Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Review: Fenix LD20 LED Flashlight

imageThe Fenix LD20 is a digitally regulated and digitally controlled six-mode LED compact flashlight that runs for up to 70 hours on standard AA batteries.

My Summary Extremely powerful, versatile all-around flashlight! stars-5
Appeals to Outdoorsmen/hikers/bikers, handymen and contractors, or just plain old manly men 
Upgrade from Old anemic MagLites, the cheap 5-LED flashlight you picked up in the checkout lane at Home Depot, or – horrors! – your daddy’s old flashlight
Price ~$50 on Amazon


This is my second Fenix;  when I inexplicably lost my first, a Fenix L2D, I mourned it like few other lost items in the material world.    I held off for a few months – as long as I could – before giving in and buying its successor, the LD20.  

image What’s really cool about this new breed of flashlight is that it uses a relatively newly developed high-power, high-efficiency Cree LED bulb.    This ain’t your daddy’s flashlight.  On high beam it puts out 180 lumens of goodness, making yesterday’s MagLite look like a candle.     It’s like a police searchlight or something.  Whatever it’s like, it gives a whole new meaning to looking for things in the dark.   (I have shown it to a few contractors and plumbers who have come by the house, and they were pretty much blown away.)    

Side note: For those of you wondering how a company like Cree (NASDAQ:CREE) was able to come out of nowhere to such prominence, they actually were pioneers in developing high-efficiency commercial LED lights.  A conventional light bulb puts out about 15 lumens per watt (lm/W), whereas a Cree LED can put out over 130 lm/W — almost ten times as efficient!   Energy inefficiency produces heat, and heat is a natural enemy of most things electrical. This is a major reason for the relatively short lifespan of a household light bulb, as compared to the Cree LED (50,000 hours, which if you had the flashlight on for two hours a day is something absurd like 60 years). 

imageThe build quality of the LD20 is excellent, a black machined aluminum with well fitting parts.   The size is small enough (6.25” x 0.83”) to slip into a jeans pocket;  it comes with a nylon belt holder as well.   It’s wonderfully flexible:  the six modes of operation include low output (9 lumens for an incredible 71 hours), turbo mode (180 lumens for two hours), and even SOS and strobe modes.   It runs on two standard AA cells, which is handy.  (I use rechargeable Sanyo Eneloops, which are excellent, high-quality NiMH batteries.)

I use the LD20 for most tasks that require a flashlight – because it’s so small and versatile, it’s easy to throw in a pocket and head on over to the dark place that needs light.   I also own an older StreamLight Twin Task, which is an excellent flashlight in its own right: much larger (uses “D” cells like your daddy’s flashlight), driving an LED/Xenon lamp combination, and made of aircraft-grade aluminum.  But the StreamLight stays in the drawer most of the time, next to the big 4D MagLite and the aging carcasses of a couple pocket MagLites. 


While this is pricey in general for a flashlight at over $50, it’s a versatile all-around tool for the flashlight enthusiast, and worth every penny.   If you’re looking to get into a better class of flashlight than the old MagLites, this is a great choice.  It would certainly make a great gift for any adventurer/handyperson/gadget freak in your life. 

Pros Cons
Incredibly bright beam Relatively expensive
Six levels of light  
Runs on standard AA batteries, extremely long lasting  
Rugged anodized aluminum case  
Small enough to fit in a pocket or carry comfortably on a belt  


Buy it on Amazon:  Fenix LD 20 6 Level High Performance Cree LED Flashlight, Black, 6- Inch, Maximum 180 Lumens



A little dated, but good review & selection…

For the hard-core techies out there… the Cree X-Lamp 7090 datasheet:

Fenix Flashlights on Amazon

A good review from the Gadgeteer: