d.light S10 Solar-Charged Lantern (8.2 oz./233 g, 18 lumens for 8 hrs or 27 lumens for 4 hours, about $16). This free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Amazon where I bought mine, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.
The d.light S10 is a bright, lightweight lantern that is recharged by the sun. It's a little bigger than a 12 oz./354 mL drink can, and weighs much less since it's hollow plastic.
Each day it recharges enough to give many hours of free light each night, making it ideal for camping, backpacking and doomsday use when there is no source of new batteries or any other source of power. When the lights go off for good, this lantern will light your home, tent or encampment every night for many years to come, powered only by the sun.
If you prefer, it also has a charging socket so you can use a common (at least in India) Nokia AC-3 phone charger, which is a 5V, 350mA charger with a 2mm ∅ coaxial plug.
This is an inexpensive, but well made-in-China lantern with top-notch performance. Don't confuse it with all the other similarly priced — but crappy — solar-powered lawn lights or those dim "21 LED" camping lanterns; the d.light S10 uses a better solar cell for more charging power, and a single much higher-technology LED for much brighter light than any of those other lights.
It always charges when in any sort of light. It has a charge-indicator LED that lights in almost any conditions, even indirect window light or bright light indoors at night. I don't know that I believe this LED; it lights even when the lantern is on and it's obviously discharging.
Unlike walkway lights, it only comes on when switched on, and only turns off when switched off. Therefore, if kept for emergencies, it will always be fully charged and ready to go so long as you don't leave it in the dark.
The metal hanger pivots and sticks in various positions, making it easy to hang and position the light any way you'd like.
300mW solar panel.
3.6V 350mAh Ni-MH battery.
2mm ∅ coaxial socket for 5V charge input.
Single modern high-performance LED.
Looks like about 5,600K (daylight white).
Rated full recharge in 10 hours of full sunlight (1 kW/m2).
That's deceptive, because you only get the "standard illuminance" of 1 kW/m2 at noon on a sunny day; you never get that all day to charge for ten straight hours!
This said, it works fine.
Brightness and Run Times
Normal (first click, probably about 40mA drain)
18 lumens for 8 hours
High (second click, probably about 80 mA drain)
27 lumens for 4 hours
Made in China entirely out of plastic, except for the metal hanger.
It claims it's built to survive tough conditions, including accidental drops onto hard mud or concrete, rain showers, and intense heat and dust, but coming from my own military electronics background, I doubt it.
It's not sealed, and the electronics all appear to be completely standard untreated consumer circuit boards.
7.8" high by 3.5" diameter.
198 mm high by 89 mm diameter.
8.225 oz. (233.2 g), measured.
Nothing but the lantern wrapped in bubble wrap in a printed box— it doesn't even include instructions!
It works great!
It really does charge all the way back up in a day, and it really does give many hours of much brighter light than you'd expect on that charge each night.
It's plenty bright. It easily lights up a room, and is bright enough to read by its light alone up close.
The two brightness levels look almost the same. They measure as specified, only 2/3 of a stop different, which to our eyes, looks almost identical in brightness.
There is no DIM setting. If you turn this on its dimmest NORMAL setting in your tent at night, you'll wake everyone else up.
The power switch is noisy; it works with a loud CLICK every time it's pressed, so again, you can't use this lantern to sneak around at night.
The power switch glows in the dark, which would be a brilliant idea, except that it only glows for about 15 minutes before going completely black. They used the wrong kind of glow-in-the-dark material. If they used the correct materiel that glowed (dimly) all night, we'd be able to find the lantern. As it is, even in pitch black, the switch is completely invisible after about 15 minutes.
Measured Charge and Run Times
After a full all-night charge with a Nokia AC-3 and then a full sunny January day of charging, it ran for at least 5 hours at HIGH. After 7 hours it was a bit dimmer, and after 12 hours it was much dimmer, but still useful in pitch-black. This is better than the 4-hour rating; but you won't be likely to get this much charge in just one day of sunlight.
When completely discharged, and then charged for a full sunny January day and run all night at NORMAL (second click), it was bright for at least 7 hours, and after 9 hours it was dimmer, but still going strong.
After a complete discharge and another all-day January sunlight charge , it ran at least 3-½ hours at HIGH, and was dimmer after 5 hours. It was mostly dead much later.
