Gear Test: AE Light Solar Lantern
When I ordered a test version of this light I had no idea what to expect. I had not seen it yet and I was responding to a press release to gun and gear writers that the light was on the market. A few days later the box arrived and when I opened it up my first thought was that it looked like a 1960’s robot. So we now affectionately call this critter ‘the robot.”
When the power goes out the first thing you need is light. Without light you can’t do much in an emergency situation and if the power is out you probably have an emergency of one size or other.
Batteries are the bane of our existence and this lamp is solar powered. In the past solar powered items usually needed a lot of charge for a little result. So I was eager to put this light through the paces because if I can replace my battery powered lanterns with something that could run off the sun I would be thrilled.
After opening the box I read the instructions. They said to use the lantern when dry so the first thing I did was to take it outside, it was night, and leave it there in the rain. Since both camping and emergency situations involve bad weather we needed a test that would mimic true life situations and getting wet is a true life situation.
Using the Light:
The next day was sunny so I gave the light a full 10-hour charge in the sun. That night I turned it on and was surprised at the bright light that was produced. For comparison purposes I turned on a 60-watt incandescent light bulb and while the 60 watt was brighter it offered a more mellow light. The solar light can’t be expected to be as bright as a living room electric light but it wasn’t that far behind in brightness. I was pleasantly surprised how bright the 13 LED elements lit the room. It was easily bright enough to read, repair something and function normally in a power out situation. I ran the light 3 hours with no loss of brightness and because of the LED construction there is no heat generated at all. To soften the light I put a Kleenex over the bulb and secured it with a rubber band which enabled me to look at the light and look away with no loss of night vision.
The following day the light was again put in the sun for a full charge. I ran it for four hours then put it in a dark bag for a week so it could not recharge to test the holding power of the internal batteries. Then I ran it for two hours and put it back in the bag. Three days later I pulled it out of the bag and turned it on. It has now been on over eight hours as I write this review and it is still burning brightly. The batteries are holding the charge nicely.
Here is Where I Probably Void the Warranty:
With the light on I took it outside and turned the hose on it, full pressure, for five minutes. I blasted it with water and hit the bulb and the on/off switch. Then I filled a bucket up with water and submerged it for another five minutes. The light took on water and when I pulled it out of the bucket the water drained from the holes that hold the stand. It’s still working.
Next I picked up the light and dropped it ten times on the ground from four feet. Then for good measure I shook the light as hard as I could for a minute or so. As a follow up to hosing, drowning, dropping and shaking I quickly turned the light on and off twenty times. It’s still working.
A Little More About the Light:
According to the tech specs it weighs in at 1.2 pounds – so it is about as heavy as a can of soup. It has a polycarbonate bulb and it’s about a foot tall. There is a wire stand that is included that spreads out to set the light down or closes up so you can hang it from a hook or use it as a handle. There are no real moving parts except the on/off switch, so there is nothing to break. It is rated at 90-100 lumens but the practical application means you can read, fix your sump pump or apply a bandage to someone with enough light to easily get the job done.
I have to admit I like this light. It seems that when you buy something you have to expect to be disappointed. There was no disappointment in this product. It is so simple to use and there is nothing to mess up and when an emergency hits this light is ready to go. It is perfect for camping or boating and the ideal emergency light source. Best of all, no batteries are ever needed and it will even charge on a cloudy day. I have over 18 hours of use on a charge from a week ago. It’s light, easy to use, simple in design and the darn thing just keeps on burning brightly. The price is $115, which at first seemed a little steep, but not having to feed it batteries and its constant readiness make it a good buy.