Author Topic: Fenix CL09 Review  (Read 351 times)

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Offline rookiedaddy

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Fenix CL09 Review
« on: October 13, 2017, 03:50:14 AM »
Fenix CL09 Lantern


Reviewer's Overall Rating:  ★★☆☆☆



Summary:
Battery: 16340 Fenix ARB-L16-700U (included)
Switch: Twisty Tail
Modes: 7 (Low, Mid, High, Turbo, Red, Red Flashes, Green)
LED Type: Neutral White, Red, Green
Lens: Diffuser
Tailstands: Yes
Price Paid: ~USD39
From: Fenix
Date Ordered: 2017-10-06

Pros:

  • Compact size
  • Long runtime on Low Mode
  • Very good physical build quality
  • Good white tint
  • Magnet tailcap with loop
Cons:
  • Wrong battery included for the light
  • Slow micro-USB battery charging


Features / Value:  ★★☆☆☆
A feature complete lantern in a compact package with good white tint and reasonably price, what's not to like? But why 2 stars?! Well, long story short, either Fenix package the wrong battery or the driver overestimate the capacity of the included ARB-L16-700U Micro-USB rechargeable 16340 LiIon battery, either way, the pairing of this Fenix CL09 with the included battery is bad. The only pleasant surprise is the Low Mode can run much longer than what's claimed by Fenix -- tested ~115 hours vs 90 hours from manufacturer.It may seems like a very good effort on Fenix's part to include/print the runtime chart (it is actually a more desirable information than the ANSI/NEMA/PLATO FL1), but this chart is only useful if it's accurate (or at least "attempts" to be accurate), rather than calculated (plotted from some weird data series scale).






Design / Build Quality:  ★★★★☆
The design and built quality is top notch, typical of Fenix manufactured lighting equipment. The compact design makes it very easy to carry either on person (using the included keyring attachment) or bag-carry.The driver doesn't offer any over-discharge protection, so don't run your cell down until the battery Low Voltage protection kicks-in. I believe my Fenix CL09 has damage the included ARB-L16-700U after my runtime tests as it's showing early retirement signs... more on that in the next section.

 



Battery Life:  ★★☆☆☆
The idea of including a Micro-USB rechargeable battery is good as Micro-USB interface is commonly available almost everywhere (yes, that includes Apple's product users). However, the charging is slow... it takes almost 2 hours for the ARB-L16-700U battery to recharge fully from Red indicator to Blue using the Micro-USB port, although the label on the battery says "INPUT 5V/500mA Micro USB", but my USB meter shows that it's drawing ~0.34A from 5V source. It's faster to use your normal .5A rate charger to charge the cell.
I first tested the Low Mode runtime, with manufacturer's claim of 90 hours:
  • Battery Fully Charge
  • Starting Voltage: 4.17V
  • Ending Voltage 0.00V (not a typo, it is really that 0.00V)
  • Runtime: ~115 hours
Yup, it's more than a day's worth of runtime longer than manufacturer's claim. But tripping that battery Low Voltage protection is not a good sign.
With such excitement, I continue with the Turbo runtime test, and here is where things took a 180 anticlimatic turn. After 8 - 9 rounds of testing, using both the included ARB-L16-700U and a brand new ARB-L16-700 (non Micro USB rechargeable), I have to say I'm pretty disappointed. Not only it does not live up to the 2 hours runtime claim, it drop sharply at around 30 minutes mark to Low Mode. If I then tried to switch the CL09 back into Turbo mode, in within 5-10 minutes, the light turns off  with battery reading 0.00V (again, tripping the battery Low Voltage protection).

I recorded my first Turbo runtime testing to be ~34 minutes before the light drops to Low Mode, and subsequent tests have a much shorter Turbo runtime, the last of which shown in the following timelapse video is ~27 minutes.
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/lC3TOj7bS4Q" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/lC3TOj7bS4Q</a>
Although the title says CL09 Turbo Runtime 03, it's not my 3rd time testing but rather it's the 8th or 9th, it's my 3rd uploads to youtube.

The runtime chart at the back of the packaging is either Fenix's way of a bad practical joke or it's simply bogus!
I've also tested using a primary CR123A, more than half of the claimed 6 hours runtime is spent at the Mid and Low mode instead of Turbo and High. (Yes, CL09 steps down).
The only viable option for CL09 to Turbo Mode is to use an unprotected IMR 16340 where I get more than an hour of bright output.

Light Output:  ★★★★☆
Following are all shot in my reading room in pitch black darkness... all photos are subject to 1 second exposure setting, Fenix CL09 is placed attached magnetically at the top right approximately 0.5 meter away from the subject.







As a comparison, following are Turbo mode of other Fenix's lanterns...



and other auxiliary mode...



The output on Low Mode is enough to do night reading (but I still much prefer to read at the Mid 30 lumens mode), here is a closer shot of the Low Mode brightness...



