Eton Blackout Buddy emergency lighting and LED flashlight review

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We live in a high-rise condo building, and the main hallways and stairways are all interior and windowless.  The building does have emergency lighting, as we found out during a recent power outage, but those are only in the public areas of the building.  Most of the rooms in our condo have floor-to-ceiling windows, so there is some light coming in from outside at night, but that might not be the case if there’s no moon and all the surrounding buildings and street lights are also without power.  It would be nice to have emergency lighting in the unit itself in such a case.  I recently wrote a news post about the Blackout Buddy from Eton, which is an LED flashlight that stays plugged in to keep the battery charged until you need it.  When the power goes off, the Blackout Buddy lights up as emergency lighting to light your pathway.  It can also serve as a nightlight.  I decided some Blackout Buddys were just what we needed, so I went to Amazon and ordered a few.  I’ve been using them for a few weeks, and I like them!

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Eton lists the Blackout Buddy at $14.99 each, but at the time I ordered, Amazon had one for about $13 and a two-pack for about $16.50.  I ordered a couple of two-packs for use at home, then I went back and ordered a few more two-packs to save as Christmas gifts.  Amazon’s prices have changed in the past few days.  A single one is now $10, and a two-pack is $19 – still a great price.

As you can see from the top photo, the Blackout Buddy is white with a Red Cross emblem and a debossed Eton logo and Blackout Buddy name on the front.  The light measures 2” X 4” X 0.75” and weighs 2 ounces.  The body is covered in a rubbery coating that has a sharp petrochemical smell when the unit is removed from the sealed plastic packaging.  It was very strong when I first opened the package, but the odor has faded in the past couple of weeks.  It’s not gone yet, but I only smell it when I hold one of the lights in my hands and not when I walk past one plugged into the wall outlet.

The Blackout Buddy has a light sensor just above the debossed Eton logo.  This supports the light-activated nightlight function.  More about that later.

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The electrical prongs fold flat into the back of the Blackout Buddy, which makes it more comfortable in the hand when you use the flashlight function.  You can see two dimples flanking the electrical prongs.  These are finger grips to make it easier to unplug the Blackout Buddy from the wall.

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This switch on the side enables the nightlight function.  When set to off, the batteries will stay charged while plugged into the outlet, but none of the LEDs will operate until a power outage is detected.  When the switch is set to Auto, the nightlight LED will turn on when the light sensor determines the room is dark.

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The nightlight has a single LED and is located at the bottom of the Blackout Buddy (when plugged into the outlet).  Eton doesn’t specify the type or power of this LED.

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The top of the unit has three LEDs.  Again, I can find no specifications for the type or power of these LEDs.  These are used by the flashlight function; the white power button is on the front of the unit.  These lights also serve as the emergency lighting source.

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Here are the LEDs lighted up in flashlight mode.

I plugged a Blackout Buddy into the outlet in my dark, windowless central hallway and another at the corner between my dining room and my dark, windowless foyer.  The hallway is dark enough that the nightlight stays lit even during the day.  The one in the dining room gets enough light to go off during the day and turns on at night.

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Here you see the hallway location.  I took the photo during the day, and you can see the light is on.  Since the bulb is an LED, it should consume only a few pennies of electricity in a year, and the LED should still last for years.

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It’s not so bright as to blind you, but it certainly gives enough light to see to make the trip to the hall bathroom without having to turn on the overhead light in the hallway.

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I didn’t want to mess around with the fuse box to test out the emergency lighting function.  Luckily my condo has a switched outlet in each room.  I tried plugging one of the Blackout Buddy units into the switched outlet in my bedroom.  In the left photo, I have the switched outlet on, and I have the nightlight function off.  No lights are shining on the Blackout Buddy.  The right image shows the Blackout Buddy when I turned the switched outlet off.  The flashlight end illuminated immediately and stayed on until the outlet was switched back on.

I didn’t do a timed test to see how long the light would stay on during a power outage, but Eton says that it will function for four hours in flashlight mode when the battery is fully charged.

Something I forgot to mention earlier is that the Blackout Buddy is small enough that it leaves one of the wall sockets free.  In the images just above, you can see that I have a lamp plugged into the upper socket.

In my original order, I got four Blackout Buddys – two to use in my hallways, one to send with my daughter to college, and an extra.  My daughter claimed the extra for her bedroom at home, so I’ll need to order another set for home.

I love the Blackout Buddy!  I like having the nightlights in my windowless areas.  The one in the hallway produces enough light that we no longer leave a light on in the hall bathroom at night.  I like knowing that I’ll be able to navigate through the house in the event of another power outage, and I love knowing exactly where a flashlight is and knowing that it will have charged batteries when I need it.  Four hours of light will certainly be enough for us to find our way down from the 12th floor and out of the building in case of emergency.  The only problem is the chemical smell when the package is first opened, but it does fade with time.  I think I need to open the ones I plan to give at Christmas and let them air out for a couple of months before I wrap them up and stick them under the tree.  Otherwise, they are perfect.

Source: I purchased the samples for this review from Amazon.

 

Product Information

Price:$14.99 list, though Amazon has them at $10 for one or $19 for a two-pack
Manufacturer:Eton
Retailer:Amazon (in the US)
Requirements:
  • An AC outlet to charge the batteries
Pros:
  • You'll always know where a flashlight is, and the batteries are always charged
  • Works as a light-detecting nightlight
  • Works as emergency lighting when the power goes off
  • Leaves one socket free for other uses
  • Inexpensive emergency lighting that doesn't require any special wiring
Cons:
  • Strong chemical smell at first, but it does fade
Posted in: Gear, Home, Kitchen, Reviews

2 comments… add one

  • Chris July 16, 2014, 1:29 pm

    I bought a 2-pack of these after seeing the original news item here. I also like them a lot, and it was a good purchase at a great price. I’ve had to turn the nightlight off on both of them though, as they’re in locations that are dark enough that they think they need to be on all the time, even though it’s not truly dark there.

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  • dduff617 July 18, 2014, 11:53 am

    very similar item was sold at costco – i suspect at least based on the same electronics; perhaps same manufacturer. cool idea. i eventually determined that if i left them plugged in, they killed power line-communications for my home automation system (insteon).

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