Product Reviews

Review Submitted By: Mike Piccione 6/28/11

Mike Piccione 6/28/11


Gear Test: AE Light Solar Lantern

Something to do when the lights go out
When I ordered a test version of this light I had no idea what to expect. I had not seen it yet and I was responding to a press release to gun and gear writers that the light was on the market. A few days later the box arrived and when I opened it up my first thought was that it looked like a 1960’s robot. So we now affectionately call this critter ‘the robot.”

When the power goes out the first thing you need is light. Without light you can’t do much in an emergency situation and if the power is out you probably have an emergency of one size or other.

Batteries are the bane of our existence and this lamp is solar powered. In the past solar powered items usually needed a lot of charge for a little result.  So I was eager to put this light through the paces because if I can replace my battery powered lanterns with something that could run off the sun I would be thrilled.

After opening the box I read the instructions. They said to use the lantern when dry so the first thing I did was to take it outside, it was night, and leave it there in the rain. Since both camping and emergency situations involve bad weather we needed a test that would mimic true life situations and getting wet is a true life situation.

Using the Light:

The next day was sunny so I gave the light a full 10-hour charge in the sun. That night I turned it on and was surprised at the bright light that was produced. For comparison purposes I turned on a 60-watt incandescent light bulb and while the 60 watt was brighter it offered a more mellow light. The solar light can’t be expected to be as bright as a living room electric light but it wasn’t that far behind in brightness. I was pleasantly surprised how bright the 13 LED elements lit the room. It was easily bright enough to read, repair something and function normally in a power out situation. I ran the light 3 hours with no loss of brightness and because of the LED construction there is no heat generated at all. To soften the light I put a Kleenex over the bulb and secured it with a rubber band which enabled me to look at the light and look away with no loss of night vision.

The following day the light was again put in the sun for a full charge. I ran it for four hours then put it in a dark bag for a week so it could not recharge to test the holding power of the internal batteries. Then I ran it for two hours and put it back in the bag. Three days later I pulled it out of the bag and turned it on. It has now been on over eight hours as I write this review and it is still burning brightly. The batteries are holding the charge nicely.

Here is Where I Probably Void the Warranty:

With the light on I took it outside and turned the hose on it, full pressure, for five minutes. I blasted it with water and hit the bulb and the on/off switch. Then I filled a bucket up with water and submerged it for another five minutes. The light took on water and when I pulled it out of the bucket the water drained from the holes that hold the stand. It’s still working.

Next I picked up the light and dropped it ten times on the ground from four feet. Then for good measure I shook the light as hard as I could for a minute or so. As a follow up to hosing, drowning, dropping and shaking I quickly turned the light on and off twenty times. It’s still working.

A Little More About the Light:

According to the tech specs it weighs in at 1.2 pounds – so it is about as heavy as a can of soup. It has a polycarbonate bulb and it’s about a foot tall. There is a wire stand that is included that spreads out to set the light down or closes up so you can hang it from a hook or use it as a handle. There are no real moving parts except the on/off switch, so there is nothing to break. It is rated at 90-100 lumens but the practical application means you can read, fix your sump pump or apply a bandage to someone with enough light to easily get the job done.

Final Thoughts:

I have to admit I like this light. It seems that when you buy something you have to expect to be disappointed. There was no disappointment in this product. It is so simple to use and there is nothing to mess up and when an emergency hits this light is ready to go. It is perfect for camping or boating and the ideal emergency light source. Best of all, no batteries are ever needed and it will even charge on a cloudy day.  I have over 18 hours of use on a charge from a week ago. It’s light, easy to use, simple in design and the darn thing just keeps on burning brightly. The price is $115, which at first seemed a little steep, but not having to feed it batteries and its constant readiness make it a good buy.

