CAMPING PRODUCT REVIEWS

LIGHTING

 

Camping Product Reviews - Lighting

 

 

 

 

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LIGHTING

 

 


ALDI LED Strip Light

 

Price: $130 can be as low as $99
Was available from : Aldi
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Seems ok

 

LED lighting systems are becoming far more popular as the prices start to drop a bit.

We decided to try out this kit from Aldi and discovered it was good quality and has plenty of connections and differening lengths of wire that make it very versatile.

We have been using it mostly for trips with the camper trailer or the 4x4 annexe and we are impressed with it..

The only concern I have so far are the dimmer switches on the lighting controls. They may be the first part of the system to give trouble but time will tell.

UPDATE: I was right about the dimmer switches, one has already failed but they are easy (and cheap) enough to replace from E-Bay.

The rest of the system has been versatile and very useful. One 'camping hack' that allows you to put the led bars anywhere you like on canvas is to get some small rare earth (very strong) magnets from EBay. That way you put the magnets on one side of the canvas and the light bar on the other and they can be placed exactly where you want them instead of where you have poles available.

The video above will give you more information.

 

 

Bat Light

 

Price: $35
Was available from : Bunnings
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: *
Our recommendation: Don't buy

 

On first appearance this looked like a very versatile, handy light.

It is rechargeable, has 4 different lighting modes (One panel, two panels, torch and warning light), and it has magnets that hold it on to metal surfaces. There is also a tripod mount and a hook.

It can be charged by cigarette lighter or 240v.

The light produced was up to 600 lumen and we were quite impressed UNTIL it just stopped working. As it was only 4 months old and hadn't been is use that much, this failure was very disappointing.

 

Hawk
Hawk Light

 

When we took it back to Bunnings to get a replacement we found that they no longer stock the Bat Light and have moved on to a model called a Hawk Light. This is brighter, at 800 lumens, and has a different style of led but in most other respects it is very similar.

The Hawk Light is ONLY rechargeable via USB which is fine by us. We are trying to move our gear to ALL be rechargeable by USB if at all possible.

We have been using this new light for quite a while now and we are happy with the results.

It actually throws out enough light for us to include it as part of our home recording studo setup as it also has a thread on the bottom for connection to a tripod or light stand.

 

Aldi Camping Lantern
Aldi Camping Lantern

 

Price: $25
Available from : Aldi Stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ***
Our recommendation: Possibly Ok to buy - watch this space.

 

This is a reasonably priced camping lantern that throws out a lot of light. It has multiple LEDs and the power output is slightly adjustable but it is still very bright on the lowest setting.

We use this quite a lot but we haven't had it more than a few months so it isn't possible to comment of how long the rechargeable battery will last.

The lantern is very light weight, has a carry handle and hanging hook built in.

The main problem with this light is that it throws out too much light o be comfortable inside a tent. To overcome this, when we want dimmer lighting, we just put a T shirt or similar item over the top.

Product quality isn't that great as one of the LED lights has already failed. Once we have had the light for a couple of years we will have more to say about the product quality.

 

Fenix E25UE Torch
Fenix E25UE Torch

 

Price: $60-70
Wholesaler : G8 Distribution Pty Ltd Available from any good camping store.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Very good.

 

They say 'good things come in small packages' and that certainly applies to this great little torch.

Our initial impression is of a nicely manufactured product that looks like it will stand the test of time. There are 5 levels of light* produced from this torch going from a bit dim to 'I need sunglasses!' or in more technical terms 5-1000 lumen.

The level of light is controlled by a single 2 function button and pressing repeatedly will cycle through the available brightness levels and strobe modes. Holding the lower button down turns the torch on/off.

The upper button (closest to the LED end) produces one of two distress signals. One will flash out SOS in Morse code and the other is a fast repeating strobe flash at full power that would be sure to get someone's attention if you are in distress and need help.

The torch takes 2 x AA batteries (Ni/Mh Alkaline batteries are supplied with it). The length of time it will run on one set of batteries will depend on the light level used but on 'eco mode' it will operate for up to 95 hours continuously.

The main case is aircraft grade aluminium and is attractively machined. The lens is tough anti-reflective glass.

The light source is a single LED light, surprising indeed when you see just how much light this little torch can put out. The rated lifespan of the LED is said to be 50,000 hours but I am just going to take their word for it as I don't have that sort of time for testing.

This is a 'smart torch' to go with all your other 'smart' devices. It can maintain the light level regardless of battery charge state and will do so until the batteries are exhausted. Overheat protection as well as polarity protection are built in

Uses for this torch are varied and include everything from home to camping, 4x4, fishing and hiking. At just 87 grams (plus batteries) the torch will be a very handy addition to our camping gear.