Summary:  ★★☆☆☆
I initially had planned to give Fenix CL09 Lantern a 5 stars rating after the Low Mode runtime test, but decided to cut down to 2 stars after the Turbo Mode runtime test and discover the problem like many other lights that support LiIon 16340 and primary CR123A, this is again just another ANSI/NEMA/PLATO FL1 light that does not tell the whole truth about it's runtime behavior.Would I recommend this Fenix CL09? Well, only if they change the battery to IMR and indicate as such, otherwise, NO.


Full disclosure: This light is not provided for free, it is paid for by yours truly.

edit note: my bad, light output should be 4 stars, copy and paste error...
« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 01:56:15 PM by rookiedaddy »

Offline bykfixer

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 06:02:56 PM »
Thanx for taking the time to do this.

Question:
Have you compared run time of the cell that was charged slowly via USB vs the quicker way on a charger? I just wonder if the slower rated packs in fuel better.

I have a solution for every flashlight maker that use these so called turbo numbers as their "mine is brighter than theirs" nonsense.
Press and hold to get turbo, just like the accelorator of a turbo charged automobile. Well either that or provide a turbo mode like auto makers and construction machinery does where turbo is incorparated in a way that overheating is not an issue. Overdriven is possible without all the flat out misinformation being used these days.
Phooey on all this 750 lumens* with the "*" reading in tiny print "22 seconds on special proprietary cell"...
« Last Edit: October 13, 2017, 06:05:12 PM by bykfixer »
John 3:16

Offline rookiedaddy

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2017, 12:55:17 AM »
Yes, I did. 4 times on Micro-USB and another 2 or 3 times on cradle charger at 0.5A rate. I also use a new Fenix ARB-L16-700 (non Micro-USB) cell for the test, similar results. Using AW IMR 16340 and EagleTac primary CR123A are the only time the Turbo runtime extended beyond one hour mark. I did ask (online chat) Fenix >24 hours before putting up my review, no reply till now.


That solution on Turbo mode works for me too. Some of Fenix's higher power light implement that, we need to hold the switch to get to Turbo and upon release, it revert back to whichever mode we were in.
Patents issue aside, I wish some manufacturer will find a way to implement the 2-stage switch like SureFire LX2 tho...  ;D


yeah, those fine prints leave a bad taste... some max out the brightness just enough to get over the FL1 30 seconds test mark... sigh!


Offline bykfixer

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 03:16:54 AM »
Thanks for the info.

I'm always surprised how many folks defend those inapropriate ratings saying stuff like "Don't bother me if it only last 38 seconds, I'm getting 700 lumens from a double A flashlight" or "I don't need turbo more than 32 seconds anyway"....

Ok fine, but when that time is up it settles into some 'ho-hum' output well below what a correctly overdriven light can do.
An hour on turbo is very respectable imo.
John 3:16

Offline rookiedaddy

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 05:46:59 AM »
This CL09 Turbo is 200 lumens, where other similar output and form factor light has achieve similar 2.5 hours or more runtime without too much dramas (drastic step-down that is). I gave it 2 stars rating (instead of first impression of 5 stars) mainly due to Fenix pair it with a battery that cannot sustain the claimed runtime.


I have since added another testing with a 6 months old Olight 163P06 (this particular Olight battery model was not able to support the Turbo 900 lumens of Olight S1R, but ironically Fenix's ARB-L16-700 does) and like the IMR and primary CR123A, it shows "proper" step down over the cause of an hour and continue it's diminishing output after that, which is the expected behavior.


I feel you mate, it's frustrating to be "school" by those "...don't need turbo more than 32 seconds anyway". More often than not, they do not realize that that Turbo mode they praise is gone until the next recharge or it's not available when you've been using the light in lower mode for a good while (I vented this in my H2R review recently, haha). It's one of the few reasons I've decided to not accept free review unit from that manufacturer for now.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 05:48:22 AM by rookiedaddy »

Offline bykfixer

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2017, 01:30:17 PM »
Sounds like Fenix supplies a dud for a battery. Or at least one not capable of doing what it claims it can.

And 0.0v? Quite the vampire!! lol. Sounds like it's perfect for an incan light.

To be honest I own zero Fenix products. That won't change after reading this review.  8)
John 3:16

Offline david57strat

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2017, 04:45:03 AM »
I have numerous Fenix lights, and have found them to be extremely reliable.



The only 16340-driven light I own, of theirs, is the E15 2016 edition (not pictured).


This one (far left, in the shot)


Sometimes, having a super compact light is handy, for getting into tight spaces. This was the original E15 (130 lumen version - which I ended up losing, and replaced with the next, 170 lumen version.

The 2016 version supports the 16340 and has a 450 lumen Turbo (albeit it only good for five minutes, before dropping down to 270 lumens.  Still, it's handy).  Always starts on low.

XP-G2 R5 emitter.  Not the awful ghostly Green, Blue, or Purple-ish tint that others have, but not exactly a Nichia 219B, either. 

I tend not to be very interested in lights that use batteries smaller than 18650; but the neutral tint of this light you reviewed, caught my eye.  Unfortunately, the output and run times are just too low to consider.