Review Submitted By: Marine injured in Iraq - October 3, 2006

I'm back at home now on meds recovering.
I.E.D exploded on me in iraq. wall fell on me trapping me. woke up after 4 hours in the dark. no friendlies around! had several broken bones. only my right arm was free. was able to grab my PL24 off my belt and signal a drone ( overhead). the ONLY reason i lived was because that drone spotted me shining my light at it!
got a rescue 45 mins later. if not for my A.E. i was MIA for sure! got to the hospis a lil banged up but alive. sadly either i dropped ( when i passed out) or some 1 stole my light!!!. sure will miss that light!!..i guess i cant bitch it did save my life...the drone operator said " i saw what looked like a lighthouse".

Review Submitted By:

Made by AE Light, available from Pacific Tactical Solutions

So, you're looking for a photonic cannon, are you? Look no further. The AE Light PL14 produces an amazing amount of light from a HID bulb, power regulating ballast, and Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, all stored in a body about the same length and about 1½ times the diameter of a 3-D Mag. Frankly, I am stunned by the output of this light.

Body: The body of the PL14 is black anodized aluminum with rubber caps on the tail and bezel for some impact protection. The aluminum body has grooves along the length of the central body tube and circular steps milled into the head. There are two rubberized rings on the body - one at each end of the body tube. These rubberized areas have metal split-rings connected for the attachment of the shoulder strap.

Bezel/Head: For those of you unfamiliar with HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs, these are the bulbs found in new high-end car headlights which produce a very white light. We're not talking about those bluish-green crappy lights that you see in those ridiculous looking "tricked out" Honda Civics with ground effect kits and spoilers the size of airplane wings. Those are just cheap regular bulbs with a blue coating. We're talking about the headlights found in Mercedes, BMW and Lexus automobiles.

High Intensity Discharge bulbs work by firing an arc between two contacts. This arc incandesces (causes to glow) the gasses inside the bulb between the contacts. The result is an intense bluish-white light.

In the PL14 the HID bulb is found in a metal reflector behind a glass lens. Surrounding the head is a rubber bezel cover to help protect the light from impacts. If you look carefully in the bezel (the picture below is too small to see it) you will see a wire that runs from the bottom of the bulb up to the top. This is the ignition wire for the bulb and caution should be used when opening the light to avoid damage to the wire and the bulb.

Output: The white light produced by the HID is a high color temperature white and produces good color rendition weighted slightly toward the blue end of the spectrum. The light is bluish white and is very intense. Color temperature is advertised as about 7000K (sunlight is 6500K, incandescent bulbs are about 3500K). The beam's central spot is pre-focused to about 4 deg , resulting in an excellent spotting light for distance work. There is sufficient spillbeam to light up the area around the user without any problem at all.

I did notice that if you wiggle the light around or point it face down the light changes color. This is due to condensed substances in the bulb entering the path of the arc. Generally when held horizontal the light was a bluish white, but when held vertically face down the light turned slightly orange.

Beam at one meter at target center

Yes, yes, I know... You want to see outdoors shots. Well it'll have to wait a little bit. I'll see what I can whip up sometime soon.

Runtime Plot: Well, there's a ballast for you - great regulation until it flickers a tiny bit and then - blip - it goes out. Considering the size and weight of the unit, over 1.5 hours of runtime is absolutely fantastic.

More information on runtime plots is available HERE.

Switch: The switch on the PL14 is a little strange. See that wide black ring of plastic with the OFF-ON label on it between the two rubber sections?

That black plastic ring is what turns - not the rubber section above or below it. Twist it about 1/8 turn to activate the light and don't point it at your face! The light comes on instantly but takes about 6 seconds to warm up to full output. For the first cold-start you should leave the light on for about 1 minute at a minimum to vaporize all the condensate inside the bulb. Once it's warmed up you can turn it on and off as needed.

Seals / Water Resistance: The PL14 is designed to accept some water spray, but is not a dive light and is not designed for extremely wet environments. Technically, it has an IP54 rating which means it is protected from the intrusion of dust and sprayed water from all directions, with limited ingress resulting. High voltage ballasts and lithium ion batteries don't play nice with water, so use appropriate caution. A little water should be OK, but large quantities of water should be avoided.

