Vicki wrote a mini flashlight review in early December 2013. This is a Bantam HB 62 update about a potential burn hazard -- that is, potentially obtaining a thermal burn -- when using a rechargeable AAA battery in this unit.
On July 26, 2014, Vicki wrote to her contact at Nighthawk Lights containing the following:
As you may recall, we received the mini flashlight in late October 2013. I've used the unit extensively since then. Over a period of the last couple of months, I've noticed the following happening:
* Instead of the top and middle pieces of the flashlight screwing out (as a unit) from the bottom (where the battery is stored), the topmost part has unscrewed, leaving the flashlight burning with the middle piece that contains the bulb screwed into the bottom. I'm hazarding a guess that this has happened at least a dozen times now, each time of which I've had to use pliers or even channellocks to unscrew the middle piece from the bottom. I've even used pliers or channellocks to screw the middle piece back up into the top piece as hard as I can to make sure that it unscrews as a unit from the bottom, only to have the same problem happen again.
* Twice now, I've noticed that the flashlight has failed to turn on when the top and middle pieces were screwed all the way into the bottom. For some reason, a jarring of the flashlight in that setting has turned the flashlight on, but it heats up such that I cannot hold it unless I cover it with the tail from my shirt. This evening, this happened again and I tried to find out just how hot the flashlight got by holding a digital thermometer near it. I'm sure that the reading wasn't completely accurate (as the thermometer is meant to be submersed in something and I was only resting it against the hot flashlight). But the hottest reading on the thermometer was over 106 degrees F. For the sake of comparison, our home water heater is set at about 120 degrees F and I can handle all but the very hottest water running out of our faucets.
I do not plan at this time to publish this information on our website. I'm sending it for your information only. I do not expect any replacement (because it was a gift the first time). I thought you'd want to know.
If you have any troubleshooting or repair ideas, I'd be interested in learning them.
Vicki did not receive any reply to this Bantam HB 62 Update email.
On September 5, 2014, Vicki sent another Bantam HB 62 update email to her contact containing the following:
This is a follow-up to my email from July 26 (below) in which I noted an overheating situation from the Bantam HB 62 Mini Flashlight.
Tonight while I was walking my dog in the dark, in order to hold the illuminated HB 62, I had to wrap multiple layers of my shirt tail around it because it got so hot. So when I got inside, I ran an experiment.
The two unaltered photos attached tell the story:
* 2014-09-05 22.45.52.jpg shows a black foam tray, two dishcloths covering something bright underneath and the display from a digital thermometer reading 145.4 degrees F; and
* 2014-09-05 22.46.06.jpg shows the uncovered Poldex digital thermometer's probe laying beside the illuminated Bantam HB 62 Mini Flashlight while the display reads in excess of 145F.
I purposely waited until the temperature got to its maximum point under the dishcloths before taking the photos. For what it's worth, I was using a rechargeable battery in the flashlight at the time of this situation. However, I have used rechargeable batteries in the unit ever since I received it from you. It was only after months of use that the unit started to overheat.
Although this may not be an absolutely authoritative source, it is one that shows both a temperature and length of exposure to cause second and third degree burns on adult skin:
According to the page linked above, a 5-second exposure to water at 140 degrees F can cause second and third degree burns. Although the Bantam HB 62 Mini Flashlight is not "water", it can be handled similarly and it definitely got up to over 145F in my presence.
If you need to have the unit for analysis, I can send it to you (although I may not have the original packaging). Please let me know.
Finally, would you please be so kind as to let me know that you received this email and will take the necessary steps to make sure no one else who has purchased a Bantam HB 62 Mini Flashlight will get a thermal burn from it?
Thanks in advance.
Note: The images below, which were sent with Email #2 for a Bantam HB 62 update were altered only to resize them for publication on this page and to add a black border.
This photo shows a Bantam HB-62 mini flashlight shining under two dishcloths next to a digital thermometer, on top of a black foam tray. The read out from the digital thermometer says 145.4° F.
This photo shows the same setting as the photo above, except that the dishcloths have been removed to show the Bantam HB-62 mini flashlight right next to the probe of the digital thermometer. The temperature is still over 145° F.
Can you see why it was important to Vicki to send this Bantam HB 62 update?
This is the main part of the reply that Vicki received on September 7 regarding her Bantam HB 62 update:
Thanks for your email and detailed experience with the HB-62. I am sorry to hear of your bad experience and glad you were not injured.
