Cliplight Vector 4 NUV Inspection Light, retail $TBA (
Manufactured by Cliplight (
Last updated 08-05-11

This is the baby brother to the original Cliplight Vector 7 near-ultraviolet (NUV) LED inspection lamp. Instead of having seven NUV LEDs behind custom-made lenses, the Vector 4 has four NUV LEDs behind four custom lenses.

It uses a standard 9V rectangular transistor radio battery for power.

You DON'T want to aim this flashlight at your eyes and push the button, not because it's bright, but because it has 4 near-ultraviolet LEDs behind 4 custom lenses. This light isn't very good for your eyes (when shined directly in them), but you *can* use it to find leaks in air conditioning units - that's what it's made for.

I haven't worked with air conditioners, beer coolers, refrigerators, and the like for many, many years; but as I understand, you shoot up the system you're checking with a small amount of dye, and any freon that escapes from that point on will glow brightly with this flashlight, so you can easily find out where the leak is and then fix it.

When I used to work on this type of equipment, we had a "halogen detector", a device that had a negative air pressure wand, and who's tone would change if you brought the business-end of the wand near a freon leak.
Back then, we used a refrigerant called "R-12"; I'm not sure if that detector works on the "R-22" that's in common use today. But the Vector 4 would! If you can introduce the dye into the system, this light should show the leak right away.

My test unit came from a website fan, and did not have packaging or instructional materials. So I'll have to guess a bit every now and again.


To use the Vector 4, install a battery if necessary (see below), then you'll be ready to roll.

The Vector 4 is meant to be a "leak finder" for refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

To use the Vector 4 in this manner, aim it at the spot you're checking, and press the rubberized button on the barrel. Press it lightly for intermittent (momentary) use; or press it a bit harder for constant-on. Press it again the same way to turn it off. Remember, you must first introduce fluorescent dye into the refrigeration unit and allow it to circulate for a short time before looking for leaks with the Vector 4.

The Vector 4 is powered by a rectangular 9V transistor radio battery. When you need to change it, turn the Vector 4 over so the black ribbed portion faces up. Using a large standard screwdriver or a coin like a US quarter, unscrew the large standard screw in the battery door until the end of the door can be lifted away. This screw is captive, so it will stay in the battery door and cannot become lost unless you end up losing the entire door.

Unsnap the used 9V battery from the battery snap, and dispose of or recycle it as you see fit.

Install a new battery by snapping it into the connector; narrower of the two terminals on the battery goes to the wider of the two terminals on the connector, and vice versa.

Place the battery door back on, being sure the two projections at the rear of the battery door fit into the two notches cut into the flashlight body for them. Screw the screw back in, and that pretty much takes care of things.

Battery test, in continuous on (100% duty cycle) mode.
Looks like it runs for about 3 hours 40 minutes before it falls off so quickly it's like it got its head slammed in the toilet seat. Virtually perfect regulation before that occurs though.

Battery test, in intermittent on (10% duty cycle) mode.
Please note that those two small but sudden "downshifts" on this chart are probably the result of something physically moving during the 44 hours this test was running. The regulator in the Vector 4 should not drop off in this manner during acual use.

In this mode, the light was on for 6 minutes per hour and off for 54 minutes per hour.
The resulting .ME1 file was stripped of all the "off" readings, so the plot made from that file would not look like a sawtooth pattern.

As of the evening of 05-10-04, this test is underway, and I should have some results up here within the next few days unless I screw up the test or if the charting DMM shuts itself down due to "0.000" being read for too long. I'll leave the monitor to the computer it's connected to turned on at night, to hopefully prevent the meter from shutting itself off and terminating the test early.

As of the morning of 05-11-04, the test was spoiled by what I believe to be a bad battery, and a new test was started almost as soon as the first test ended. As of the evening of 05-12-04, the second 10% duty cycle test is still underway (looks like around 33-35 hours now), and is progressing as I expected it would.

As of the morning of 05-13-04, the test is complete, and the graphic should now be visible.
Looks like it runs for 258 minutes (4 hours 18 minutes) in regulation, with some number of shorter, less than six minute activations (still in regulation) after that.

