Zebralight SC5 OP – Brightest AA Flashlight

Zebralight SC5 – Breakthrough Single AA Flashlight

Max Lumens535
Low Lumens0.1
Battery Life (Max)0.8 hr.
Battery Life (Low)2880 hrs.
Battery1 x AA
LED BulbCree XM-L2 Cool White
Length3.2 In.

If you’re looking for a powerfully bright AA LED flashlight, no other comes close to the Zebralight SC5. This is unlike other hundred-plus-lumen AA flashlights that support 14500 lithium batteries, turbo-ing up to 220 – 300 lumens ONLY when their lithium-ion cousins are used. The SC5 can have a max output of 500 lumens for 3 minutes, before stepping down to 304 lumens… on a single nickel metal-hydride or alkaline battery! At the other end of the spectrum, the SC5 also comes with an ultra-low output of 0.1 lumens which can last continuously up to 4 months!

The price on this one is high if compared with other single cell AA flashlights, however, it really belongs to the mid to high range flashlight category, thus making its price rather reasonable. This model is supposed to supersede the SC52, a single cell AA powerhouse, also by Zebralight, which has the same user interface as the SC5, with only some slight output differences that will be discussed below.

3.2 inches? Runs on a single AA battery? This just screams the ideal zombie-apocalypse EDC (Every Day Carry) flashlight all over!


Orange Peel Reflector

The Zebralight SC5 features an Orange Peel reflector (OP). As per the name, the uneven texture of the reflector diffuses the light to produce a cleaner and smoother beam, great for flooding short to medium distances.

Here how the beam look like:

The beam offers a pretty good spill, which is good for lighting up the area just in front of you with minimal visual distractions. Be it a room or a flight of stairs right in front of you.


1 x AA Battery

Zebralight has effectively rendered the 14500 lithium-ion batteries useless with this single cell AA flashlight. In fact, they highly recommend (a.k.a ‘only support’) alkaline or Panasonic’s Eneloop or Eneloop Pro AA batteries. Even after stepping down from 500 lumens to 304 lumens, it still has a higher ouput than the SC52’s max of 300 lumens after step down using a 14500 cell. On the SC52, the 14500 battery only gives it the option to go up to 535 lumens for just one minute.

The SC5 also has a cool battery indicator. By performing 4 rapid clicks on the power button, you activate the battery read-out function, which shows on a scale of 1 to 4, how much juice remains in your cell. See the demonstration below:

Minimalist and clean. One button to rule them all.

4 to 14 Modes of Operation

Wait, 14 modes??

Technically, there’s just 4: High (500 lumens), Medium (45 lumens), Low (3 lumens) and Strobe Beacon (500 lumens). It is just that Zebralight has given you the freedom to customize the intensity of each of the above modes. So you can choose from 4 different intensities of high (500, 304, 187, 107) and low (3, 1, 0.8, 0.1) and 3 different intensities of medium (45, 19, 7.5). For strobe, you can choose between 2 different frequencies: faster one for strobe, slower one for beacon.

Guess what? It’s all done with that one button.

From off mode:

  1. Single Click = Max output
  2. Press and hold = Low output (hold longer to cycle through to medium, then high)
  3. Double click = Medium output
  4. Triple click = Strobe/Beacon

One click after any of the above modes have been selected for a couple of seconds, will turn the flashlight off.

Within each mode, just double click to select the next option available for that mode. The SC5 remembers your preferences for each customized mode after it has been turned off.

Is it complicated? Yes if you don’t know what you are doing, but otherwise, the interface is rather simple once you get the hang of it. But who says you need to customize? By itself, its a flashlight with just the 4 click patterns above.


Final Thoughts

The SC5 from Zebralight is simply a revolutionary piece of technology. The brightest single cell AA flashlight in the market, and it is one that embodies the next level of energy efficiency. Not only has Zebralight made the lower voltage Eneloop and Alkaline batteries produce a similar or higher light output, but also at a comparative run-time to that of the 14500 powered flashlights.

As mentioned right at the beginning, the fact that the SC5 can be powered by traditional alkaline AAs makes it a great EDC survival tool. AAs are so much more readily available than lithium-ion 14500s.

Eneloops present a cheaper rechargeable option than 14500s. They are a relatively safer form of energy storage and can handle high current drains better than lithium-ions.

Lastly, it is a great way to impress folks around you on the current state of lighting technology. Show them what the humble AA battery can achieve today.


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*Images courtesy of Zebralight. Videos courtesy of cpfselfbuilt and WeAllJuggleKnives.


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