I like lights, as frequent Shooting Reviews readers know. Dependable portable lights are especially important for hunters, campers, and during emergencies that lead to power outages. I also like solar power, as the efficiency of solar cells has dramatically increased in recent year, fortunately paralleling the development of bright and energy-efficient LED lights. I was actually searching for small solar panels to charge portable electric devices such as iPhones and Android when I discovered d.lights.
d.light is a company that currently makes two LED lanterns, the S1 and S10, and the S250, a combination light and cell phone charger. All three of these products are powered by solar panels. I ordered the S1 and S10 from an Amazon vendor. They cost $11.95 and $15.95, respectively.
The S1 is a round light shaped like a large coaster, on a wire-leg stand. The large black power button is underneath the solar panel. The S1 came in a simple plastic sleeve
The S1 can be rotated to allow its panel to face the sun, or to point the light on the opposite side.
A red LED light indicates when the S1 is receiving enough light to charge. Next to the light is a port that will take a standard Nokia 2mm phone charger, so it can be charged if electricity is available.
The S10 is a larger but lightweight unit consisting of a frosted “shade” and the top unit with the solar panel and power switch. Like the S1, it has a red indicator light and a port that allows charging with a 2mm Nokia phone charger. The S10 also has a wire handle that can be used to hang the lantern, and the S10 can be inverted to be used in “candle” mode.
The top of the S10 can be unscrewed, showing the LED bulb that projects downward into the shade. Lifting the LED reflector allows access to the battery compartment.
The S1 packaging claims four hours of use with a full charge of a day’s worth of sunlight, while the S10 claims four or eight hours on a full charge, depending on which setting the lamp is on. I set both units in the window of my apartment, and their lights indicated charging on all but the most overcast days. After charging, I attempted to use the S10, but was disappointed by the light output. I could tell little difference between the two light levels, and while the S10 was bright enough to use to eat dinner by, it seemed to quickly dim. I allowed it to charge for several more days, and then performed a runtime test with both units, and used an inexpensive Life Gear 4AAA lantern for comparison. The Life Gear lantern claims 25 lumens.
This first picture was taken at 2019, four minutes after turning the lights on. The Life Gear and the S1 seem to be projecting about the same amount of light, while the S10 is dimmer.
An hour later, the S10 was projecting no light. The Life Gear appeared to have dimmed slightly, and the S1 appeared to be the same brightness as when first turned on.
Two hours after being turned on, the Life Gear and the S1 appeared to be the same brightness as the previous hour. The next hour was similar, and four hours after being turned on, the S1 was still going strongly when I turned it off.
The concept of the solar lantern is a good one, especially if it can be done inexpensively. The S1 is inexpensive, puts out a very acceptable light level for reading or general illumination during emergencies, and lasts a reasonable amount of time. The S10 performance was disappointing, with little discernible difference between the two light levels, and a run time far less than claimed. This may very well be a battery issue, which then calls the quality assurance of d.light into question. I have contacted d.light through their website, and will update this review if they respond.
Edit, 2 January– d.light has responded. They advise all of their products are under warranty, and that I will receive a replacement S10. They also advise that improved products will be out by February. Under a week is a terrific response time for the holidays, and I am impressed. I was also sent a link to the following video, which is long, but seems to demonstrate some very hard use of the products.