Upon opening the light I found O-rings throughout, so I really don't think there should be any problems in this area at all. The O-rings were very dry when I opened the light, so you may want to check them. The manual states that you should lubricate the seals with a "low mineral petroleum jelly".

After use in wet conditions, disassemble per the instructions and make sure water did not get in. If wet inside, let it dry before using again.

Ergonomics: It is large in diameter, but it's not awkward to hold since it is not all that heavy. It has two split rings on the side that attach to a shoulder strap for carrying, or you can put the strap over your shoulder and let it hang against your side while pointed forward to give your arm a little break. The switch is not textured at all, but the plastic ring has a slight grippyness to it which is hard to describe.

Size compared to a common 2AA aluminum light

Batteries: An internal Lithium Ion rechargeable cell powers the light. The cell in turn powers a ballast which is like a big step-up transformer. This is needed to get the voltage up to the range which will fire the bulb - around 15KV. Both the bulb and the ballast are USER REPLACEABLE! This is a big boon to the system. If one or the other fails, you can replace them yourself, but be sure to follow the instructions to the letter! We're talking about a lot of stored energy in there!

Interesting fact, the Lithium Ion battery weighs 6.4 oz. An alkaline D cell weighs 5.1 oz.

When the battery is dead, just plug it in for about two hours. The LED on the charger turns from red to green when the battery is done charging. It is important to keep an eye on it, though. When the LED turns green you should disconnect the charger, otherwise the battery's internal protection circuitry may disable the battery to prevent overcharge. If this happens, there is a procedure in the instructions to get the battery out of this condition so it's not a really big deal, just a little inconvenient.

The charger connector on the light is hidden behind a rubber cover on the tail end of the light.

Accessories: An amber lens cap is available for the PL14, as well as a few other optional accessories. The shoulder strap is included.

What I Liked: Water resistant, Very bright, Very nice color temperature, Fantastic runtime for its weight and size, Easy to use and operate, Rechargeable.

What I Didn't Like: Nothing

Picky Little Things: Remember - a cold start requires a 1 minute on-time to keep the bulb in best operating condition. Light changes tint color when moved around. O-rings appear to require lubrication.

Conclusions: The AE Light PL14 is a very nice light. Overall build quality is very good. Runtime is really good, with 1½ hours+ of super bright, long range, pure white output from a light that only weighs about 2 oz. more than a 3-D Maglight. The quantity of light produced is stunning and the range is really surprising. The literature states "Not a Flashlight, a Personal Search Light™", and I couldn't agree more.

By the way... Need even more light? The PL14, 14 Watt HID has a BIG BROTHER - the PL24, 24W HID. Yikes!

Quick Facts Table:
Item Reviewed..........................     AE Light PL14, 14 Watt HID
Review Date .............................     January 2006
Case Material ...........................     Anodized aluminum
Case Features ..........................     Shoulder strap attachments, rubber caps on ends
Case Access Type ....................     Unscrew bezel or tailcap for parts access
Switch Type .............................     Twist switch near tailcap
Reflector Type .........................     Metal, smooth
Lens Type ................................     Glass
Bulb Type .................................     HID Metal Halide
Beam Type ...............................     Spot
Beam Characteristics ...............     Tight spot, but high output results in nice spillbeam
Throw (Lux) at 1m (click for description)     ~ 36000 at beam center. (189.74 Comparison Chart equivalent)
Overall Output (click for description)     ~ 20000 (200.00 Comparison Chart equivalent)
Battery / Power Type................     Lithium Ion rechargeable internal cell, 2 hr recharge time
Battery Life (advertised) ...........     1 hr 30 min
Battery Life (test results) ...........     1 hr 43 min to shutdown
Environmental Protection .........     Water resistant - rubber seals
Weight (oz.) with batteries .......     33.3
Special Items of Note ...............     Includes nylon shoulder strap
Warranty ..................................     1 year: lamp, ballast, battery, switch, charger; lifetime: body
Retail Cost ................................     See dealers for price - coming soon to Pacific Tactical Solutions

Review Submitted By:

Reprinted From:

Home Gadgets: Tried and Tested

The Xenide torch illuminates objects up to half a mile away using a fiercely powerful metal halide and xenon emitter. It comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery, a charger, shoulder strap and lens protectors.

Review Submitted By:

Reprinted From

LED flashlights can easily outperform their incandescent counterparts, but to really light up the night you need to use the same type of high-intensity lamps used in car headlights. But according to Popular Science, in order to get one into a handheld flashlight the designers of the Xenide had to shield the on-off switch “so that it wouldn’t short out from the massive voltage needed to ignite the lamp.” Cool.

The lights are commonly referred to as Xenon, but they’re actually made from Metal Halide. Xenon is just an inert gas that’s used in the arc chamber where the Halide is charged with electricity to create light plasma. So that’s where the ‘Xenide’ name comes from. The flashlight uses rechargeable lithium ion batteries and on a full charge has a projection distance of about 2200 feet. While the 90 minutes of run-time isn’t great when compared to LEDs, I think I’d still rather use one of these for trick or treating.

And like anything even remotely cool, the Xenide isn’t cheap. The basic 15w version costs about $350 while the high-end 25w version costs about $500.

Review Submitted By:

Reprinted from

AELight AE Xenide aex25 the most powerful flashlight in the world

The AE Xenide AEX25 Flashlight converts electricity to light. When we say light what we mean is about 1500 lumens worth of illumination, which as far as we can tell is just slightly less than the output of the sun on a hot summer’s day in Morocco. Yeah, now you’re impressed aren’t you?

Review Submitted By:

GRANT'S PASS, Or. - For the man who lives by the motto, "He who dies with the most toys wins", the AE Xenide™ ushers in a new class of flashlight - the Personal Searchlight - and delivers 10 times the lumen output of a standard incandescent flashlight.

Originally designed for law enforcement, border patrol, search and rescue, maritime interdiction, and long-range target identification, the AE Xenide™ Personal Searchlight now gives the public the opportunity to own the most powerful and exciting HID searchlight in its class, ideal for recreational activities including camping, hunting, hiking, aviation, boating or as an emergency light anywhere.

Using patent-pending technology, the AE Xenide™ incorporates the same High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting you'll find in a Mercedes Benz or BMW headlight.

The AE Xenide improves upon its predecessor, the AE HID PowerLight, with a number of new features and performance enhancements including a redesigned lamp and reflector delivering better focus, and higher lumen output, resulting in more light on your target with a sharper and crisper beam.

AE Xenide also features a new patent pending on/off switch, mounted behind the light head and forward of the body, resulting in better balance and single hand operation.

AE Xenide is available in 15W, 20W and 25W models. Additional new features include improved HID burner resulting in more lumens per watt, lighter weight & shorter length, and a narrower diameter hand grip for better hand fit. More new features include new ballast and battery with modular design for ease of replacement and longer run time, more shock resistance and a new waterproof version. AE Xenide features a new AC charger with CE, UL, GS & PSE, certifications and a new IPX67 rating for use in intrinsically safe environments (Pending certification).

Review Submitted By:

Grants Pass, OR - March 24, 2008 - AE LIGHT announces its Xenide® model AEX20(TM) HID Personal Searchlight, has passed initial explosion proof testing and is now certified for safe operation in Class 1, Division 1, Groups, A, B, C, & D environments (all gases). Testing is ongoing for Groups E, F, & G (Dusts). The AEX20(TM) is now safe for use in environments where the threat of a possible explosion exists, and is the only HID Searchlight in this category to achieve this rating.

Class I locations are areas where flammable gases may be present in sufficient quantities to produce explosive or flammable mixtures, such as engine compartments, sewer pipes, accident scenes, broken gas lines & cargo holds. Division 1 designates an environment where flammable gases, vapors, liquids, combustible dusts or ignitable fibers and flyings are likely to exist under normal operating conditions, such as oil refineries, gas companies, chemical plants, pipe lines, & gas transfer stations. Additionally with the new certification, the IP rating for all Xenides® has been upgraded to IP68 (with waterproof battery). IP68 is totally protected against dust and protected against long periods of immersion under pressure.

