|Frequently Asked Questions:|
General FAQ (click to expand)
Is the Alpha really the world's best flashlight?
That is absolutely my intent. I'll take the Pepsi challenge with any flashlight, at any price, made by any manufacturer; even if they have had decades of experience and millions of dollars to spend on development.
I do not mean that my light will "beat" any other light in every possibly category that you might use to compare flashlights. I mean: in terms of balanced design, engineering, features, performance, ease of repair, and sustainability; you won't find another light in this class.
The Alpha is rechargeable, is it a "green" flashlight?
Actually I consider it a "sustainable" flashlight, not a "green" flashlight. I think of "green" as environmentally friendly. I think of "sustainable" as the minimum impact over the lifetime of the product from manufacturing to end-of-life. I feel that sustainability is a more holistic approach to smart design.
Many products are designed in a way that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to separate an object into it's component parts for repair, recycling, or reuse. The Alpha is designed based on the principle of "design for disassembly." This means it's easy to take apart so that it can be repaired, upgraded, or eventually recycled. This flashlight should never need to be thrown away because it can be fixed if something breaks and upgraded when technology changes.
The great thing is, you don't need to be an expert to repair or upgrade the Alpha. It's designed with the gadget hacker in mind. The entire alpha can be assembled and disassembled with basic tools.
Can you please explain what a lumen is?
Sure I'll give you the short version, but here is a link to wikipedia in case you want all the gory details.
A lumen is the SI unit of luminous flux and is related to the way the human eye perceives light. It is a measure of the total "amount" of light emitted from a source.
Many lights claim output in Watts of power. This doesn't really make sense for LED lights and is a hold-over from incandescent light bulbs. Power is not a measure of brightness, but it's a way to make relative comparisons between light sources. You CANNOT compare the Watts of an incandescent bulb with an LED emitter...apples and oranges.
What is an OTF (Out The Front) lumen?
LED emitters are rated by the manufacturer for total "emitter lumens." This is a theoretical number and has nothing to do with the lumens you actually "see," especially in terms of flashlights. Many flashlight manufacturers claim "emitter lumens" on their spec sheets. This makes their numbers look really high, but artificially so. OTF lumens is a measured number, not a theoretical one.
My lights are tested in an integrating sphere designed to measure OTF lumens. This means you know exactly what you are getting. I test every light for OTF lumens before I send it out and include the report when I mail the flashlight. OTF lumens are typically 25%-35% lower than rated "emitter lumens" for any flashlight of any kind.
I see a lot of lights on the "internets" that claim to be brighter at 1/4 the price, what gives?
First, these lights are (typically) mass produced. That makes them less expensive regardless of the quality. I make every light by hand, in my own shop. If you want to spend the least amount of money, buy one of those. If you want to own a unique piece of craftsmanship, made by someone who cares, that makes it especially for you, buy one of mine.
Second, the manufacturing quality of many mass-produced lights is actually quite excellent. However, the least expensive lights compromise on less expensive components (specifically LEDs) and they are often sub-standard. The cheapest LEDs, which also have the highest lumen output, produce a light that is very blue/purple. Think of the old fluorescent lights and the nasty "cold" color they produce. A high quality LEDs have a very natural color output.
Third, many manufacturers inflate or lie about their lumen ratings. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, it's true. I recently saw an MCE based light claiming 1000 lumens. It's just not possible. Cree, the company that manufactures the MCE, claims the maximum output for the LED at 750 lumens. This is under ideal laboratory conditions AND represents the "emitter lumens." No flashlight in the world is actually going to produce that number "out the front" of the light because there are losses in electrical efficiency, heat efficiency, and optical efficiency.
I hear a lot about color temperature but I don't know what it is or why I should care.
Color temperature is a measure of visible light that relates to how "warm" or "cold" the light appears. In the past, fluorescent lights were less desirable because they were too "cold." In contrast, incandescent lights (typical light bulbs) are typically "warm" and have a more natural appearance. Here is a link to a wikipeida article on color temperature.
For me, good color rendition is incredibly important and one thing that sets my lights apart from many other name brand flashlights and virtually all off-brand lights.
Typically "daylight" is considered to be 6500K (Kelvin). The daylight-balanced photographic film standard is 5500K. The MCE and XML LEDs I use are 5700K. This means if you take a photo with your camera's white balance set to "daylight" the light will look normal, not too cold and not too warm. It also looks quite natural to your eye.
Why on earth should I spend $200+ on a flashlight!?
Excellent question. A $200 dollar light might not be something I can talk you into, especially if you are "just looking for a flashlight." The short answer is: because I custom make it, just for you.
The slightly longer answer: because it represents an idea. I think, as a society, we benefit from being more in touch with where our goods come from, how they are made, and who makes them. I'm selling a perspective on life as much as a product. If you are only concerned with the price and features, this light is probably not for you. If you want to spend your hard earned dollars on a product that is meant to last a lifetime, that represents the way you look at the world, and made by a person and not a faceless corporation, then check out my buy now page :)
I recently had an interesting conversation where someone told me (I'm paraphrasing) that a $200 flashlight was a display of excessive consumerism and that a $5 big-box special was a more responsible purchasing decision. In my opinion, the situation is exactly the opposite.
Flashlights are so 1985, why should I buy one instead of a headlamp?
Good points. One reason I like flashlights is that they are a classic tool. It's an interesting artifact of human history and has been continuously developed over decades. I love refinement, and my lights represent a long tradition of making things better.
Headlamps are great for a lot of special use cases. I have several and I like them a lot. However, a headlamp is is not a replacement for a flashlight and vice versa. If you want massive power, wearing it on your head is not a very good option (blinding others). If you want hands-free, a flashlight is not a very good option (it requires a hand).
