The introduction of Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs in
the 1960s probably didn’t mean that much to too many people at the time, as the
bulbs were mainly used in technical devices as indicators. In the 70s, LED bulbs
began to appear in electronic calculators, digital wristwatches, and test
equipment.¹ I am
sure that many of us can remember thinking at the time that the red glow of an
LED was one of the most beautiful things we’d ever seen.
With the introduction of additional colors and wavelengths which created even
brighter lighting, more specialized uses have been found for LEDs. In the 90s,
we saw LED bulbs create a niche for themselves in traffic & pedestrian lights,
variable message signs (think Times Square) and automotive lighting.¹
For those that haven’t given it much thought, LED bulbs "are
unique, in that they come in a wide variety of pure colors, all without the
necessity of any type of filter. The color generated by the LED is determined by
the chemical or metal composite that covers the tips of the probes within the
LED itself. One of the reasons that the LED is so efficient is that only a tiny
part of the color spectrum is generated, energy is not wasted generating
unwanted colors." ²
As I was researching this review, I
found a few tidbits²
about LED bulbs that I thought I would pass along, namely:
– LEDs create a natural light. The LED’s soft glow reduces harsh shadows,
reflection and glare.
– LEDs are long lasting. LEDs have a life span of 100,000 hours, or 600 weeks,
or over 11 years of continuous use. Under most applications, LED’s will never
– LEDs are extremely tough. There is no glass to shatter and no filament to
break, making them completely resistant to shock and vibration!
– LEDs are safe to use. As a general rule, LED’s are excellent to use near
explosive liquids and gasses, or where failed lights can cause accidents.
– Although generally safe to use, LED’s should never be stared at directly by an
unprotected eye because after extended periods of exposure, they can permanently
damage your eyes! Because of this, don’t leave an LED light within reach of
young children who are unaware of the potential harm they can cause if not
It’s only been recently that white LEDs have become readily available to
consumers, and I am truly a fan of these bulbs. They produce a
bright white light that burns cool and doesn’t produce an ugly glare. As
a result, manufacturers have recognized their value in consumer devices such as
flashlights and home lighting.
Julie and I have reviewed several of the new LED flashlights in the last
year, and I must say that the battery free ones that have really captured my
interest. A flashlight is only as good as it’s power source, and while an LED
flashlight needs less juice to perform than other types of torches, it still
requires a live power source to produce light. For some reason, the
flashlights that I keep in the glovebox of my car always seem to be dead when I
need them, so a battery free flashlight sounds like a perfect solution – as long
as it lives up to my expectations and is reliable.
Not long ago, I reviewed the
Gadget Brando Battery Free Flashlight and was pleased to find that a
hand-pumped LED flashlight could create a reliable and bright alternative to the
flashlights I had used in the past. Because I have been so satisfied with that
product, when I was offered the chance to take a look at another battery free
version which uses a different power charging source, I was happy to oblige.
Surprisingly enough, I was sent virtually the same product from two
companies, so I will be talking about them both in this review. Both are called
the Forever Flashlight, and except for a few minor cosmetic differences, they
are the same item.
Each flashlight is approximately 6.75" long by 1.75" thick at the lighted
end. There is a sliding off and on switch near the top, and the base has an
integrated lanyard hole. The flashlights weigh approximately 3.5 ounces and
their bodies are composed of sealed translucent plastic which feels solid and
does not flex.
The flashlights are touted as being waterproof and their packaging also says
that they will float, but I honestly wouldn’t chance it. There is an open space
on the clear model where the sliding switch moves and water would be able to
enter the chamber. While this opening isn’t as obvious on the blue version,
there is no no gasket to keep water out.
The end cap does unscrew, and the guts of the flashlight are accessible once
it has been undone, but the flashlight is not intended to ever be
user serviced. The bulb should never need replacing and their is no
battery to replace, so unless you just can’t resist it – don’t take the chance
of messing up your flashlight by taking it apart. With that said, after
performing the time tests I couldn’t resist…
The "guts" of the Forever Flashlight
The flashlight is powered by shaking it with a back and forth motion
, using moderate force, while holding it parallel to the floor. Shaking the flashlight vertically
may damage it, and at the very least will not provide a good charge. The first
time the flashlight is used it will need approximately 90 shakes, but once it
has been powered up first time and a little bit of juice is stored, it won’t
require as much work to keep it going in the future.
According to the packaging, the Forever Flashlight operates on Michael
Faraday’s Law of Induction. In 1831 Faraday observed that,
"whenever the magnetic field about an electromagnet was made to grow and
collapse by closing and opening the electric circuit of which it was a part, an
electric current could be detected in a separate conductor nearby. Moving a
permanent magnet into and out of a coil of wire also
induced a current in the wire while the magnet was in motion. Moving a conductor
near a stationary permanent magnet caused a current to flow in the wire, too, as
long as it was moving." ³
Using this Law, the Forever Flashlight has a
rubber damper at each end of its shaft and a magnet which slides back and forth
inside a copper wire coil, which creates an electrical current. The magnet is
quite powerful, so you will want to make sure that the flashlight is never
stored or held next to the following: pacemakers, cassette tapes, computer
disks, video tapes, credit cards, televisions, any device with a cathode ray
tube (CRT) or automatic wristwatches. You’ve been warned…
The Forever Flashlight is supposed to give more
than five minutes of light when charged (by shaking) for 30 seconds. In
addition, according to the included paperwork "during prolonged use the Forever
Flashlight should be turned off and shaken for 10 to 15 seconds every two or
I tested the clear one first, shaking it back
and forth for a times 120 seconds. This gave me approximately 2 minutes of
bright white light, followed by approximately 2.5 additional minutes of dim
light before the torch died. Hmmmm – not very good.
Next, I charged the blue flashlight for a timed
120 seconds, and I was rewarded with a bright light for all of two seconds, and
then the flashlight died!
Hoping that my results were a fluke, I preformed
the exact same tests an additional time and found…the clear one worked for
about the same length of time, as did the blue. Bleh, by now my arm was starting
to ache and I had nothing to show for it.
I am sure that I am not the only person that
really hates it when a product I am prepared to like a lot doesn’t
meet my expectations, and that is definitely the case with this product. It
would appear that the Forever Flashlight is not reliable, and therefore I can’t
recommend it. Since I happen to have two in my possession that have performed so
poorly, I do not believe my results to be a fluke. I am not going to give up on
finding other battery free LED flashlight solutions, though. I had great results
with the hand-cranked model mentioned previously, and I am sure that there will
be other worthwhile models to follow.
Strong magnet in base means you must carefully consider storage and placement
Can be damaged if improperly shaken (vertically rather than horizontally)
Light does not stay on for very long at all (mucho effort, no pay-off)