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Customer Review

92 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to quantify but overall, better than butane., December 28, 2009
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This review is from: Athena Brands Soladyne 7-Inch Mini Solar Lantern (Sports)
I had intended to quantify various aspects of this unit like, brightness over time for winding and solar charging. In the end, this was difficult to do because as the unit loses power, it puts out less light and then uses less power. I have left the light on for a couple days, upside down, with nothing to recharge it and the unit continues to put out some amount of light. So you can't say you'll get X lumens over Y time for Z number of cranks. In a way, this could be thought of as a good feature of the light.

So with a minute of cranking, I definitely get an hours worth of fairly bright light usage. With a day of solar charging, the light is initially bright when first turned on but again, the degradation of light is slight over time so it is hard to discern when it has gone from bright to not.

The best thing about this unit is that it is relatively light and rugged as compared to a glass globed butane lantern and its accompanying fuel. You can carry this for weeks and not worry about running out of fuel or without having to carry the weight of fuel. You also have less concern about breaking globes and mantels. It is also safer. My friends and I have put a few holes in rain shelters from hanging lanterns that got too hot or flared when lighting. It's not indestructible. It is fairly plain plastic, but still more rugged than glass. So unless something happens in the future, I see myself converting from a fuel lantern to this for backpacking use.

On the cons side, I wish the unit would collapse in some way. The globe is, after all, mostly empty space. I also do not think that the globe/reflector is the most effective way of distributing the light. Most of the light seems to point down rather than out. So when sitting on a table, the surface is lit up be not so much what is around you. Remedied by hanging it but sometimes, hanging isn't an option. I would like to see this unit designed with some sort of diffraction globe.

This unit appears to be relabeled by LL Bean. Probably more expensive but with Bean, you usually get an unconditional guarantee.

UPDATE 5/9/2012:
I just got back from a 40 mile hike and the original unit I bought (2009 or earlier) is still running like a champ. I have not used a butane lantern in years. In 5 days of use (couple hours per night), I didn't have to hand crank it a single time. I just hung it on the back of my pack each day. It seems to trickle charge on the least bit of exposure to light.

I was so happy with it, that I bought a second one from LL Bean. The problem with the bean one is that they have a color film applied to the exterior and it rubs off and gets on anything. The yellow one from Amazon has the color in the plastic (pretty sure) so it doesn't scratch or get on anything like the bean one.

We had two instances of of no power for one week in CT last year and both units were heavily used. I just left them in a window (which is where I normally keep them so they are always charged), and each night we had plenty of light without having to do any cranking. Now having two small children in the house, having safe lighting put me at ease (although I have to admit the oil lamp is always cool to light up)

I've increased my rating to 5 stars. For this thing to continue performing for this long without any apparent degradation in the storage battery life is pretty amazing to me. The durability is excellent. I have taken it on at least 10 4-5 day backpacking trips, lashed to the outside of the pack and despite the banging around, taking the pack on and off, etc. there has been no damage to the unit. I just hope that current production models are made with the same or better quality so that my review holds true today.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 9, 2012, 5:56:17 PM PDT
This is a nicely-detailed review, frank and informative. I've just bought one crank/solar lamp because I live in an area where both summer thunderstorms and winter blizzards (or ice storms) make an occasional, but unpredictable part of life. At this price, I can afford to get one of these and compare it with the first one, which is due to arrive in a few days.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2012, 7:38:07 PM PDT
Thank you for the comment. It reminded me to update my review, storm expericence included. I've updated my rating to 5 stars. These lights are awesome and hopefully the manufacturer will make improvements with better battery and LED technology over time.

Posted on Nov 5, 2012, 8:18:17 PM PST
D. He says:
Anyone know what the inside rechargeable battery is? I would like to know maH if possible...
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