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    EL8 Solar Powered Headlamp - Solar Panel combination Review

     

    Review, Testing and Applications

     

    The EL8 Solar Powered Headlamp - Solar Panel combination, is a 5 bright LEDs headlamp, powered with rechargeable NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery, or Li-ion (lithium-ion) battery in the newer models, coming up on July 2008.

    This headlamp is extremely light weight, just about 2 ounces. The NiMH battery, 3 AAA cells, is rated 3.6VDC at 900mAh.

    The first impression I had when holding it on my hand, it was the light weight feeling, compactness, and easy to hold it. It can be use as a regular flashlight, and actually feels good on your hand. Even though the EL8 has been design as a headlamp, regardless of the oval shape that contrast to the cylinder shape of most flashlights, the EL8 headlamp can be used easily and comfortably as a flashlight.

    The five-position sequencing switch placed at the top of the headlamp, is very accessible and easy to use. The sequencing functions: "bright on", "photo cell", "dim", "blinking", and "off", are very handy for a number of different situations and uses, that we'll explore later below. In the "photo cell" mode the 5 LEDs turn on only in dark situations or places; a very handy and useful feature when working in and out of a dark place. An example of that application is working on dropped ceilings, when you have to go up into the ceiling-dropped ceiling area, and back down the step ladder.

    EL8 Headlamp back view,Photo Cell

    Above picture shows the Photo Cell,
    located at the back, right side of headlamp.
    The Photo Cell allows the EL8 Headlamp
    to turn on, only in dark/low light conditions.
     

    V30
    This video shows the EL8 Headlamp controls buttons
    operations, and locations: Push Button sequencing,
    and Battery Check.
    EL8 Headlamp bottom view, Battery Check Pushbutton, DC jack

    This picture shows the bottom of the
    EL8 Headlamp
    . From left to right:

    • Battery Check LED indicator
    • DC In/Out power jack
    • Battery Check Pushbutton (red)
    EL8 Headlamp bottom view, Battery Check Pushbutton test

    This picture shows a battery check, done by
    pushing the red Battery Check Pushbutton,
    while the headlamp is on (on any on mode).
    On this case it indicates low battery charge,
    red LED light
    , about less than 30% of battery
    charge left
     

    As a headlamp, the feeling around your head is excellent, very light weight and comfortable. The click stops for angle positioning setting is versatile and easy to use . It allows you to adjust the angle the LEDs point to, which is extremely useful for a handyman, at the jobsite, or just working around the house.


    Some uses and applications

    Inside of the house applications and uses

    We found many applications for the EL8 Headlamp working/using it around and inside the house. To name some:

    • Many times at night I need to look for something, in a dark corner inside of a closet, and I need my hands free to reach for what I'm looking for.

    • My son falls asleep on our bed, and I have to pick him up and take him to his bed without waking anybody up in the house. I definitely need both hands free, and some light to see my way!

    • I go to the garage very often at night, to look for tools, books, etc. Even though I have two sets of fluorescent tubes, and four light bulbs around the garage, there is always a dark place where I need some extra light and both hands free, to look and get what I'm looking for; especially when I need to climb a step ladder to reach for something in the storage places above the beams, close to the ceiling. EL8 headlamp night readingThe EL8 Headlamp is the best thing it could happen to me and any DIY/handyman!

    • When I want to read and relax late at night, laying on the sofa or on my bed, and I don't want the four or six ceiling spot lights on my face, I just use the EL8 Headlamp in dim mode.

    • Working under the kitchen or bathroom sink, replacing a hose, or fixing aEL8 Headlamp at the beach leakage. This is another invaluable use of the EL8 Headlamp.
      When I am engaged doing some plumbing under a sink, laying on my back in an uncomfortable position, and I need a tool stored in the attic, I lure my 6 years old boy with the use of the Headlamp, to go and fetch the tool, or tools bag or box for me. This is the reason I always have two EL8 headlamps handy!!!
      (This is not exactly the attic, but my son modeling with the EL8 Headlamp, under Manhattan Beach Pier)
      EL8 Headlamp child readingHave you ever thought of a peaceful and enjoyable way to make your kids read their home work, without arguing and begging for it? Guess what: lure again my 6 years old boy  to read wearing the EL8 headlamp! Of course, he uses it up side down, which is great for our purpose!!!

    • Working in the attic. Electrical jobs, plumbing repair, air conditioning and heating (HVAC)


    Working around the house

    The uses of the EL8 Headlamp working around the house are just endless. For some unknown reason, I always find my self working around the house late in the evenings or at night.

    • Fixing sprinklers late in the afternoon or at night. Many times I find a sprinkler head broke late in the afternoon, and I can not wait for the morning next day to fix it; the whole irrigation line won't work, so I have to do the repair using the EL8 headlamp

    • Adjusting sprinklers irrigation pattern or reach

    • Adjusting the sprinklers timer control; it just rained and I don't need to water the lawn for two or three days. I have to go out and press the "Delay" button on the sprinkler controller, to save two or three days worth of water

    • For same estrange reason, I always remember to set/reset sprinkler's timer late at night

    • A trip to the back yard to get something or fix something

    • Going to the shed in the backyard to get the foldable chairs, and put them in the car, for the next morning volleyball tournament of my daughter (sounds familiar), or in the near future, for my son's soccer game

    • Sent by my wife for a trip to the shed in the back yard to store a step ladder or other tool that I left behind
      on a last minute job around the house:

    • Roofing. Have you ever find your self on the roof replacing shingles, and all of the sudden there is no more light? Night caught you working again, and you just have to finish that job. The EL8 headlamp is just the perfect lighting device that allows you to work using you both hands, without interfering with your work

    • Repairing or inspecting eves, gutters, a fence, a wall, etc. Last minute paint or masonry job. Electrical job that can not wait, because your wife is nagging you to have done right now! (and you were avoiding it for months)


    Outdoor uses

    • Bicycling

    • Hiking, backpacking

    • Camping

    • A bon fire at the beach


    Charging iPods, iPhones, iTouch

    The EL8 Headlamp, is not just a flashlight, headlamp, or source of light that takes its energy from the sun. To me the EL8 is a "Solar Charger" and a Headlamp!!! We are in times when every body speaks about "saving energy", being green", go green, go solar", "be earth friendly", "help to reduce pollution", etc.

