Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: SANSI Warm White 15W Light Bulb & SANSI 30W Cool White LED Light Bulb

The early days of LED technology saw it mainly used only for advanced scientific applications and by garage-engineer hobbyists. When I was growing up in the 70s, my friend's dad was an engineer for Motorola, so my nerdy friends and I had access to drawers full of them. Most people saw them as toys back then. Back then, most of the light bulbs in any given house had GE or Philips logos on them.

Fast forward to 2017, and LED technology has fairly recently advanced to the point where it can replace traditional lighting. There's been an explosion of new LED companies, and LOFTEK is one of those companies. I had never heard of them before they sent me an outdoor multi-colored LED flood light, which still sits outside my brother's brewery, usually showing green if the bar is open, and red if it's not. LOFTEK supplied me with these two lights as well, the SANSI 15W warm white and the 30W cool white.

Modern LED light bulbs should be considered as basically just disposable flashlights, since there's nothing user-serviceable inside. They mostly use the same type of LED emitters that were perfected by flashlights, and similar circuitry as well. So it's all the same components of a flashlight.

Official Specs (30W Version)

  • Super Bright – 3000lm, E26 holder, 30W LED Bulb equivalents to 250W incandescent bulb. These gorgeous LED bulbs provide bright lighting for your dark garage, making the night as bright as day.
  • Energy Efficient – These 30-watt LED lights can help you save hundreds over the lifetime of the bulb. Comparing to traditional light bulb, under the same brightness you could save nearly 240 Kilowatts in one year with 3 hours of use each night.
  • Good Quality – SANSI LED Bulb adopts patented technology---the ceramic heat dissipation technology, by which lighting security and cooling efficiency are greatly improved.
  • Wide Applications –Great for garage, warehouse, barn, garden, office, shopping mall, supermarket, station, restaurant, hotel, workshop etc., indoor anywhere need bright light.
  • What You Get – SANSI 6500K LED Bulb, our fan-favorite 5 years warranty and friendly customer service.

Official Specs (15W Version)

  • Save up to 88% ($200) in energy savings compared to a 150W equivalent light bulb.
  • Compare our light! At 133 lumens per watt, we have the highest rated lumen/watt ratio versus all other LED light bulbs using our ceramic technology. Ceramic dissipates heat more efficiently versus older aluminum LED technology.
  • Energy Star Certified, UL Listed, Dimmable, No Flicker, Standard E26 Base, Traditional A19 sized bulb.
  • Ceramic vs. Aluminum: Our LED chips are mounted directly to the ceramic making each chip PC board and adhesive free. Aluminum requires a bigger bulb base than the A19 and produces less lumens per watt.
  • 30,000 Hours Lifetime, Omni-Directional 270° Beam Angle.


Initial Impressions


The 30W (cool white) bulb came with a built-in diffuser, just as I would expect. At that output level it could blind you in any clinical definition if you stare directly into the LED. The downside to a hermetically sealed diffuser is that I can't see the way the individual LED emitters are mounted to get a feel of its quality. But it looks pretty solid, and it's heavy like the 15W version.

The 15W (warm white) bulb really interested me, because it's something I plan on using every day, which is the best way I can test it. This is their warm white version that I specifically asked for. LED lights don't have to look like the sickly blue of decades of fluorescent lighting. The warm versions of the emitters cost a little more to produce, so most companies are pushing the cool white versions of their products, which is a shame. Taking it out of the box, it seems much heavier than I would normally expect in a light bulb. And that's actually a good sign, because LEDs put off heat, and the best way to keep something from getting too hot is to have lots of some type of insulating material. These use ceramic for their insulation.

As I said above, before the last review, I had never heard of this company. The product they linked me looked cool but a little cheap in the photos, so we were all surprised to see how solid it was, and how well it's held up to being outside for months. It rains a LOT here in Portland, Oregon, and it's held up even to a little snow.

