Flashlight Reviews

Arc-AAA Premium GS

provided for review by
Arc-AAA Premium GS is single AAA battery based, legendary, high quality, premium LED flashlight. Arc-AAA Premium GS LED has latest generation ultra efficient Nichia GS LED for bright light output. Arc-AAA GS is 6th revision of legendry ARC-AAA series. This revision includes multiple enhancements most notably tapered head design and use of improved high efficiency Nichia NSPW500GS-K1 LED. Way back in 2001, Arc Flashlight was the first manufacturer ever to launch a AAA battery based LED flashlight. Arc-AAA is designed keeping four key factors in to consideration. Firstly, the size; as small as possible, easy for every day carry and should be very pocketable. Secondly, the runtime; provide best combination of output and runtime. Thirdly, the battery; should be small, commonly available and easy to find locally. And lastly, the durability; should be durable enough to be used in range of situations including rain & fire. The Arc-AAA Premium meets all its design goals. The Arc-AAA Premium GS uses semi regulated step up circuit to drive the LED. Arc-AAA has single light output level which has sufficient illumination for most of the general illumination purposes. Body of Arc-AAA Premium GS is built of Type III Hard Anodized 6061 Aluminium. HA III coating provides excellent environmental protection and resistance against wear and tear. Almost completely, whole of the battery tube and the head are heavily knurled for excellent grip. The switching mechanism of ARC-AAA Premium GS is through twisting head. The battery contacts inside the flashlight are stainless steel ensuring good durability. The body internally is treated with Chemkote for increased corrosion resistance. There is an O-Ring seal between head and battery tube for waterproofing. ARC-AAA Premium GS is waterproof to 100 feet. Overall build quality of Arc-AAA Premium GS is excellent. Arc-AAA Premium GS LED is packaged in blister type packaging. Arc-AAA Premium GS package includes AAA battery, means of attaching lanyard and pocket clip.

Light Features:
  • Uses high efficiency Nichia NSPW500GS-K1 LED
  • 10 Lumens out front output
  • Semi regulated electronic drive circuit
  • Uses commonly available AAA battery
  • Minimum 5 Hours of continuous operation on Alkaline AAA battery
  • Waterproof to 100 feet
  • Can stand on tail (Candle Mode) with help reversed pocket clip
Light Operation & Output:
Light Operation: Simple twist switch. For Switching ON / OFF twist the head in clockwise or anticlockwise direction.

Light Output: Below is the chart showing total output* on various AAA batteries.

Arc-AAA Premium GS LED
Battery Sanyo Eneloop AAA NiMH AAA Alkaline
Output 153 155

*The total output levels are based on custom built Integrating Sphere with Gossen Mavolux 5032 Class B USB Light Meter as photometer. To convert total output readings in to approximate Lumen readings, simply divide the total output by 10.
Light Info:
General Info
    Light Model AAA Premium GS
    Manufacturer Arc Flashlight
    Review Page & Image
 AAA Premium GS
AAA Premium GS
    Country  United States
    Review Date 2008-08-16
    Review Update 2008-08-16
Light Vitals
    Length 70 mm
    Width / Bezel Diameter 12 mm
    Width / Tube Diameter  mm
    Height (if applicable)  mm
    Weight (without battery) 10 gm
Light Source
    LED Format 5 mm
    Number of LEDs 1
    LED Name Nichia NSPW500 GS
    LED Power 0.12  Watts
Light Management
    Lens Material Acrilic
    Lens Coating (if any) None
    Lens Transperency (typical) 70
    Lumen Management Inbuilt Optic
    Material Acrilic
    Beam Type Wide with good side spill
Power Management
    Converter Type Step Up
    Properties Semi Regulated
    Features Simple
Batteries Supported, Output & Runtime
    Battery Size
    Nominal Voltage
    # Used
    Total Output
    Runtime to 75%
    Runtime to 50%
    Runtime to 25%
NiMH  Alk  
Switch Options
    Switch Type
    Switch Properties
Simple, Reliable
Body Material Options
Type III Hard Anodized
Light Rating
85 85
    Build Quality
80 80
85 85
60 60
20 20
95 95
    Bang for buck
60 60
    Overall Rating
In-Depth Review & Pictures:
Packaging: Arc-AAA Premium GS LED comes packaged in blister packaging. Blister type molded transparent container shown here is holding flashlight with pocket clip and battery. The front side has mention of major features of Arc-AAA Premium GS.

