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Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > MAXXEON Pocket Floodlight > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes
Maxxeon WorkStar 220 Pocket Floodlight
Initial Report: May 30, 2011
Field Report: August 15, 2011
Long Term Report, October 10, 2011
Here is the Maxxon WorkStar 220 alongside an ordinary ink pen.
I live in Northeast Alabama. I enjoy biking, hunting, fishing, canoeing/kayaking and most other outdoor activities, but backpacking is my favorite pastime. I enjoy hiking with friends and family or solo. I hike throughout the year and actually hike less in the hot humid months of summer. My style is slow and steady and my gear is light. However, I will sacrifice weight for comfort and durability. A typical 3-season load for me is around 20 lb (9 kg) not counting food or water.
Product Description & Initial Impressions
The Maxxeon WorkStar 220 Pocket Floodlight looks like an ordinary pen-light. However, it is advertised as up to 20 times brighter than ordinary pen-lights. That is a pretty hefty claim but I will say the light puts out a tremendous amount of light for such a small light. The light features an LED bulb but all I can find about it is that is a cool white light with no hot/dark spots and produces 120 lumen's. The specifications do mention 3 W, but I'm not sure if that means it is a 3 watt LED or not. The switch on the light is in the tail piece and has a rubber cover over it. It is also textured similar to the knurling on the barrel where the light threads apart. It can be held about halfway down for momentary light or mashed all the way until it clicks to make the light stay on. The website says "The rugged tailcap switch is rated at 100,000 cycles and is sealed to avoid contamination by dirt and grit."
The barrel of the light is made from T6 Aluminum with Black Type II Anodizing and has a removable and reversible pocket clip attached to it. There are O-ring seals on either end of the light and the batteries can be inserted for either end. However, there is a third place to separate the light on the bulb end and it also has an O-Ring. The packaging says the light is water resistant.
The working end of the light features an orange peel reflector. I was not sure what that meant so I Googled it. From what I read, the orange peel reflector produces a more even beam while a smooth surface reflector produces a tighter beam. From that I gather that an orange peel reflector is really more suited for a flood light which this light is. The light uses AAAA batteries. When I first read that on the website I actually thought it might be a misprint for AAA batteries but I Googled and found they do indeed make this size. I have never seen them in a store, but then again, I have not been looking for them. However, I found several online sources so I will be able to replace them as needed. The advertised burn time is 2 hours to half brightness & 4 hours usable light with typical intermittent use. This is not all that long but the price for such a bright light using very small batteries.
My initial impression is that this light is very powerful and well constructed light but I'm a little concerned that the battery life will limit how much I can depend on the light. I generally use a light a couple of hours each night when camping out but to do so with this light will mean I'll be replacing batteries fairly often and probably will need to carry a spare set for any multi day trips. Or carry a headlamp and use it if the WorkStar 220 runs out of juice. I do like the convenient way it can be carried like a pen. When I'm at work and loose power, finding a light to do a few necessary chores is not always easy. Keeping this light handy will solve that.
Trying it out
The WorkStar 220 arrived at 11 AM so I could not immediately go outside and check it out. I settled for installing the batteries and going into a closet. On installing the batteries, there is no indication on the light as too which way to point them but the packaging does show the positive ends pointed toward the bulb end of the light. This proved to be the correct way. Once in the closet I closed the door and it was pitch black. I turned on the WorkStar 220 and held it overhead to see how bright it was. And while not quite as bright as the light in the ceiling, it did light up the whole closet pretty well. Here are a couple of photos from this little experiment.
closet floor with WorkStar 220 held overhead and camera set to no flash.
about all this says is that we don't have enough closet space... I held the light
overhead for the shot but it looked darker than what I saw with my eyes
so I took another one with the light pointed slightly towards the clothes.
I have since used it walking outside in my yard after dark and it does indeed seem to be very bright. It also throws a beam a long way off even though it is a flood light. I think this is mainly because it is so bright to start with.
The pocket clip came positioned so that the bulb end is facing down when carried in a shirt pocket but I wanted to try it on a ball cap so I reversed it. It did not want to slide off the end of the main barrel so I forced it off by pulling it out away from the barrel. It took quite a bit of force but didn't seem to cause any harm. Anyways, after clipping it back on in the other direction I put it on my ball cap. It stayed on very nicely but when walking the light would move side to side so I ditched that idea and turned it back around. Here is the pocket clip in use.
Here is the light residing in the pocket on my shirt.
The Maxxeon WorkStar 220 Pocket Floodlight appears to be all it is advertised to be. There is no doubt it is very bright. It is very compact which should make it easy to carry. I am looking forward to testing it during all my outdoor activities and perhaps even indoors if the need arises.
