+ Very bright
+ Reasonable special-offer price
+ Very good runtime
- Expensive regular price
- No lock-out function
- Big and heavy
- No holster
- Below-average beam quality
First of all, many thanks to Stuart for allowing me to test this best led flashlight. Stuart often goes caravanning with his family and was looking for a reasonably-priced, sturdy LED flashlight. He bought the TL580 for €20 in a special offer at the local supermarket. From the price alone, it seems like he got a bargain as I can’t find it online for less than €49.
The flashlight comes in a plastic packaging with three Baby C alkaline batteries. It also runs on rechargeable cells.
There are no accessories, such as spare o-rings, holster or glow-in-the-dark cap.
With its black aluminium body, cylindrical shape and tough-looking appearance, the TL580 looks uncannily like a Maglite. After checking the Maglite site, I found that this flashlight is almost as long as a Mag 3C cell. Unlike a Maglite, the beam is non-focusable.
I checked Mellert’s own description of the TL580 and found that it comes with a white CREE Q2 LED, the reflector is described as ‘specially developed’ but the lens is not even mentioned.
Screwing and unscrewing the different parts is a rather fiddly procedure – you do have to apply a bit of pressure. The batteries rattle slightly inside, no matter how tightly everything is screwed on.
The top half between the body and the bezel is sealed with a thin o-ring. The bottom half is sealed with a thicker one. However, there is no indication on the Mellert website about the water and dustproof capabilities of the torch. The torch has no clip or ring to stop it rolling on an uneven surface.
The led flashlight (you can read more about flashlight reviews and guides at here) is long and heavy (see dimensions below). This is certainly not the kind of product you can stash in your jacket pocket. For this reason, a holster would have been a useful accessory to make the light more portable. Even with a holster, however, the TL580 cannot be regarded as a serious option for outdoor activities where the size and weight of your equipment is a major consideration.
Thankfully, this is one of those lights where you don’t need an instruction manual to figure out how to use it.
The TL580 is powered by a button located between the body and the bezel. Press this and the light switches on in high mode. A series of three more clicks will enable you to cycle through the medium and low modes and finally turn off the torch. This is a welcome departure from the two-handed, click within two seconds procedure with some other torches.
Unfortunately, this function also has weaknesses. Because the button protrudes noticeably from the body, (see photo) the TL580 will almost certainly be prone to switching itself on, for example when you are transporting it in your rucksack, or in anything where it may come into contact with other objects.
I noticed this when I took the torch out with a full rucksack. It did indeed switch on while I was fumbling for my camera at the bottom of the bag. Although other flashlight producers could learn from the simplicity of this operation, a lock-out function, to prevent the light from accidentally switching on, is sorely missing here.
In addition, if the torch is on maximum mode you have to press the button three times, or twice on medium, in order to switch off the light. You can press very quickly, but this is not an ideal solution.
The Mellert website claims that the TL580 has a high, medium and low mode of 180, 90 and 54 lumens respectively. This seems plausible considering the battery configuration.
The company then spoils things somewhat by quoting a lighting distance of 200 metres on high and 75 metres on low.
The kindest interpretation of this ‘information’ is that the admen are perhaps confusing metres with feet.
On maximum mode and on a very clear night, I measured 100 metres in complete darkness. At this distance I was able to make out the number plate of a car, but very little of the car itself.
The beam is very tightly bundled at long distance, so you do not see very much at medium distances. When using the light at closer distances, the beam has two outer rings outside the hotspot. This was not a problem as it lit up everything very brightly up to 30 metres away, but those used to smoother beam patterns may not like this.
The low mode is the most useful for inside the house and as you can see, the light can also be used in candle-mode.
The flashlight is advertised to run for 50 hours on the highest mode. Words fail me here! If this is true, 180 lumens for a full two days on household batteries is incredible performance.
As I only had the light for a short time, I could not, of course, stand over the lamp observing variations in beam patterns on a minute-by-minute basis. Instead, I did a partial test by inserting three new batteries, switching the light on max and leaving it to burn overnight for nine hours. I compared the used battery output with that supplied by other new ones and was very surprised. I really could not detect any difference.
The major plus point of the TL580 is the price – or at least the special-offer price. For €20 you receive a user-friendly, bright robust light powered by inexpensive batteries which are available everywhere. The runtime on maximum appears exceptional. For long-term intensive use you can economise still further and purchase a charger and rechargeable cells. At this price, all of these benefits would have been unthinkable ten years ago.
For the non-flashaholic who just needs a bright light in and around the house, or possibly for car camping, where portability is not such a serious issue, this product may be worth considering.
However, things look rather different if you pay the regular price. For €49 or more you receive an overpriced light with cheaper material and poorer build-quality than you should expect in this price category. The lack of accessories and far-from-perfect beam are further weak points.
Moreover, the protruding switch means that your inexpensive batteries are in danger of being run down before you even use the light.
In my opinion, though, the biggest weakness is the size. For outdoor enthusiasts the light is simply too big and heavy to have any practical advantages. Most hikers and campers will certainly be far better equipped with a much smaller light and some spare batteries.
Length: 27cm (10.62”)
Width: 4.7cm (1.85”)
Weight (without batteries): 248g (8.74oz)