12v Spotlight torch

Put yourself in this situation – you’re on a family camping trip in the car, you’ve pitched your tent in the quietest part of the campsite you can find, found the toilets, argued about who left the Travel Connect 4 at home then all three of you go out for fish and chips as darkness starts to fall.
Twenty minutes later you leave No Plaice Like Home with two cod and chips, a battered sausage, a soggy chicken pie, a bag of bits/scraps/batter, one (large) tub of curry sauce, two pickled eggs and a jar of winkles.
The smell in the car is mouth-watering as you drive back through the pitch-black countryside and you’re five minutes from the tent when *pop*… puncture.

All methods of shedding light on the situation are back in the porch and you’re busy digging out the spare wheel by the pathetic glow from three mobile phones when you suddenly remember your 12v Spotlight torch. Where is it? It’s exactly where you put it a week earlier when you bought it for a tenner – plugged into the cigarette lighter socket of the car where it has been fully charged and waiting for you to stop being so stupid.
Fifteen minutes later the spare is on, your hands are filthy, your chips are cold and the car smells like something died in it but you’re back on the road wishing you had a microwave in the tent.
The point to this story? I like chips.

The other point is that as long as you’re in the car then you’ve always got a torch that’s charged and ready to use.
And what a torch it is. First of all it’s tiny – shorter than your thumb and a bit narrower, and it’s lighter than a pickled egg trump.

The body is aircraft aluminium etched with the Spotlight logo, and the source of the light is a .5 watt LED bulb. The torch is switched on/off with a simple quarter turn of the aluminium lens housing and when it’s off and charging a small red LED behind the lens reminds you it’s there.
But the power of the Spotlight, bearing in mind its size, is astonishing. The beam is a beautiful bright white and extremely strong, sending useful light for quite some distance – maybe not quite as far as the claimed 150ft but not far off, making it very handy to have around.

Packaged with it is some kind of small clip-on collar which is entirely useless as far as I can see, although I accept that someone much brainier than me will know what it’s for (NOTE: I now know what it’s for! See the edit at the end of this review). A range of accessories are also available for hanging it off your belt, converting it to a desk lamp or clipping it to the handlebars of your bicycle as a front light, and you can also get a converter so you can plug it in while keeping the lighter socket free for your sat-nav.
Oh, and it’s totally waterproof, so if you happen to plunge your car into a lake it’ll still work so you can find your jacket before escaping.

There are two downsides which I don’t like about it though.
The first is that the lens housing, which turns the torch on and off, feels a little bit loose and rattly on the brand new Spotlight that I have. Possibly as a result of this the beam flickers on and off as though there’s a loose connection if you don’t turn it on quickly and positively. It doesn’t affect the usefulness, but it gives the impression that it isn’t as well made as it could be.
The second issue, which is far more annoying, is the fact that it refuses to charge in my car. It fits in the cigarette lighter (which does work because I power my sat-nav from it) but it doesn’t get any juice, and that’s bloody frustrating. It works in Mrs Muz’s car so I’ve had to give it to her and that really narks me *angry face*.

SUMMARY: A great little torch with surprising power. Always ready for use if you’re in or around the car, it gives excellent light with a powerful beam. The blurb you read with it, though, says this torch “fits most automotive-style power outlets” but most doesn’t mean all. (NOTE: Now read the edit, below)

Price – £9.99
From – spotlightcartorch.co.uk
More info: 12vspotlight.com

EDIT: It’s now February 27, 2011, and I’ve finally worked out what the little collar is for.

First of all, let me go back to the beginning. When I first tried this torch in my own car and it didn’t work I clipped the collar on – which just happens to say ‘adaptor’ in tiny black font on the black plastic clip – and tried to slot it into my lighter socket. It didn’t fit. In fact it was so tight that I got the torch stuck in the socket even though I’d only forced it in a couple of mm. So I figured it was useless and either didn’t do what it was supposed to, or didn’t do what it was supposed to in my car at least.

I now have a new car: a new shape Vauxhall Astra. And the torch, which now belongs to Mrs Muz, doesn’t charge in there either. In desperation I clipped the adaptor on again only to get it stuck fast in the socket again so I set my mind to finding out what the hell was going on. The collar didn’t widen the body of the torch at all and didn’t really do anything other than add a little metal nipple on to the end. So I twiddled the torch in the socket, said nice things to it, promised it dinner and stuff, twiddled it a bit more, then a bit more, and it only went and bloody well slotted in… and started charging!

So I hereby amend this review to suggest that this torch may well charge in more cars than I originally thought. You just have to be a bit more persuasive with some than others.

Anyway, I’ve gone and bought myself one now. The black ones have sold out everywhere so I’m expecting a snazzy orange one at some point in the next week or so. Marvellous.

This is now a five-hammer review!

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  • Matt

    That’s pretty useful, I have a 12v socket in a locked compartment on my motorbike so I can charge my cameras and netbooks when away from home, leaving this bad boy in there at other times seems ideal.

    I have noticed that on a lot of cars the charging circuit goes off with the ignition, wonder how long the unit will retain its charge when parked up without charge??

    • Andy

      Weird timing. I had a chat with the Spotlight reps in the US today, and they say that the Spotlight 12v will hold a charge for 18 months!