By Diane Ako - bio | email
HONOLULU (KHNL) - It seems like there's an unwritten rule that when you need a flashlight, the batteries will die. That's why we wanted to find a flashlight that doesn't rely on regular batteries. We wanted to know what was a good flashlight for an emergency situation. So we tested a few- solar powered and hand crank.
The folks at State Civil Defense practice emergency preparedness. We asked vice director Ed Teixeira to test it with us.
The makers of the SunNight solar powered flashlight sent us this. After a day of charging in the sun, it will hold a beam overnight. It should last 750 to 1,000 nights. It will turn off automatically in sunlight. You can't overcharge it, so you can leave it in the window all the time. It has a carabiner to clip onto something.
"That's a pretty far beam," exclaimed Teixeira, while testing it in a dark room. We kept the light on and found it lasted a whopping seven hours! It was not hot after all that time, and the beam was very strong until the last half hour, when it started flickering before it shut off. "Wonderful device. Very light," added Teixeira. He concluded the only drawback to this light was that it's not waterproof.
This hand crank light from the Red Cross in Diamond Head promises one minute of winding gives 20 minutes of light. "The beam lasted five minutes," said a disappointed Teixeira. We crossed this one off our list.
The Coleman Max Led Dynamo wind up lantern did a lot better. "Pretty good beam!" said Teixeira. One minute of winding was supposed to give 15 minutes of light but it actually provided over 20 minutes of useable light! "It's safer than using candles in case of high wind event," he added. It's also got an FM radio function and a cell phone charger, but we did not test those functions. This is also available at the Red Cross in Diamond Head.
Lastly the Nightstar 3 shakelight promises 10 minutes of useable light off 30 seconds of shaking. It delivered, but the beam dimmed noticeably after five minutes. Still, good for something with absolutely no batteries. The makers also promise it's waterproof, floats, is shock resistant, is submersible to 2,200 feet, and can withstand extreme temperatures.
The confusing part about using the shakelight is that it actually takes three full minutes of shaking to fully charge the capacitor. Then, it'll provide 10 minutes of useable light. To get quick recharges in that same session, you shake it for 30 seconds. If you don't use the light for more than two months the capacitor may drain of electricity, and then you have to shake for three minutes to install a base charge again. The directions weren't fully clear about that.
The drawback to using a shakelight is that is works off a magnetic charge, so the directions warn you to "not set the light within 16 inches of computers, monitors, televisions, or magnetic storage media." You're also supposed to keep it at least two inches away from gear driven watches and clocks, and "exercise caution when using any magnetic device around pacemakers."
So how did the products test? The SunNight solar powered light won this test because the light lasted for seven hours on just one charge! In Diane and Ed's unscientific tests, the Coleman wind up lantern placed second, and the Nightstar 3 shakelight placed third.
The SunNight SL-2 costs $39.99.
To find out more or to buy the SunNight solar light or the Nightstar shakelight, please do an internet search; it is easy to find. To buy the two hand crank lights, the Red Cross store at Diamond Head sells those
Hawaii News Now
420 Waiakamilo Road, Suite 205
Honolulu, HI 96817
Main (808) 847-3246
News (808) 847-1112