Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TEC accessories - TEC-S3 Glow Fob


I've been eyeing off the TEC accessories Glow Fobs since they were announce and released.  I thought they looked well designed and reasonable in price.  I now have one in my hands and I have to say... I like it!



I have had my self-assembled tritium marker on my keychain for sometime and I've been quite happy with it.  It's lightweight, has a small footprint and is reasonable hardy.  The only downside was in the aesthetics.  It looks rather plain and uninteresting... especially in bright environments when the glow is not noticeable.

As an alternative, I've been considering some tritium keyfobs in metal housings.  A round up of various options can be found in this post:  Metal Tritium Markers/Keyfobs/Pendants.  Some of the designs available look amazing but the majority of them are quite expensive as they use titanium or other 'exotic' materials.

The TEC accessories glow fob was the most economical of the round up, and I have since acquired the stainless steel version; the TEC-S3.


TEC accessories offer the TEC-S3 which has a stainless steel housing, as well as the TEC-A3 which has an aluminium housing.  Specifications (from the manufacturer) are as as follows:

Internal Glow Pellet:

    * Tubing: Clear acrylic
    * Glow powder: strontium aluminate (mixed with resin)
    * Outside Diameter: 6.35 mm [1/4"]
    * Overall Length: 28.6 mm [1-1/8"]

TEC-S3 Glow Fob:

    * Material: Stainless Steel
    * Finish: Bead Blasted
    * Outside Diameter: 9.0 mm [0.35"]
    * Overall Length: 40.0 mm [1.58"]
    * Weight: 5.9 grams [.21 oz]
Cost:  $22

TEC-A3 Glow Fob:

    * Material: Aircraft grade aluminum
    * Finish: Type III hard anodize
    * Outside Diameter: 9.0 mm [0.35"]
    * Overall Length: 40.0 mm [1.58"]
    * Weight: 3.2 grams [.11 oz]
Cost:  $18


The packaging for the TEC accessories glow fob is rather rudimentary, coming only in a plastic ziplock packet.  I don't mind this if it is only for myself, less packaging means less waste and is better for the environment.  However, it is less desirable if you are planning on giving it away as a present. 

TEC-S3 Packaging
A cardboard instruction manual containing information on 'glow-in-the-dark' is included.  It also includes an 11.1mm diameter split ring, which feels stiff and well made.


I find the appearance of the tec accessories glow fob to be quite nice... it puts me in mind of an elongated mini-lantern.  The design of the metal housing does not inhibit too much of the glow fob, allowing good exposure and illumination from the fob.

There is a thick black o-ring at the end of the metal housing, which holds the inner glow pellet in place.  This o-ring seems pretty sturdy and I doubt the glow pellet will fall out by itself.  The o-ring can be pried out with a small screwdriver, allowing you to change the inner glow pellet.

Thick black o-ring holds the glow pellet in place

 It is nice to know, the tec accessories glow fobs come with a life time warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.

TEC-A3 vs TEC-S3

As mentioned earlier I have the stainless steel version of the glow fobs, the TEC-S3.  I find the colour matches the rest of my keyring, better.

Whether you get the aluminium (TEC-A3) or the stainless steel version comes down to personal preference.

The aluminium version is slightly lighter at 3.2g (vs 5.9g) and is slightly cheaper.  The TEC-A3 is annodised black, while the TEC-S3 has a matte silver-grey appearance.

From general experience, I find annodise aluminium tends to develop wear on the edges and sharp corners.  Stainless steel can still get minor scratches, but may be less noticeable and often blends in better.


The GITD pellet in the tec accessories glow fobs requires exposure to light to be 'charged up'.  In their instruction manual, tec accessories indicate the GITD fob charges better with natural sunlight or UV light.  It also suggests exposure over a longer period will offer a longer lasting glow.  With night adapted vision, it is still possible to see it glowing after 8-12 hours (though it would be very feint).

I do have some GITD fobs from other sources and I do have to say; the tec accessories GITD pellet is slightly superior.  The GITD pellet from tec accessories seems to glow brighter for a longer period.  I believe TEC accessories source their GITD pellets from 'andygold' who has a sales thread on cpfmarketplace.  Andygold has good reputation for GITD key fobs. 

Tritium marker, TEC S-3, GITD fob from another maker

Directly after 'charging up' GITD fobs are brighter than tritium, but this burst in brightness will fade fairly quickly

Tec accessories offer a 'glow fob pellet kit', which can be used to replace the existing GITD pellet.  You can use this kit to either create your own GITD fob, or create a tritium fob using 23x3mm tritium.  I plan on getting one of these kits in future, and replace the GITD fob with some tritium!

Here are some of the advantages/disadvantages I see between tritium and GITD.

-Tritium does not need to be charged up with light
-While GITD fobs can initially be brighter than tritium, the brightness will fade and often after an hour (or less), the tritium will be more brighter than the GITD fob.

-a very minor amount of radiation is released.  It is not meant to be harmful unless you break the tritium vial and breathe-in or ingest the tritium.
-Tritium has a half life of 10-12 years.  Over time tritium will very slowly fade in brightness.  In 10-12 years it will be half as bright.


Not much to say on this aspect, if I had to  be picky, I do note some machining marks on the inner edges of the 'window struts'.  There are some very small air bubbles in the glow fob, but I think this is inevitable, all my other GITD fobs also have this issue.


While a little larger and heavier, the TEC S-3 glow fob does look nicer and more attention grabbing than my usual tritium marker.  I have now added it to my keychain, but I may consider taking it off if I'm finding my keyring gets too heavy.  I feel its worth the price... it's not overly expensive when you compare it some of the custom products available. 

TEC-S3 on the keyring


Tritium Keyfob Review
Metal Tritium Keyfob/Pendants/Markers



  1. I love the second last picture, where you snap the picture of the fob in the dark.

  2. @l-vin;
    cheers mate. It takes a bit of playing around with camera settings and lighting, in trying to get the right exposure

  3. Thanks for the review, really helpful. Think I'll pick up an A3 to go with my fenix LD10. Cheers from the UK :)

  4. Well, you have sold me on this fob. I went first to the TEC site to read about it. The description sounds good, but the photo of the (non-charged?) fob taken in natural light on the manufacturer's website looked much too yellow green - very different from the actual soft, middle green light displayed in your photos. I will buy it, I only wish that they could produce a similar model that glows in other hues, especially a beautiful cobalt blue. Cobalt can be made radioactive, can't it?

  5. Hi Praire Wolfdog, if you want to look for some with tritium preinstalled, have a look at these two threads. You can get blue tritium, but that is less bright than green tritium.