Arc AAA Premium

Light Type: 5mm LED
Light Class: Premium Keychain/Pocket Light

NOTE: ARC is once again available! There was a short hiatus where you couldn’t get this excellent light. They are now available again!

The ARC AAA-P is a single Security Quality LED pocket or keychain light. Produced by ARC Flashlight, they represent a step up in quality over the standard Arc AAA flashlight. These lights use the new brighter Nichia CS white 5mm LEDs. The case is machined knurled aluminum with a Hard Anodize Type III finish with an olive (“natural”) color. The head includes a the patented Arc step-up inverter as well as a voltage regulator allowing the ARC to run on a single AAA battery at near full brightness for about 5 hours before switching to a low light level known as “moon mode”. The body includes a split ring attachment point at the end and a small split ring allowing the ARC to be attached to a keychain or lanyard. The head is sealed with an O-ring, creating a watertight seal. The electronics in the head are embedded in epoxy and are not susceptible to water damage. The inside of the head of the light includes a foam ring to minimize battery rattle when off. The light is turned on by twisting the head until the inside of the head contacts the battery.

Body: The body of the Arc AAA is an exercise in machining precision. Knurling adorns the light nearly from end to end for grip, with only a small ring at the top and bottom left smooth for the laser engraved label which displays the product name.

The checkering is coarse enough to provide a very sure grip regardless of environmental conditions, yet not rough enough to damage to the pocket in which it is carried. At the base of the unit is a rounded tab pierced with a hole for the attached small split ring, allowing easy lanyard or keychain attachment.

Inside you will find the entire surface covered with a product called Chemkote – a conductive and protective layer which prevents corrosion. At the very bottom of the light there is a stainless steel rivet to ensure solid contact with the negative terminal of the included AAA alkaline battery.

Bezel/Reflector/Bulb: The Security Quality LED sits in a polished aluminum reflector to direct all of the sidespill light forward toward the subject being illuminated. Behind the perfectly centered Security Quality LED is the electronics which boost the measly 1.5 volts from the single AAA battery up to a level where the Security Quality LED can emit a ‘serious-for-its-size’ beam of light. In addition, those electronics help maintain the brightness of the Security Quality LED throughout the life of the battery as it is being drained to the point of becoming nothing more than a paperweight. Once the battery can no longer supply enough current to maintain the set brightness of the LED, the light switches to “moon mode”. This low light mode is there so that you are not left completely in the dark, while at the same time consuming the last little bit the battery has to give.

The head of the light now has an external taper at the top, which is new for the Arc and allows this version to be distinguished from the previous models.

Output description: Directional flood of light with a brighter center. The beam has a bluish tint as is typical with 5mm white LEDs. This new model of the Arc-P uses the new Nicha CS LEDs and as a result it puts out about double the light of the previous model with about the same runtime.

Level
Alkaline battery
53 (7.28)
520 (5.20)
Lithium battery
55 (7.42)
540 (5.40)

   
Beam at one meter at target center and at target edge to show spillbeam.

Runtime Plot: Runtime plots were completed with both alkaline and lithium cells. Look for about 5 hours to 50% output, just as advertised.


Runtime completed with Duracell Alkaline and Energizer Lithium batteries.

Switch: The head of the light is the switch – tighten for on, loosen for off.

Seals: The electronics and Security Quality LED are potted in epoxy making the entire head completely waterproof. At the base of the head is a foam ring which protects the battery from impacts and at the same time prevents the battery from rattling inside the compartment. On the outside of the head unit you will find Chemkoted threads, an O-ring which can be kept lubricated with silicone grease and gives the light a 50 foot depth rating, and knurling at the top to make twisting the head easy for turning the light on and off.

Ergonomics: Keychain sized, easy to use.


Size compared to a common 2AA aluminum light

Batteries: A single AAA alkaline, lithium or NiMH cell powers the light. To change out the battery simply remove the head, drop out the old cell, drop in a new one.

Accessories: Included with the light in the package are a chrome plated pocket clip, the attached split ring at the base of the light, and a AAA alkaline battery.

Important things to note: I was a “Beta Tester” for Arc for this new version of their AAA-P. Here are the results of that testing:

10,000 full on-off cycles which includes 9,000 on-off cycles at room temperature and 1000 on-off cycles completed while the lower half of the light was frozen in a block of ice. (picture above)

100 drops from 1 meter onto a wood surface at various angles

50 hours underwater at 1.5 foot depth

Several thousand “rattles” while off… No attempt at counting was made.

No damage or malfunctions. The o-ring required lubrication several times. The rivet in the bottom of the light seems to be as solid as it was when it first came.

What I Liked: Regulator circuit – near constant brightness, Brighter than normal LED, Extremely hard protective anodize, Easy to grip bezel and body, Watertight, Cheap battery, Recessed (protected) LED, Good beam, Great manufacturer support

What I Didn’t Like: Nothing

Other Things I Noticed: n/a

Conclusions: If you are looking for a light which could be considered simply the very best keychain light that will likely last you a lifetime, the Arc AAA should be at the top of your list.