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Back in September, we reviewed the Emergency Area Light from Coast. This lantern-style area light boasted a variable output of up to 100 lumens of white light, along with the option of either solid or flashing red LEDs. One of the big selling points of this light was its ability to run for 100 hours on the low setting, making it ideal for extended camping trips, or emergencies. This long run time was provided by four D size batteries, something very much appreciated if you have to run it indoors or around children and pets. Propane or gas is generally much brighter, but not always the safest or most convenient option.
At $40, it seemed a good value, striking an excellent balance between cost, durability, and performance. Our only complaint, although minor, was that we felt it could be brighter on the highest setting. Apparently, someone at Coast must have gotten wind of that comment, (In truth, we did send them a link to the review, so it seems fair to assume that they read it) because around the end of the year, a package showed up with the new version of the EAL. Included was a brief note about its new feature – more power!
The first thing we noticed, even before un-boxing the new improved light, is that the actual packaging is smaller. While I’m not going to obsess over this, it’s nice to see that it’s using less cardboard, and taking up less space. But what really caught my attention is the listed output, which is now a peak 375 lumens. Surprisingly, the max run time (again, for the lowest setting) only dropped to 80 hours, which is still plenty. Other than that, everything appears to be same. Push the button to turn it on, and you can vary the white light from very bright down to the minimal setting, then red, then flashing red. The “fuel gauge” battery meter is still there to tell you how much battery you have, and the batteries are sealed nicely in the base. About the battery meter, our daughter used the original EAL in a tent to read before bed for two weeks, and it’s just budged from full to one light down. Not bad. We sent both lights out with some scouts for a weekend, and they received only favorable comments. In a situation where gas or propane was not allowed, the next choice would have been a fluorescent light, but temps in the 20s can take a bite out of fluorescent lighting. And the EAL really shined under those conditions, both literally and figuratively.
We’d like to thank Coast for providing another testing opportunity, as well as listening to user feedback and improving on an already great product. Our only complaint this time is that it doesn’t brew beer. (Fingers crossed) To see the full line of Coast products, go to the Coast website. And don’t forget to like them on Facebook for chance at one of their giveaways – one lucky winner already scored the $300 HP21!