Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge Review
Cons: Difficult to hang, need outlet or battery pack to charge
Manufacturer: Goal Zero
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This mighty mini light combines a 150-lumen lantern with a powerful personal flashlight. Not only is it compact, but it also comes to your aid when you need to charge another device. With one flashlight LED and up to four lantern LEDs, it won't overwhelm anyone, but it will get the job done.
This lantern is meant for one (maybe two) but puts out plenty of light to do almost any task around camp. The flashlight is practical for illumination on the move and the lantern is super solid for a night of cards, reading, or journaling in your tent. We like the even light quality that it gives off in lantern mode.
It has a fairly wide range of brightnesses as well. The flashlight can dim to 20 lumens and the lantern can go down to 10. In terms of runtime, the lantern technically puts out about a week's worth of continuous light on its lowest setting (the flashlight can go for about four days). However, we found in practice that in both modes, trying to maximize runtime meant the light was too dim to see comfortably or be very useful. For most applications, we could count on about 24 hours worth of light before it needed a recharge.
The biggest durability concern that we have is with the exposed USB charge port. We shock-tested the light casing up to 10 feet and it came out fine on the other side. Though the plastic will get nicked up on abrasive surfaces like gravel, it won't affect performance.
We did notice though that as the light spent more time in or around dirt surfaces (i.e., the forest floor), we did end up picking out pieces of leaves and blowing out dirt from the USB charge out port. To be sure, we did not end up having any issues charging devices as a result, but we could easily imagine that it could become an issue over time. The device has an ingress protection rating of IPX6, which means that it can prevent jets of water (as opposed to just splashes) from entering the battery enclosure, however, the issue with the USB port remains.
The features of this light are minimalist but helpful. The shape and feel of the product are like that of a traditional flashlight, but as described below, it comes with both flashlight and lantern modes. The USB charger tucks away at the base of the light. We most often charged the light from the USB port of a laptop and found that it charged faster than the advertised 3.5 hours when paired with a Goal Zero solar pad. This model also has a small handle to make it possible to hang the light if it's in lantern mode. The 'handle' itself is very small and not terribly practical on its own. However, ours came with a nifty little carabiner that made it much simpler to hang and hook from, say, the gear loop in a tent canopy. The light also has four blue charge indicator lights that show you approximately how much battery is left.
We are pleased that a light this small comes with a USB charge out port. It can be used to give a modest jolt to other electronic devices like a GPS or smartphone. We found that if fully charged, it gives a 50-60% boost to a phone in about an hour before the battery is depleted. It fell short of what is advertised, but we were a little skeptical of the claim to begin with and are pleasantly surprised by the actual result. There is no switch to turn on the 'charge' mode — it just starts as soon as you plug in a device. It also proved to be consistent — there was no having to jiggle around the wire to get the other device connected. There is no cover on the port though, so it is susceptible to moisture and debris getting trapped inside.
Ease of Use
The light is as easy to use as a flashlight. There is just one button for the whole device. Pressing it once turns it on, and successive presses cycle it from flashlight mode to 360-lantern to 180-lantern and off again. The power button can also be held down in any mode to brighten or dim the light. As a side note, the dimming feature has no 'memory'; each mode always starts at full power and you can dim it from there.
The power button is on the small side and is somewhat oddly located, so it might be slightly more difficult for people with big mitts to get at. The USB charger rotates more than 180-degrees so that you don't get trapped with a light that you can't charge just because the outlet geometry is weird. We like that it isn't dependent on disposable batteries, but it does require a USB port to charge so you either need to be near an outlet or have an additional battery pack when it's time to recharge. You can know that the light is actively charging because the blue charge indicator lights will blink (and then turn solid once it is fully charged).
Registering at 3 ounces, this light shines bright for its feathery weight and portability. It is one of the lightest lanterns in this review, which makes it great for speedy travel.
It is also four and a half inches long, making it perfect to tuck away in your pocket, a glove compartment of a car, or an emergency box at home. Its size and weight make it decent for the backcountry as well, but just keep in mind what we noted above that it requires a USB to charge. We also think that it is a good option for children if they are looking to pull their weight around camp.
The versatility of this light makes it a great value. The battery is rechargeable so there is no hidden cost of using it and its dual-use flashlight and lantern settings make it a valuable addition whether you are on the move or camped out for the night.
The Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge is a powerful pocket companion that not only brings light to the table (or tent) but also has the ability to charge other devices as well. It earns a Top Pick Award for its small size and low weight. We would be happy to have this mighty mini in our kit the next time we go for a long weekend of car camping or just want the security that comes with having light and power at your fingertips.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch