The Pelican L1 LED Flashlight
Last updated: 1/24/04
An essential item in every technician's field service tool kit is a reliable, but small flashlight. Many of these small flash lights have about a 2.5 hour battery life (a stretch in my opinion) and incandescent bulbs that occasionally burn-out. Following Murphy's Law, this usually happens at a job site where there are no batteries or the wrong kind of batteries and is located miles away from any store or gas station that has them (if they are open). Or, worse, when the car breaks-down out in the boonies while returning after dark from a job site during a storm. Solution: a small flashlight with one of the new super-bright and efficient LEDs (light emitting diodes) instead of a power-hungary incandescent bulb.
After using and reviewing the Dorsey Solid State Flashlight last August and being impressed with energy economy of LED flashlights, I started looking for smaller LED flashlights for stocking stuffers (small Christmas presents that are put in large stockings hung on a fireplace mantel or elsewhere). Following some research and determining that many of the small keychain LED flashlights use a single coin cell (battery) with a life of about 14 hours (which is still quite good when compared to flashlights with inca descant bulbs), I came across the Pelican Products L1. It is not flat like many keychain flashlights and is a little larger at 1 x 2 5/8 inches. On the other hand, it uses four LR44 1.5V alkaline coin cells and gets up to 100 hours out of a set of them. I bought three of L1s, one for my Wife, one for my Son, and one for myself.
They were a hit. My Wife has hers hung on a nail in the kitchen and uses it for things like poking around kitchen cabinets. I have mine hung in the living room behind the picture window curtain where it is out of sight of visiting kleptomaniacs and is handy for reading the indoor/outdoor thermometer on the wall next to it, and where it can be quickly accessed during a power outage. My Son says he is going to put his on his keychain (if he doesn't lose it first).
The L1 comes packaged in one of those "indistructable" (very difficult to open with sharp scissors) plastic packages designed to hang on retail pegboard display. It includes batteries (which are installed), a very good, adjustable, break-away safety lanyard for hanging the flashlight from your neck, and owners manual that is really a few paragraphs in various languages. It contains conflicting information and is brief in places where it needs to be verbose.
The flashlight itself is just about "indestructible." However, the Owner's Manual states that the guarantee does not cover, "sharkbite, bear attack, or children under 5." The two-piece polycarbonate case is thick and very rugged. The front section, consisting of a recessed plastic lens, reflector, and the black part of the case, is one integrated piece. A rubber bulb at the rear of, and attached to the neon-yellow section of the case seals the switch. An o-ring seals the black and neon-yellow sections when they are screwed together.
The packaging states that the "non-replaceable" LED lasts upwards of 50,000 hours of usage (5.7 years). However, the instructions and Pelican's web site have conflicting and confusing numbers about LED and battery lifetimes. The LED lifetime is stated in various places to be up to 130,000, 100,000, and 50,000 hours. Battery usage it listed at 90, 100, and 130 hours. Also, the web site states, "luminance drops off after approximately 30 hours" and the Owner's Manual states that the flashlight should not be left on for more than 45 continuous minutes before letting the batteries recharge.
Although the product comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime warranty, the warranty does not cover the "lamp," o-ring, and, as one would expect, the batteries. Pelican states "if you break it, we replace it... forever." Well, if it excludes the LED (bulb?) and o-ring, there isn't much left to replace, and the lifetime warranty is effectively void when the non-replaceable LED dies, isn't it? Or, is it? The instructions do say, "If you experience a problem with the LED, please return the flashlight for repair under the pelican Pelican Products Warranty program. Perhaps, the "lamp" in the boilerplate contained in "Pelican Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee of Excellence" in the Owner's Manual was written for ordinary flashlights and was not updated for LED flashlights, who knows?
The warranty also states that the o-ring should be kept greased and should be lubricated once a year per the product instructions. The instructions don't state how to lubricate it and specifically what kind of grease to use. I know of no one who is going to do anything to an o-ring, ever, except NASA.
The instructions for battery replacement state:
"1. Unscrew the Lens Cover Assembly and remove the LED/Battery Tray assembly."
Well, I tried to do exactly that and found that it wasn't apparently easy to "remove the LED/Battery Tray assembly," whatever that is. I tried to no avail to shake/tap it out first. When that didn't dislodge it, I tried to pull it out by grabbing the LED with twisers, which kept slipping and threatening to do damage. After fidgeting for several minutes, I learned the Tray assembly was everything inside of the case, including the switch and that depressing the rubber bulb at the rear of the flashlight as far as it would go in dislodges and pushes the whole assembly towards the front where it can be easily removed by letting it drop out the front. Better instructions and a drawing would have made this much easier and faster.
Next, the instructions state:
"2. Remove the used batteries and replace the cells as per the decal located in the battery tray..."
Well, the "used" batteries obscure the decal. Also, they are difficult to remove with your fingers and can't be shaken-out. I used a tweaker (a very small screwdriver) to gently pry one of them out, and that wasn't what I would call easy.
Next - I love my little L1 >