Multifunction Free Light solar-recharged LED flashlight, retail TBA
Manufactured by AVEXA AG (see below for info)
Last updated 11-19-09
When you first get a Free Light, you might think "What kind of idiot would make a solar powered flashlight?"
What this is though, is a RECHARGEABLE flashlight that uses its built-in solar panel to charge its built-in lithium vanadium battery. So you never have to buy batteries for this flashlight, and it can be recharged many, many times before the battery starts to poop out.
The Free Light comes ready to use right out of the package, however putting it in a bright, sunny window or under a good lamp solar cell facing the light source for a few hours will ensure it's topped off and ready to go when you are.
I set my Free Light in the window around 6:00pm PDT today (06-13-03) to be sure it gets all the way charged up before I start running tests on it - just to be sure.
To use the new Multifunction Free Light (to just get a shot of light anytime), just press the button quickly to turn it on, and press it quickly again to turn it off.
For "dimmer" mode, start with the light turned off. Push and hold the button; the light will start to dim in 5 steps.
Let go of the button when you reach the brightness you want. This brightness is "remembered" by the Free Light, and it will turn on in that brightness until you change it.
For "Find" mode, start with the light turned on. Press and hold the button until the light blinks once and then goes out. Then let go of the button. The Free Light will blink approximately once every 20 seconds until you use it again or until it poops out. It is important to put the Free Light somewhere where it will get some light to recharge it.
Finally, the light has an "auto shutoff" which will turn the light off automatically after 10 minutes.
The Free Light will blink for about a minute before it shuts itself off all the way.
Recharging the battery is as easy as setting the light down someplace bright, such as near a window or under a lamp.
You'll never have to change batteries or bulbs in a Free Light, so this section really isn't needed.
Place the Free Light in a sunny window or under a good lamp solar cell side up (button facing down) to recharge it.
If the batteries are totally shot, 8-10 hours under good light should charge it fully.
The Free Light package says the batteries can be recharged up to 10,000 times (depending on their state of discharge), however the battery maker says they can only be recharge 1,000 times. They don't state whether this is from partial or full discharge however.
The self-discharge rate of the battery is a very low 2% per month, so it won't hurt the Multifunction Free Light at all if it's forgotten in a purse for a few weeks or packed in a suitcase for a trip and subsequently not needed. You don't have to go to the trouble of putting it in the sun each and every day if you aren't using it a lot - that simply isn't necessary.
The new Multifunction Free Light appears to be well-made and reasonably durable, just like its brother, the original Free Light. The only really fragile component is the glass solar cell; which is slightly recessed so it shouldn't break if the light is dropped. Attacking a defenseless Free Light with an ice pick or a hammer will probably kill the poor thing though, so please try and play nice. The whole unit should be kept under 40°C (104°F) to avoid damage to the internal battery, yet you're supposed to charge it in the hot sun.
The unit is sealed and cannot be opened. It is also splash proof and submersible, but I don't know how far you can submerge it before it springs a leak. With the form factor, the rubber pushbutton, and the glass thing in its side, I'd guess 10 feet. I'll have to investigate this some more.
The Free Light uses a circuit that regulates the solar cell's current to prevent overcharging and also to prevent overdischarging when the light is being used. The battery is supposedly rated for 10,000 charge/discharge cycles before you have to throw the Free Light in the garbage can. In ordinary use, you may never have to throw the light away. Truly, a light to last you a lifetime.
Beam photograph at 12" from target. Measurements:
11,600mcd on "high" (5)
9,500mcd on "medium" (3)
5,900mcd on "low" (1)
All measurements taken at 12" with a Meterman LM631 light meter.
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this flashlight.
USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.
I have heard through a CPF member that the "new" Free Light is also sold as the Sky Light.
The Sky Light does NOT have the dimming function of the new Free Light, though it does have the "find me" (blink) mode, and should also have a push-on, push-off switch, rather than the momentary-only switch the original Free Light has.
The Sky Light has "sky light" on it, and has a blue button & lanyard; the new style Free Light has "free light" on it and has a yellow button & lanyard. So you can tell them apart if you have both.
Doug P. has a review of the Sky Light HERE if you're interested. (Opens in a new window)
I have seen no fewer than three reports that the new Free Light has become totally dead for no apparent reason. Charging under a light bulb and holding down the button have no effect. This has *not* happened to mine, but it is something you'll need to watch out for.
This should be a warranty issue, so it won't cost you anything beyond the postage to send a defective Free Light back.
I have heard through a CPF member that Avexa is recalling the Freelight 2 because of a programming error that could make the light stop working.
"just incase everyone hasn't heard the swiss 2 solar lights have been recalled they had a glitch that the company didn't catch till after the first lot shipped so if you have purchased one return it to where you bought it. the company spokeman I talked to said it might take 4 weeks to get the new ones out to distributers"
The above is quoted directly from a Candlepower Forums post - so please don't write to me about the spelling or grammar. :)
The following information came from somebody at Avexa AG, passed on to me by a CPF member:
"The fault could appear, if the accu (internal battery) is run down in the FIND Mode. After recharging, the microprocessor is not able to find back to the programm.
Use your light as much as you can. If it fails, send it back for replacement in warranty. We appologize for any inconvenience. We guess, the programm is reworked beginning of August."
This information is not verified, but I'm reasonably certain it's good. If your Free Light poops out on you, by all means send it back for a warranty replacement.
Never, ever have to change battery or bulb.
More environmentally friendly than other lights.
Reasonably durable construction.
Can charge under a lamp if no sunlight is available.
Multiple modes available from one button.
Brightness levels not that dramatic
Some possibility of breakage due to glass solar cell.
Needs to be kept under 40°C (104°F) to avoid damage to battery
PRODUCT TYPE: Solar recharged LED keychain light
LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm white
No. OF LAMPS: 1
BEAM TYPE: Medium spot with soft perimeter
SWITCH TYPE: Digitally-controlled pushbutton
BATTERY: Internal lithium vanadium secondary type
CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Not able to measure
WATER RESISTANT: Yes
SUBMERSIBLE: Yes, estimated to 10 feet
ACCESSORIES: Short lanyard
WARRANTY: Lifetime, barring intentional breakage or "use up"
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