If fully discharged and then charged all day on a mostly cloudy, blustery January day, it ran for an hour and a half before it started getting dimmer.
Thus we see that if you completely drain it the night before (not likely unless you deliberately left it on as I did), you need a solid charge the next day to get all the light out of it that a full charge will. If you don't fully drain it at night, then you won't need much charge each day to keep it fully charged for standby use.
Much better than expected, the design shoots most of the light down or to the lower sides, so there is no glare shining in your face as from most lanterns that shoot light mostly sideways.
Most of the lantern is a hollow, clear frosted globe lit by the LED from above. This makes the light relatively soft, and far more pleasant than I expected. It's just fine to live by this light all night.
The LED is daylight colored (about 5,600K), not natural and warm (3,200K) as I'd prefer it. It's a cool, cold light.
Back, d.light S10.
There is a weird grille on the back, just above the charge light. I have no idea of its purpose, other to let in water. It might be a vent for water vapor while the grill keeps out drops; I just don't know.
I don't trust the push-push-push clicking power switch. I suspect that its ratchet will be the first thing to wear out with use.
It's all plastic. Drop it enough and it will break.
The rechargeable battery is supposedly a common cordless phone battery. It seems as if it can be changed without any tools.
Supposedly these were developed by Americans who think that Africans want to live like us. Thus these were designed to work in Africa so Africans could pretend they were Americans with electric light.
I don't buy that. My African friends who are friends with the Bushmen point out that the Bushmen are perfectly happy as-is, and freak out if you try to get them to sleep inside or get them to try to live like foreigners, which is what we are to them.
I think it's rude to try to make others live like us — or even suggest that they would want to, and sadly supposedly that these lights are overpriced so that their inventors can use this money to buy these for Africans who otherwise wouldn't buy them on their own — because they have more productive things to do than waste their time making "money" to buy foreign manufactured goods they can do quite well without.
Now if only Americans could learn from Africans the importance of spending time family and friends — what really matters — instead of going away all day and night to work at jobs that Americans hate, just to make enough "money" to"buy" the things they really don't need. Why Americans consider big-screen TVs and new cars to get to those jobs more important than time spent with their own families and friends is beyond me — but probably due to the billions of marketing dollars spent by the people who sell those manufactured items.
I don't buy this "social cause" baloney supposedly put forth by the light's makers (why would we want to litter the whole world with more electronics?), but some people do. I've never been one to want to push my culture on others. I really hate traveling around the world hoping to meet interesting, new and different people and cultures, and all I see are kids in Nike shirts drinking Cokes while enjoying their iPods — but that's just me.
Since the two brightness levels are almost the same, you may as well use the dimmer one if you expect to need many hours of light each night. Save the HIGH setting for reading. They look about the same, but the brighter one runs only half as long.
If you're not using it for five hours a night, then go ahead and run it on HIGH; you'll have plenty of free power anyway.
Everything is in the top red section. The clear bottom section is only a light diffuser. Unscrew the bottom (look out; left-handed threads), and you still have your light — and a clear cup for drinking.
It's top heavy, and will blow over in winds over about 15 knots on a blustery day. You might want to glue some lead weights to the bottom to keep it from blowing over.
Since the bottom diffuser section is completely hollow, you can use it for storage if backpacking; you can fit some socks inside.
There are no charging instructions. If you're an engineer, you'll want to go out all day and keep rotating it to point at the sun, but I wouldn't bother. You also could build a big corner reflector to concentrate the light.
It claims overcharge protection, but I have no idea if that's true. The charge LED is always lit, even after the battery should be fully charged, so for all I know, "overcharge protection" might only mean that the charge rate is low enough not to hurt anything.
There is no battery gauge. You never have any idea how full is the battery, except by looking at the main light. It would be nice to know when or if the battery is fully charged, but tough, you'll never know.
When I photographed it in my studio under strobe lighting, the charge LED lit under the modeling lights, and blinked off for a moment after each powerful flash. I have no idea what that's telling us.
Want plenty of free light, pretty much forever, without needing electricity or batteries?
Want a bright, lightweight lantern with much higher quality, no-glare light than most other camping lanterns?
Want the perfect emergency light, with which you can live indefinitely until power is restored?
Are you preparing for life without electricity? With just some light each day, you can live by this lantern each night.
To get a great self-charging lantern for $16 is a deal.
Get one, I did.
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