It was a dark and stormy night. The three of us sat crunched up in our tent in the Grand Canyon campground. The ominous dark clouds blocked out the last rays of daylight, suddenly turning the inside of our tent pitch black. I flipped the switch of the Energizer Solar Lantern, instantly flooding our canvas shelter with 66 lumens of white light from the eight LEDs.
Like a Toyota Prius, the Energizer Lantern has multiple power options — use a solar charge from its amorphous silicon panel, or suck juice from its three D batteries. The D batteries will supply up to 165 hours of run time. The solar panel pulls in about 2.5 hours worth of run time after spending five hours charging in full sunlight. Even under overcast skies, the solar panel continued to charge, just not as efficiently.
Unlike the Prius, the user gets to choose which power source to tap with a five-position switch. You can also dial in varying levels of brightness — from an amber night light to full strength, which throttles the lumens high enough to foil a penitentiary escape.
When you’re just holding it by the handle, the lantern shines in only one direction. But on top of the lantern’s lighting element is a hinge. The “back” of the lantern swivels upwards, exposing the other side of the lighting element and giving you 360 degrees of light. Our tent has a ceiling hook, so latching the lantern to the hook let me spread light in all directions throughout the tent at night.
We tested another Energizer product on our trip, the company’s Solar Spotlight. The handheld torch came in handy when we had to walk out of the tent in the dark to get to our Jeep. It kicks out 24 lumens from four LEDs in a bright, tight spot beam. It weighs practically nothing, and it’s water resistant, which came in handy since it poured during our trip.
The power options on the spotlight are a tad more limited than on the lantern. The solar panel provides 3.5 hours of run time after five hours of full-sun charging, which is better than the lantern even though the spotlight isn’t nearly as bright. Alternatively, an included 12-volt DC car adapter produces six hours of light, but only after half a day of charging. And just how often does anyone keep their vehicle running 12 hours straight? Unfortunately, there is no AC power charging option.
Still, it’s swell that Energizer is exploring the greener horizons of solar power and using the state-of-the-solar technology in the form of amorphous thin-film silicon panels. These lights are part of an expanding family of solar chargers for phones and other mobile devices the company has been showing off this year.
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