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Quick Charge Artist

5.11’s new Light for Life duty flashlight is powered by revolutionary technology that lets it recharge in 90 seconds.

October 01, 2008  |  by - Also by this author

If you pick up 5.11's new Light for Life UC3.400 and ask a company rep what makes it different from the hundreds of other flashlights on the market, you'd better have some time to listen to the answer. The Light for Life is really different.

Almost all flashlights on the market today use chemical batteries as a power source. The Light for Life uses an ultracapacitor system.

Ultracapacitors have been around for about 15 years. They are energy storage devices that charge very quickly and discharge almost instantly. So until now about the only practical use for an ultracapacitor in a consumer product was in the flash systems of digital cameras.

To make an ultracapacitor suitable for a flashlight, engineers had to find a way to regulate the discharge of power. And that's exactly what the team at Ivus Energy Innovations has managed to do. Using Flashpoint Power Technology—a combination of computerized circuitry and an ultracapacitor—Ivus developed a power source suitable for a duty light.

At first the engineers at Ivus wanted to make their own line of duty flashlights, but they soon realized they lacked the marketing expertise to crack the law enforcement and military markets. Consequently, Ivus CEO David Alexander approached 5.11 Tactical.

5.11 CEO Dan Costa had been previously approached by other flashlight makers who wanted 5.11 to market their product. But he didn't really like any of them. "They just didn't meet our mission statement," he says.

According to Costa, 5.11's mission statement is to make products that "exceed the needs" of its law enforcement and military customers. When Costa saw the Ivus flashlight prototype, he immediately realized that its technology could be very useful for 5.11's end-users.

5.11 licensed the Flashpoint Power Technology, then it went to work making a flashlight. The first step was to hold development meetings with more than 1,000 law enforcement officers and ask them what they thought. They gave 5.11 advice on the shape of the flashlight head, features they wanted to see, the positioning of the switch, and other concerns.

The result is the Light for Life UC3.400, an 11-inch, 1.75-inch diameter, hexagonal head duty light. The Light for Life operates in three modes: standard with 90 lumens of output, burst with 240 lumens of output, and a 270-lumen strobe. Runtime in standard mode is about 60 minutes with an additional 30 minutes of reserve.

But what really makes the Light for Life different is the Flashpoint Power Technology. The following is a list of some of the major benefits of this innovative power system:

  • The light charges from dead flat to full charge in 90 seconds.
  • If it were charged once a day it would last for 50,000 days—that's more than 135 years without degradation of the power source, hence the name "Light for Life."
  • Because it has no batteries, the Light for Life weighs 16 ounces, roughly half as much as a standard duty light.
  • Flashpoint Power Technology is environmentally friendly because it eliminates the need for disposable or rechargeable chemical batteries and contains no heavy metals.

In addition to these benefits, 5.11 says the light will save end-users money because they don't have to buy batteries or replacement parts. The Light for Life's LEDs are rated for 50,000 hours.

The 5.11 Light for Life duty flashlight is expected to reach the market in February. Price has been set at $169.99, including a 12-volt DC car charger. The light has a limited lifetime warranty.

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