The Core SWX APEX 360 battery solutions are designed for high-power draw LED lights similar to the Aputure LS 300 and Nanlight 300. You can even power the Aputure LS 600 with a pair of APEX 360 LV batteries, but only at 50% output. To get full 100% output, the APEX 360 HV (high voltage) version is required, plus the plates will need to be updated. More on that later in the review.
With the 300-watt lights, you can get approximately two hours of use at 100% output setting. Yes! This is what we have been waiting for.
LED Lights with higher wattages have been released over the last few years, but battery tech has not kept up, requiring a new product to be developed. Most ENG or V Mount style batteries are designed for cameras and devices, not particularly high-wattage consuming lights. There is a real need in the market for better remote powering solutions without using a gas generator. That’s where Core SWX APEX 360 LV and HV battery packs come in.
This review focuses on the Apex 360 LV (Low Voltage) model.
Size and Weight
As you can see in the images the Apex 360 is a large battery. It’s also on the heavy side at 3.6 lb or 1633 g. and is 3.5” x 6.3” x 3.8”. While the size and weight are on the hefty side, this doesn’t have a negative impact on lights since most controllers with battery plates can mount on the light stands. I always use rolling stands because they are easier to move around with the wheels instead of lifting and, even worse, dragging the stand across a floor. That can damage the surface, and your client won’t like that.
The Core SWX APEX 360 packs offer a 367Wh Lithium-ion V-mount solution capable of outputting up to 24A continuously as well as providing extended runtimes.
The Apex packs are offered in a 14.4V (APX-360v) version, which is suitable for most lights, and a higher voltage 29.6V variant (APX-360hv).
The high-voltage APX-360 HV can deliver even more power under lower current requirements allowing for a more efficient, cooler operation of LED lights that accepts higher voltages (voltage acceptance is up to DC 34V).
The Apex 360 HV option utilizes Core’s patented Helix system pin set, so inadvertently placing the high-voltage pack on 14V equipment isn’t an issue.
The Apex 360 batteries feature a rugged housing with a reinforced polycarbonate outer shell. The pack’s inner cell structure ensures the cells are firmly secured if the pack is dropped. They are not light as they come in at 3.6 lb / 1633 g.
There isn’t a backlit runtime LED readout on the battery. I like this as they can take a bit more abuse without worrying if the clear window can be cracked. Instead, it has an LED gauge on both sides, making it easy to see from either side of the pack attached to the controller. Whether on charge or in use (discharge) the LED power gauge illuminates.
V Mount Option Only
The Apex 360 is only offered in V Mount. Core SWX states that 90% of the install base in lighting is V-mount, and Apex is a lighting solution. If someone’s ballast accepts G-mount, they have two options – Either use a G-mount to V-mount adapter or convert the ballast with the Core SWX Direct Connect Plates.
Dual Helix/APEX High-Voltage V-Mount Plate Kit
To use the APX 360 HV battery packs with certain lights, you will need the optional HLX-2HV-DC. This is a Direct Connect Plate for high voltage lights, and if you want to use the APEX 360 HV with lights such as the Aputure LS 600d/600x/600c, then you will need to swap over the V-mount plates that come on the power supply/controller.
The nice aspect about these plates is that they require minimal technical skill to connect and still allow you to use all your 14V V-mount packs.
To exchange the plates on your Aputure LS 600-series light, you unscrew your current V-mount plates, snip the wiring of the existing plates, and the connect blocks, clip the Core SWX direct plates onto the existing wiring, and screw back on the Apex Direct Connect plate. No soldering skills or tools are required.
This modification is only required to leverage the high voltage efficiencies of the Apex HV packs. The Apex 360 LV packs will work without modifying the lighting ballast.
With many high-power draw LED lights, you will need two of the APEX 360 battery packs to power them. A quick rule is if a light has a power draw of 300 watts, the battery will need to be at least 300wh and will give you approximately one hour of operation at 100% output.
