Arc Flashlight, retail $25 (
Manufactured by Arc Flashlight, LLC
Last updated: 07-11-09

LED Light

IMPORTANT! Effective 09-22-04, this product is no longer being made, but here is information on it anyway.

The Arc Flashlight is a very tiny, single "AAA" cell LED flashlight. Smaller than a Mag Solitaire, this is easily one of the smallest and brightest single cell white LED flashlights in existence today. A miniature step-up power converter inside the tiny head makes it possible to run a 4 volt white LED with only a single 1.5 volt AAA cell.
The easy-grip body is composed entirely of anodized aircraft aluminum, and is, for all intents and purposes, indestructible.


To use this miniature marvel, you will first want to feed it with a single "AAA" battery. See below for the dirt on this.

Getting light is as easy as turning the head clockwise until it lights up; turn it the other way to plunge yourself back in darkness.

The Arc Flashlight comes with a small keyring attached to the tail. This is meant to be attached to larger keyrings, like what your house & car keys are probably already on.

The knurled surface makes the light easy to grip and use.

[image 1 'AAA' cell]
To feed Baby for the first time, unscrew the head until it comes off (don't worry about losing parts or bulbs), and drop the battery in so the button end faces up. Screw the head back on, and you're finished.

Published battery life using an ordinary alkaline cell is stated at approximately 5 hours at near full brilliance, then relatively quickly falling off to a dimmer state where it will continue to function for another five or six hours. The power converter keeps the LED current constant until the battery's pretty much fried, so it doesn't just dim out from the moment it's turned on. There is a period near the end of battery life where the light does dim out slowly; this gives you enough of warning (15-30 minutes?) that you need a new battery to rummage through the battery drawer for a new one.

The Arc Flashlight is protected against installing the battery backwards, so if yours doesn't light up, dump out the battery and see if you might have gotten it in wrong.

The Arc Flashlight is basically indestructible. The aircraft aluminum case combined with its small size make for a tag team of reliability that just can't be beat. Run it over, step on it, hell it will probably even survive a trip through the garbage disposal - though I highly recommend avoiding doing that to any flashlight. :)

The light is sealed with an O-ring, and should be completely waterproof to at least three feet. Brock Neverman, another respected reviewer of flashlights, has access to deeper water (a swimming pool?) and he will be able to test the sample deeper than a couple of feet (the depth of my fish-filled test area).

The Arc Flashlight has a very respectable 10 year warranty, which covers everything except intentional flashlight violence and dead batteries.

LED Light
Bright beam on the right, compared to a CMG Infinity (another single 1.5 volt cell light) on the left.

As the above photograph shows, the Arc Flashlight is much brighter than its nearest 1-cell competition, the CMG Infinity.
Brightness is comparable to that of a new Photon II that's been in use for a minute or two, and it is exactly the same brightness as the Trek-1, a 3 "AA" single LED flashlight that's many times the Arc's mass.

A polished reflector helps brighten the Arc Flashlight up a bit when compared to other single LED lights that have no reflector.


The original test sample was a prototype, but is functionally identical to the version that became available to the public around April 2001. Revisions 2.0 and 2.1 have since beent tested.

UPDATE 04-17-01: A battery life test was conducted last night, which showed that a new Duracell AAA cell gave approximately 4.8 hours of relatively steady light, which quickly fell off during the last ten minutes. So the published 5 hour figure isn't off base at all.
A live 'play-by-play' of this test can be found here for your viewing enjoyment.

UPDATE 04-28-01: Another set of battery life tests were made on a production unit with Duracell, Duracell Ultra, and Energizer Titanium E2. Steady burn lifetimes ranged from 5 to 6 hours, and the "dead" battery would work for about another hour if allowed to rest.
When used intermittently, a potential battery lifetime of 6-8 hours isn't unrealistic.

UPDATE 07-27-01: How many ways has this light been improved since late April? Let me count the ways.
  1. This new Rev. 2.1 Arc Flashlight has a better overall fit, finish, and feel (the three "F"s?).
  2. The threading has been improved. They are of a slightly larger pitch, and a longer portion of the head has actual threads on it. This should increase the resistance to stripping, and decrease the chance the head will become lost.
  3. A new O ring has been installed, rather than the elastic band which was breaking on some units and becoming "frazzly" and worn out rather quickly on most others.
  4. A compressed foam ring is present on the bottom of the head; this serves to totally eliminate battery rattle.
  5. The (+) battery contact was made into a dome to ensure consistent contact, time after time. Batteries with slightly lower or shorter "nipples" will work a bit better with this improvement.
  6. Brightness of the unit also appears to have improved slightly, but noticeably.
  7. The opening for the LED appears to have a better, tighter tolerance to it. This simply looks better, as the LED in the previous model was potted and couldn't leak anyway even though the opening has large gaps on all sides of the bulb.
  8. The knurling on the head and barrel is of a slightly finer and sharper pitch; despite this, the light has a slightly more "grippy" and secure feel to it than the previous versions.
  9. The LED is set deeper in the head, making a bit better use of the shiny reflector.

There are other, more subtle improvements, some to the body itself, and some to the hidden circuitry.
The overall length of the flashlight has increased by approximately 0.2".

Close-up of Rev. 2.1 vs. Rev. 2.0.
The new one is on the left; the older (April 2001) is on the right.

Here are the heads from the two lights. The new one is a bit longer, is threaded differently,
has a compressed foam "spring" to stop rattle, and has a number of other improvements.

