When is a torch not a torch? When
it's a 3,000,000 candle power spotlight... that's when! Yes
folks, this could be the biggest step up in the basic torch
stakes since the transition from the candle to the light globe.
Ok, ok, so no big deal, spotlights have been around for ages and
anyone who has ever lived on a farm would have used many over
the years, as would have campers, security personnel, the list
As Global Machinery Company (GMC)
expand their range to beyond just woodworking tools, so comes
the new lines of products for the specialist and home users. The
VEC158-AU is new to the market (Jan 06) and in our effort to
test as many newly released products as possible on Net-Reviews.com
and OnlineToolReviews.com, we thought we would grab one and take
a closer look.
Let me start by saying that I own a basic handheld torch (or
flashlight if you prefer to call them that), you know, the type
that takes those bulky brick batteries with the terminals on
top, as well as a cheap rechargeable spotlight (500,000 candle
power) that is almost dead after only perhaps 50 recharge cycles
(it was real cheap and nasty!).
So when I opened up the
VEC158-AU, I was initially surprised at its size. This is a
pretty big torch... err spotlight. It ships in a plastic molded
carry case that actually has a nice rubber overmold carry handle
that is comfortable to hold. The case is not a lot bigger than
the spotlight itself so it doesn't take up excess room in
storage, and is small enough to take anywhere.
Weighing in at 3.4kgs, the
VEC158-AU is a fairly heavy handheld tool. It is pretty well
balanced in the hand, but there is a little front-bias that you
have to counteract, and after time this can get tiresome holding
the spotlight. Thankfully the unit comes with an in-built carry
handle extending over the top of the tool so you can support the
weight with two hands instead of one, greatly easing the load on
your arm and wrist. This handle has a contoured rubber grip for
VEC158-AU can deliver light with the capacity of 3,000,000
candles. Now, its hard to imagine how bright this is if you have
not used these types of spotlights before, and its even harder
to describe. Let's just say it is powerful enough to spot
targets easily up to 100 meters away, and then some. I guess it
depends how good your eyes are also. It's much, much more
powerful than your standard home flashlight, and quite a bit
more powerful than my other 500,000 candle power spotlight, six
times more powerful to be exact (specification-wise at least).
Take this out at night and you will have no trouble spotting
whatever you need to find in the dark. I was pretty impressed
with the power, but then again, I'm coming from something that
was only 1/6 as powerful, so it would of course be even more
impressive. GMC are retailing other spotlights as part of the
new line-up as well. There is a second 3,000,000 power spotlight
(with less features) and two 1,000,000 candle power "spottys", which of
course would not be as powerful, but with lower price tags.
Consult their website for more information on these.
The light intensity is adjustable. There is no
adjustment wheel as such. You adjust intensity by turning off
one of the two quartz halogen bulbs that the spotlight uses as
its light provider. As you can see from the photos to the right,
the spotlight employs two halogen bulbs located next to each
other. These are 12v 100w Type H-3 bulbs. You should be able to
source replacements from any good hardware, lighting or camping
store without too much trouble if you need replacements.
Carrying a spare set is always a good outdoor if you are
planning a long trip away from civilization. At the rear of the
spotlight head casing is the control to switch between single or
dual bulb operation. Obviously, lighting up both bulbs provides
more light, using a single bulb would give you roughly half
as much light. The control switch has a third setting, and this
is the "Area" light setting. When this is engaged, two
additional bulbs, one located on each edge of the spotlight's
front face light up providing a low intensity light source that
is useful for close quarters work. These can remain on without
using the trigger, whereas the main quartz halogen bulbs are
only lit when the user holds the trigger in, and cease to
function once the trigger has been released, so it is not
possible to have full spotlight power continuously with hands
free operation, you have to hold the trigger in constantly. This
is where the Area lights take over if you need a constant hands
free light source, but their range is limited to only about 10
meters of useful light from the emitting source. The area lights
emit more of a bluey-white light, like that given off by a
fluorescent tube light, whereas your main high power halogen
bulbs emit the familiar yellow cast light. The trigger has a
small flip up cover to prevent accidental or unwanted use by
children, but accidental starting of a spotlight will not cut
off a limb or cause any major personal injury, unless you are
foolish enough to stare straight into the beams close up for any
length of time.
look at the back end of the unit, we see the three-position
light selector switch as discussed above. The flip up round
rubber cover is where the spotlight's charger plugs in. The
VEC158-AU carries 2 x 6v, 6Ah sealed lead acid batteries in its
base that power the spotlight. These are maintenance-free
batteries, the only maintenance needed is to recharge them when
they go flat. They provide enough power for 40 minutes of
beam (full power) spotting. This is continuous run time, which means 40
minutes of illuminated use. This amounts to many hours of
intermittent use out in the field or around the house/farm etc.