* - The torch has 4 levels of brightness with Ni/Mh Alkaline batteries and 5 levels with 14500 rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

We have now taken the torch camping many times and it has now replaced all our old hand held torches. It really was excellent. The batteries last a long time and the torch produces plenty of light. I did originally wonder why we might want to use the lowest setting but it was useful in a confined space (read bush dunny) where you don't need the very bright settings but still want to keep an eye out for spiders, ants, centipedes etc. We had a number of other torches we carried with us but from now we will only use the Fenix for hand held situations.

The only slight change I would like to see in the design is the tactile feel of on on/off switch. I did find that locating the switch in the dark wasn't always easy, maybe it is just my sausage like insensitive fingers, but I would like the switch to be a little more identifiable in the dark.

I am hard on the gear I use and the poor little torch has had a hard life which includes dropping it from head height onto checker plate at least twice. It still works perfectly and seems to be all but indestructible.

The price tag would have been something that put me off at one time but now having used this torch for several years, I believe that is is good value for money as I don't think that I will ever have to replace it unless I lose it.

(In the interests of full disclosure we should point out that this product was supplied to us for review but we have not let that colour our views on the torch.)

 

OzTrail UFO LED lamp
OzTrail UFO LED lamp

 

Price: $9.95
From: Camping stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Buy one - or more!

 

We have had this light for quite a while now and we are impressed by what it can take and still keep working. It was accidentally dropped from head height onto a concrete floor. We expected it to have expired after that but it lost a couple of LEDs in the centre but was otherwise unharmed.

We use it for camping but also as emergency lighting in the house if the power ever goes out. Far easier and safer than fiddling with candles and matches.

It takes 4 AA batteries and it uses very little power so the batteries last a long time.

There are three light settings, 3 x LED, 20 x LED or all 23 LED.

There is a small handle on the back for hanging overhead and a hanging hole for hanging on a wall. We initially used it for tenting but also take it away in the caravan as it is small, gives good light and goes on working for a long time on one set of batteries.

It isn't often we find a product that we give 5 stars in every category to, but this one is good enough to get 100% satisfaction from us. There are a lot of similar looking lights but this one is a branded OzTrail light. The unbranded models we can't comment on.

 

OzTrail rechargeable LED lamp
OzTrail rechargeable LED lamp

 

Price: $39.95
From: Camping stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: **
Our recommendation: Not the best value for money.

 

This is a useful light and there are three models to choose from in this range. We went for the most expensive version as it has the most options for power and charging.

It has a built in winding handle for emergency charging via a dynamo and will also charge from 240v and 12v. The light can be dimmed and it can be hung up from a fold out handle or a fold away hook underneath.

The light is not very heavy at all which suggests that the internal battery isn't that big. There is no indication that the internal battery can be replaced. The box states that re-charge time is 3 hours.

The other two models in this range have fewer features and take replaceable batteries. Having replaceable batteries for this model too would be an advantage.

After using this light for a while we have found that the rechargeable battery is not really good quality and cannot get a good recharge after only a few uses. The light intensity switch is also poor quality and the light can blink on and off as you twist the dial. We still use it but are not very happy with it.

The most recent failure was the winding handle for the dynamo. I managed to do a repair job on it but sadly plastic that is put under any kind of stress will eventually fail.

This could have been an excellent light but in the end it isn't something I can recommend without reservation.

 

Woolworths 5 LED solar light
Woolworths 5 LED solar light
Woolworths 5 LED solar light

 

Price: $29.95
From: Woolworths
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: **
Our recommendation: Not that good.

 

A useful and versatile light that is charged by the sun. It can be fixed via screws or attached to a metal surface via internal magnet. It is not waterproof so care needs to be taken with placement. Initial charge is 13 hours before use but after that just daily exposure of the small panel to the sun seems sufficient. The small panel comes with a mounting plate and is on a swivel so it can easily be attached to a roof or wall. The recharge cable is detachable so the light can be used in any location without regard to wiring. The main determining factor in deciding if this is a good product was be the length of time it lasted in everyday operation.

It didn't take long for the rechargeable battery in the light to give up and stop accepting a charge. Thankfully it wasn't that difficult to take out the original battery and add an external battery pack (see above) so that we could continue to make use of the light even though it could n longer be charged by the small solar panel.

The light is over-priced and if we hadn't been able to make our own modifications to it, it would have ended up in the bin a long time ago.

 

Woolworths 8 LED head light
Woolworths 8 LED head light

 

Price: $4.99
From: Woolworths
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: ****
Our recommendation: Very good, buy some!

 

Considering the fact that we have seen this style of light selling for $30-$40, these little units are a real bargain.

There are 4 settings; off, 2 lights, 4 lights and 8 lights. Each higher setting gives better light but also uses twice as much power. We have used these lights many times and the batteries (3x AAA)last a long time between changes.

The elastic straps tend to slip out of the plastic holders from time to time but they are easy enough to put back in.

We are very impressed with the light they produce and the fact that using a head light means both your hands are free, unlike using a traditional torch.

