Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Energizer 9 Led Hybrid Solar Lantern Review

The energizer corporation, legendary for their rechargeable and alkaline batteries has recently gotten into the solar business.....well sort of I should say. They just rolled out 3 new solar rechargeable products, including a spotlight, flashlight as well as a solar lantern for outdoor and emergency uses. I recently reviewed the solar lantern over the course of 2 weeks and am completely wowed by it's performance and run time. It has an orange and white plastic exterior, giving center stage to a clear acrylic light diffuser. The diffuser holds 9 led bulbs and is fully adjustable. Lifting the diffuser spreads light a full 360 degrees, while folding will cover an area of 180 degrees up to 10 feet away. Lifting the diffuser will also expose both a metal light reflector and locking battery compartment door. The door can easily be unlocked, by twisting clockwise using a straight flat headed object, such as a screwdriver or small coin. Once inside the user will notice space for 3 alkaline D cell batteries and a small secured green battery pack, located at the top left of the compartment. At the rear of the unit is a small 0.5 watt solar panel used to recharge the green battery pack. The solar cell is encased in an adjustable orange housing and uses amorphous silicon technology (great for solar efficiency in low and high light conditions). Also located around back, near the top is a 5 position switch controlling the led bulbs functions and selecting between the two power sources. The unit is pretty light weight, weighing only 1.5 lbs without the D cells, between 2 - 2.5lbs with the D cells ( depending on battery brand).

Unlike other solar lanterns I've used in the past, the energizer has a great deal of light output and tons of ingenious features to make it one of the best on the market. One feature includes the cleverness to accommodate 3 regular D cell batteries, in addition to the solar battery pack. This allows users to not have to worry about accidentally forgetting the batteries during their next camping or fishing trip. A second innovative feature is the ability to adjust the led's up or down, providing the right type of light for any application. As far as the led bulbs there are 9 total, 8 white and 1 amber. The white bulbs are located inside of twin fogged diffusers, for even light dissipation in almost infinite adjustable positions. Running at 66 lumens, the 8 white led's  provide room filling light without any dark spots or light artifacts. The single amber led provides less than 5 lumens and is intended to be a used as a night light. Even though it's light output is rather faint, the amber bulb still allows users to see basic items comfortable within 2 feet of the front of the unit. Probably one of the nicest features on the lantern, is the ability to run off of either the alkaline cells or the solar battery pack. Selecting between the two sources is easy with the built in 5 way switch. The middle position is off, while  the left 2 functions control the night light and high beam. The left position runs off of the solar power pack, the right providing the same functions runs off of the 3 D cell batteries. As for run times, the solar power pack provides 2.5 hours of bright illumination, 4 hours of total illumination. The 3 Alkaline cells will provide up to 165 hours of light, with around 4 days of bright light. Even though there is a slight voltage difference between the solar 3.6 volt pack and the combined 4.5 volts from the alkaline cells, light output is near the same.

I will be the first to admit that I am not really a devoted camping / outdoors person, so the energizers uses will come in handy mostly when I'm at home. For that use, it provides a stable lighting backup in case of a power grid failure and the occasional handy job requiring a bright light. I like it's ability to provide light, without the need for hazardous fuels or an open flame. It is more than bright enough to light up an entire room and will run for days with D cell batteries. I do however have some issues with the unit, the first being the white exterior. Not that I don't like the design, just that the white color extends to the base of the unit, so if you place it anywhere less than immaculately clean it will get dirty. The second issue is that there is no charging or battery life indicator located on the unit. This would be a great feature to let me know if the unit is getting adequate sunlight and also the batteries current state of charge. The last issue is that there is no low setting for the white led bulbs.If added the low setting could extend run time a few hours with the solar power pack, or a few days with the D cells. Overall I feel that the energizer hybrid solar lantern is an excellent product, with many great features and uses. It has an affordable price, is made by a trustful company and is a necessity for those pesky bad weather situations. I would definitely recommend this product to family and friends in a heartbeat. My only hope is that energizer corrects the noted issues in later iterations of this lantern.

You can get an energizer solar lantern of your own by checking with your local retailers or by shopping various online stores.

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