Wednesday, March 9, 2016

ThruNite TC12 Rechargeable 1000 lumen 18650 flashlight,Cree XP-L LED

ThruNite TC12 is a new compact,single 18650 flashlight in ThruNite's product catalog.
The TC12 is a rechargeable version of the popular ThruNite TN12 flashlight.
Main features-Cree XP-L V6 LED,1000 lumen output,5 modes+hidden Strobe,Built-in charging circuit,Micro USB port.
From first look,we see the deep knurling and sturdy pocket clip.
The side switch has the new for the latest models grey metallic look-it is made of stainless steel.
Black matte anodizing-less glossy than the TN12(2014),that I have tested.
Conventional rear switch+electronic side switch.
There are two options for type of the LED-Cool white and Neutral white.

The reviewed below sample was provided by ThruNite for test and review.
It was sent to me directly by their German store on Amazon.
The sample is a normal end product and should not differ in design or performance from the other TC12 flashlights on the market.

Comparison with other compact 18650 flashlights.
Left to Right-
ThruNite 3400mAh battery/ThruNite TC12/ThruNite TN12(2014)/Fenix PD35(XM-L2)/Thorfire VG15/OlightM18 Striker
Only the TC12 has a built in charging circuit and Micro USB port.

All flashlights with smooth aluminum reflectors.

Main features from Manufacturer(copy/paste):

Micro USB Rechargeable EDC LED flashlight with intelligent overcharge protection.
Adopt latest CREE XP-L V6 LED to make max output up to 1000 lumens.
Adopt common micro USB charging port for easy use everywhere.
Stainless steel side switch makes the operation more sensitive and convenient.
Six modes for available: Firefly, Low, Medium, High, Turbo and Strobe.
Silent Momentary-on “forward clicky” tactical tail switch for signaling or brief lighting.
One key to Strobe for signaling or blinding the bad guys’ eyes, TC12 is more than an EDC.
ThruNite ITC(intelligent temperature control) technology to prevent possible light damage from overheating.
Smooth reflector for far beam in search, hunting, law enforcement and military applications.
Reversed polarity protection system prevents damage to the light.
Ultra clear tempered glass lens with anti-reflective coating.
Aircraft grade aluminum body structure with knurling for firm grip.
Premium type III hard anodized anti-abrasive finish.
Memory function to set any mode (except Strobe) for immediate use.
More compact than other rechargeable LED flashlights on the market.

LED: CREE XP-L V6 LED with a lifespan of 20+ years of run time.
Runs on: 1x18650 battery (included).
Working voltage: 2.75V-5.0V.

Charging current/voltage: 5V, 1A.
Output & Runtime (Tested with ThruNite 3400mAh 18650 battery):
Strobe(800 lumens /4.8hrs),
Turbo(1000 lumens/2.6hrs),
High(640 lumens /2.5hrs),
Medium(180 lumens /9.5hrs),
Low(28 lumens /3days),
Firefly (0.4 lumens /70days).

Peak beam intensity: 18760cd.
Max beam distance: 274m.
Power interface: 1 * micro USB charging port.
Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard (2 meters).
Impact resistant: 1.5 meters.
Working Temperature: -40℃-80℃.
Dimensions: 140mm (length) x 25.4mm (body diameter).
Weight: 85g (excluding battery).
Accessories: Holster x1, Spare O ring x2, Lanyard x1, Pocket Clip x1,
18650 3400mAh Battery x1, USB Charging Cord x1.

All modes in action- UltraLow/Low/Mid/High/Turbo

The TC12 comes with a ThruNite 3400mAh protected 18650 battery in set.
This is much appreciated by the new users,which have little or no any knowledge in choosing the right battery for the certain flashlight.
Receiving ThruNite TC12,the new user just need a Micro USB cable(widely used for charging cellphones,tablets,cameras,etc.) and to charge the new battery before using the flashlight.
Please note that the charging current is about 850mA maximum,so a powerful power supply must be used,supporting at least 1A(1000mA) current draw. Most wall chargers support high current,but you have to be careful when charging from a Laptop or Desktop computer. Most old mainboards support just 500mA current.
Charging process on my sample stops fully at 4,17V voltage.

Regarding the battery brand used for making the protected ThruNite battery-I can clearly see the slightly greenish color and the letters NCR18650B.
Thanks to the semi-transparent wrapping,we know that inside is a genuine Panasonic battery.

A close look at the Micro USB charging port. You can see also the quality of the cooling fins.

The TC12 in my hand. Excellent grip thanks to the deep knurling-deeper than the Fenix PD35's.
Pressing the tail switch also does not take unneeded efforts.
The TC12's tail is designed to allow tail-standing. All edges around the switch are rounded,not fully as I prefer,but they do not cause discomfort while pressing the switch.
The switch is a forward clicky switch-momentary On is possible.
The side switch is a tactile push button,which may or may not produce click sound depending on the way of pressing it.

There is no specific relief to help finding the switch by touching.
Finding it takes a lot of time,but this is a mode switch and most often quick access is not crucial.
The best way to keep track of the switch is to remember the switch position against the pocket clip.
It is much easier to feel in the hand and will help you to adjust the grip for easier access to the side switch.

There is a silicone pad under the switch,which transfers the light from the LED state indicator.
The small dot in the center is a part of the silicone pad.
It indicates charging status,low battery voltage and also lights up green for about 4 seconds after turning the light On.

User Interface

ThruNite TC12 has a physical tail switch. Fully press to turn On/Off.
Half-way press(without click sound) to turn On momentary.

Cycling the different modes is possible by pressing the "electronic" side switch.
Briefly press to select from UltraLow-Low-Mid-High-Turbo.
Press and hold to activate Strobe mode. Briefly press again to return to the constant mode.
All constant light modes are instantly memorized by the driver.
No memory for Strobe mode.

