Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Review
Cons: USB port for charging a smartphone is erratic.
Manufacturer: Goal Zero
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This lantern has nifty looking features with some that work better than others. It is powered by an internal battery that is rechargeable only by its USB plug or hand crank. Its LED light offers potent brightness with a dimmer that enables you to dial it down closer to bedtime.
The Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 puts out a maximum of 400 lumens on the 360-degree setting. In our tests, we found the run time claims were accurate (48 hours on low, 12 hours on high with one side lit, 24 hours on low, 6 hours on high with both sides illuminated). The Lighthouse 400 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.
The Lighthouse 400 is a sturdy product especially considering its USB port. The USB charging 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 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. 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 400 is powered by a USB cord or the plastic hand crank on the top.
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.
Ease of Use
This light is relatively simple to use. Just plug in the USB cord to a power source or solar charger. The four blue lights on the front will light up 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. The USB port isn't extremely reliable. Sometimes during testing when a smartphone was plugged in for charging, the lantern didn't recognize the device. 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. It's a nice bonus feature, but it should be a backup, not a first option.
With no disposable batteries to include, the Lighthouse 400 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. Again, the Black Diamon Apollo is a more reliable, lighter option.
We think the value isn't quite there 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 is an aspirational product but given its reliability, we would rather invest in the Black Diamond Apollo.
We really wanted to love the Lighthouse 400 but on its brightest setting (which we tended to want to use the most) it holds a charge for only about 4-5 hours. 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.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch and Valentine Cullen