The Lighthouse is a dimmable lantern and USB power hub. Paired with a Goal Zero solar charger it could make a good solar-powered pair. It can be powered by its hand crank in a pinch as well. A nice feature is an option of lighting up not only 360 degrees, but lighting up just the front side to save power.
Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: You can choose between 360 and 180 degrees of light, dimmer switch, no batteries, fuel or mantles, light, can power a smartphone sometimes.
Cons: USB port for charging a smartphone is erratic.
Manufacturer: Goal Zero
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Lighthouse 400 has two 3-watt LEDs and it has the option of lighting up 180 or 360 degrees around the lantern. It is powered by an internal battery that is rechargeable only by its USB plug or hand crank.
The Lighthouse puts out 400 lumens on the 360-degree setting. The Goal Zero website claims it will stay lit for 48 hours on a low setting and 12 hours on high with one side lit. With both sides lit it claims to run for 24 hours on low and six hours on high. In our tests, we found the claims were accurate; the Lighthouse ran out of charge quickly on a high output 360-degree setting. When in the 180-degree setting and dimmed down low it lasted a little longer than the claimed runtime, shining for 50 hours.
The LED cover is frosted, so it puts out a nice soft light that is easy to look at. We like that it is dimmable and offers the option of lighting both sides (360 degrees) or just one side (180 degrees). It has a handle, so using the 180-degree feature makes it a nice light to illuminate the path ahead as you walk. This product also has a flashing red light mode that turns on when you press the small triangle button on the front. The six flashing red bulbs light up in a circular counterclockwise fashion along the top rim of the lantern.
Ease of Use
This light is relatively simple to use. Just plug the USB cord into a power source or solar charger and the four blue lights on the front will be lit when the charge is complete. Turn the power knob to the left and one side (180 degrees) will be lit; turn it to the right and both sides (360 degrees) will light up. You can also use its USB port to charge a smartphone, digital music player, ebook, or tablet. As with some other models like the Suaoki LED Camping Lantern, the USB port isn't extremely reliable. Sometimes during testing when a smartphone was plugged in for charging, the light didn't recognize the device. It appeared that it was working because the blue battery indicator lights would flash and the smartphone would light up like it was charging, but in reality, it was not. Other times, a device would connect just fine, but it took about two and a half hours to boost a smartphone 50 percent and approximately five hours for a full charge.
The Lighthouse is a sturdy product especially considering its intricate USB parts. The USB cord wraps neatly around the lantern and stows away snugly. We wish the cord and the port had covers to protect them from dust and dirt, but they held up pretty well during our testing. The USB port did prove to be bit finicky and occasionally didn't charge a smartphone when it was plugged in. The two main LED lights have two plastic covers — a frosted white small cover inside of a larger clear plastic cover. The clear plastic outer cover is prone to scratches and nicks but it is thick and sturdy. The wire legs fold up and down and snap securely into place in both the closed and open position. The metal legs are covered in a rubbery plastic that keeps them from slipping on smooth surfaces.
This product has a nice dimmable light and can be lit with 360 degrees of light or 180. We found the 180-degree option was nice when we were out walking, but we felt like the handle was a little small — barely enough room to fit your fingers through. It has a red flashing mode that we didn't use much — it could be used in an emergency but mostly just looks like a red disco party. The battery level indicator has four blue lights that are all lit at full charge and go from four, to three, to two, to one light lit as the battery level diminishes. The Lighthouse is powered by a USB cord or the plastic hand crank on the top. You can power your smartphone or tablet by the USB port, but our testing revealed that the USB port was finicky and sometimes wouldn't charge.
You can use this product with its legs folded up and it's pretty sturdy. If you need it to have less height you can fold the legs down, but it is a little bit wobbly despite the rubberized coating on the metal legs.
Weight / Size
With no batteries or fuel, the Lighthouse only weighs a pound. It has a footprint of approximately 4.5" in diameter with the legs folded up. With the legs down the footprint is about 4.5" x 5.5". With the legs folded up it is about 6.5" high and with the legs down it is about 9.5" high.
The best thing about the Lighthouse is that you don't have to deal with mantles, propane or gas. The battery lasts a long time on low setting and it even charges a smartphone or tablet. It could be great for camping or backpacking, especially when paired with a portable solar panel. It could make a good emergency product but the manufacturer recommends recharging it every three to six months, so keep that in mind if you plan to stow it for emergency purposes.
We think $70 is a bit much for this product. We had some challenges charging a smartphone — it only worked occasionally. Often it took a very long time to charge and other times it took a more reasonable time. It seems the USB port may be unreliable; often it registered that something was plugged into it to recharge, but nothing would happen. The smartphone would light up as if it were charging and the blue battery indicator lights would flash, but the lightning bolt on an iPhone didn't come on to indicate a charge was happening. Other times, it worked fine. It does come with a one year warranty.
We really wanted to love the Lighthouse but on its brightest setting (which we tended to want to use the most) it holds a charge for only about 4-5 hours. But if you don't need a lot of light and don't want to worry about fuel, mantles or batteries, this product could be good. We like the idea of changing a smartphone with its USB port (when it works) and it's pretty cool that you can charge the product with the hand crank if you run out of battery power.
— Valentine Cullen