TerraLUX TLF-3C2AAEX LightStar220 2xAA Aluminium CREE XRE Q4 LED Flashlight Review @ ModSynergy.com
By: Michael Phrakaysone

Flashlights have come a long way from incandescent models that are taxing on batteries and not as bright to the new high power LED variants that are much more powerful and also capable of being powered by a AA or AAA batteries you can pick up anywhere. 

The flashlight is without a doubt one of the most invaluable tools ever invented. This hand-held battery powered light source comes in various shapes and sizes and can provide important lighting in emergency situations such as search and rescue, home power outages, in leisure settings such as camping, hunting and much more.

Flashlights also come in various forms of construction that help aid in durability and performance.  Back in the day flashlights for consumers came usually in a plastic body (still holds true today), and sometimes in a metal alloy construction, but construction wise, it doesn't get better than the current generation of products

'Light-emitting diodes' or LED has just about every benefit over incandescent lighting technology possible. Whereas incandescent light bulbs generate lots of heat, LEDs are the opposite. Incandescent lights soak up lots of energy (from batteries for example) while LEDs do not, resulting in longer run times.

Incandescent light bulbs have a much lower lifespan than their LED counterparts. That is why you would have to replace the incandescent bulb than you would on an LED flashlight. In fact, on an LED flashlight, you'll likely never have to replace the LED, because they are either soldered on the board or they last a very long time (anywhere from 25,000 to 50,000 hours). You probably still have old electronic devices (1970-1980's) that use LED's and they are still working today (I have quite a few).
Not every flashlight is made the same and components such as the LED, and reflector are just a few components that matter in a flashlight. 

So far I've reviewed LED flashlights in multiple configurations that include single AA, triple AAA, and 18650 lithium-ion variants.  However, I have yet to review a double AA variant, until today.  To give you another EDC (every day carry) category choice, today I review our first 2xAA LED flashlight from TerraLux.  The TLF-3C2AAEX is a 2xAA style LED flashlight that has a CREE LED that theoretically pumps out 220-lumens of light and is dubbed the Extreme Edition because it comes in an aluminium alloy body. 

Read on to see what TerraLux and the TLF-3C2AAEX aluminium LED flashlight is all about and whether the light can live up to everyday carry usage for only $32.99USD.  

About TerraLux

"TerraLUX, Inc. designs, patents, manufactures, and distributes LED-based lighting solutions for portable and general illumination applications. 

Born from a rich tradition of technology innovation in solid state lighting, TerraLUX  builds its expertise into every product and component it makes. Our LED flashlights and work lights are perfect for users demanding:

  • High brightness
  • Small form factor
  • Rugged, durable construction
  • High fidelity color rendering (high CRI)
  • Competitive pricing

For portable lighting needs, our line of LED flashlights , LED work lights and LED conversion kits incorporate super-bright LEDs with patented “smart” circuitry to deliver professional grade performance and reliability without the professional grade price.  Check out our current lineup of LED portable lighting products today."

"TerraLUX LED flashlights and work lights are durable, reliable and bright.  Really bright.  We design every product to handle the abuse of professional duty and with features that definitely enhance their “cool factor”. From aircraft grade aluminium casings, a lifetime warranty and lightweight ergonomic designs of our flashlights to the anti-roll handles, rechargeable power packs and even car chargers for our work lights, you’ll just have to show off your new TerraLUX light.

TerraLUX portable LED lights aren’t just cool, they’re built to get the job done. Just like you, our lights work."

TLF-3C2AAEX 220-Lumen LED Flashlight Product Overview

The original TerraLUX tactical light. Momentary switch, tight beam, and black anodizing. A classic.
Built on the same platform as our legendary LightStar180, the LightStar220 has a slightly larger spill area, while maintaining its potent hot spot.  Add in dual mode functionality, and you have one of the most versatile, highest output 2xAA lights on the market- the LightStar220.  Case, batteries, pocket clip, and wrist strap included.

  • 220/100 Lumens
  • Hi/Low
  • 3.5 Hrs High/ 26 Hrs Low
  • Narrow
  • 6 L x 7/8 D

TLF-3C2AAEX 220-Lumen LED Flashlight Product Overview and Specifications

  • http://www.terraluxportable.com/product/tlf-3c2aaex/
  • Dual mode 220/100 lumen output
  • Approximate runtimes:
    • 3.5 hours on high
    • 26 hours on low
  • Beam pattern:  medium spill with bright “hot spot” in the center
  • Comes with 2AA alkaline batteries, nylon holster, pocket clip, and attached wrist strap
  • Click on/off, tap button to switch modes
  • Water resistant
  • Aircraft grade aluminium
  • Length: 6in./15.24cm.
  • Diameter: .875in./2.22cm.
  • Weight: 5.09oz./144.30g. with batteries
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • MSRP: $49.99

First Impressions

I will refer to the TerraLUX TLF-3C2AAEX as the LightStar220 from this point forward.