On the back side detailed product information, directions to use, terms of warranty and company details are printed.

Size Comparison: Arc-AAA Premium GS is a fairly small AAA battery based light. Here in picture, you can see the size comparison between AAA battery on left, Arc-AAA in center and AA battery on right. Arc-AAA Premium GS LED is very slim and short which makes it easy to carry in pocket.

Bezel, Head, LED and the "Reflector": Let's have a closer look at the bezel end of Arc-AAA Premium GS. LED is aligned in center, exposed to environment. The acrylic encapsulation dome of LED provides sufficient environmental protection and thus the need of glass lens is no longer there. The "reflector" in Arc-AAA Premium is part of head built from Aluminium and is also exposed. It is moderately polished. While most of the light management takes place through the acrylic dome of 5 mm Nichia GS led, the "reflector" serves purpose of redirecting remaining scattered light from the acrylic lens of LED towards forward direction.

Beam pattern of the combined effect is smooth flood with bluish white hotspot and warm white to yellowish corona.The bluish white hotspot is a typical feature of 5 mm LED's. The main reason of this beam pattern is due to the basic construction of 5 mm LED. Typically, in 5 mm white LED's, the base die emitting blue light is coated with yellow phosphor. The base die is placed in a metallic cup shaped container. The complete assembly is encapsulated in transparent acrylic dome. The coating is of uneven thickness due to the the die geometry and size of the die. The locations where coating is less thick lets the blue light pass through and this gets projected through the acrylic dome. It should however be noted that it does not adversely affect the overall beam quality. Although, some users may not like the bluish white beam pattern. One more thing that is particularly different and noticeable with the Nichia GS LED is that the bluish white hotspot is fairly rectangular in shape unlike its predecessors that had almost perfect square hotspot. This rectangular hotspot is due to the project image of the rectangular blue die used in Nichia GS LED.

Body: Arc-AAA Premium GS LED is built from aircraft grade aluminium, has type III hard coat anodizing for protection from wear and tear. The built quality of Arc-AAA Premium GS LED is excellent. Almost all of the body is completely covered with aggressive knurling. Battery tube has laser engraving of "Arc-P" indicating that the flashlight uses premium grade LED.

Components: Arc-AAA Premium GS LED consists of only two main components, head, battery tube. Head houses LED, integrated "reflector" and electronics where as battery tube accommodates single AAA battery. Battery tube has enough space for for free battery movement.

Side view of Arc-AAA Premium GS LED Components.

Head: Here is a more detailed look at head of Arc-AAA Premium GS. The bezel is chamfered and tapered to a considerable extent. Tapering of head helps in easy sliding in pocket.

Here is a 360 view of head. The positive contact has solder blob over PCB helping better contact with the battery positive terminal. There is a piece of circular foam donut attached at the base of head. It prevents battery rattle and is a part of switching mechanism. Threads on head are not anodized and take active participation in completing the electrical circuit. Threads have minor imperfections but it does not hinder the flashlight switching in any way. The imperfections are totally cosmetic. The head of Arc-AAA Premium GS has a band of diamond shaped knurling. It is very important to have this knurling as it ensures superb grip for single handed twist switching operation.

Note: The foam donut is glued to PCB on head. At times, it may get loose of fall off. Nothing to worry though. Simply place it back or apply a stronger adhesive to attach it back.

Battery Tube: The first and foremost noticeable things about battery tube on Arc AAA Premium GS is that its very light weight, heavily knurled with lug shaped tail end. The battery tube is internally treated Chemkote for superior chemical and corrosion resistance. Threads on battery tube of Arc-AAA Premium GS are not anodized as they mate with threads on head to complete the electrical circuit.

"ARC-P" is laser engraved in the front section of battery tube.

Here is a closeup picture of battery tube of Arc-AAA Premium GS LED highlighting the aggressive knurling.

Tail: The tail end of Arc-AAA Premium GS is lug shaped with a hole to attach it either to key chain or lanyard. Arc-AAA Premium ships with a split ring attached to the lug.

the "D" shaped lug has fairly strong construction.

