Security: "Sir, we need you to
open this case."
Security: "What the hell is that!?!"
"Say 'hello' to my little friend!"
PL24/6-S; Made by AE
Light, available from Pacific
In my review of the AELight
PL14 I mentioned that if you're looking for a photonic
cannon, the AELight PL14 was for you. However, in the
search for long-reaching, retina-scorching output, a
lot is never enough. So in comes the photonic howitzer:
the AE Light PL24/6-S "Shorty". Double the
output of the PL14 but the same size. It's called the
"Shorty" because the standard version of the
PL24 is longer, but they have managed to shrink the
form factor at a cost of reduced runtime. The PL24/6-S
produces an amazing amount of light from a HID bulb,
a power regulating ballast, and a Lithium Ion rechargeable
battery. All are built into a body about the same length
and about 1½ times the diameter of a 3-D Mag.
The PL24/6-S SAR Ready Kit comes in a
very nice lockable case (you can set the combination),
with the light, a diffusing lens, 12V power adapter
for charging, 110V power adapter for charging, shoulder
strap, spare Li-Ion cell, and external charger for the
110V charger, Charging base for spare cell, Spare cell
Shoulder strap, Diffusing lens
Body: The body of the PL24/6-S is black anodized
aluminum with rubber caps on the tail and bezel for
some impact protection. The aluminum body has grooves
along the length of the central body tube and notches
milled into the head. There are three rubberized rings
on the body - one at each end of the body tube with
metal rings for attachment of the shoulder straps and
one without a metal ring on the switch.
Bezel/Head: For those of you unfamiliar with
HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs, these are the
bulbs found in new high-end car headlights which produce
a very white light. We're talking about the headlights
found in Mercedes, BMW and Lexus automobiles.
High Intensity Discharge bulbs work by firing an arc
between two contacts. This arc incandesces (causes to
glow) the gasses inside the bulb between the contacts.
The result is an intense bluish tinted white light.
In the PL24/6-S the HID bulb is found in a metal reflector
behind a glass lens. Surrounding the head is a rubber
bezel cover to help protect the light from impacts.
If you look carefully in the bezel (the picture below
is too small to see it) you will see a wire that runs
from the bottom of the bulb up to the top. This is the
ignition wire for the bulb and caution should be used
when opening the light to avoid damage to the wire and
Output: The white light produced by the HID
is a high color temperature and produces good color
rendition weighted slightly toward the blue end of the
spectrum. The light is bluish white and is very intense.
Color temperature is advertised as about 7000K (sunlight
is 6500K, incandescent bulbs are about 3500K). The beam's
central spot is pre-focused to about 4 deg , resulting
in an excellent spotting light for distance work. There
is sufficient spillbeam to light up the area around
the user without any problem at all.
I did notice that if you wiggle the light around or
point it face down the light changes color. This is
due to condensed substances in the bulb entering the
path of the arc. Generally when held horizontal the
light was a bluish white, but when held vertically face
down the light turned slightly orange.
Beam at one meter at target center, on target edge to
Runtime Plot: Well, there's a ballast for you
- great regulation and then - blip - it goes out. Considering
the size, weight, and output of the unit, 1 hour of
runtime is very reasonable. Since it comes with a spare
cell, you can carry it along for an extra hour of runtime.
I did notice a slight flicker from the bulb, especially
during the warmup.
information on runtime plots is available HERE.
Switch: The switch on the PL24/6-S is a little
strange. See that wide black rubber grip ring with the
OFF-ON label above it, between the two other rubber
That central ring is what turns - not
the section above or below it. Twist it about 1/8 turn
to activate the light and don't point it at your
face! The light comes on instantly but takes about
6 seconds to warm up to full output. For the first cold-start
you should leave the light on for about 1 minute at
a minimum to vaporize all the condensate inside the
bulb. Once it's warmed up you can turn it on and off
Seals / Water Resistance: The PL24/6-S is designed
to accept some water spray, but is not a dive light
and is not designed for extremely wet environments.
Technically, it has an IP54
rating which means it is protected from the intrusion
of dust and sprayed water from all directions, with
limited ingress resulting. High voltage ballasts and
lithium ion batteries don't play nice with water, so
use appropriate caution. A little water should be OK,
but large quantities of water should be avoided.
Upon opening the light I found O-rings throughout,
so I really don't think there should be any problems
in this area at all. The O-rings were lubricated when
I opened the light, but you may want to check them.
The manual states that you should lubricate the seals
with a "low mineral petroleum jelly".
After use in wet conditions, disassemble per the instructions
and make sure water did not get in. If wet inside, let
it dry before using again.
Ergonomics: It is large in diameter, but it's
not awkward to hold since it is not all that heavy.
It has two split rings on the side that attach to a
shoulder strap for carrying, or you can put the strap
over your shoulder and let it hang against your side
while pointed forward to give your arm a little break.
The switch has rubber ring on it for grip, but it can
be removed if desired.
Size compared to a common 2AA aluminum light
Batteries: An internal Lithium Ion rechargeable
cell powers the light. The cell in turn powers a ballast
which is like a big step-up transformer. This is needed
to get the voltage up to the range which will fire the
bulb - around 15KV. Both the bulb and the ballast are
USER REPLACEABLE! This is a big boon to the system.
If one or the other fails, you can replace them yourself,
but be sure to follow the instructions to the letter!
We're talking about a lot of stored energy in there!
Interesting fact, the Lithium Ion battery weighs 6.4
oz. An alkaline D cell weighs 5.1 oz.
When the battery is dead, just plug it in for about
three hours. The LED on the charger turns from red to
green when the battery is done charging. It is important
to keep an eye on it, though. When the LED turns green
you should disconnect the charger, otherwise the battery's
internal protection circuitry may disable the battery
to prevent overcharge. If this happens, there is a procedure
in the instructions to get the battery out of this condition
so it's not a really big deal, just a little inconvenient.
The charger connector on the light is hidden behind
a rubber cover on the tail end of the light. You can
charge the cell while it is inside the light or remove
the cell and use the external charger.
Accessories: An amber lens cap is available
for the PL24/6-S, as well as a few other optional accessories.
The shoulder strap, chargers, diffusing lens, and spare
battery is included.
What I Liked: Water resistant,
Very bright, Very nice color temperature, Fantastic
runtime for its weight and size, Easy to use and operate,
What I Didn't Like: Nothing
Picky Little Things: Remember -
a cold start requires a 1 minute on-time to keep the
bulb in best operating condition. Light changes tint
color when moved around. It's a good idea to watch it
while charging - when the light turns green, unplug
it from the charger.
Conclusions: The AE Light PL24/6-S
is a scorcher. Overall build quality is very good. Runtime
is good considering the amount of light it produces.
Expect 1 hour of super bright, long range, pure white
output from a light that only weighs about 2 oz. more
than a 3-D Maglight. The quantity of light produced
is stunning and the range is really surprising. The
literature states "Not a Flashlight, a Personal
Search Light", and I couldn't agree more.