FireFlies NOV-MU

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FireFlies NOV-MU Review: High Power Flashlight

FireFlies NOV-MU specifications

Brand/modelFireFlies NOV-MU
LED21x Nichia E21A
Lumens5,200 lm
Beam intensityN/A
Battery config.1*21700 / 22430
MaterialAluminum
ModesMulti (Anduril)
BlinkiesMulti (Anduril)
ReflectorMule (no reflector or optic)
WaterproofIP66
Review dateMarch 2021

Introduction:

FireFlies made a big splash on the enthusiast flashlight scene (at least over on BudgetLightForum) back in mid-2018 when they announced their first flashlight, the ROT66. And what a flashlight! The ROT66 was a 9-emitter soda-can light with HAIII anodizing and a stainless steel bezel, Lexel-designed triple channel driver running Narsil, and tint-snob approved Nichia 219B SW45k LEDs (or XP-L HI if that’s your thing). What a way to enter the market! Since then, FireFlies (aka FireflyLite) has produced some other outstanding lights. So I am quite interested to see what the new FireFlies NOV-MU “indoor & photography” light is all about.

Package quality.

The NOV-MU arrived in a very handsome box consisting of an outer sleeve with the FireFlies logo on one side, and specifications. Inside that sleeve was a nice magnetic-closure box with a sturdy custom-cut foam insert. Nestled inside that packaging was:

  • FireFlies NOV-MU
  • 22430 short tube (installed)
  • 22430 battery
  • 21700 long tube
  • 18650 adapter
  • Light diffuser
  • Spacer (to replace magnet in the tail cap)
  • Spare o-rings
  • Lanyard
  • Manual

Flashlight in use

The FireFlies NOV-MU handles pretty nicely. Size-wise with the 21700 tube installed, it’s just a bit smaller than an Astrolux EC01. I find the switch to be in a natural position for thumb activation. And overall, it just feels like a solidly-built light.  When used with the short tube (and the accompanying 22430 battery) the NOV-MU becomes quite a stubby little thing.

The NOV-MU has a single switch on the side, an e-switch covered in polished stainless steel with a hole in the middle that houses a charging indicator. The switch is a bit… unusual. It protrudes quite a bit, so you may want to lock out the light while you’re not using it (Anduril2’s auto-lock, anyone?). But it also has a very short travel distance. It’s difficult to explain, but it just feels different. It took some getting used to, but not a deal-breaker.

The tail is completely flat and so the NOV-MU can tailstand reliably. Speaking of the tail, a very strong magnet comes pre-installed in the tailcap; it can be removed if desired. A strong, captive pocket clip comes pre-installed between the body tube and the tailcap. This clip is the only thing to prevent the flashlight from rolling around if placed on its side. The short tube does not have a clip, but it does have two threaded holes that look like they could be for a clip. Otherwise, I’m not really sure what to think about those two holes in the base of the short tube… maybe the clip didn’t get finished in time? Or the idea got scrapped?

The NOV-MU came with an oddly-shaped diffuser. It looks a bit like a funny mushroom. It’s very soft and pliable, and fits over the bezel easily. It does a great job of making the already-floody beam even more floody. While I imagine this might aid in its use as a photography fill light (I’m not much of a photographer), I’ve found it useful for lanterns or general indoor lighting. It’d likely make a nice camping light, especially considering the strong magnet in the tail.

Build Quality, and Warranty

My NOV-MU sample came with black HA-III anodizing. It is matte and fairly grippy, but not chalky. FireFlies also offers the NOV-MU in “Desert Yellow” (sand) – the same anodizing that was on my T9R sample. The body tube has a large square pattern for additional grip. The anodizing is very even and good-looking. There are no apparent blemishes.

The threads on the head-end are somewhat fine but anodized, pre-lubed, and very smooth. The threads at the tail-end are wider, square-cut, and not anodized, but still smooth. I’ve heard folks on BudgetLightForum express concerns about the tailcap feeling a bit unclean / non-smooth to take on and off. Like some others have pointed out, part of that is because of the pressure from the pocket clip. I feel like the intention is actually to use the front end of the battery tube to remove and install batteries, should you need to do so.

Another thing worth mentioning is the springs. Both the tailcap and driver springs are made of silver-plated 17530 BeCU and both are factory bypassed. Overkill? Maybe, but very nice.

Overall, the quality of the FireFlies NOV-MU feels great. Everything just feels solid, clean, and well put together.

Warranty: FireFlies states that they provide a 3 year warranty, excluding batteries which are a consumable.

LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector

The FireFlies NOV-MU comes in 2 different LED choices:

  • Nichia E21A R9080 4500K
  • Nichia E21A R9050 sm2050 2000K

My sample came with the beautiful 4500K LEDs. These have amazing color rendering capabilities. The 4500K CCT is quickly becoming a favorite of mine (I’ve always liked 5000K). The beam coming from 21 of these little LEDs in mule configuration is the very definition of flood. To be clear – the NOV-MU is a mule: there is no reflector and there is no optic. You just have 21 LEDs sitting below a piece of glass. There is absolutely no distinct beam or hotspot. On the same MCPCB with the main LEDs are 4 RGB Aux LEDs. That arrangement is protected by glass. The bezel is smooth and flat, made of polished stainless steel. The combination of black anodizing and polished stainless give the NOV-MU a refined look.

Dimensions and size comparison

  • Length (long tube): 114 mm / 4.5 inches
  • Length (short tube): 77 mm / 3.0 inches
  • Head diameter: 32 mm / 1.3 inches
  • Body diameter: 26.5 mm / 1.0 inches

Weight

  • Short tube, without cells: 92 grams / 3.2 oz
  • Short tube, with FireFlies 22430: 134 grams / 4.7 oz
  • Long tube, without cells: 124 grams / 4.4 oz
  • Long tube, with Vapcell T50: 195 grams / 6.9 oz

Flashlight size comparison 

Compared to other popular flashlights

  • 21700-based lights from left to right: Sofirn SP35, Wuben TO50R, Astrolux EC01, FireFlies NOV-MU, and Sofirn IF25A
  • New FireFlies models from left to right: FireFlies E12R, FireFlies T9R, FireFlies NOV-MU

Driver & User Interface:

The new FireFlies models, such as the NOV-MU, use Anduril 2.  They’re one of the very first to pick up with the new version of Anduril (the other being Emisar/Noctigon, I believe).  It has many similarities to the original Anduril UI, but with some key differences.  Primarily, “Simple UI” has now replaced Muggle Mode and is the default UI.  It is intended to be an easy-to-use UI for the crowd that prefers less-complex UIs.  That’s something I can really appreciate.  For users that prefer all of the settings and extra modes, getting into Advanced UI is a 10H away.

Anduril 2 Simple Ui manual cheat sheet

or the full one

Anduril 2 Firmware user interface

PWM

  • Unlike most Anduril lights, this FireFlies NOV-MU uses a constant-current buck driver (+ FET for Turbo). There is no PWM present whatsoever.

Additional Info:

  • The driver, designed by Loneoceans for FireFlies, also includes a pre-calibrated thermal sensor. There is no need to perform thermal calibration on this light.
  • The driver design also included 6-pin programming pads on the spring side of the driver. This is the same layout used by many other lights including those from Emisar/Noctigon. Same flashing equipment and process.

Batteries & Charging

The NOV-MU takes 21700 batteries. It also comes with an adapter for 18650 batteries, but it’s best to use the 21700’s if you have them available (you’ll want the extra capacity). I primarily used a non-protected Vapcell T50 battery, which seemed to be a good fit for this light.

The NOV-MU is also compatible with long, protected (including USB rechargeable) cells… after modifications. Like I found out the hard way with my T9R, you must first remove the tail spring in order to use long cells. Failure to do so can result in a damaged driver. I couldn’t find this in the manual, but it is stated on a sticker on the baggie for the spacer.

My light also came with a short tube and a matching 22430 battery. It’s an unusual size that I had never heard of before. That tube and cell work well together. You can charge the battery in the flashlight, so you never really need to remove the battery. But when you want to remove the 22430, it’s actually quite difficult. The magnet in the tail is so strong, it keeps the battery firmly in place. I had to repeatedly and firmly (though carefully) smack the tube against a table to get the cell to pop out.

The FireFlies NOV-MU features a USB-C charging port and is rated at a 2 amp charge. I tried it with my 18w USB-PD charger and a Fnirsi FNB38 USB power meter. The USB meter indicated that 1.7 amps were being drawn from the charger. At first, I was slightly disappointed to not be getting the full 2 amps, but then I remembered something: a modern, proper USB charging implementation effectively uses a buck regulator whereas our old charging circuits (like the TP4056) used a linear regulator. This is exactly like our LED drivers. So while there was “only” 1.7 amps going through the cable at 5 volts (8.55 watts), the charging circuit was bucking the voltage down and providing the full 2 amps to the battery. Completely charging the Vapcell T50 (a 5000 mAh cell) took 2 hours and 55 minutes. When I charged the FireFlies 22430 (a 1850 mAh cell), it took 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Performance

For current measurements, an ANENG AN8008 multimeter and UNI-T UT210E clamp meter were used. Lux was measured by a UNI-T UT383 BT at 5 meters. Lumens were measured in a homemade lumen tube using a TSL2591 sensor, calibrated with a Maukka calibration light. The temperature was monitored with a MLX90614 IR temperature sensor. Testing was performed using a (frequently recharged) Vapcell T50 21700 cell and the included 22430 cell.