One reason I really like flashlights is because I think it's the best form factor for use cases that are unexpected. I use my headlamp when I know what I'll be using it for. I carry a flashlight because I don't know when I'll need it or what I'll need it for. It hangs out in my pocket until I drop my keys in the dark, or when I'm trying to find someone's ear ring on the floor of a bar, or when I need to make a midnight fridge run and don't want to wake everyone else up. Headlamps are just not very good for every day carry.
Will you ever make a headlamp?
Maybe some day when things take off. Right now I have limitations regarding my equipment and finances that don't make that practical. I also plan to make a lot of other things that are lighting related. I hope the business continues to grow and that I'll have an opportunity to pursue other ideas.
Why don't you make lights out of titanium or stainless?
First, expense. These raw materials are far more costly. My lights are already expensive and I don't think I can afford to sell more expensive lights until I develop more brand reputation.
Second, thermal management. My lights (at this point) are extremely high powered and heat buildup is an issue. Aluminum is great at moving heat. Titanium and stainless are not good at moving heat away from the LED.
Third, manufacturing and tooling. In order to machine these materials I'd need to spend thousands of dollars on new cutting tools and many hours of re-programming and proving out the new programs. Ti and stainless are future options, but not options right now.
Do you have a warranty policy for your lights?
I sure do, follow this link!
Shipping FAQ (click to expand)
Do you provide tracking information?
Of course you get tracking information! :) All orders ship via USPS and you'll receive an automated shipping confirmation email from firstname.lastname@example.org. Check your spam filter.
Did you send me the wrong tracking information?
Nope, the system is automated so it's not possible for you to receive the "wrong" tracking information. I will say that the USPS does NOT have the most exceptional tracking system. You may need to wait 24-48 hours after your package has shipped to get tracking information. If you track it sooner than that, you might see error messages or the tracking information for a different package. The USPS seem to recycle tracking numbers.
Please keep in mind that you'll get the shipping notice when I print the label, not when I drop the package at the post office.
Do you offer other shipping options?
Normally I only use the USPS. However, I can make exceptions for high-value shipments (over $500 USD). Email me to make arrangements. I can also ship with FedEx or UPS at much higher cost. You get what you pay for.
Why did my package have signature confirmation?
Any order over $200USD has signature confirmation automatically applied. This is to protect both me an you. I know sometimes this is inconvenient, but it's bettter than a missing package. Besides, you can't make everyone happy. Some people get mad that their shipment did NOT have shipping confirmation, the next person will be mad that it DOES have shipping confirmation.
My package is marked as delivered but I still don't have it, what can I do?
I borrowed this handy-dandy infographic from Amazon. They know a lot about shipping stuff and this is what they recommend. In my experience, 80% of the time someone else in your household has the package so check with the wife and kids. The mail carrier is supposed to physically scan the package whey they are on your doorstep. Sometimes they are naughty and scan it at some other time. You should first check with your mail carrier to see if they remember delivering the package. The sooner you do this the better the odds. Next you should check with your postmaster.
Remember to be nice; USPS employees are just people and sometimes they mess up...just like you do. I think of it like being in a restaurant: you can get as mad and shouty-voice as you want, but I hope you like eating spit...or in this case...not getting your mail in the future.
My package is taking longer than it's supposed to, why?
Hey man, I just put the package in the blue box. After that it's up to the USPS, fate, the weather, and perhaps your nation's customs and postal service if you are international. If you have questions, you are welcome to contact the USPS or your local postal service.
One thing to note, as of January 1, 2015 the USPS is closing down 82 sorting facilites around the US. This is creating some crazy delays depending on where you live. Sorry about that, but it's waaay out of my hands. I'm hoping this will improve as 2015 wears on.
I'm still feeling impatient, if I email you repeatedly and/or get really angry about it, will that make my package arrive faster?
Sadly no. You've mailed a letter (or a package) before right? Once you put it in the mail...it's in the mail. I have access to the same information you do via the tracking number I emailed you. There is no super-secret place I can go to find out what is "actually" going on with your package.
It's been more than 7 business days and my (domestic) package has not arrived. What can I do?
If a package is not delivered within 7 business days, the recipient can initiate a missing mail search. All you have to do is fill out this form on the USPS website. Unfortunately with international shipments you are probably out of luck. Once the USPS passes the package to your country's postal service, you'll have to take that up with them.
Most international packages arrive within the specified time frame, but sometimes they can take up to a month. This is not the fault of myself or the USPS, but strange things can happen once the shipment crosses the pond. Again, you'll have to talk to your local postal service once the tracking shows the package has departed the US. Unfortunately many countries will tell you to take it up with the USPS...which is incorrect.
I'm pretty sure my package is lost, how can I file a claim with the USPS?Easy, just follow this link for more information! Okay, it's the government. It's not that easy. You can only file a claim if your shipment was insured and you'll have to provide lots of documentation. If your shipment is uninsured, the best you can do is submit a missing package request (above).
Funny story, I placed my order and used the wrong shipping address. Can I blame you for that?
You can try but it won't get your package to the right place. Most times you can email me and I'll catch the shipment, but I ship orders first thing every morning. I don't typically check every single email I get just in case I need to cross reference it with some bad shipping information.
Don't get me wrong, I understand the issue. You were problably in a hurry when you made the order and made a mistake. I've even done it myself. In both instances I'm really sorry. But if you provided the wrong address, you provided the wrong address, and there isn't much I can do about it. If you are in the continental US, you can contact the USPS about a "USPS Package Intercept" and they will attempt to redirect the enroute package...for an additional fee of course.