The Lighthouse 250 is simple, elegant and unique. It is a product that we, here at Goal Zero, are proud of and excited to share. Our product development team worked hard to make the best lantern possible. We had the opportunity to talk with Norm Krantz, our VP of Innovation and Product Design, about the creation of the Lighthouse 250..
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Norm Krantz and I’m the VP of Innovation and Product Design. My team is in charge of figuring out what Goal Zero products are on the horizon, developing them, and how to create a really good user experience. We figure out what our products will look like, how they feel, how bright they are, how powerful they are and how they will charge.
When designing a new product, what is your main goal?
One of our goals is to make it look obvious. If it is a really good design people will look at it and go, “of course that’s how it works, that’s obviously how it should work”. Sometimes getting to an obvious answer can be really challenging. You usually go through a lot of complicated options and ideas before you end up there. If you do it right people will think, “Why are they paying him? It’s so obvious”.
One of the other things we look at the most and focus on is creating the best user experience we can. Sometimes people know what a good experience would be, but sometimes they don’t until they see it. People didn’t know they needed an iphone until they had an iphone.
Tell us about the Lighthouse 250
It’s the world’s greatest lantern. (Laughs) What more do you need to know? Really though, it is a 250 lumen lantern that was designed for outdoor use.
One of the primary features is the Dual Light. It is something very unique that has a lot of benefits. It gives you the ability to, first of all, use half the power. Secondly it gives you the ability to put the light where you want it. Sometimes I don’t want the light in my own face, I want it where I’m looking.
Tell us a little bit about the design process
After the last lighthouse we knew we could do better. We knew we could do brighter, warmer, a more even light in a smaller package. As surprising as this sounds, there are actually very few players in the outdoor industry in lanterns. As we looked closer we felt that, even though there are some great lanterns out there, we could do better than what we saw. Our main inspiration was that people need a really good lantern and we felt that we were the ones to do it.
The project was originally triggered by individuals in the industry and our own observations. Our team started discussing how big and how bright we wanted the lantern to be. We came up with various sketches of what it would look like if it did this or that and eventually built some prototypes. We then worked on coming up with different features that we felt would create the best user experience possible. It was about an 18 month project.
How did you guys come up with the Dual Light and the light design?
I guess I am kind of a light freak. I really like lights and I think a lot about lighting design; flashlights, home lights, and lanterns. I just dig them. When we started the project, we thought really hard about finding the best way to get light out of a lantern and how to make it useful. The Dual Light is definitely part of it, but we worked hard on the way the lantern would function as a whole.
The way we put in the diffuser and where we put the lights causes the majority of the light to angle slightly downward. If you are sitting on a table you aren’t trying to light the stars. You are trying to light your feet, the table, whatever you’re reading or your camping gear. We noticed that a lot of lights out there waste a lot of light shooting it up into outer space or into your eyes. We noticed others that had a lot of dark shadows or that they cast a big donut of light. We tried to go for something really warm, even and soft. Even where the Dual Light features meet, it’s seamless. You can hardly tell where those two sides meet each other.
What other features does it have?
It has a full dimmer on both sides. Not only to save power, but to get the light level to where you want it. The dimmer knob is actually pretty unique and we are proud of it. Turn it one way and it dims half, turn it the other and it dims both sides. It is pretty intuitive.
The legs were primarily done to make the unit more compact for when you’re traveling or packing it. During use they raise the light and make the light more useful. One of the happy accidents with the legs is that they work really well as hooks. I don’t know if I should admit that it was an accident, but it allows the lantern to hang on the top edges of walls, doors and branches. Every once in a while you get lucky.
Durability was something we really worked on. We made the outer lens out of polycarbonate the rest is all ABS construction. It has two 18650 rechargeable batteries in it. That’s 16 watt hours of charge to run the light or charge your phone, so there’s a lot of power in it.
It charges phones and other USB devices and the lantern itself is rechargeable. We built in a USB cord that you can’t lose. It’s permanently attached on a tether. We call it the belt or the bow tie. It gives you a few inches of cord so you can charge it from the wall, from your computer, or from a solar panel. Also, just in case, if it’s night and your run out of power you can use the hand crank on the top. The hand crank is there as an “if all else fails” solution. You will never be without light, or phone charging for that matter, with this product.
In the end if you take out the folding legs, the crank, the red lights, and it’s charging capabilities it is just a really good lantern. All the other stuff is just gravy.
How do you use it?
I recently took it on a boy scout camp with my son. We used it in the tent and around the fire, all that good stuff. The funny thing is that I find myself working around the house with it more than anything. I’m under the sink doing plumbing work, in the cellar working on random jobs, I use it for all kinds of things around the house now. I use it at home as much as I do outdoors if not more.
Anything else you want to say about the Lighthouse 250?
I think that pretty much sums it up.
Thanks for your time Norm.
Learn more about the Lighthouse 250 here