Coast’s Emergency Area Light (EAL20) is a simple, yet effective product. This is the kind of light you want to spend the money on simply because it works, it won’t break, and it’ll last forever. Forget the outdoor or camping lights of the past, Coast has brought the lantern into the 21st century. It’s got LEDs, standard ‘D’ cell batteries, durability, and stamina to last for around 100 hours. We’ll break all this down for you, but I have to warn you – it’s a light. This isn’t a terribly complex review, nor does it need to be. When a product works as advertised, and it’s impressive, the review sort of writes itself. You’ll be able to work longer, light up more workspace, and be safer with this lamp. At least, that’s how we felt after using it for a couple weeks.
Features & Use
Let’s just start with the batteries. Instead of Coast forcing you to use those expensive, oversized lantern batteries, the company opted for the popular and easily-accessible ‘D’ cells. You only need four (4) of them, too. And that nets you 100 hours of lamp output – which is longer than any camping trip I’ve ever been on, and I’ve gone backpacking for 2 weeks in Alaska’s Denali National Park. 100 hours, to put it into perspective, is 12-1/2 8-hour days (or, rather, nights) of light. While some may take this opportunity to bring up the “why isn’t is rechargeable” question, let me ask you a question: Which is easier… trying to find an outlet in the middle of the forest, or packing along 4 additional ‘D’ cell batteries? Coast’s decision to use standard batteries was a good one. The most we can suggest is that they make a model with a rechargeable Li-ion battery pack – but only as an option, not as a replacement to the standard version. In either case, I’d still opt for the ‘D’ cell, non-rechargeable model every time.
Changing the batteries is easy. Just unscrew the bottom yellow lever to release the cover and then you get easy access to the ‘D’ cell batteries. There are no tools required and the entire process took around 2 minutes to replace our batteries with fresh ones.
We love that Coast integrated 9 LEDs into the EAL20. The primary LED is a high-powered model that delivers up to 125 lumens of output. It resides in the bottom of the Area Light and sends out a surprisingly even flood of light in all directions. Surrounding this white LED are 8 red LEDs. When you engage the red LEDs, which are far less powerful, the lamp lights up and can even flash the lights for when you really need to get someone’s attention… or annoy the dickens out of them. Hey, when you’re camping, anything goes, right?
To engage the light, you push the on/off button which is at the center of the intensity and mode knob. Twisting the knob varies the output of the Area Light, with counter-clockwise supplying the full output. In the clockwise direction you can click over to the red illumination and then on to the flashing red mode. In the white light mode, and at any intensity level, there is a slight buzz which emanates from the lamp, however it’s not loud enough to be too bothersome.
Below the dial is an integrated battery level meter which monitors remaining power. When the light is in green territory the lamp has between 60-100% charge. When it’s orange you’ve got between 30-60% and when it’s red you have less than 30% life. Of course in low output mode that might mean another 20-30 hours… which is insanely cool.
In terms of durability, there isn’t much to break with this light – and Coast also built it to withstand some abuse, including being jostled, taking a fall, and getting sprinkled with some water. You can’t submerge the Coast Area Light completely, but it’s not going to short circuit if it gets rained on. For an outdoor product this is a great feature.
- Output: 125 lumens
- Duration: 100 hours
- Batteries: 4 x D-cell
- Height: 8.25″
- LEDs: 1 white, 8 red
- Push button on/off w/dim
- Durable casing
- Battery level meter
So what’s our conclusion? If you need, or want… or could even remotely be entertained by an Area Light like the EAL20, then by all means go pick one up. We used it outdoors to finish a late night construction project and it made a world of difference. Granted, there are times when you need a serious 1500-watt monstrosity that sucks 15 amps and will burn the skin off your hand faster than custom side pipes on a 1975 El Camino… but for smaller projects and grab-it-and-go applications, this Coast Area LED Light has some attractive features – and the price can’t be beat.