Current measures 138mA on a discharged but rested battery, and 86mA on a brand new battery.
This discrepancy is because the regulator in the Vector 4 is a "constant current" type, and would provide a constant current level to the LEDs even when the battery voltage drops. These readings are perfectly normal, and are nothing whatsoever to be concerned about. This regulator circuit is a switching one that draws more current from the battery as the voltage decreases in order to transfer a constant amount of power from the battery to the LEDs.

Photograph showing the business-end of the Vector 4.

The lenses that focus the LED beams were custom-designed by Don Klipstein, and they really do work! All 4 LED beams coalesce within about 4" to form a bright, single beam that you can easily shine around inside whatever AC or beer cooler you're fixing, and you're able to find the leak that way.

The Vector 4 feels nice in the hand, and has a ribbed rubbery piece on the bottom to help you "keep a grip on things", even if your hands are a little greasy from tinkering around the compressor, hooking up hoses, cold from digging ice cubes out of the ice machine, and whatnot.

An anti-roll fin is present on the Vector 4 just behind the bezel on the barrel; this helps prevent the light from rolling away when it is set down on an uneven surface.

The light isn't waterproof, so your alcohol-fueled attempt to drown it in the toilet will probably be successful. But who would want to drown such a nice looking flashlight?
If you're working near one of those Auto-Chlor sinks though, try to keep the Vector 4 from falling in. It does appear to be splash-resistant, so if it gets a little wet, I don't believe you'll have to worry too much about it. Just try not to drop it in water or let the dog pee on it.

The Vector 4 is equipped with a "low battery" LED just above the switch. It glows yellow-amber to indicate you ought to think about replacing the battery, and stays dark when the Vector 4 has sufficient power. One user of this light reports that the low battery LED only comes on for about 2 minutes (when the light is in continuous duty mode) to 20 minutes (when the light is used intermittently), before the entire flashlight extinguishes.

The low battery indicator LED is shown "on" in this photograph.

When the Vector 4 does turn itself off, turn it off via the switch and let it rest for awhile; it should then come back on when it's needed with no low battery indicator LED for at least several more minutes, allowing you to find the leak you were looking for when it went out.

This light features full regulation, which means the LEDs stay at full intensity until the battery cannot maintain that intensity any more, then it drops out rather quickly. If an alkaline battery is used, you can turn it off when it poops out, allow it to rest, and then turn it back on to obtain at least several more minutes of full-intensity light so you can finish your search for the leak before the low battery warning LED comes back on. Since you don't need tools to access the battery compartment (a coin like a US quarter works fine) and 9V transistor radio batteries are pretty common, you should have no problems in changing the battery on the road.

I heard the following information (in italics) from a user of this light:

I do know that Eveready Energizer and Radio Shack alkaline batteries can "crash" in as little as 2 hours in continuous duty, but still achieve 4 hours ontime of nothing short of good regulation in intermittent duty. Duracells usually in my experience crashed close to 3 hours in continuous duty.

Some alkaline batteries could *in continuous operation* "crash" in a much shorter time period closer to 2 hours, but still usually achieve close to or a little over 4 hours of fully regulated output in intermittent duty.

From an email by a user of the Vector 4:

There is even some functionality of the Vectors' uniform beam with sharp edges: I have noticed a psychological effect already known to Cliplight's president: You can find tiny/faint fluorescent specks faster if you have a visual indication of what is and is not being illuminated. Although expectation of seeing something glowing here and not seeing something glowing somewhere else does not make it actually more visible, it helps the user find it faster.
Both {censored} and I have noticed that we can find fluorescent specks faster with a light producing a visible illumination of the area being irradiated than with a light producing only invisible radiation. One would think that contrast between a fluorescent speck and its surroundings is maximized by invisibility of the exciting radiation and that is true, but the psychological expectation of finding fluorescent specks in a visibly illuminated area and not outside that area helps find them faster.
Given the hourly rates charged by auto mechanics, there is a significant economic advantage to finding leaks faster.
And a leak of fluorescent dye can be very small. Nowadays it is getting to the point that a leak of just a couple ounces of refrigerant per year is worth repairing rather than just topping off the refrigerant, due to the high cost of some refrigerants and environmental regulations. Since a slow leak of dye can be washed away by grease or whatever before it spreads much rather than accumulating into a big fluorescent mass over a year or two, a mechanic sometimes needs to find a fluorescent blob of only pinhead size.