Test Locations and Conditions
The Maxxeon WorkStar 220 has been used under several different circumstances during the past two months. It spent the most time residing on my bedside night stand but also accompanied me to work, on several day hikes and on a three-day canoe trip on Black Water Creek in southern Mississippi. Conditions have been pretty hot but since this is a light, it was used at night when conditions were slightly cooler. As such it was used when temperatures were mostly in the mid 70s F (around 24 C). The WorkStar was exposed to pretty wet conditions on the three-day paddle. I used it briefly during a pouring rain when my hammock fly was giving me trouble on that trip.
Field Test Results
Using the Maxxeon WorkStar 220 has proven to be both good and bad. The good is that this light is much easier to keep up with than most lights. I could and did keep it in my shirt pocket quite a bit. When wearing a shirt without pockets, I often kept it in one of my jean pockets. It is also a very tough light in my opinion, even thought I have not treated it roughly. I say this because just the ordinary bangs and bumps when carrying it on my person or in a day pack will bring out any weaknesses in a flashlight. I've had other lights fail me under similar circumstances.
The bad would be that this light is not all that handy as a chore light. A perfect example was during a power outage at my house. The power went out at 12:30 AM and was still off the next morning at 5 AM when I had to get up and get ready for work. I had the flashlight on my nightstand when the power went off and was already awake due to the thunderstorms. I used the light to go get my cell phone from the kitchen so I would have it for my alarm. Good thing too, because the power was still off when I needed to get up. When I did get up I used the light to get dressed with by placing it on its side on my dresser. I then carried it into the living room and placed it on its side on the piano to put my shoes on. And finally, I carried it into the kitchen and placed it on the counter top (again on its side) to fix my food for the next 24 hours. It worked fine for these tasks and puts out a surprising amount of light. I did notice that when I would get in front of the light with it at my back I could not see all that well in front of me. In other words, I was casting a shadow, something a headlamp would not cause.
Another prime example was on the canoe camping trip. On the first night a big thunderstorm came rolling in right after we retired for the night. It was hot so I had tied my hammock fly up high on one side to let in a little breeze. Of course, once it started raining, this caused a big problem because the fly was at such an angle that it caused water to pool in it instead of running off. After several minutes of heavy rain I heard a pop and then felt rain on my feet. I wasn't sure exactly what had happened but I had the WorkStar in the net pouch overhead and grabbed it for a quick inspection. The fly had pulled completely loose from the ridge line at the foot end of my hammock. I quickly put it back on and waited to see what would develop. It started raining even harder. For the next half hour I had to push up on the fly every few minutes to dump the water off. It finally slacked off and I decided I had better fix the fly or risk not getting any sleep the rest of the night. I had my headlamp handy so I used it because I knew I would need to untie the fly from the limb and tie it down to a stake on the ground. Of course once I lowered the fly it did not rain anymore that night.
The most recent example was adding air to the tires on my wife's car. She came home after dark saying the light indicating a low tire had come on. I took the car next door to my dad's and was able to see my tire gauge on one side of the car but the other side was in the dark. I held the light in one hand and put the tire pressure gauge on with the other. I would then put the pressure gauge down and add air, put the hose down and recheck. The air hose was one of those spiral types that stretches out and when I would put it down it would take off back towards the compressor. After this happened once I learned to put my foot over the air hose when I put it down but with a headlamp I could have easily held both the pressure gauge and air hose while working.
However, to be fair to the WorkStar, it is handier to keep on my person than a headlamp. So even thought a headlamp would have been easier to use on several occasions, the WorkStar was easier to keep handy, and I had it with me more often than not when a quick light was needed.
I did have some concerns about battery life when reading about this light. I estimate I have used the light about 2 hours so far and it is still going strong on the original set of batteries. I know they specs say that after 2 hours the light should be down to about half power so I know they will probably need to replace these very soon. Therefore, I started looking for some spares every time I was in town. I was in three different Wal-Mart stores and never saw any AAAA's. I also checked for them at Target and Dicks Sporting Goods in Huntsville and they did not carry them. I checked at the local Dollar General and Food Land in Grant and they did not carry them either. I also noticed that when I asked about them in the various stores nobody had ever heard of an AAAA battery. This did not surprise me since I had not heard of them myself before getting this light. Then one day I was at the drug store in Grant and remembered to look for the batteries. The lady at the counter was not sure if they had them and had never heard of this size. However, we both looked and low and behold, they had one set of 2 AAAA batteries. The set cost me $3.99 USD. I told her I needed 3 and she said she could have in more the next day. So I rode my bike up to the store the next day and sure enough, she had a few more sets in stock. I bought another pack so I now have 4 AAAA batteries on standby. I had almost decided to order some from Amazon but after checking the price, I did not pay a lot more by getting them local. They were $3.26 USD for 2 the last time I checked.
two sets of AAAA batteries from the local drug store
Which leads me to wonder, why go with the AAAA size battery for this light? I would personally be happy with a slightly bigger light that used two or three AAA batteries. They are much more readily available and a lot cheaper to boot. I'm sure the manufacture has their reasons and I can live with the light as it is. As a matter of fact, I really like the light and have enjoyed using it so far. This concludes my Field Report.