So, I wasn't that surprised that both these bulbs give me a good initial impression. Holding them in my hands, looking at the construction, plugging them in, and turning them on: Just what I would expect from a decent quality light bulb, and it seems like it's just a little better constructed than a Philips warm white LED bulb. I had two, but one crapped out after about a year's worth of use, so I'm always happy to run competing products side by side.



Build Quality


15W Warm White Light Bulb

Good, overall. The LEDs on the 15W bulb look to be well mounted and of generic Chinese manufacture. These types of generic emitters aren't as good as Cree, but at a fraction of the price, they can be good values if you get decent ones. These days that's kind of roll of the dice.

Flashlights that put out a similar amount of light as these bulbs tend to be on the heavy side, just like these two bulbs. More weight means more ceramic in this case, which means more "thermal mass," which means more effective cooling. But excess heat is a bigger problem than with bulbs made from fewer emitters, so anything with this many emitters is going to need to be on the heavy side if it's decent quality.

I would have liked to see a diffuser on this model, but it's not a huge issue because of the way it's mounted now, and also because I can see the way the emitters are mounted.

30W Cool White Flood Light Bulb

It's overly heavy just like its cousins, as it should be for a 200+ watt equivalent bulb. I like that it has a plastic ring so you can unscrew the bulb when it's hot. Nice touch. It seems solid just like its 15W cousin.

Usability


I've tested both of these bulbs extensively and I like them. The 15W warm white bulb has a good tint (3000K), and it's probably turned on 8-12 hours a day. It's a tad heavy for the clip on lamp I have it in, so I had to re-position the clip a little, and it's been fine ever since.



Conclusions


These seem like good products, but for a light bulb it's hard to know the quality without having them turned on for long periods of time, which I've tried to do for this review. The LED floodlight they sent me has been powered on outside my brother's bar for about 6 months, so I feel pretty comfortable recommending their products.



Saturday, April 8, 2017

Review: MiBoxer C2-3000 2 Port Battery Charger

Back in the 1960s, my dad worked for Westinghouse, and they gave him a van load of rechargeable batteries. He put them in all of our devices, so I knew a childhood where everything was rechargeable decades before everyone else did.

But people still buy disposable batteries, which makes me sad, because the technology has been around for too long to waste your money on something you only get one use out of, instead of modern cells that can be recharged 1,000 times or more. Why buy 1,000 batteries when you can recharge just one?

Part of the problem now is that there's so many different types battery chemistry and formats to worry about. So I've been happy to see the slew of smart chargers that have popped up over the last few years. These types of chargers can pretty much charge anything rechargeable that fits in the charging slot. I can give a family member a mixture of lithium-ion and AA rechargeable flashlights without worrying about them burning their house down!

This 2 slot MiBoxer C2-3000 Smart Charger supplied by MiBoxer claims to be just that. I had never heard of MiBoxer so I did a little research and their chargers seem to get good reviews. I didn't see this model on Amazon, but I do see their 4 slot version. They also have an Amazon store.

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product View


Product Description

Price: 20 bucks online?

The C2-3000 is a 2 slot, analyzing charger that uses a USB charging interface, with its included cable. It claims to charge pretty much any lithium-ion, NiMh or NiCd cell that fits in the charging slot. It's informational display tracks capacity, voltage, internal resistance, charge rate and estimated remaining time.

Official Specs (From MiBoxer)



Initial Impressions


Overall, good. Out of the box, it almost looks like a re-branded Nitecore charger or one from the big brands. The Chinese don't put the same focus on brand recognition as other countries, so it's always a good guessing game figuring out where something is made, and who made it.

MiBoxer chose an interesting power configuration. The unit comes with a DC plug on one end of the supplied cable, but the other end is a standard USB cable end. I would've preferred a standard mini or micro USB on the other end, but it's not a huge deal unless you lose the cable. Don't lose the cable!

The included 12 V car adapter is a nice touch. That's really the good thing about USB smart chargers: you can charge your batteries anywhere. I have a couple large USB power packs I built myself, which makes it handy to charge flashlight cells from a portable pack.

