Ever have the issue of getting stuck in Amazon-coma? Well, I sure do and since I am a Prime member, I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. I’m always browsing on Amazon for this and that, seeing what deals I can get in addition to getting everything I can in order to avoid the people of Walmart.
One day, after going down the Amazon rabbit hole, I ended up stumbling across the Lamphus SolarBlast SBLH04 LED Strobe lights…which led me to watch the company promo video for the product. In said video, the spokesman throws the light against the wall and tosses it in a fish tank, both while turned on. Gimmicks aside, this did get me somewhat curious and I asked the same question as most people that probably watched the video; “Will it actually survive testing or is it just BS?”. I was determined to find out, so I ended up buying a four pack of white/amber SBLH04 lights with the expectation that I was going to kill some of them.
Wiring was pretty straightforward and the manual was easy to understand. Apparently, you can hook their lights up to the reverse or brake lights of your vehicle, but I didn’t find anything in the manual covering this option so I guess that’s a mini-strike against Lamphus.
Also, and this goes for all ELS companies, I do wish that they would include a paper template showing where to drill your holes and how large to drill them. It’s not a big issue for me, but I do think that it would be a plus for your customers.
I installed two of the lights on a license plate bracket that was mounted on my vehicle and the other four received some testing in the “lab”.
“Lab” testing was pretty standard, two lights tested water ingression and the other two tested vibration, impact and thermal cycles.
Water Ingression Tests
First I will say that the company proclaims the lights to be weatherproof and not waterproof (“Weatherproof ready for exterior mounting. [Not submersible]“). However, I couldn’t find an IP rating anywhere on the product, in the listing (both Amazon and Online LED Store), or in the manual. This meant that I was able to basically try whatever I wanted instead of testing just an IP rating.
I started out with an IPX3 nozzle mounted at the standard 60º and let it run, after that, I bumped it up to the IPX5 nozzle and IPX6 nozzle and mounted the light onto the turntable to beat it from 360º. All three of the tests (IPX3, IPX5, & IPX6) ran for 20 minutes before I checked for water ingression. All three tests passed and the lights held up to the company’s claim.
IPX7 testing was next and this is where we start to see some failure. NOTE: The company DOES NOT proclaim that it can be submerged, I just really wanted to test it. For the IPX7 rating, the light was placed in a pressure vessel with colored water (red coloring to be exact) 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, you can see where water started to ingress and there was condensation on the inside of the lights. I will also say that although the water was able to get into the light assembly after they were given time to dry out, both of them functioned with no problems (although there was still a hint of condensation inside).
Vibration and Shock Tests
Although the testing that I performed for vibration and shock wouldn’t pass UL or TUV parameters, 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 lights on the vibration table, one horizontal and one vertical (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. 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 them off of the vibration table, I mounted them in the same configuration on the shock arm. 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 lights were still running, but on closer examination, I did notice some microfractures starting to occur around the mounting points. It didn’t crack all of the way through the bolt hole, but if I were to leave the shock arm running for around a week or so, I would have probably seen the lights hanging from their wires.
I didn’t see a suggested operating temperature range from the lights’ 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). 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 lights, turned them on, hit the big green 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 SolarBlast lights survived the testing that I put them through; both testing in the ‘lab’ and the normal operation on the license plate bracket on the rear of my vehicle. After numerous codes, rain, carwashes, mud and a typical Midwest winter, the lights are still going and are still as bright as when I bought them (the license plate bracket with the SolarBlast SBLH04 lights have been mounted and in operation for approximately 10 months as of writing this).
To me, these seem like they would probably be best suited towards security vehicles, construction or maybe even towing vehicles, but I still don’t think that I would run the chance of relying on them for emergency vehicles. They’re not SAE tested (do they meet SAE J845 Class I requirements?), they lack white papers for even internal testing (I still have not found any), and they only have a one year warranty on them. Yes, they are cheap when compared to the likes of Feniex, Code 3, Federal Signal, Sound Off, Whelen and even SirenNet branded light heads, but cheaper is not always better. Also, if you have lights on your vehicle that do meet or exceed J845 and you wanted to add these for additional caution and warning, I wouldn’t see anything wrong with that.
In the end, these Lamphus lights did surprise me a bit, I expected them to be the same Chinese junk that I see all the time on Amazon and eBay. While the lights could use some improvement (mostly in the form of documentation), for around $30 (*USD) per lights are not horrible at all. I can tell you that they did exceed my initial expectations.
Edit: After initially writing this, I was contacted by the company and was informed that I was mixing up two different product lines. The above strikeout text is the areas where I accidentally confused the SolarBlast lights with the NanoFlare lights (the video that I referenced as well as the turn signal feature are both NanoFlare lights and not SolarBlast). Also, in regards to the SAE J845 specification question mentioned above, I did notice that the NanoFlare lights have passed SAE, however, I still didn’t find any information concerning the SolarBlast lights.