AIT Nightstar (3rd generation)

Light Type: LED
Light Class: Emergency Use / Survival
NOTE: This is an small but very significant update to the first and second Nightstar Reviews. The NightStar has now received an upgraded Security Quality LED which is MUCH brighter than the original.

Short Description:

This Nightstar is the 3rd generation of the original Nightstar emergency flashlight by Applied Innovative Technologies.

The light employs a coil, traveling magnet, and capacitor as a power source, thereby removing the need for batteries. The Nightstar is designed to be basically ignored until it is needed, with no maintenance whatsoever. Shaking the light for 30 seconds will charge the capacitor and give the user up to 20 minutes of usable light from the StarCore 5mm Security Quality LED inside the housing. This new iteration of the light includes several improvements which we will discuss.

The body of the light, like its predecessor, is made from high impact clear Polycarbonate. It is also available in opaque housings (black and yellow) which have greater chemical resistance. The light is sealed to prevent the entrance of any environmental materials. Unlike the original, which had a bezel which could be unscrewed, the Nightstar 2 is completely sealed and cannot be opened without destroying the light. The light is completely submersible.

The bezel has changed from the original and now employs a flatter lens at the end, creating a beam that is more than twice the diameter of the original. The Security Quality LED also now resides in a reflector, directing more light toward the lens.

The switch, which in the original used a blue Strontium Aluminate glow-in-the-dark plastic, now uses a green Strontium Aluminate glow plastic with what appears to be a higher content of glow material for the switch. This results in a glow that is brighter and yet lasts as long as the original (10 hours or so.)

As mentioned, no batteries are required for this light. Simply shake the light and the large magnet in the center travels back and forth, repelling off of opposite-pole magnets at either end of the travel tube. As the magnet travels through the central coil, a capacitor is charged, giving adequate runtime for emergencies.

NOTE As a result of the strong magnetic field generated by this light, the light MUST be stored and used away from anything sensitive to a strong magnetic field. DO NOT place near a TV, monitor, floppy disks, hard drives, credit cards (don’t stuff it in your back pocket with your wallet!), video tapes, or sensitive electronics.

No accessories are included, but tab with a lanyard hole is molded onto the side of the end of the flashlight, which also serves as an anti-roll device.

Storage Temperature: -50° F (-45°C) to +140°F (60°C)
Operating Temperate: -40° F (-40°C) to +130°F (55°C)

Size Reference
Bezel picture
Special Picture
Beam picture at 1 Meter
Reviewer’s Impressions:The new generation of Nightstar displays some very welcome changes to the original design. Most importantly these changes improve its usability.

Fit and finish are very good. It appears that the outer body is molded as one piece. The internals are then inserted from the bezel end and the lens is sealed with adhesive, making the entire unit effectively one piece. The switch is the only external piece added to the light. It contains a magnet that activates a reed switch, thereby operating the light without compromising the sealed case.

The Nightstar is one tough light. The repulsing magnets at either end of the traveling magnet chamber prevent damage to the primary magnet from minor drops, and bumpers have been placed on the primary magnet as well in case the force of impact does result in contact with either end of the tube. The switch hardly protrudes at all, effectively eliminating any chance that it would be broken off. As a result of the switch’s low profile, a wiping motion is used to slide the switch from on to off.

The light output by the new generation unit is where you will see the most improvement. The lens is not as round as the original Nightstar, resulting in a broader beam. This is a very welcome change. The original Nightstar beam was so narrow it was sometimes difficult to use in close range situations.

Also, the new NightStar (as of January 2005) is using a new Security Quality LED called the StarCore LED. This Security Quality LED produces about 2.5x the amount of light of the second generation Nightstar. The color temperature is warmer (more yellow than blue) and the output is significantly brighter.

If you are new to Security Quality LED lights, let me remind you that LEDs do not put out the brilliant beam of your standard flashlight. The Nightstar is appropriately named. The light is more like starlight – a soft white beam that is adequate for most tasks in the darkness or very near darkness. This light will not light up the side of a city building, but in the dark it efficiently produces enough light for you to work effectively.

Beam quality has also improved over the original, with a smoother spot. The original lens produced a near-perfect image of the LED’s die (the light producing part of the LED). The die is square and not evenly lit, and that was reflected in the beam produced. The Nightstar gen 3 also uses a silver reflector to direct more light out through the lens.

Water resistance is exceptional. Operational to 430-ft. with a crush point equivalent to 180psi. Basically the light is completely sealed.

Important things to note: The runtime statements by the manufacturer have changed dramatically since the original Nightstar came out. Originally they said you would get 5 minutes of runtime on 30 seconds of shaking. Now the instructions say you will get 20 minutes of usable light on 30 seconds of shaking. Has the storage capacity of the capacitor changed that much? Actually, no. The longer usability can be attributed almost entirely to the smoother, broader beam of the light and the upgraded LED. Side-by-side the Nightstar gen1 and Nightstar gen2&3 Start at slightly different brightness levels but appear to dim at exactly the same rate. The wider beam makes all the difference.

If you need to store a flashlight in an isolated, dark area where it will be ignored for long periods of time and is needed at a moment’s notice, or if you just want to do your part in preserving the environment by reducing depleted battery waste, the Nightstar is an excellent choice. The Nightstar is well adapted for use in industrial facilities, boats, basements, anywhere that you could be trapped in a power outage without light, or where batteries would corrode due to environment or lack of use.

+ + + Pluses: Waterproof, Tough/impact resistant, No batteries needed, Bright, Lightweight, Stands up on end.

– – – Minuses: Strong magnetic field.