Brinkmann Long-Life LED Light, retail $12-$18 (http://www.walmart.com)
Available only at Wall-Mart stores
Last updated 11-22-06
This is the now-famous Brinkmann single LED, 2-cell flashlight that's been a popular item at Wall-Mart as of late.
Packaged in a cylindrical, hard plastic cover with a ribbed rubber grip, this light uses a single white LED and a pair of "AA" cells.
To use this flashlight, install two "AA" cells (see below) and screw it back together. To get light, press the button on the heel of the flashlight until it clicks.
To make it go out, just push the button again.
The package was very well sealed, and it took a concerted effort with a box knife to extract the light and the two included batteries from it without wrecking something. :)
This light uses two "AA" cells to run a single white LED. A member of a popular discussion forum (candlepower forums) disembowelled one of these things in the name of science
and found a DC to DC inverter board stuffed with all kinds of discrete components (transistors, resistors, caps, etc.) and a handful of other parts. The batteries fit into a split compartment on the upper portion of the flashlight; just pop them in according to the polarity markings inside.
Screw the two halves together, and you're good to go.
Initially, this flashlight seemed to have a cheap, hollow feel to it; however the rubber grip gives it a nice and secure feel in the hand.
Most of it is made from the same kind of plastic they use to make cheap boomboxes with, there is a possibility of cracking if it hits the ground the wrong way or if it
is badly and purposefully abused. I also found it unusually large for a single LED, 2-AA flashlight. They could have shrunken this one down considerably, but they chose to use this big case anyway - possibly as a cost-saving
measure. At $12.00 retail, this is one of the least expensive LED lights, and it is a good deal too considering the complex, parts-loaded circuit needed to run the white LED on just two batteries.
A rubber "O" ring around the center should seal out weather and moisture with a good deal of reliability.
The switch has a dual functionality - depressing it only partially allows you to blink the light on and off at will. This can be used to send Morse code or for other signalling purposes; depressing the switch
until it clicks allows the light to burn steadily.
Beam picture of the big fat little flashlight. Note the rings of light around the edges.
The beam from this flashlight is much narrower and sharper than most LED flashlights. It also has these "bullseye" rings around the outer edge - this is mostly wasted light
but some people may be able to use them as a peripheral "walking" light under some circumstances.
The beam from this flashlight doesn't seem particularly bright in any case; it was easily outshined by Turtlelite, PAL, and AccuLux.
Some people may also find the main beam to be too narrow to be truly useful, but when you need light, it will certainly do.
The business end. Note the lens-end, instead of a bare LED.
The location of the switch makes this light a little less convenient to use than lights with barrel-mounted switches. You have to firmly grasp the light
and curl your forefinger around the back and depress the button.
If your forefingers or hands aren't very strong for some reason (arthritis, cold & wet, etc.) this can become irritating. For two-handed operation, you can grasp the light with one and use the thumb on the other to do the deed.
I found it impossible to activate it by thumb in single-handed mode. A light with a tail-only switch should have been designed so that your strongest appendage
(the thumb) can be used to activate it. The stiff action of the switch is actually a benefit though, as it helps prevent
the light from going off in your camping gear or inside the glovebox.
Once you get used to using your index finger, you never even think twice about it after awhile.
This light could have used an anti-roll fin. If it is placed or dropped on a slanted surface, it will merrily roll away and try to escape from you.
Testing is now underway. This is a loaner, so I cannot try to break it. :)
I have since recieved a "thrasher" (keeper) sample of this light, new in its original packaging.
Contrary to its outward appearances, this light does not explode into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor when dropped; instead it just bounces around a little
and rolls under the stove. Only some very minor scuffing has occurred; and the flashlight's operation and overall appearance has not degraded. Both the lens and the movable portion of the switch are recessed and thus protected
The packaging states the light is indeed weather resistant (as first suspected) and should hold up fine outdoors. Putting lithium batteries in this light makes it a great
candidate for keeping in the trunk or glovebox of the family car, as lithiums have a long shelf life and aren't affected much by normal winter temperatures.
Battery life should be measureable in the dozens of hours with near full brilliance, and dozens more once it finally does start pooping out. So you aren't left in the dark.
This light also works with batteries that are too dead to use in anything else. I have already tried it with batteries too dead for radios, incandescent flashlights and cameras; and it works just fine with them.
This is the kind of flashlight that grows on you. Although I initially disliked it, I find myself using the Brinkmann more and more, and even keep it in my lunchpail to use for
any situation requring a light - from reading bar menus to changing a flat. This is also a good light to keep on the night table, as I have been doing lately.
I have also heard from a website visitor that the Brinkmann Long Life LED is starting to show up at places other than Wall-Mart. Expect to pay anywhere from $12 to $18 for it, depending on where you purchase.
I received an email from a user of this product this morning. Here, verbatim, is that message:
I appreciate your LED flashlight testing site. I just wanted to give you some input regarding the Brinkman single LED 2AA Wal-Mart flashlight. We have used them extensively in Guinea, West Africa, where we live in a small rural village (we’re missionaries). We have given some of them to villagers. A friend of ours there bought 50 of them to give away to his village friends. The flashlight is much desired, since it works so well on cheap and used batteries. Cost of batteries is a major concern for these poor people.
The battery contacts can become corroded, and make the light not work. This is not too difficult to take care of.
The main problem is with the switch. It gets corroded and dirty in the village environment, and ceases to function. I have cleaned many switches, which can take 15 minutes or so, since it has to be taken apart,
cleaned, and reassembled. Lots of little parts in there!
So we don’t recommend this flashlight for prolonged, rugged, dirty conditions.
Feels reasonably good in the hand, nice looking instrument, weather resistant (at minimum), excellent battery life, uses cheap common batteries (even used ones), size makes it less susceptible to loss.
Type of plastic used in its construction tends to be brittle (although recent testing is showing otherwise), beam is not as bright as other lights, beam is too narrow for some uses, beam has wasteful rings, bad switch placement, light rolls away very easily.
PRODUCT TYPE: Handheld Flashlight
LAMP TYPE: LED, White, 5mm
No. OF LAMPS: 1
BEAM TYPE: Circular spotlight with sharply defined perimeter
SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton on/off on tailcap
BEZEL: Magnifying lens, integral reflector
BATTERY: 2 AA cells
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown
WATER RESISTANT: Yes, weather resistant only
ACCESSORIES: Energizer batteries
WARRANTY: 12 months, limited. Does not cover abuse/neglect/accident
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