    What about using energy from the sun to charge/recharge electronics handhelds like iPods, iPhones, cell phones, GPS, Bluetooth headsets, Game Boys, and many other handheld devices? Isn't it "cool"?

    •  Charging iPods Shuffle, iPod nano 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, iTouch

    •  Charging iPods Classic Video 80GB/160GB, any size!

    •  Charging iPhones

    •  Charging mp3 players like Sansa, iRiver, etc.

    You might be asking, when will I ever need to charge my iPod with a headlamp? and how is it done?

    You will need to charge your iPod, whenever you are away from your computer, away from your car, or away from any power outlet, and your iPod, iPhone, or cell die on you!. Any of those situations could happen more often than we think.

    First, the EL8 headlamp has an embedded Li-ion rechargeable battery pack (three cells, about 3.6 Volts nominal). It can be charged with the included solar panel in the EL8 set, or a quick wall charger, optional. Solar panel charging time is about six to eight hours; quick charge using a DC adaptor, or wall charger, is about one hour.

    Here are some real life examples on when to use the EL8 Headlamp - Solar Panel combination to charge your iPod.

    iPods are the hottest, most used devices to play music in the world. In the US, people, specially teens and younger kids, call mp3 players "my iPod, or just iPods". In April 2007, Apple sold about 100 million iPods, making the iPod the fastest selling music player in history. Just in 2008, about 32 million iPods were sold. Do you know how many of those people find their iPods running out of battery  when they are away from computers, cars, home, just any power outlet? I do not know exactly the number, but I can tell you "a lot of them". Just Google any related phrase, like "charging iPod while hiking, away from computer" and you will see how many of them run into this situation. Can you imagine a teen unable to use her/his iPod? It could be a crisis!

    • When we go to our daughter's all day volleyball tournaments, or our son's soccer game, and we don't have access to the car or an outlet, we charge our cell phones, iPods, and hand held game systems with the EL8 headlamp, and some times I even use the Solar Panel too. See Charging iPods page.

    • This paragraph comes from an e-mail I received on April 17, 2008:
      "I'm doing a solo month-long hike in the Sierra this summer, and am really looking forward to no hassles with headlamp batteries. EL8 Headlamp - Solar Panel combinationRealizing that I could bring my 4GB iPod and some music is really appealing. How can I charge my iPod and keep it alive for about 30 days?"
      From this e-mail you can realize of the many outdoors applications of the EL8 Headlamp charging iPods: camping, backpacking, hiking, at he beach, during a picnic, etc.
       

    • Many times some of my kids needs to charge his/her iPod while driving in the car, during a long vacation trip. I lend them one of my EL8 Headlamps and the EA6 USB adapter, and they can plug the iPod right into it, using the iPod's USB cable. This charging assembly provides about 30 to 50 % charge, depending the iPod


    Charging cell phones

    • You can charge any cell phone, using the EL8 Headlamp connected to the EA1 12 Volt car socket converter and your cell car charger. I was able to charge Motorola Razr, other Motorola models, LG Chocolate and flip models, Nokia, Samsung, and just about any cell phone that was on my way!

    • A few weeks ago my wife was leaving the house in a hurry, with my 7 years old son, to the beach, for a 4 hour play date. Her cell battery was dead. She told me she was not going to be able to charge it enough in the car, and asked me if I had something she could use to charge her cell at the beach? I am an electronicEL8 Headlamp Charging cell phone at the beach engineer, handyman, and fix nearly everything around the house; so she was expecting a solution from me. I always have two EL8 headlamps fully charged, so I went to her car and connected the cell to the cell's car charger, and the EL8 Headlamp to the 12Volt car socket converter. Then I showed my wife how to connect the car charger to the 12Volt adapter, and how the cell started to charge. She was able to reproduce the charging assembly at the beach and keep her cell alive for the rest of the day. Since we have two more children in school, she really need to be able to have her cell on all day.

    • I went for a four days hiking to Ashland, Oregon. When I arrived to Medford airport, my backpack with all my hiking gear was not where to be found; it didn't arrived in my flight. The airline people told me it will arrive later in the evening in a different flight. That evening I was on my cell constantly calling and receiving calls to and from my family, the airline, and the driver of the shuttle service, who offered to bring me my missing hiking gear from the airport to the motel I was staying. My hiking trip was going to start next morning. I was roaming around town, and being away from any computer, car, or power outlet, my cell run out of battery while talking to the shuttle service. They were telling me they found my backpack, and my phone went dead!! I didn't have an EL8 headlamp with me at that time. I have to run to the motel to charge my phone and finish arrangements to get back my hiking gear

    Charging other hand held electronics

    I charged:

    • Any Bluetooth ear piece/headset

    • Most small GPS like the GARMIN's

    • A key holder picture frame

    • Some digital cameras

    • My boy's Game Boy

    • Several Sansa mp3 players

    • Most any handheld device that uses a mini USB port to sync/charge


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    Last modified: 02/17/12