Beam photograph at ~12".
Light does NOT appear white or magenta like this picture makes it appear.
Beam appears to be a deep royal purple when viewed with your own eyes.

Beam photograph at ~12".
Camera was set to a -2.0 exposure value, so the white hotspot would be rendered more correctly.
Again, light does NOT appear magenta like this picture makes it appear.
Beam appears to be a deep royal purple when viewed with your own eyes.

(L) Business end of the Vector 4 from a few inches away.
(R) Business end of the Vector 4 from a couple of feet away.
Once again, light does NOT appear magenta like these pictures make it appear.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrographic analysis of the LEDs in this light.

Spectrographic analysis
Same as above; newer software & settings used.

Spectrographic analysis
Same as above; yet newer spectrometer software & settings used.

Spectrographic analysis
Spectrometer's response narrowed to a range between 380nm and 420nm to pinpoint peak wavelength; which appears to be 404.90nm.

Spectrographic analysis of fluorescence of a piece of green acrylic that's very similar in colorant composition to the type of dye one would "shoot up" into the cooling system being worked on with this light.

Spectrographic analysis of the fluorescence of the red body of this product when irradiated with the Yellow DPSS Laser Module.

Spectrographic analysis of fluorescence of the red body of this light when irradiated with the Wicked Lasers Spyder 3 Arctic 445nm 1W Blue Diode Laser.
Spectrometer's response in the NIR range lengthened to 850nm to show some fluorescence at NIR wavelengths.

USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis.
Image made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.

WMP movie (.avi extension) showing the product spinning the vanes of a radiometer.
This clip is approximately 4.11 megabytes (4,125,992 bytes) in length; dial-up users please be aware.
It will take no less than twenty minutes to load at 48.0Kbps.
I cannot provide it in other formats, so please do not ask.

That sound you might hear is an episode of "Icarly" playing on the boob tube.
This product is not sound-sensitive; the sound may be ignored or muted if desired.

Test unit was provided by a fan of the website, and was received on 05-07-04.
Sample was also provided with a circuit board for battery testing that allows for a 10% duty cycle; 6 minutes on per hour, 54 minutes off per hour.

As of the evening of 05-10-04, this particular test is underway. Unless I queer the test by bumping something I shouldn't or if the meter shuts itself off due to a "0.000" reading persisting for too long, I should have some results within the next several days.

UPDATE: 05-13-04
The 10% duty cycle test is now complete, and the chart posted farther up this page.

UPDATE: 05-18-04
Here's a picture of the Vector 4 lighting a pair of fluorescent rulers from 12" away.

UPDATE: 05-22-04
Here is a photograph of the Vector 4 illuminating acrylic pieces from 13" away.

This acrylic fluoresces very similarly to the dye used in refrigeration systems.

UPDATE: 09-04-05
For some reason, I neglected to place this product in The Trophy Case on my website, despite it having been awarded 4 1/2 stars. Oversight corrected.

Feels great in the hand
Regulated operation assures you of a rock-steady output for entire battery life
Wierd looking lenses really do work
Batteries are readily available
LED module/lens assembly is user-replaceable
Light has an anti-roll fin near the bezel

Not waterproof or submersible
Short lamp module life (~100 hrs)
Lenses could get banged up in a toolbox or if set down on a crappy surface.

    MANUFACTURER: Cliplight Manufacturing Co.
    PRODUCT TYPE: NUV leak detector
    LAMP TYPE: LED, 405nm near-UV
    No. OF LAMPS: 4
    BEAM TYPE: Tightly collimated
    SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton on/off
    BEZEL: Rubbery plastic ring surrounding custom-made lenses
    BATTERY: 9V rectangular transistor radio battery
    WATER- AND PEE-RESISTANT: Light splash resistance only
    ACCESSORIES: Duracell 9V alkaline battery
    WARRANTY: Unknown/not stated


    Star RatingStar Rating

Cliplight Vector 4 NUV Inspection Light *

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