So, not too long ago, I decided to test and compile a write up about the Lamphus SolarBlast lights. The company, after stumbling across my write up, asked me if I would be interested in testing their NanoFlare series light (NFLH06) since I goofed and started confusing a couple of the features between the two series lights. Of course, I told Online-LED-Store.com that I was interested; after all, I get to see if a product lives up to the claims and if I break it during testing, I’m not out of the money that it costs to purchase the light.
Note: This particular light is dual color blue/white; 3 blue and 3 white LEDs. Also, at the time of this write-up, field testing has not been completed. All testing is being done in the “Lab” and these lights are going through at least the same punishment as the SolarBlast lights.
Pulling the light out of the box, I am already liking this design over the SolarBlast. The body of the NanoFlare (and the mounting points) is metal instead of plastic, which is always a plus. While giving it the once over, I also noticed that the area where the wiring protrudes from the body is potted; this is another good sign and also makes me wonder if they potted the entire backside of the PCB in order to keep moisture/water at bay.
“Lab” testing was pretty standard, I only have the one light, so it will be tested for water ingression, vibration, impact, and thermal cycles.
First I will say that the company proclaims the lights to be weatherproof and not waterproof (“Weatherproof ready for exterior mounting. [Not submersible]”). I did not notice any IP rating for this light either but considering that I saw potting around the wiring and the YouTube video shows them dunking it into a tank of water, I figured that I would just jump into the IPX6/IPX7 tests and forgo the IPX3/IPX5.
I rigged the light and mounted it to a motorized turntable, turned the light on and started spraying it with the 12.5mm nozzle while it rotated 360°. During this test, standards say that each side should be sprayed for 1 minute at a distance of 2.5-3 meters at a flow rate of 100L/min. For my test, I set the flow to the requirement, the pressure at 100 kPa, set my distance of 98″ (about 2.5 meters) and let it run for 20 minutes while the light rotated at about one revolution per minute. After the 20 minutes were up, I turned off the light, pulled it off of the mount, dried off the exterior and took the lens off of the body (allowing me to inspect the inside). I didn’t see any hint of water on the inside of the lens or on the PCB. So the NanoFlare had no issues passing the IPX6 test.
IPX7 testing was next and this is where we saw some failure on the other lights (SolarBlast). NOTE: The company DOES NOT proclaim that it can be submerged. For the IPX7 rating, the light was placed in a pressure vessel with colored water (this time I used UV green coloring) and the pressure vessel was sealed. I built the pressure up to the one-meter mark and let it sit for 30 minutes. After pulling it out, I couldn’t see any ingression into the light. I activated the UV light and couldn’t see any tells that the water/dye was able to get in. So even though the company says not to submerge the NanoFlare light, this one still passed the IPX7 test.
Under the digital microscope, I am happy to see that Lamphus has coated the PCB and components with what looks like (maybe) an acrylic conformal coating. What this means is that even if moisture, water, soap, chemicals, salt or dust manages to penetrate the rubber gasket around the lens, the electrical components should not corrode or short out. Little attention to details such as this is what sets decent companies apart from the junk that you see coming in from China.
So needless to say, you shouldn’t have any issues for quite a while from rain and/or the car wash.
You can also see where I did a little scraping to try and see how thick the conformal coating was.
Vibration and Shock Tests
Again, the testing that I performed for vibration and shock wouldn’t pass UL, SAE or TUV parameters, but I still felt that this testing was warranted. Between the shock arm and the vibration table, the setups were made to replicate what would be seen in the real world. I didn’t care about how many Gs the design could withstand, but rather if it could handle years of off-road abuse that may be seen by railroad workers, construction workers and/or possibly even a vehicle in Baja.
I mounted the light on the vibration table, first horizontally and then vertically (on angle brackets and with the included hardware) and turned up the dial. Granted, it wasn’t extreme vibrations, but it was enough to rattle your fillings and would probably constitute enough to be considered for shaken baby syndrome. I let it run for a half a day on Friday and all weekend long (the same as the SolarBlast lights). Of course, the lights were still flashing when I came into the ‘lab’ and I didn’t see any visible damage on the exterior of the light.
After taking the light off of the vibration table, I mounted it in the same configuration on the shock arm (first horizontally, then vertically). Again, the shock arm wasn’t to see how many Gs they could handle before breaking, but it was to resemble what may be seen in a typical application. I turned the shock arm on and left it run for a couple days just like the vibration test. Again, when I came into the ‘lab’, the light was still running and unlike the SolarBlast lights with the plastic mounting holes, this light showed no visible damage, cracks or fractures around the mounting holes. This is why I do prefer metal enclosures over plastic.
Since it endured the shock arm on the same setting that I used with the SolarBlast lights, I decided to turn up the abuse a bit. While I wouldn’t run it as long as the initial shock tests, I did leave it run at the higher setting for around 6 hours in the horizontal configuration. At the end of this run, I was still left with a working and solid light. The metal (an aluminum alloy I’m assuming) housing was still free of cracks and fractures.
I didn’t see a suggested operating temperature range from the light’s documentation, so I figured that I would set up the chamber to range from the cold of Norway (min -60.5º F) to the blazing heat of Death Valley (max of 134.1º F) (the exact same profile as the SolarBlast lights). In this profile, I programmed the chamber to ramp back and forth between the two temperatures for a period of one week and I would check to see if the lights were still operating on a daily basis. I mounted the light, turned it on, hit the start button on the thermal chamber and walked away. Every day, I checked to see if any of the lights had died and at the end of the week, they were still going relatively strong. I didn’t have any of the LEDs fail on me, nor did the internal flasher circuitry.
The Lamphus NanoFlare light that I tested passed all of the Lab tests that I put it through. I also noticed that the maximum current usage stayed within the company’s claims of 700 mA and the current check was completed after sending it through the Lab’s torture tests. The NanoFlare lights also meet the SAE J595 Class I requirements, meaning that they are bright enough to be used on emergency vehicles. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think that I would worry about these lights having any issues with Code 3 calls and there is a really good possibility that I will be ordering some NanoFlares for side warning lights on the work vehicle.
There is one thing that does bug me about the light and I do realize that I’m nitpicking here, but I’m going to say it anyway. I personally think that 72 flash patterns are a little much even though it is better to have more options rather than less.
Overall, I am liking these lights over the SolarBlast lights. I’m not saying that the SolarBlast lights are bad, but I just like these more. At around $60 (*USD) per light, they are competitive with some of the other manufacturers out there and perform just as well. If you want to check them out, you can find them on Amazon.com and at their Online-LED-Store.com site.
As a final note, I do hope that Lamphus/Online-LED-Store.com takes the time to engineer a decent, affordable interior visor split light bar in the future. Even if it is mounting this series of light heads to an interior visor mounting platform.