The TC12 is quite easy and intuitive to operate. I did not found any trouble using it.

Standard for ThruNite sturdy cardboard box. Everything was well packed.
The TC12 comes with-Good holster,Micro USB cable,Lanyard,Spare parts,User manual on different languages.

Two spare O-rings,Two spare charger port covers,a spare switch cap,the small silicone pad under the switch can also be replaced.

The holster is sufficient in size.Keeps the flashlight in place. My only critique is the lack of velcro tape on the back.There is only a belt loop.

A close view at the tail threads.
Square cut,anodized.
I have a little problem with screwing the tailcap because of the O-ring size.
Sometimes the cap "bites" into the O-ring and I have to readjust the cap by few more turns forth and back.

This is the head end-with another spring for keeping the battery protected from impact.

The charging port has a thick silicone cover/cap.
It protects the port from water and dust.
The cover is quite thick,but the connection point with the ring part is very thin and should be inspected periodically.
My TC12 came with a slightly cut connection.The Thrunite's idea for including two spare covers seems quite reasonable.
(The TC12 is with the original cover on all pictures-I did not take a special picture of the broken part).

All parts fit nicely,without any gap.

A close look at the knurling.

I found that on my sample the head is not glued and can be also unscrewed.
This is a great chance to look under the "hood".

Cree XP-L V5 LED. Aluminum reflector-it is not left loose as seen in many other flashlights.It is screwed in the head.
The LED board is made of copper. Nice thick wires for less electrical resistance.
The board is held down on its place tightly,by two screws.

Anodized,square cut threads to the head,too.

Deep,smooth aluminum reflector. Perfectly centered LED.
Ultra clear glass with anti-reflective coating.

Below is a graph presenting how the TC12 is performing on High and Turbo modes.
Power source for the test ThruNite 3400mAh protected 18650 battery.
On High mode the output is well regulated for a little less than 100 minutes.Once the battery voltage gets lower than the needed for the LED to produce 600 lumens,the output starts to fall.
The curve in this state has the typical for the Panasonic 3400mAh form.

On Turbo mode the lumen output depends highly on the voltage,as the curve has direct drive characteristics.
There is no timed or thermal step down.
The TC12's head gets hot while working on max output.This is pretty normal for a compact flashlight with high output of 1000 lumens.
I don't know what is the maximum acceptable temperature,but I recommend if you feel the flashlight too hot to touch,just select a lower mode or turn Off the light for a minute.
Note,that not only the driver electronics and the LED are heating,the battery is also getting heat from the aluminum tube.

According to the specifications,the TC12 has an ITC(intelligent temperature control) technology to prevent possible light damage from overheating.
In my tests I did not managed to activate it.
I tested the flashlight at room temperature of about 21C,as I did not used a cooling fan for the first 20 minutes.

The high output on Turbo mode combined with a single power source results in output dependent on the voltage. The driver electronics has no option for boosting the voltage to the required by the LED value.
The output on Turbo mode is not the same every time when you turn on the light. It depends on the battery voltage.
(Flashlights with a boosting circuit are very rare-one of them is the ThruNites Lynx which provides 1000 lumens,no matter the battery voltage.
It requires more electronic elements,more space for coil in the head,and probably raises the end price.)

I tested also the driver for Low voltage protection and did not found a sign of such.
In one of my run time tests I left the discharge as long as possible. The battery was discharged down to 2.6V.
It is highly recommended to use protected batteries with this flashlight and to charge the battery once the modes seem way too dim than usual or no mode difference.
The indicator light under the switch starts to blink in red color when battery voltage is low. This also helps for preventing excessive discharge.

My lumen measurements-
(My testing equipment is not laboratory calibrated)

Turbo mode= 1110Lm initial/ 1085Lm 30sec after activation
High mode= 640Lm
Mid mode= 192Lm
Low mode= 48Lm
Firefly mode= it is too low for accurate measurement with my setup;

Beam shots

ThruNite TC12 is available with a Cool White LED and Neutral White LED.
My version is the Cool White.
The XP-L mounted in my sample produces Cool white light with no visible tint-without comparing it to other light sources.
I found the light quite pleasing and warmer white than I expected.
Because of the smooth reflector,the light is not so well mixed,but I see no disturbing artifacts,even on a white wall.
The central hotspot zone differs slightly in brightness. This can be seen in all flashlights with a small smooth reflector.
Generally,I found the beam quite good,useful under various conditions.

1 meter, 1/20sec

1 meter,1/125sec

1 meter,1/1600sec

5 meters, 1/6sec

5 meters, 1/50sec

I am comparing the TC12 to Thorfire VG15 and Olight M18 just for beam shape reference.
They are less powerful flashlights and logically do not perform in the same way as the PD35 and the TN12.

5 meters, 1/125sec

Good points-
Great machine work and build quality; Well looking,practical design; Great hand grip,thanks to the deep knurling; Quick and Easy operation; Easy UI; Well spaced modes; High brightness; Good beam;
Quality rechargeable battery included in the set; Comes with everything needed to start using it;
USB charging-can be charged anytime,from almost any USB post; Sturdy pocket clip;Stable tail-standing;

What could be improved-
No low voltage protection; The side switch is relatively hard to find in the dark; The pocket clip is pressing over an aggressive knurling surface-may be not good for belt attaching;

My conclusion after testing the TC12 for some time is- it is a great performer in the compact rechargeable 18650 flashlights class.
I had no any technical problems with it.The only trouble I had was the tail O-ring,which requires new silicone grease and more attention when screwing the tailcap.

Thanks for reading!
Thanks to ThruNite for providing the TC12 for test and review!

Any questions or comments are welcome.