Long Term Testing Locations and Conditions
I have continued to use the Maxxeon WorkStar as my main light as often as possible during the past couple of months. I carried it on one more overnight trip which included about a mile (1.6 km) of night-time hiking. This trip was a local trip in some woods near home. The weather was what I would call ideal conditions temperature wise, with a low of 60 F (16 C) and a high of 73 F (23 C) the next day when I finished the trip at noon. It did sprinkle on me a little while I was hiking in at night and a little more after I turned in for the night but nothing major. I also used it while doing some home repairs and at work several times.
Long Term Test Results
A few weeks after my Field Report I went ahead and changed out the batteries on the Maxxeon WorkStar 220 with the AAAA Energizers I had bought. I had about 3 hours total use on the factory set, and while still usable, they were beginning to dim somewhat. I have since used the WorkStar on a nighttime hike and even compared it with my headlamp briefly while walking down the trail. It definitely puts out a lot more light then the headlamp, but of course did require me to use one hand to hold the light. The trail follows a bluff for part of the distance and a miss-step could result in a nasty fall. I also had to cross several logs in the trail. Fortunately, the light from the WorkStar was up to the task. As a matter of fact, the light from it seems to be more true than any LED light I have ever used. This is hard to explain, but with my other LED lights, I always felt like I was viewing things thru a dim fog and my light gave a sort of bluish look to everything. The WorkStar gave me the impression of a more natural look. Anyways, after reaching my campsite I put the WorkStar aside while I set up my hammock with my headlamp. According to my GPS data I used the light for 25 minute to walk the 1 mile (1.6 km) to my campsite.
On another occasion I was doing some remodeling and needed to cut a few baseboards with my circular saw. This required me to hold the guard back with the saw set on a 45% angle. Believe me, it was not easy. I had on my headlamp but was finding it difficult to follow the mark I had placed on my board. I then asked my wife to grab the WorkStar and hold it for me while I made my cuts. It took me about an hour to get all 4 baseboards cut because I would cut one, go install it (temporarily) and measure for the next baseboard, until I worked my way to where I needed to be. I probably only used the light for five minutes during that time.
I used it several more times at work and at home but only for a few minutes at a time. Thus far I estimate that I have maybe 2 hours on the replacement batteries. They seem to still be fairly good but I know that after another hour or so of use I will be looking to replace the batteries again. Which bring me to this.
I did want to mention my attempt at using a 9 volt battery as a future supply for AAAA batteries. I read about the possibility in another testers report and also got an email from a reader (thanks Walter!). Walter even advised that he knew an Energizer 9 volt battery had the individual AAAA batteries inside it. I picked up an Energizer 9 volt and proceeded to take it apart. It was really pretty simple to do. Unfortunately, the batteries inside are just a tad shorter than the AAAA batteries I am using and when three are stacked inside the barrel of the WorkStar they came up so short that the light would not come on. I took a series of pictures and will share them. I know they have little bearing on the test but I found it an interesting process.
9 volt battery ready for surgery
end taken off exposing individual cells
what happens when three are stacked inside the WorkStar
9 volt cells on the left of course...
The Maxxeon WorkStar 220 pen-light is certainly a great little light. It has proven to be very durable and the switch has not given me any trouble. And while in my opinion, it is not an ideal camping light (because it can not be used hands free), it is such a small light that it makes a great backup light for camping and a many other applications. Where it really shines (pun intended) is as an EDC (every day carry) light. The form factor is such that it is easy to carry in just about any situation, whether in a shirt pocket, a small day pack, or for the ladies, even a purse. Just think of it as an ink pen, only slightly heavier, and anywhere it would be easy to take an ink pen, it will be just as easy to take the WorkStar.
This concludes my testing of the Maxxeon WorkStar 220. I would like to thank Maxxeon and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the neat little light.
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Reviews > Lighting > Flashlights - LED > MAXXEON Pocket Floodlight > Test Report by Coy Ray Starnes