Thorfire Q8 – a shining light (review)
The Thorfire Q8 is a 5,000 lumen LED flashlight. It is a superb feat of engineering and design. It is one of the most powerful of its type on the planet.
In the past, a torch/flashlight comprised a few batteries and a bulb. Not so with the Thorfire Q8 – it has enough electronics and sophistication to put a man on the moon.
To put it in perspective 5,000 lumens output is ten times as bright as office lighting and five times that of a para-flood spotlight. A lumen is equivalent to the light from one candle 30cm away.
Lumens are measured at the LED and brightness depends on reflector material, lens etc. Let me just say this is amazingly bright. Generally, the more lumens that you have, the further the light will travel. But conversely, it draws more power.
The problem is that most torch makers don’t publish lumens.
- The Fenix TK7 has a 2,200 lumens and will allegedly throw a 720 metre beam – it won’t
- A typical single LED, two cell torch is a maximum of about 10 lumens and will throw about a 20 metre beam
- Larger multi-LED torches with 4 or more batteries typically top out at 200 lumens.
It is not a question of how many lumens you need
It is about how many lumens you need for a specific task. If you are walking at night 200 lumens is fine. If you are spotlighting then 5,000 seems just about right.
The Thorfire Q8 costs A$78.20 (including freight, excluding batteries) and has a variable output ranging from ‘moonlight’ to ‘paint peeling’.
After a weeks use, I found that I used it ranging from 600 to 5,000 lumens depending on need.
- Four Cree XP-L HD V6 3D LED
- LED driver FET +1*AMC7135 and is running NarsilM on an Attiny85
- Light temperature 5000K (neutral white)
- High transmission glass lens, polished aluminium reflector, stainless steel bezel ring
- Requires four button-top 18650 lithium-ion rechargable batteries (more on that later)
- IPX8 waterproof – two meters for 30 minutes
- HAIII military grade hard-anodised aerospace grade aluminium alloy
- 132mm x 59mm x 50mm (length x head x body diameter) x 400g plus batteries (total 580g)
- Standard ¼ inch tripod mount socket
Looks and build
It has been called a ‘soda-can’ design as it is short and stubby. The elegant black anodised aluminium body, cross hatch grips, and overall feel is of a premium product.
There has been a lot of thought go into the design – it is not a mass produced item.
Button top 18650 batteries (like the top of an AA battery) are 18mm diameter and not stocked in Woolworths.
After lots of investigation and a bit of a shock, I found them for around $20 each (that’s $80 for four) in Australian stores. These were typically 3.6V, 2,600mAh rechargeable lithium-ion. Cheaper batteries had lower mAh – as low as 1,000mAh. Then you needed a 2-slot charger for about $35.
I was not going to spend $100+ on batteries, so this device sat on my testbed for a couple of months. By chance, I was looking for NETGEAR Arlo batteries on eBay.com.au, so I searched for the 18650 as well.
There I discovered batteries from 1,000 to as high as 6,000mAh. I bought a 10 x 5800mAh (each) combo pack with a two-slot charger for under $20 including postage. Sold!
A pair of batteries takes about four hours to charge, so the ten pack gives me a spare set and more.
By-the-way Arlo rechargeable batteries are similar. If you buy locally, you are lucky to get 650mAh batteries for $10-12 each. I got a four pack of 2,300mAh and two slot charger for under $20. These will last four times as long – well a few days more! eBay is great.
Thorfire Q8 claims up to 1500 hours ‘moonlight’ from four batteries. You can run it with one to four batteries as these work in parallel – not serial like standard torches.
Factory tests show that the 5,000-lumen mode should last about 40 minutes and the 1700 lumen mode about 5.5 hours.
I have only used it for a week – about 10 minutes on full blast each night – and the battery indicator (the switch) still reports 50% charge.
Outputting so many lumens means that it can generate some heat. I found it warmish after ten minutes, and there is a thermistor that will step down the brightness if there is too much heat.
The light steps back to 600 lumens when hot (internal temperature about 50° – good as it does not turn off) and within seconds it can step back up. It repeats this as necessary. Maybe because during the test it was 11° outside I have not noticed the step-down.
In any case, between 600-1700 lumen settings are useful for most of my adventures.
With my 23,200mAh (4 x 5,800mAh batteries) I get around 450 metre light throw of a relatively broad 70° beam. It is highest in the centre spot (15°) and then uniformly spread to 70°.
At 1,7000 lumens the beam casts about 200 metres.
It is ideal for both spot and wide lighting.
The light has a glowing green side-switch. The switch indicates battery life and low voltage warnings. At any time, you can use the UI to check the battery voltage, and the light will blink (both the primary and the switch LED) the voltage. When the voltage is very low, the light will blink three times pause and blink three times again.
The switch sets modes like a beacon, strobe, police strobe, bicycle flash, etc.
|Moonlight||Ultra-low||Ultra-low 1||Ultra-low 2||Ultra-low 3|
|Low||Low 1||Low 2||Medium||Medium 1|
The manual is here – don’t worry it acts as a flashlight without referring to it.
GadgetGuy’s take – I see the light, the Thorfire Q8 light
The idea came from the Budget Light Forum where enthusiasts try to build amazing performance lights at prices that will not break the bank.
These enthusiasts can ‘mod’ the light to do almost anything.
The build and design are first rate. It is as precise as any Maglite or other premium product.
Once you buy rechargeable batteries and a charger from eBay for $20, it is an amazing product.
Every GadgetGuy/Girl needs one if only to scare the wildlife and alert oncoming ships that the lighthouse is not working. I love it.
- Quality build and materials
- The customisable firmware includes strobe, moonlight, and blistering!
- Pure white beam – not a yellowish torch beam
- Amazing quantity of light
- Low battery warning
- Thermal control
- Excellent price per lumen
- Community designed
- None really except initial purchase should ship with batteries and charger even if it costs more
Rated as a small, ultra-powerful flashlight. It has no real direct competitors.
- Overall: 5 out of 5
- Features: 5 out of 5 – meets or exceeds all specifications
- Value for money: 5 out of 5 – Great price as long as you get an eBay deal on rechargeable batteries
- Performance: 5 out of 5 – Apart from the thermal limitations on 5,000 lumens use it provides amazing light
- Ease of Use: 5 out of 5 – almost indestructible
- Design: 5 out of 5 – Very well designed and made
Price – Thorfire Q8
$78.20 from Amazon Australia.
I have seen them at a lower price elsewhere but make sure the unit is from batch two or later.
For a limited time GadgetGuy readers can get a 25% discount by quoting the discount code VTUH9OWI. That makes it $58.65 – amazing value.