The TerraLUX LightStar220 comes in those dreaded plastic blister packaging that I despise because they are sometimes difficult to tear apart.  It's impossible to use your own hands and requires some seriously strong scissors. A tab is located at the top that helps place the flashlight easily on showroom shelves.  The nice thing about plastic see-through packaging is that you can see the full product and not have it hidden behind the package like some other products.  TerraLUX designers do a nice job with the popping blue and green color insert and product features displayed around the actual flashlight.  Two visible Energizer AA batteries are also included as part of the bundle to get up and running right away.  

Bold bright silver and yellow font clearly get across to consumers that this is an aircraft grade aluminium LED flashlight and that the package contains not only batteries, a wrist strap, clip and holster making this as complete a package as you can come across. On the back of the package contains more product features, description, and 1-year limited warranty tidbit. TerraLUX operates in Boulder, CO, but the flashlight is made in China.

As I stated before, the LightStar220 contains just as full of a bundle that you're ever going to see with a flashlight.  It contains batteries, a wrist strap, clip, and nylon holster.  The only thing I could complain that you are missing are extra rubber O-rings, however, the holster makes up for this omission.  The holster is strong and you can put it around your belt. Top notch bundle.

I like wrist straps and some of the other flashlights I've reviewed before do not have them.  TerraLUX shows how easy it is to have one despite not having the eyelet within the aluminium body, but within a plastic insert between body and battery end-cap.  Thankfully with the sturdy aircraft grade aluminium alloy metal construction, the flashlight will most likely survive punishment and keep on working. 

TerraLUX Flashlight LED

The LightStar220 is a very strong flashlight, yet it's very lightweight coming in at only 5.09 oz. without any batteries installed.  Installing two AA batteries will put it within 144.30 grams. Once you've felt the LightStar220 in your hands, you know it should be able to withstand punishment.  Measuring in at 6-inches in length, and .875-inches in diameter, and having a depth only a tad larger than an AA battery makes it compact in size and easily able to fit in pant pockets, breast pockets and tight spaces. 

The front of the box says that the LightStar220 uses a CREE XRE Q4 LED, meaning the LED is a high quality name brand offering.  The CREE XRE Q4 LED is actually the exact same one that was reviewed on the Dorcy 220-Lumen Rechargeable LED Flashlight Review, but the configuration was quite the thrower.  It will be interesting to see the differences and if the rated 220-lumens holds up because the light is only using and operating on two AA 1.5v batteries (3.0v) compared to the Dorcy's 4.8v NiCad.   

Most people will elect to use standard alkaline batteries and this flashlight is something worth considering for those who are seeking such a battery option.  As the LightStar is a 2-mode flashlight, runtimes are specified to be in the 3.5-hour range on high mode and 26-hours on low mode. 

TerraLUX mentions on the package that the LightStar220 has a microprocessor in the flashlight that controls the light for constant light output.  It'll be interesting to see if light output is constant as the box says because when alkaline and NIMH batteries eventually lose capacity, LED output usually gets dimmer, there's no way in my mind that it can sustain constant light output.  This is normal across just about all LED flashlights to an extent. To be honest I'm not sure if I even believe the claim.  But another strange thing to support my confusion is that the front of the box mentions "LEDs will flicker or dim to alert you to change batteries".  That is along the lines of what I was thinking was bound to happen.  We'll see what actually happens later on.

The TerraLUX LightStar220 is comprised out of aircraft grade aluminium construction and is finished in what looks to be a gunmetal finish.  The finish is very smooth and design wise this light is I believe the first LED flashlight that has no knurling like the others I've already looked at.  The light has a square pattern that acts as grip instead of knurling.  This actually works well.  TerraLUX has obviously pushed the aircraft grade aluminium construction that allows the flashlight to operate in extreme conditions.  The LightStar220 is water resistant because of the rubber O-ring on the end-cap. The front of the flashlight is one piece and cannot be disassembled to prevent water from entering in the LED.  The end-cap is protected from the elements and this is evidenced by the rubber o-ring gaskets.   