Still, thanks for posting the review!  Now, if they can just come up with a neutral tint light like the one you reviewed, but with a 18650 battery (micro USB charging not necessary), I'd seriously consider picking one up :-).

About the only Fenix light that I'm still EDCing (but in a bag) is the 26650-driven PD40 (fourth light from the left, in the group shot), which is a wonderful flood light, with an MT-G2 tint).
« Last Edit: October 17, 2017, 12:26:10 AM by david57strat »

Offline rookiedaddy

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2017, 01:35:47 PM »
...
About the only Fenix light that I'm still EDCing (but in a bag) is the 26650-driven PD40 (fourth light from the left, in the group shot), which is a wonderful flood light, with an MT-G2 tint).
PD40? Yeah! That's one nice neutral white output that I just can't get enough of... that MT-G2 tint is just sweet!

Offline david57strat

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2017, 11:21:49 PM »
...
About the only Fenix light that I'm still EDCing (but in a bag) is the 26650-driven PD40 (fourth light from the left, in the group shot), which is a wonderful flood light, with an MT-G2 tint).
PD40? Yeah! That's one nice neutral white output that I just can't get enough of... that MT-G2 tint is just sweet!


Amen to that!  I picked mine up on a Group Buy, through BLF, in April of 2015.  I wish I had bought two, rather than one.

Question:  Did you add plumber's tape to that PD40 on the right, and some sort of textured padding to both switch buttons?
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 11:31:17 PM by david57strat »

Offline rookiedaddy

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2017, 02:03:15 AM »
Question:  Did you add plumber's tape to that PD40 on the right, and some sort of textured padding to both switch buttons?
That's a rescue-tape (a silicone-based self fusing tape) to cushion drops and provide addition friction grip.
Yes, it's a 3D texture button to provide a feedback (stop) to the finger in the dark, especially when wearing gloves and it's much easier to press the switch with it.  ;D

Offline rookiedaddy

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Re: Fenix CL09 Review
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2017, 05:27:32 PM »
Update 2017-10-17


Part 1 of 3
Received feedback from Fenix, here is a summary of what Fenix wrote back:

  • ANSI standard don't specify for camping light
  • 2 hours 40 minutes is calculated time from 200 lumens to 20 lumens
  • Output of Turbo Mode starts to drop after 20 minutes
  • ARB-L16-700U battery power is lower than ARB-L16-700
  • Fenix QC tested the CL09 with fully charged ARB-L16-700U, it continues to light up after 2 hours

Part 2 of 3
I asked my distributor if I can get a replacement for the Iron Grey Fenix CL09, they said YES with no question ask. So I sent the light back to them yesterday and get myself an Iron Grey Fenix CL09 replacement, together with it, I made another purchase for a Black Fenix CL09.

Although the replacement Iron Grey works as advertised (finally!), the Black CL09 is having the same problem like my returned Iron Grey CL09, that is, it drops to Low Mode at approximately 37 minutes.
I have reported the issue to my distributor as well as Fenix. Also decided to keep the Black CL09 as further testing reveal that the only issue is with the Turbo Mode, all other modes works as it should.




Batteries fully charged before testing begins.

Following are the runtime pictures of both Fenix CL09 on Turbo Mode (do note that the Iron Grey on the left is the normal CL09 while the Black on the right is the abnormal CL09):


Control Shot


After 10 minutes


After 20 minutes


After 30 minutes


@ 37 minutes, the Black CL09 brightness drops to Low Mode. There is no tricks here, see the following picture comparing the Moon Mode of both CL09.




After 40 minutes


After 50 minutes


After 60 minutes


After 1.5 hours


Just a little 5 minutes shy of 2 hours, at 1 hour 55 minutes, this is closely similar to @narmattaru and @toobadorz runtime.


After 3 hours


After ~3.6 hours

At this point, we have already past the manufacturer's claimed Turbo Mode runtime, but note however, it's Moon Mode after on Turbo Mode 37 minutes. So it's a huge difference between what the manufacturer claims and what happens with this abnormal CL09.

Part 3 of 3
Feeling a little frustrated and confused, decided to check the current draw of both lights, and here are the results:

The above readings are taken based on a charged LiIon battery ~4.1V.

Since I can't disassemble the CL09, I can only speculate what causes the abnormal runtime behavior on the Black (and the returned Iron Grey unit) CL09 Turbo Mode is the higher current draw. It does help to explain why it prematurely drops to Low Mode and I speculate my previous test of the AW IMR and the 6 months old Olight 163P06 gave the illusion that the abnormal CL09 works with these cells is due to the results of higher internal resistance from these cells and they drive the light to stepped down to lower mode earlier and thus appears to work without sharp dropping to Low Mode.

Well, it's not scientific, just my speculations, you are welcome to provide and draw your own conclusions.

With the above, I stand by giving the light 2 stars for the abnormal CL09, while 5 stars if you are lucky to get a normal working one.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2017, 01:15:02 AM by rookiedaddy »