
I would recommend this type of flashlight for an emergency kit or a toy for the kids. But I do not recommend this particular model. Personally, I recommend keeping a couple of AAA batteries and an AAA mini-Maglite instead.
The body is slightly molded to fit the shape of the hand. It does not perfectly fit my hand but it still works well; I'll give it a 7/10. There is a strip of rubber on either side of the body that allows you to get a descent grip, even if your hands are wet.
The ergonomics of the handle is very poor. It does not lock in place and the part that you grab is just a small rectangle. The tip of the handle really should have been bigger. I give this a 5/10.
Nothing to clean, it is just pure plastic and rubber side grips.
Other than the battery and battery life, it seems pretty durable for daily use or transport in the top of a tool box. It is plastic and will crack if dropped from a good height. But it is strong enough that I cannot bend/crack it with my bare hands. The circuit board and the connections to the LED's seem good to me. The flashlight has been banged around and shows a lot of scratches.
While I am not an electric expert, I did run a couple of voltage tests while cranking it up (without the battery). I found that the voltage ran at around 3.6 volts when you were cranking it up a comfortable pace. When I cranked really fast I actually got it up to around 4.3. I've read that Lithium-Ion batteries can handle this voltage spike so I do not think that is the problem with the dead battery. My guess is that the flashlight was left on and the circuit board let it drain all the way down. I've read that Lithium-Ion batteries can't handle a full drain so that is my guess as to what happened.
Weight and dimensions
Weight: 5 7/8 ounces
Length: 5 3/8 inches
Width: 2.5 inches
Height: 2 inches