Parasitic drain:

  • Standby: 42 uA

Runtime graph

In my Turbo test with the included 22430 cell, the NOV-MU started out at 3529 lumens and began to drop as the cell voltage sagged. Just before 2 minutes into the run, the light dropped from FET mode (at 2860 lm) into the 6 amp regulated mode (1624 lm). Output decreased as thermal regulation took control, dropping to 222 lm for a moment at 8 minutes before recovering up to a stabilized 471 lumens. Low voltage protection began stair-stepping the output at 86 minutes into the run. The NOV-MU was still lit at 2 lumens when I terminated the test at 121 minutes.

Still using the 22430 battery, I ran a test at the Ceiling (High mode, top of the ramp). The FireFlies NOV-MU started at 1765 lumens. At 30 seconds into the run, it was still at 1716 lumens. At 3 minutes into the run, temperature regulation began to take effect and the output decreased over the next 7 minutes, settling in at 487 lumens. Low voltage protection started kicking in at 87 minutes. I terminated the test at 116 minutes when the output hit 2 lumens.

Finally, I performed a runtime test in Turbo mode using the Vapcell T50 21700 battery. This time, the output started at 5960 lumens. At 20 seconds, it fell out of FET mode and into regulated mode (1638 lumens). Output slowly decreased over the next 15 minutes, settling in around 620 lumens where it stayed until low voltage protection started kicking in at 181 minutes. I terminated the test at 215 minutes.

Lumen measurements (for each mode)

ModeCurrentLumens (measured)Lumens (spec)
Moon13 mA3.5 lm
Low155 mA55 lm
Mid2773 mA293 lm
Mid11.8 A807 lm
High4.3 A1765 lm
Turbo @ 0 seconds22.4 A5960 lm5200 lm
Turbo @ 30 seconds4.4 A1401 lm
Turbo @ 10 minutes719 lm

FireFlies, to my knowledge, has not provided throw numbers for the NOV-MU. Which I understand, you’re not buying this for its throw. That said, I feel it would be nice if they published a number.

Throw numbers:

  • At 0 seconds: 3825 cd = 124 m = 136 yd
  • At 30 seconds: 3325 cd = 115 m = 126 yd

Beamshots

  • Outdoor beam shots are taken at 16 m (52 ft) using a Pixel 3 set to ISO 200 with ⅕ second exposure time (in blustery conditions)
  • FireFlies NOV-MU
  • FireFlies E12R 219B
  • Wuben TO50R
  • Mateminco MT07 (Astrolux MF01 Mini)
  • Sofirn IF25A

Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Fireflies. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.

Final Verdict

Pros

  1. Great, comfortable size
  2. Wall of High-CRI light
  3. Nice, regulated driver + FET
  4. Flexible UI
  5. USB-C charging
  6. Stainless accents

Cons

  1. Complex (and new) UI
  2. Strangely short button travel
  3. Limited applications (mule = no throw)
Reviewer Gabriel
Author: Gabriel

4.5 stars: ★★★★⋆

The FireFlies NOV-MU is a very nice flashlight.  This, like many recent FireFlies lights, is built around a laundry-list of the “must have” features that you see people talk about over at BudgetLightForum: great LEDs (like the very high CRI Nichia E21A R9080), modern driver technology, RGB Aux lighting, beryllium-copper bypassed springs, etc.  The short tube and 22430 battery makes a nice addition as well.

There are some things you’ll definitely want to keep in mind going into this purchase.  That button is certainly different. If you’re picky about buttons, give it a close look. And being an Anduril2 light may sway you one way or another. The default UI is a 5-level, basic stepped UI going up to 6 amps but hides the powerful FET capability. To me, that makes Anduril much more usable for people that don’t like super-complex UI’s. But for the folks that do, the Advanced UI is a 10H (9 clicks + a short hold) away and has all the features you’d expect, even if some of the button sequences are reorganized.

There’s a lot to like about the FireFlies NOV-MU.  It’s pretty compact, especially when you consider just how bright it is. It has lots of great technology like a buck driver and 2-amp USB-C charging. The anodizing is great, and overall, everything just seems really well put together.  FireFlies markets the NOV-MU as an indoor / photography light and I think that’s a pretty good description. This is so floody, I wouldn’t want to be wandering about the woods with it at night as my primary light source. But the light is so well spread, especially with the diffuser, that it makes a great lantern and should make a great fill light especially since there’s no PWM to worry about. Overall, for its intended uses, the FireFlies NOV-MU is very nice.

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