After a long time, one of the three original units we bought gave up but considering the low price and the fact that two are still working perfectly well, we have to be happy enough. In fact we bought two more later on. They are one of the most useful items we take away camping.

 

Lucky 12v Light
Lucky 12v Light

 

Price: Single tube $25 Twin tube $38
Similar lights are available from Auto 1 for just $19.95 twin tube
From: Caravan parts suppliers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy

 

We have had a Lucky single tube 12v florescent light for many, many years and before the development of LED lights these were our light of choice to mount in caravans and motorhomes.

They are pretty well 'bullet-proof' and seem to last forever.

The single tube model draws only 0.4 amp and I thought logically that the twin tube model would draw 0.8 amp. The box said 1.75 amps but the PL 20 agrees with me and registers only a 0.8 amp draw.

It isn't possible to remove one tube and use the other with the twin tube model as the circuit is broken when you remove one globe. Even so 0.8 amps isn't too bad and is half the draw of a single incandescent 12 volt globe. This makes the single tube model 4 times as efficient as a 12 v incandescent light and it produces much more light as well.

They are still available for sale but LED lights are now starting to replace all other types in use for camping and caravanning.

 

Portable 12v Light
Portable 12v Light

 

Price: $20 (wholesale) $35-45 (retail)
From: CAMEC and dealers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Highly recommended

 

A handy go anywhere light that has a tough plastic cover to protect the bulb. This one has a stand and a hook included and produces plenty of light. It is weatherproof and has a reasonably long lead with a cigarette lighter plug. (This we change to our standard low voltage T plugs).

There was a small problem with the wires inside the light detaching because not enough slack had been left and they gradually came off the connections. This was easily solved with the judicious application of a couple of blobs of solder. We modified this even further later on by adding an in-line on/off switch that means we can leave it plugged in all the time. (The in line switch came off one of the old shower pumps we had.)

The light was accidentally broken in late 2009, it would have lasted longer than this if it had not been trodden on! We replaced it with a similar model that is still in use in 2015.

Again, LED lights are gradually taking over from these older tube style lights but they are still good, cheap and last a long time.

 

Lantern Guard rechargeable bug zapper Lantern Guard rechargeable bug zapper
Lantern Guard rechargeable bug zapper

 

Price: $44
From: Coles
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: ****
Product quality: ***
Our recommendation: No longer available.

 

Although these no longer seem to be available, they are here as they dserve an honourable mention as they were one of our most useful camping items and we hope one day they may make a come-back.

This is a terrific idea for anyone who goes camping. An insect zapper with a rechargeable battery that lures and kills all the nasty biting insects from midges to mosquitoes and even sand flies.

After a few weeks use we found that if a large number of moths land on the unit at the same time they seem to overcome its ability to zap them. We started to use these more inside our tents and vans to keep the moths away.

The great thing about these lights is that any 'nasties' in the van are killed without the use of noxious chemical sprays.

Eventually they suffer from battery re-charge problems and runs out of power far too soon.

A second model was available (right hand picture) that works the same way as the old one.

The batteries in these lights only seem to last about 12 months before they start to deteriorate, we still think they are an essential item to carry in the caravan or motorhome. Even when the battery does finally give up the lantern can still be used on 240v power via the transformer.

One good thing about the new model over the old is that it catches the dead insects in an internal (removable) tray and you don't get a ring of dead bugs around the base as you did with the old one.

Sadly you cannot get replacement bulbs for these lights so once the bulb gives up you throw the whole thing away.

We used these for years and really hope that one day something very similar will come back on to the market. They are better than 240v models as they can be charged up during the day when plenty of solar power is going into the caravan batteries and then can be used at night with no impact on the 12 volt system.

 

LED lights
LED lights

 

Price: $varies
From: Camping stores etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: varies
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: varies
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: The new wave, everyone will have some of these soon.

 

LED lights are the 'new wave' for camping and produce light with very little draw on the batteries.

They do tend to produce a rather harsh light compared to the old yellow looking incandescent bulbs but the low power draw and that fact that they produce more light than heat, has made them an instant success.

We replaced all our caravan lights with LEDs and most of the lights in our Coaster are LED.

It is still worth while to have one or two 'yellow' lights so you can give your eyes a rest now and then, they are also a lot more romantic......

 

LED light replacements
LED light replacements

 

Price: $3-5
From: E-Bay.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: If you have incandescent caravan lights change them to these

 

This is one for caravanners and motorhomers whop still have the old style incandescent lights installed.

Changing to LED lights is cheap and easy and will save you a lot of battery power.

The LED panels come with three different types of light fitting that cover just about anything that has been installed already so it is just a matter of selecting the appropriate style and plugging it in.

Each LED panel has a self-adhesive backing that you just push on the the top of your existing light fitting. You can see more on this item at our Caravan Modifications page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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