UPDATE 01-12-02: A green Arc-AAA has been made available for extended testing, and a UV Arc-AAA for short-term testing. Since the UV has to go back in a week or two or three, I'll write about it first.

UPDATE 08-28-03:
I purchased an Arc-AAA UV head from a Candlepower Forums member, and he refunded my money and sent a whole bunch of other Arc-AAA goodies along with the UV head. Thank you very much!!!
So here are the pictures...

This picture shows the two Arc-AAA bodies I received: the lower one is an Arc-LE body with natural HA-III finish; the upper one is a red anodize color. The red anodized body was probably destined to be a 2003 CPF edition, but there is no printing or embossing anywhere on it.

On the left is a dim 370nm UVA.
On the right is a brighter 395nm violet.
Neither one has that magenta color you see in the pictures.

On the left is an aqua (blue-green). It's a bit more bluish than this picture appears, and has a wider viewing angle (35 to 45) than is usually found in LED flashlights.
On the right is an orange. It's less reddish than this picture appears.
The orange has the narrowest beam (10 to 15) of all Arcs I've tried.

And this is the white Arc-AAA head.

UPDATE 01-14-04:
Some important information I need to pass on: All standard Arc-AAA flashlights made from late 2001 on up have a Type III hard anodized finish, rather than the less durable type II anodized finish they were made with prior to this.

UPDATE 08-20-04:
Here's a testimonial from an Arc-AAA owner; used with his permission:

i was climbing Mt. Katahdin (the highest mountain in Maine - 5,200+ feet @ the Appalachian Trail), on the Abol Trail, and @ about 4,000 feet, i was fumbling with some gear while i was taking my Spyderco Cricket off my keychain, and the Arc AAA accidentally came off with it, took a bounce, rolled, and dropped 4,000 feet down the mountain. i thought for sure that i'd be looking for a new Arc AAA head @ the very least, and probly a new body too. how could the LED make it undamaged and how could the epoxy hold? but...

i found it the next day, pretty beat up (cut straight to the bone) since it fell off a trail that was formed by a rock slide. the battery was completely ruined, but after cleaning the Arc AAA out a little and inserting a new battery, it worked as good as new. not even a single scratch on the LED, and in fact, it even seems to have fixed the whole failing to turn on problem that struck it about 1 in every 20 cycles. weird huh?

i don't reccomend dropping your Arc off a mountain, 'cause it kinda uglied it up a bit, but i guess this is gonna have to be my lucky light from now on!

This owner recommends that you do not go around dropping your Arc-AAA on purpose, but his experience does show the flashlight is durable enough to survive going off the side of a mountain.

Note, that this posting does not have the "smileys" that the original does; go here to read the original.

Here's a photograph of the Arc-AAA he recovered.
Note that it still works.

IMPORTANT: Testimonial and photograph were both used with permission.

UPDATE 07-23-06:
A fan of this website sent me a number of different products; among them was a turquoise (blue-green) Arc-AAA with an unusual "dog bone" or "stealth bomber" beam shape.

Photograph of the beam on the test target at ~12".

Photograph of the beam on a ceiling at ~5' to show the beam pattern.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this flashlight.

UPDATE 11-01-06:
Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the blue-green LED in another Arc AAA flashlight.

UPDATE 11-11-06:
Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the blue-green LED in yet another Arc AAA flashlight.

UPDATE 11-14-06:
Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the 395nm UV LED in this flashlight.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the 370nm UV LED in this flashlight.

UPDATE 01-28-08:
ProMetric analysis
Beam cross-sectional analysis of a blue-green Arc-AAA (the one that was sent to me by a website fan on 07-23-06).
Image made using the ProMetric System by Radiant Imaging.

UPDATE 01-29-08:
Spectrographic analysis
This is a photograph of the "stealth bomber"- or "dog bone"-shaped beam from the blue-green Arc-AAA received on 07-23-06.
This is on a white ceiling at ~5 feet.

Spectrographic analysis
And here's a spectrographic analysis of the same unit.

UPDATE 05-30-08:
Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in the orange LED version of this flashlight.
USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.

UPDATE: 07-11-09
Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the fluorescence of the NIA 2009 Commemorative Insulator in uranated* glass when irradiated by the earlier-model Arc AAA UV.

*"Uranated" - infused with a uranium compound (one of the oxides I believe), *NOT* piddled on.
Commonly referred to as "Vaseline glass" because it has
a distinct pale yellow-green color when not being irradiated.

Very small
Starts bright and stays that way till the end
Cheap & common batteries
Durable case, hard-anodized finish
Tool-free battery change
Product is continually being improved upon.

Limited run-time when compared to some other flashlights. Inexpensive batteries make up for this however.

            MANUFACTURER: Arc Flashlight LLC
            PRODUCT TYPE: Keychain flashlight
            LAMP TYPE: LED, White, 5mm. Also avail. in most other LED colors
            No. OF LAMPS: 1
            BEAM TYPE: Central hotspot with smooth corona
            SWITCH TYPE: Twist bezel
            BEZEL: Incorporates LED + electronics, integral reflector.
            BATTERY: 1 "AAA" cell
            CURRENT CONSUMPTION: ~150mA typical
            WATER RESISTANT: Yes
            SUBMERSIBLE: To 3 feet
            ACCESSORIES: Small split ring
            WARRANTY: N/A (Company has gone out of business)

            OVERALL SCORE:
            (almost 5 stars)


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