We are aware of previous situations like yours and have addressed it on a number of levels. The common denominator in ALL these situations is that the user was using a rechargeable (lithium) battery. The Bantam Series is designed to be used only with 1.2-1.5v alkaline batteries.
We have made every effort to make this clear to all purchasers of the product through multiple channels, including but not limited to: instructions on the manual, on our website and in direct communications. Our dealers network is also aware and has been instructed to re-enforce the warning whenever possible.
The situation is not a defect in the product but rather a case of users literally over-powering the unit. Using the correct voltage, the unit operates within the design and safety specifications.
I am not sure if the operation of your HB-62 has been affected, some are and some are not. If it has not been affected using an alkaline AAA battery should not cause any future problems.
Thanks again for your email and concern, we certainly take situations like this very seriously and never want anyone to be injured by using any product, let alone one of ours.
The writer also added this at the bottom
PS Might I also suggest that you post on your review that the HB-62 is to only be used with a AAA Alkaline 1.2-1.5v battery and edit the section on using and testing the unit with a lithium battery as I would not want someone to assume it was safe to operate the unit with this type of battery. I am not sure if or how many units have been sold based on your review, but going forward I think it is the prudent thing to do.
On September 8, 2014, Vicki wrote a third email about a Bantam HB 62 update to her contact, containing the following:
Thank you for your reply and for taking my experience seriously.
I do not know on what date Nighthawk Lights made the change to its information, but it was definitely after I received the Bantam HB-62 in October 2013. I wrote the review of it in December 2013
and had been using rechargeable batteries from the beginning.
For reference purposes, I have attached four images -- two of the exterior box that the mini flashlight came in and two of the instruction manual that was included. Nowhere is there an instruction about using only an alkaline battery in the Bantam HB-62.
I don't recall being advised about the overcharging situation when I first reported that the mini flashlight got warm or hot to the touch. If it was the case that I was not advised, I wonder why.
I will be using my images in a follow-up to my original review and I will be placing a warning at the top of my original review, pointing to the follow-up. I can let you know where the follow-up appears on our site if you like.
Note: These images were attached to Email #3 for a Bantam HB 62 update and were altered only to resize them and add a black border.
Nowhere on the box or in the instruction manual is there a prohibition against using a rechargeable battery.
Vicki received an email reply to her third Bantam HB 62 update on September 9 containing the following (red font and capitalization preserved):
The voltage for use with the light is in the manual you sent. Actually at that point it says *Voltage: 1.2V~3V
It has since been revised to: *Voltage: 1.2V~1.5V Only
Plus we revised the warning to below, and added the warning to our site. This was all done in '14.
DO NOT USE
Lithium Batteries or any Battery exceeding 1.5V with this product.
EXCEEDING 1.5v CAN CAUSE MALFUNCTION AND EXTREME RISK OF PERSONAL INJURY.
When using in High Beam mode with an AAA 1.2-1.5v battery the flashlight will get warm.
This is normal and will not affect the flashlight operation.
CAUTION: DO NOT SHINE INTO EYES-WILL CAUSE SEVERE EYE DAMAGE.
KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN.
Vicki did not send another email to her contact. Rather, she did...
After receiving the Reply to Email #3, Vicki began to do some research for this online Bantam HB 62 update. This is a summary of her findings.
The Bantam HB-62 mini flashlight has a run time of only about one hour on high beam. The unit's high beam is what Vicki liked most about it.
Alkaline batteries cannot be recharged and therefore must be either thrown away or recycled after being used. (Throwing away an alkaline battery is not good for the environment and it may not be convenient for truckers to recycle their batteries.)
Based on a search on Amazon.com and WalMart.com, AAA alkaline batteries can cost $0.23 or more each, depending on vendor, manufacturer and quantity purchased.
It took many years for us to decide to invest in rechargeable batteries and a recharging unit. However, after running through what seemed to be an endless supply of alkaline batteries, we finally invested.
We have had no issues with using recharged Energizer rechargeable batteries in any of our other items (such as our portable digital clocks). Another flashlight that was powered by 3 rechargeable batteries got warm but not hot to the touch.
We have no desire to revert to using alkaline batteries to power a flashlight.
Because of the issues associated with the Bantam HB-62 -- the unit's pieces becoming difficult to separate when it was on and the burn hazard associated with using a rechargeable battery -- we can not recommend that truckers use this product as part of their tools and equipment.
1. http://nighthawklights.com/led-flashlight-bantam-hb-62 (no longer online)