If you use only the two small area lights for close-proximity
illumination, the batteries will run these for around 20 hours.
They use very little battery power in use. A full recharge will
take about 4-6 hours. Our first recharge took closer to six
hours. Also on the back of the unit is the outlet for the
12v DC car charging connection. This connection lead is provided
and allows you to hook it into your car's cigarette lighter
socket and charge the spotlight from your car battery. Of
course, your car battery should be in good condition first. The last
thing you want is a recharged spotlight but a flat car battery!
But it offers that extra recharging option should you not be able
to source a mains electricity supply (which you cannot often do
when out on safari).
Another interesting addition is found on the base of the handle
at the front. Under the flip cap is a 12v DC outlet. This allows
you to run 12v DC appliances using the spotlight's batteries as
the power source. There is a maximum current limit of 5 Amps for
the connected device, but this is handy to power a number of
portable tools like inflators, other battery chargers (for some
mobile phones for example) and any other number of devices that
can run off 12v DC power supplies. I thought the addition of
this was very innovative and would be extremely useful if you
have other 12v DC devices.
Moving to the base of the
spotlight now... This is where the batteries are located, and they
are encased so they are not readily accessible without a bit of
screwdriver work. They do not need to be though, unless you want
to change them out at the end of their service life (consult a
specialist battery technician to do this). On the rear of the
base is another handy feature. It is a battery status checker
with a 4-LED light display. Simply push in the "Push For Status"
button and the LED lights illuminate to show how much charge is
remaining in the batteries. If 4 LED lights illuminate, the
battery is fully charged, or close to fully charged. If only 1
lights up then it is close to being fully discharged. It
provides a quick and easy way of determining battery status. I
believe all cordless devices employing battery power should have
something similar to check battery status, they are so useful
and help eliminate getting caught out with a flat battery you
thought was full before you left!
That's about it for the description of the
VEC158-AU's features. I will mention the included color manual
which describes all the functions with text and images, as well
as maintenance and safety notes, all of which you will abide by
of course, right? If you said no, then I have a frown on my
face... safety first. Just because it is a spotlight and not a
table saw doesn't mean it is totally safe to use with a careless
It's hard to offer any kind of quantitative analysis with
this tool. I can only offer my opinion and here it is. The unit
costs AUD$129.95 in Australia. This makes for an expensive torch. But a torch
it isn't. It's a spotlight, a cordless one at that, and one which
delivers a very powerful beam of light. Good quality 1,000,000
candle power cordless spotlights can cost up to $100 or more.
Having a 3,000,000 candle power spotty with the added extra features
like the Area light function and the 12v DC outlet function and
battery status checker makes for a complete spotlight tool. I
feel it's well worth the $129.95 price tag. It seems well made
with quality components and just feels really solid, not
cheap and flimsy. If you have a regular need for a good
spotlight, are a regular camper or suffer frequent blackouts
during summer storm seasons (like me), having one of these
spotlights around is very handy indeed. If the budget doesn't
stretch that far, you could try the lower-powered models also
offered by GMC.
I'd give this unit 8 out of 10 (if I had to rate it on a scale).
If there was a way to lock the trigger on temporarily, I'd give
it 8.5 or 9. It can sometimes be a pain to hold the trigger in
for any length of time, but otherwise, it's a good, high-powered
unit that is feature rich, and priced reasonably well.
For more information on GMC tools
and products, head on over to their website at
GMC VEC158-AU Photos
The GMC VEC158-AU Spotlight
All photos copyright
net-reviews.com. Use without prior written permission
It comes in its own plastic molded carry case
for storage or transportation.
Supplied are a standard power supply to
recharge the battery, as well as a 12v car attachment for
charging on the go.
Twin Beams offer up to 3,000,000 candle power
output! Note on of the area light bulbs located on the side of
the torch to the right in this picture.
The integrated handle relieves some strain on
your trigger hand.
Connections are shown here for the standard
and car chargers, as well as the option to switch between single
or twin beam light strength.
The battery status indicator...
The integrated 12v DC outlet can even power
other "tools" or appliances that have a DC car connection
available for them!
Lower powered area lights are a handy
3,000,000 candle power!