APEX 360 LV Run Times With Aputure LS 300x
With lights such as the Aputure LS 300 models, you can run them at full power using two 14.4V CORE SWX APEX 360 LV batteries for approximately 4 hours. If you only use one, then the output drops to 50% max output.
The Aputure LS 600d Pro can be run at 50% output for up to 2 hours with two battery packs. With lights such as the 600d, the only way to achieve full power output would be through 48V. The light inhibits you from getting full output when using onboard packs despite it saying 100% on the controller/power supply display. Although Aputure’s manual suggests you can achieve full output by using high-voltage onboard batteries, they have confirmed the function has yet to be implemented through firmware. Let’s hope Aputure gets that firmware ready stat!
I used them on an Aputure LS 300x and found the LCD displays with two Apex 360 LV attached showed a run time of 2 hours; however, the controller is giving a slightly inaccurate measurement.
At the two-hour mark, the display shows 11 minutes, with the battery indicator having one solid bar and one blinking. In the end, it sort of catches up, and after 2 hours and 22 minutes, the LS 300x shut off.
The good thing is that the Apex 360 LV power indicators stay on when you use them, so you can better understand how far-depleted the battery is without being close to the fixture. When the last bar is flashing, it will be fully depleted very soon.
With a 2-hr and 22-min runtime, I don’t have to worry about running out of power. Especially if I turn the light off when not shooting. For me, this is plenty of juice, and having 100% output for fill when shooting outside is the bee’s knees.
Cost per Wh
Above, you can see a cost per Wh comparison between the Core SWX Apex360 LV and other competing batteries on the market.
GP-X2RV Fast Charger
Large-capacity packs require fast chargers. Core SWX has developed the X2 economical series of chargers for the Apex system. The two chargers available are the GP-X2RV and the GP-X2RHV. Both models retail for $299 US. Bundles are available with two APEX 360 batteries and a charger.
You can charge a single Apex 360 LV at 5.2A @16.8v in 5 hours and 30 minutes. When charging two at the same time, the amps drop to 2.6A, and it takes 9 hours and 40 minutes. Yes, that is a long time to charge, but they are very large-capacity batteries.
The GP-X2RV charger is ideal for the APX-360 LV batteries. You can also charge them on any 14.8v Lithium-ion charging system. Because of the large capacity of the batteries, the charge time will vary depending on the charger you have.
The APX-360 HV batteries require the high-voltage variant of the Apex two-position charger (GP-X2RHV). The GP-X2RHV will also charge Helix MAX V-mt packs.
The Apex charger models are capable of either charging one pack in a little over 5 hours or two Apex packs in under 10 hours.
|LV Charger Input:||100V-240VAC 50/60Hz|
|Charge current:||One pack 5.2A @16.8v, |
Two packs simultaneous at 2.6A
|Size:||4.5′′ x 5.5.” x 3′′|
|LV Charger Input:||100V-240VAC 50/60Hz|
|Charge current:||One pack 2.6A @ 33.6v, |
Two packs simultaneous at 1.3A
|Size:||4.5′′ x 5.5.” x 3′′|
Pricing & Availability
Below are the batteries, chargers, accessories, and bundles prices.
Bundles with Two APEX 360 batteries and a charger
CORE SWX will be selling two different bundle configurations. The first is the APX-360VK which consists of two APX-360 LV batteries and the GP-X2RV charger. The second is the APX-360HVK which consists of two APX-360 HV batteries, the GP-X2RHV charger, and the HLXVDC Direct Connect plate.
The batteries are very competitively priced, given their capabilities and capacity. This is doable because Core SWX stripped away features that are not required for powering lights. Keeping it simple and more affordable.
Wrap It Up
I’ve been waiting for batteries that are made for lights. LED fixtures are getting very powerful, and seeing more battery options is great. The Core SWX Apex 360 LV worked flawlessly on the Aputure LS 300x and other fixtures. 2 hours and 22 minutes of runtime is plenty for me, and with any battery-powered light, I turn them off when we are not ready to roll, making them last a whole lot longer.