Tool Review
Tensor Natural Daylight 14” lamp with 13W bulb

by: Peter Ong [ TRISAW ]

Very rarely do I buy an item that I am not satisfied with and most often I see what I buy. I am also a firm believer of the saying, “You get what you paid for” since this philosophy has served me well. However, in this purchase, that philosophy failed.

I always wanted natural lighting since I used a hot yellow overhead halogen for many years. I also knew I had to buy two lamps since modelers usually mention buying two fluorescents to illuminate the entire work area.

On a recommendation from a replier to my post, I bought from QVC two Tensor lamps; not the model he bought, but one a bit more expensive, QVC #H86396, “Natural Daylight 14” lamp with 13W bulb.” I decided to pay a little more to give me lamps with more wattage, thus brighter bulbs. The two lamps arrived in four days from QVC. I couldn’t wait to use them.

A little “non-expert” background information before my review of the lamps. Fluorescent lighting comes in a few shades of color from warm pink-white to cool blue-white. “Daylight fluorescents, ”as the term is called, come in more of a gray-white light similar to sunlight passing through a fog bank before hitting the ground. In my case, more lamps do not make the workspace brighter, but just adds more light. Imagine a business office room with overhead fluorescent tubes. One or two fluorescent tubes burning out won’t make any difference to the overall lighting brightness of the entire office. The failed bulbs will of course darken the cubicle they’re over. Similar with daylight fluorescent lamps, one or two more lamps won’t make the workspace much brighter, but will add more diffuse blanketing light.

I purchased a daylight fluorescent-ring desktop lamp from the chain hardware store only to find that the warm pink-white light emitted proved extremely difficult for modeling because I couldn’t help noticing the pinkness in the white light. Unsatisfied, I returned it for a full refund. Thus, I, as with most modelers using “daylight fluorescents,” recommend using non-pink fluorescent lighting for modeling.

The QVC #H86396 Tensor “Natural Daylight 14” lamp with 13W bulb” disappointed me as poorly designed and dysfunctional. (I only opened one box). The bulbs came separate and each lamp head had a clear plastic shield covering the bulb. Unless you have long fingernails, prying off the clear plastic cover to screw on the bulb would be a challenge of patience and fingernail strength. I used a letter opener and inserted the tip in the cover’s slots, knowing that if I applied too much force, the cover will crack from the slot. At that moment, I knew these lamps were going back to QVC for a full refund (refer to QVC’s Return Policy if you do follow my footsteps after reading this review). Still, I wanted to see how “daylight fluorescent” light looked.

I pushed the base’s button to learn that the button cannot be pushed because it’s not a button but a knob! Actually, the knob cannot be turned, pulled, pushed, clicked, toggled, or moved in any direction! The metal knob operates on the touch of your finger to turn on. QVC never classified this Tensor lamp as “touch-sensitive.” The knob touched, I found the lamp flickering (more on this later) as if deciding if enough force was applied to the knob to justify turning on. Once on, the 13-watt light emitted appeared extremely dim as if the light passed through gray window tint. The clear plastic cover didn’t help with lighting’s brightness either, and to remove it would be another exercise in extreme patience and fingernail pain. To turn off, I pushed the metal knob and the lamp dimmed. I pushed again and the lamp turned off. I experimented with this dysfunctional touch-sensitive knob several times, discovering that the annoying knob acted as a dimmer, while its sole purpose was just “on” and “off.” Touch the knob lightly to turn off and the light will decrease a lot. Brush the knob a bit to turn off and the light will flicker for several seconds before stabilizing, but not turn off. The same annoyance occurs with turning the lamp on. Push the knob and the lamp will flicker for several seconds before stabilizing with light. Brush the knob lightly and the lamp will flicker for several seconds but will not turn on.

A note about flickering (daylight) fluorescent lamps: avoid them if possible. To have a fluorescent lamp flicker for four to eight seconds before stabilizing just gets annoying because the flickering interval differs each time the lamp gets turned on. Most office fluorescents do not flicker when a switch gets thrown. Flip a switch and the fluorescents provide instant light. Compare a flickering fluorescent to a splattering airbrush with a bent tip, a grinding car’s starter motor, or a finicky pull-cord lawnmower and over time, the annoyance builds to a boiling point. Spending a few more dollars can avoid the problem of a flickering fluorescent bulb because some Natural Daylight fluorescent lamps do advertise themselves as non-flickering.

I also found the swing head does not stay elevated. The head slowly droops—the lamp does not serve its purpose of providing stable light! I used a letter opener to tighten the large plastic slot screw only to discover that the screw was already pretty tight—and still the head does not stay level at the elevated position I want it. I began to imagine the many times I’ll be painting and all of a sudden the head drops, leaving my model in the dark.

Following my “I don’t buy junk” philosophy, I returned both lamps (I didn’t care to open the other one) for a full QVC refund on my credit card, which QVC awarded quickly.

I went to another chain hardware store and bought two lamps very similar to QVC #H82943 “Tensor’s Natural Daylight 34.5”, 18W bulb adjustable height lamp” and these proved useful, satisfying, and functional. These brass lamps have a turn “click” on/off dial for instant light (no flickering!), no clear plastic cover for the bulbs, and I can adjust the head for close-up or widespread lighting. I got (and paid for) the results I was looking for.

I have high praise for QVC’s service and have no ills against the brand Tensor. I do have complaints against the QVC #H86396 “Tensor Natural Daylight 14” lamps, 13W bulb” as dysfunctional, dim, poorly designed, and not suitable for its intended purpose of providing stable fluorescent “daylight” light.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: QVCH86396
  Suggested Retail: $21.86
  Related Link: QVC Shopping Network
  PUBLISHED: Dec 11, 2004

About Peter Ong (Trisaw)

I model modern topics, mainly post 1991 Gulf War onwards. My modeling interests include: * Science-fiction/ fantasy * 1/100 Gundam * 1/35 armor * Kitbashed projects * Special Forces * Resin or plastic modern figures * 1/24 Police, fire, medical, and Government vehicles * Rare, unique, ori...

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