The informational display is impressive. Extra points for showing the internal resistance and estimated time remaining.

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 1

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 2

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 3

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 4

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 5


MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Product 6


Build Quality


Overall, good. My review sample seems to be well built. The plastic housing is as thick as I think it should be and the spring loaded contacts look durable enough. The back lit display is a nice touch and well mounted. The charge cable is thicker than most of my USB cables and definitely appreciated, though it is a non-standard cable.

All things considered this unit seems well built for a budget charger, which I assume is selling in the 20 dollar range.

Fit & Finish


Overall, good. The single button on the unit looks a little cheap, but reasonable for a charger in this price range, and just like my other chargers. It'd be nice to see something more durable like the rubber coated switches with the anodized rings on some of my flashlights.

There's not really much to pick on: The information on the  backlit display is extremely crisp, though the back light seems a little on the bright side. The cells fit well into the charging slots. The sliding, spring-loaded contacts slide well.

The charging cable has a secure fit, which is good because it's a non-standard USB cable. As far as fit & finish goes, this could easily pass for one of the bigger brands.

Features



The C2-3000 is a two slot charger that can charge pretty much any rechargeable cell that fits in one of its slots. With a USB interface, it can charge cells from a wall charger, included car charger, laptop, desktop, or power pack--basically anything with a USB port that puts out 5 volts.

There's a button on the charger that switches the display between slot #1 and slot #2, and the display shows lots of information:

  • Estimated time remaining
  • Measured capacity
  • Internal Resistance
  • Current Voltage
  • Charge Rate

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Animation 1
Above I'm charging two Samsung 18650 (3,000 mAh) lithium-ion cells
There's no special test modes, which seem to be on their 4 slot model.

Charge Rate


The achilles' heel of any USB charger is that they tend to be really conservative on charge rate, which makes sense because the charger doesn't know the quality of the USB power source it's being plugged into.

Because of the lower charge rate, it can take 8 (or more) hours to charge some of the higher capacity lithium-ion cells like the 18650 or 25650. So anyone looking at a USB charger to charge lithium-ion cells should take this knowledge into account.

When I first plugged this charger in and put in a Panasonic 18650 3400 mAh cell, it started out at 100 mAh, which is extremely low.

But luckily the charger is just really cautious and will gradually bump the charge rate up. I did a little video and it was still at 200 mAh, but I checked an hour later and it was up to 550 mAh, which is about as high as most USB chargers go.

Usability


This is a fun charger, and the only one I have which measures internal resistance. It seems to charge a little faster than other USB chargers I've owned. Maybe even given its 550 mAh charge output, which leads me to suspect it might be charging a little higher than its reported output.

The estimated time remaining is also nice. I'm a busy guy, and we're all used to our other devices giving us an estimate, even if we know it's just an estimate.

MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Charging 2 Panasonic 18650 Cells
Wait, 9 hours?
MiBoxer C2-3000 Battery Charger - Animation 2
Doesn't seem to have any problems mixing battery chemistries on the same charge


Conclusions


If you use high capacity lithium-ion cells on a daily basis, you probably want a 2 amp wall charger. But if you use these cells every day, you probably already know this.

If you use lots of different cells once in a while like most people, then USB chargers like this are nice because they give you lots of options for charging, with a sacrifice in charging rate. And this seems like a good USB charger, even if I've never heard of the brand. This one shows how smart these budget chargers are getting, and I really like the internal resistance display, which gives you an idea of how much life the cell has left in it.

It's still a good option for me as a 2nd charger, because I like to build my own USB power packs, and it's very appealing being able to charge all my cells from a power pack or my truck in a pinch. I always throw a USB charger like this one in the truck for camping and long road trips.

For this reason, I think these types of chargers are good for survival bags and living off the grid. Combined with a power pack and USB solar panel like the one I have, I can charge AA and AAA cells indefinitely in an emergency, as well as all my lithium-ion cells. Chargers like this one plug straight into the solar panel!