Testing is ongoing at Immana Labs for Groups E (atmospheres containing metal dust - including aluminum, magnesium, and their commercial alloys, and other metals of similarly hazardous characteristics), F (atmospheres containing carbon black, coal or coke dust), and G (atmospheres containing flour, starch, or grain dusts).

Originally designed for law enforcement, fire fighters, border patrol, search & rescue, maritime interdiction, and long-range target identification, AE Xenide® HID Personal Searchlights are also ideal for recreational activities including camping, hunting, hiking, aviation, boating or as an emergency light. AE Xenides® give the public the opportunity to own the most powerful HID searchlight in its class that is small, portable, light weight, and safe to use.

Review Submitted By:

Available in 20W & 25W the new AE Xenide is a total redesign of AE Light’s popular HID PowerLight.  AE Xenide incorporates new and improved reflector, improved performance ballast, and Patent Pending design.

Illuminating targets is made easy with the increase in lumen output. The 20W (AEX20) produces 1200 lumens while the 25W (AEX25) produces 1500 lumens. Run time for the AEX25 with standard battery is approximately 120 minutes.  Run time for the 20W is approximately 70 minutes and can be increased to over 2 hours with optional high output battery module.

Designed for applications such as border patrol, maritime interdiction, search and rescue, law enforcement, EMS, and fire protection. It is competitively priced and is ideally suited for camping, hiking, motorcycling, boating, aviation, driving, facilities, or applications as vast as one’s imagination. AE Xenide performs well under all conditions. AE Xenide   model AEX20, has been certified “Intrinsically Safe”, Class 1 Division 1, Group D, with an IP rating of IP68.

AE Xenide comes standard with black plastic travel case, AC charger; carry strap and lens cloth. Optional DC charger, colored filters, high output & waterproof battery modules are available.

AE Xenide is constructed of black hard-anodized cast aluminum. The on/off switch (first of its kind on HID searchlights) is located just behind the light head and is well balanced for ease of operation with one hand.  The charger plug is conveniently located on the base of the end cap. For waterproof versions an optional battery charger stand is available for charging. Shoulder strap mounts, double as an anti roll feature.

Protective rubber lens and end caps help with shock absorption. AE Xenide is a self-defense tool as well. Shining its extremely bright light in an adversary’s eyes will force them to close their eyes or suffer temporary blindness.

Review Submitted By:

Reprinted from

Mag Lights have long been the flashlight staple of American consumers, until now. Drop those lame Halogens and upgrade to the world of eye blinding HID searchlights. Nothing quite describes the sensation of starring directly into this HID (High Intensity Discharge) Metal Halide flash light. The Xenide 25 is ultra bright and it’s power is reaffirmed by its sturdiness and size. When it’s powered on the bulb takes about 20 seconds to completely warm up. This is indicated by a flashing and a slight hue change. Power you ask? 50% of the body is made of the battery pack. Charging time is 4.5 hours and you’ll get about 2 hours of running time. The on/off switch, a button covered in rubber, didn’t have the same familiar Mag light click I’ve come to know, but after a few pushes and ‘wows’ of this light’s intensity I was forgetting about the cop’s choice of illumination. They’ve packed it in a sturdy and somewhat light weight plastic case. Included is an instruction manual, A/C charger and should strap. There’s no doubt that the Xenide 25 Flashlight would be ideal for campers, but its prowess is intended for those of the more intense recreation, such as cave exploring, spelunking or searching (as the name says) for border crossers or late night assassins – oh ya, it’s water proof.

Pros: Super bright, sturdy build, should strap, carrying case and rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Cons: Heavy, battery life is just 2 hours, and on/off switch doesn’t offer the same tactical ‘click’ we all know, and slightly large in size