Once you've experienced an aluminium constructed flashlight such as this one, you'll never want to go back to plastic. Not only will aluminium perform better on impact, it acts like a heatsink and will be better for heat distribution and dissipation, whereas plastic flashlights would trap heat in the flashlight and not be as tough. Disadvantages would be under be cold weather, the aluminium exterior gets very cold quickly.
Using the flashlight for extended periods of time, the flashlight heats up warm, and because the flashlight is smooth, oils on your hands may make handling of the LightStar220 a little slippery. 

One thing you have to be worried with is that the light can potentially roll off the table since there is no ridges or flat edges stopping the light from rolling.  The only thing that is actually stopping the light from rolling is the wrist strap on the flashlight.   


Inserting batteries inside the LightStar220 is simple.  Simply unscrew the end cap section of the flashlight to have access to the battery chamber.  Pop in the two batteries (positive pole facing the LED) and close the flashlight with the end-cap.  The spring on the end cap acts as a contact once screwed back on for the flashlight to operate.  Press and wait for the click to turn the LED flashlight on, and tap the button to change between High (220-lumens) and Low (100-lumens) modes.  You have two options, the first being a full-on by screwing down the end cap until tight or an intermittent on/off by unscrewing the end cap 1/2 turn and pressing the switch for intermittent on/off function.

Unfortunately, the LightStar220 does not tailstand because the rubber switch on the end-cap sticks out.  Tail stand means  you can stand the flashlight on its back and have it illuminate the room you are currently in. Some flashlights do not have this ability and it's really a great attribute for all flashlights to have.  Too bad that the LightStar220 does not have this ability. 

The flashlight can only be taken apart one way, only the end-cap revealing the battery chamber.  You cannot get access to the front LED portion and reflector portion of the light like you can do on other flashlights like the Dorcy rechargeable CREE XRE flashlight.  The LightStar220 is different from the Dorcy (uses the same LED) in terms of size and so the head diameter is smaller and reflector is not as deep.  The reflector on this is also different as you can see lots of orange peel, so whereas the Dorcy is a thrower, this one is surely the opposite, or at least in the middle with more spill.

LED reflector

The battery chamber thread showcases the rubber gasket that will prevent liquid and dust from entering inside the flashlight.  The flashlight did come lightly lubricated from the factory which is a good trait. Lubrication on the threads is important in such flashlights to provide a clean and easy fit, and good seal for the rubber gaskets. As mentioned on the box, the LightStar220 is waterproof.    

This LightStar220 is a very simple flashlight and most enjoy that.  There is only two modes, high and low.  You don't really need anything else. Simple operations are usually better. 

Testing Phase

Not only will I share with you in words my personal experience with the TerraLUX LightStar220, I will seek to determine if the rated lumens is accurate by way of a digital LUX meter.  Tests are completed with a fully charged battery in place.

Results - How does it shine?

Lumens Rating Results - Take it as a guideline, not definitive

  • Rated MAX Lumens on AA battery: 220 lumens on HIGH
  • Rated MAX Lumens on AA battery: 100 lumens on LOW
  • Experienced lumens HIGH MODE: 281 (x10) LUX or 261 lumens @ 1 meter
  • Experienced lumens LOW MODE: 43 (x10) LUX or 39.5 lumens @ 1 meter

The LightStar220 has become one of the commonly used flashlights in my collection because it's extremely useful in illuminating areas because of its spill.  The results are a little hard to understand because it seems low, but it tells that the hotspot is not as intense as others I've tested. With the hotspot not as intense, the spill is the story to talk about.

The orange peel effect allows it to illuminate and flood nearby areas with relative ease.  There's lots of it available.  Brightness is overall good but in this configuration its much different than the Dorcy Rechargeable flashlight with the same LED, but different reflector setup.  It is due to this setup and battery configuration that I believe that it is slightly underpowered than 220-lumens.  But it's still a really good all-around flashlight. 

The color cast is desirable too and does not hurt the eyes, it has a hint of yellow but is mostly white.  The LightStar220 can be found online for $32.99USD. For over 2-years now it has been as reliable as they come.  No issues.

Under operation the flashlight has good heat dissipation as the whole body from top to bottom becomes warm but not hot.  Remember the microprocessor claim saying constant light output, well in actuality I don't feel that is the case, it eventually dims as any other.  I didn't experience the flickering to indicate replacing the batteries,  but I only experienced the noticeable dimming of the light to indicate the battery level is obviously low.   

I can recommend the TerraLUX LightStar220. 



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