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Customer Review

231 of 231 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Consider the Garrity Power Lite instead, January 21, 2007
This review is from: Dynamo Illuminator Wind-up LED Flashlight (Tools & Home Improvement)
I own both the Garrity Power Lite and the ILLUMINATOR wind-up flashlights. They have the same basic design, but with the following differences:

1. Size: The Illuminator is about the size of a man's electric shaver. It is easier to hold and to crank. The Garrity is bulkier, mainly because of the extra plastic lenses in front. It is also less comfortable to hold because rubber grips on the sides are shorter (see my Customer Image for size comparison)

2. Ease of Cranking: The Illuminator's handle takes very little effort to crank. However, you need to turn it virgorously (2-3 turns per second) in order to charge up the battery. The Garrity's cranking presents more resistence and is noisier. But the good news is that you only need to turn it at around one turn per second to charge up the battery.

3. Light Output: Both flashlights use 3 white LEDs, and have the option to turn on either one or all three. As far as I can tell, the LEDs are identical. The main differnce is that the Illuminator's light output is diffused, while the Garrity added three plastic lenses in front to produce a well-focused beam.

4. Light Duration: When fully charged up, the Illuminator gives out brighter light initially. However, its light dimmed down within a few minutes. After ten minutes, the light becomes barely visible (see my Customer Image above). The Garrity, on the other hand, produces fairly consistent light output for at least one hour!

Based on longer light duration, I would recommend the Garrity over the Illuminator. The Garrity is also cheaper when you order it with free super-saver shipping. (Be carefull when ordering The Illuminator, because some places offer the flashlight for $8-10, but charge another $8 in shipping!)

[The following Info for geeks only]:
Why does the Garrity produce much longer light duration than the Illuminator?

The Illuminator uses one 3.6V Lithium-ion rechargeable button cell (capacity unknown, probably around 30mAh). The Garrity uses 3x 1.25V NiMH cells rated at 80mAh. In my opinion as an electrical engineer, the NiMH design is much better because:

1. Each white LED needs about 20-40mA at 3.6V to produce sufficient light output. Three NiMH cells provide a consistent 3.75V throughout most of the discharge period. The Li-ion cell may provide up to 4V when fully charged, but its voltage drops quickly during discharge to 3.6V and below. This explains why the Illuminator produces a brighter light initially, but dims down much faster.

2. NiMH cells are more robust and can withstand over-charging better than Lithium-ion cells can. Think about it: there are chargers that can fully charge up NiMH cells in 15 minutes (that means charging at 4X), but nothing can charge Li-ion cells in less than one hour. In this case, since you can charge up the battery in one minute and then use it for up to one hour, that means the battery is being charged at 60X! This kind of abuse is not recommended even for NiMH, and it can be murderous for Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

[Update on April 9, 2007]
The Lithium-ion rechargeable battery in my Illuminator probably was already damaged (from over-charging) when I did the comparison above. It has deteriorated further since then, and can hardly sustain five minutes of light now.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 1, 2007 1:39:16 PM PDT
For additional information on "Crank-Powered LED Flashlights", please read my 2007/06/01 Comment on NLee's *EXCELLENT* Review on the Garrity Power Lite.

Posted on Aug 13, 2007 11:28:22 AM PDT
J.B. Cabell says:
I agree. I have a Dynamo Illuminator that was put into the car about a year ago to be used as an emergency light. Other than trying it out briefly after purchase, it has hardly been used. A recent test revealed that it now fails to hold a charge. Two or three minutes of cranking produced less than a minute of light. The Li-ion coin cell in it could probably be replaced, but finding a source, ordering it and soldering the replacement in isn't worth the trouble. So, in other words, it's another $10 sent to China for a piece of junk that's going into the landfill. For an emergency light I'm better off with a conventional flashlight using non-rechargeable alkaline or lithium cells, so long as I remember to put in fresh cells every couple of years.

Posted on Nov 29, 2007 10:50:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2007 10:51:42 AM PST
fallout11 says:
Excellent review. However, I own both this model and the Garrity Power Lite, and actually prefer this flashlight to the Garrity model, primarily for its much more useful wide, diffused beam. I found more effective for general task lighting, reading, night walking, roadside flat tire replacement, and a host of other activities. The Garrity Lite, by contrast, has such a focused light (about basketball size at 6-8 feet) that I found myself endlessly playing it around, trying to find objects in the dark.
Of course, 'your mileage may vary'.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2007 8:31:10 PM PST
Keith, I checked my Garrity and its bright sopt is about basketball size at 3 feet. But this is a moot point for me now, because the rechargeable battery in my Illuminator is nearly dead, and the one in the Garrity is not far behind. I have then purchased the "Duracell Crank Light". It has a much brighter focused beam, and has a better battery design.

Posted on May 15, 2009 8:52:51 AM PDT
Dallas75205 says:
Yeah - the Garrity Power Lite is ALSO $60 on Amazon. Compared to this one being only $15. BIG Difference.

Posted on Nov 11, 2012 9:21:29 PM PST
Irishman says:
All of these crank lights need to be cranked or charged once every 60-90 days to maintain battery longevity. Let it be for 6 months and they become near useless.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2012 8:54:14 AM PST
Irishman,
What you said is true for ordinary NiMH rechargeable batteries. Lithium-ion rechargeable battery (the one used in this Illuminator crank light) should have a shelf life of at least 1 year - unless it is already damaged.

Posted on Aug 27, 2015 10:06:22 AM PDT
Lake Waters says:
I bought a very similar looking crank flashlight at Harbor Freight a couple years ago. I've been very happy with it. It gets used at least once a month. I prefer the single bulb beam vs it's 3 bulb option, it seems brighter.

The brand name is Gordon.

I needed to get an order up to $35 for shipping so I bought an "Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank Light, Red" as a back-up. Haven't got it yet but the reviews were very good and I liked the Carabineer hook.

Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank Light, Red

Thanks for all your reviews.
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