Beam Shots:
Like all 5 mm LED's, the beam of Arc AAA Premium exhibits bluish white hotspot and yellow corona. The beam is fairly acceptable and has sufficient illumination to illuminate short distances. Arc AAA is intended for illuminating short distances and is not designed as search light. One of the interesting facts that has been observed particularly with the Nichia GS LED is with the hotspot. If you see closely, you will notice that the hotspot has rectangular / oval profile as explained earlier but the overall beam projects a perfectly circular pattern. The rectangular hotspot is only visible when battery gets considerably depleted or while capturing under exposed pictures. The Beam shot Matrix shows Arc-AAA Premium GS LED with Alkaline AAA and Sanyo Eneloop AAA Rechargeable NiMH Battery. All beam shots are taken at f/8 aperture with varying shutter speed.
Arc-AAA P GS Alkaline AAA Arc-AAA P GS Eneloop AAA

Extreme Closeup Pictures: Arc-AAA Premium GS
Here are a few extreme closeup shots. Workmanship of Arc-AAA Premium GS LED is flawless.

Bezel and head of Arc-AAA Premium GS.

Arc-AAA Premium GS LED battery tube. Notice the aggressive knurling.

Arc-AAA Premium GS LED battery tube & tail.

Equipment Used: Custom built Integrating Sphere with Gossen Mavolux 5032 Class B USB Light Meter as photometer. Mavolux 5032 B USB is high precision, high accuracy and high quality light meter with conformance to DIN 5032-7 and CIE 69 standards. Utmost care has taken to ensure that the light measurements are accurate. Click here to read more about Gossen Mavolux 5032 USB Light Meter.

Alkaline AA: The runtime for Arc-AAA Premium GS LED with Alkaline AAA battery is about 4 Hours 10 Minutes till 50%. Based on the runtime curve, Arc-AAA runs in semi-regulation. The light output starts at almost 15 Lumens out front and slowly drops to 7 Lumens before dropping out of regulation. Considering the total output and the total runtime from such a small AAA battery, this is a marvelous achievement. Once light output drops out of regulation, light enters in moon mode which lasts for very long time.

NiMH AA: The runtime for Arc-AAA Premium GS LED with Sanyo NiMH AAA battery about 3 Hours and 47 Minutes till 50%.

The runtime story does not end here. It is well known that Alkaline batteries do not perform well in high current discharge. As an example, have a look at first runtime test on NiteCore Defender Infinity Silver with Alkaline battery. It is also true that the alkaline battery has a property of self recovery, as an example, take a look at the intermittent runtime test that we performed on LRI Proton Pro with Alkaline battery. So does this mean that for a low current draw flashlight like Arc AAA will drain the Alkaline battery completely to an extent that there is no chance for 'self recovery'? What will happen to the battery after the above runtime test, has it been completely depleted yet? Will it still show the 'recovery' properties? Lets find out answers to these questions.

Out of curiosity, we did a second runtime test exactly 24 Hours after the above test. To our surprise, we found very interesting results. Here is the chart. That's additional 50 Minutes of light starting from 14 Lumens dropping to 5 Lumens.

We continued the runtime process till 3 more days and amazed by the results. Even on 4th day the Arc AAA P GS gave light output for about 20 Minutes output stayed over 3 Lumens most of the time.

Here is a combined view of Alkaline runtimes for Arc AAA Premium GS. For Alkaline AAA battery, apart from initial 4 Hours of light of continuous runtime, Arc AAA put up additional 2.5 Hours of light combined from a depleted battery. Please note that each time we let the light output reduce to 0.2 Lumens.

Here is overall combined view stacked Alkaline vs NiMH

The results are surprising. Firstly, the efficiency of Arc AAA circuit is good and its ability to provide power to LED even with low a input voltage is excellent. Each time after the runtime test, we measured the voltage of 0.4V across the battery. In fact the Arc AAA circuit is able to start at as low as 0.7V and continues to run to a voltage down to 0.3V. Considering that LED will require at least 2.4V to emit light and that the step up circuit has to work for stepping up the voltage down from 0.3V to 2.4V, its amazing.

Secondly, the ability of Alkaline battery to recover from a continuous discharge even at a low current discharge is simply superb. With this, it is safe to conclude that Arc AAA will last for far more than 8 Hours providing good light with an Alkaline battery, if used intermittently.

With such an excellent performance, no wonder, Arc AAA has been popular for 5+ years in a row and we hope it will continue for a long time ahead. Arc AAA P GS is an excellent 1 AAA cell based light with a balance of Brightness and Runtime.

Buy Arc-AAA Premium GS LED Flashlight at www.arcflashlight.com
Jump To: Top - Light Operation - Light Info - In-Depth Review & Pictures - Beam Shots - Extreme Closeup Pictures - Runtime