Sunday, July 20, 2008

Preparedness Lantern - Freeplay Indigo

We read about Freeplay Self Charging Devices in a Wall Street Journal Article in 1994...bought a radio and flashlight in 1999...and still have them...we power them by cranking and solar panels.

With all the recent entries of self powered or multiple combination powered devices on the market, you might still be a bit confused over which preparedness lantern to purchase?

While there is never one perfect device or solution for any one situation, there are those that have attributes worth mentioning so we will provide some insight into this well built and Eco-friendly lamp.

Features noted:
Non ceramic magnets for more efficient power generation
No Batteries to Purchase - NiMh included internally ***
Well constructed - Splash and Rain Proof.
Up to 70 Hours of "night light" / 2.5 hrs Ultra Bright Light at full charge / 35 hrs of single LED reading/directional light on full charge
Stable Hand Crank used to Charge - Works in either direction - Has LED charge indicator also.
Comes with USB Mini Plug for charging - Reducing need for multiple ac/dc chargers - Charge off computer port or using GPS auto 12 volt (mini-USB) power cord.
7 white 5mm LED's adjustable brightness lantern / Combo LED Directional & Reading Light
Hanger Built In - Rubber Feet - Plastic Construction High Vis Yellow or Low Vis Green Color
Design makes is essentially same height as Nalgene Liter Water Bottle - Packable
Can cover it with a sack or sock to protect the lens
Literature claims 74% efficiency from kinetic cranking energy to electrical power ratio
LED's last virtually a lifetime (100,000 hrs) Unit has high cycle functioning (500K)
Optional Charging Kit for US and Foreign Systems available.

Positive Points:
Lightweight, small, reliable, well built, bright enough, can be used if injured, charging features compatible with modern devices, 60 second cranking can provide ample light to get situated, practical to carry or store for use when needed, water resistant-splash/rain proof, if batteries need reviving you can do this with several 30 second rapid cranks of the alternator crank arm, useful for apartment dwellers and bug out kits, batteries rated for 10,000 crank cycles, can be outfitted with ICE Sticker.

FAQ's About Indigo

Ok, while this lamp won't compete with the likes of a gas lantern, it will get the job done in many personal situations and is lighter and safer. We found this model at L.L. Bean Outlet for $26.95 and are told they can be found at Target too.

*** If you were feeling challenged and wanted to improve upon the original designed battery pack by replacing them with higher Milliamp Hour (mAh) rated NiMH shrink wrapped batteries - Hybrid's or Powerex NiMH batteries would be great performers in this unit but more expensive. Newer Hybrid Batteries will hold a high rate of charge for up to 12 months unlike standard rechargeables. This unit can be disassembled but we are sure the factory would not recommend that. In an emergency those rules take a hike.

The folks at Batteries Plus could make up a new set of replacement batteries for you as you wait. We've just done that with the 1999 Freeplay crank flashlight....although the original batteries still worked just fine.....the higher mAH rated custom batteries last longer and were actually cheaper than off the shelf replacements! Good to know for other applications as well.

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