The Lighthouse 250: Thoughts From an Engineer

The Lighthouse 250: Thoughts From an Engineer
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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.

LH250The 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.
You’re welcome.

Learn more about the Lighthouse 250 here

15 Comments

  1. Jason Elliott 4 years ago

    Awesome light, but where’s the awesome case???…… What is the point of charging something so you can rely on it, only to discover when you arrive at your campsite near dark, it’s dead because the giant green button was pressed in your pack and it’s dead when you needed it the most?? The article is a great stroking of the engineer and his colleagues but nobody thought, hmm we probably need a great case for this great item?………J

    • Jason Elliott 4 years ago

      I meant to say turned not pressed, yes I do own this item…..

    • goalzero 4 years ago

      Hey Jason,

      The large green nob on the front is to be twisted. It is rather slick and doesn’t snag or twist in packs easily. We haven’t heard feedback from anyone in the field that has dealt with this issue. If you are currently dealing with this please let us know and we will work on a solution.

      • Ken 4 years ago

        My lantern arrived today, and it was “on” when I opened the box. Jason may be onto something.

        Very excited to use my new lantern 250…

  2. Gary Long 3 years ago

    I go to the Nevada deserts to look for gold once in a while. I needed something to light my little camping trailer, as it isn’t set up for interior lights, except if hooked up to my truck, and the truck battery can be drained if I forget & leave the lights on. I do have a couple of old style lanterns, but they can be messy, and the mantles always seem to be broken when I get to a campsite.
    I bought several of the Litehouse 250’s recently. I decided to try one out before I took it out to the desert with me, just to see what it could do. I turned it on, left the Litehouse 250 on my kitchen table all night, on the low setting. My what nice light it put off even on the low setting!
    In the morning, the Litehouse 250 was still growing strong, I still had 3 blue battery strength indicator lights still showing. Later, I tested the recharging of the 250 on a battery charger which had a USB port, recharged the Litehouse 250, using the little green USB pigtail, and now. my Litehouse 250 is all ready to go. Oh yes, I did try the rotating red emergency lights on the top, and was pleased to know that I could use this neat little lantern in virtually any home or emergency situation where light might be needed.

    • Author
      goalzero 3 years ago

      Hey Gary! The Lighthouse 250 is a favorite for a lot of the employees around here too. Glad you like it.

  3. Greg 3 years ago

    why not a built In solar panel??

    • Author
      goalzero 3 years ago

      The way the lantern’s size and power requirements don’t allow for a panel that would be effective.

  4. ray 3 years ago

    hi

    i look at the 250 and i dont see it lighting much more than a small area. i think that 5 of them lights up a small room.

  5. Stephanie 2 years ago

    Unsatisfied with the product. Had high expectations! Died on first weekend field test, would not charge. #fail
    Discovered after the fact, that the battery needs to be charged regardless of usage in order to maintain charging ability.

    Customer service is sending me a new light, which does speak to the companies diligence hopefully they upgrade the battery to improve shelf life.

  6. Paul Adderson 2 years ago

    Dear sir,
    This product needs an upgrade.it needs a built in solar panel with mmpt technology,also it needs better handcrank technology,it’s to short & plastic.it is not strong enough.The fold away legs are to light weight and not sturdy enough. It needs to be waterproof 100%.with a rubber casing.
    Many thanks

  7. Susan Johnson 2 years ago

    I bought one of these little lanterns for my husband and I. When we go on camping trips (more like staying in yurts now) we were using his BIG old two mantle Coleman lantern. We just took this little one to Oregon with us and I loved the light it put out. Easy to use, great to be able to not use the legs. My question is this. We have a daughter over in Africa with the Peace Corps. She has no electricity and while her solar panel will charge her iPod it will not charge her phone. How do I know this would work to charge her phone? Are there special cords needed?
    Thanks.

  8. todd rasmussen 2 years ago

    just got it, as a gift. for back packing, hunting, and truck cab/shell light. seemed it was dead when received, no light… plugged in to charge, after an hour it would light up, one blue light, second flashing, left it plugged into computer USB port for about seven hours, all blue lights lit up but the last one would not quite flashing, how do you know when it is fully charged? unplugged from computer, lights go out,{charge level lights}. , turn it on all stay on ,,,full charge .? OK with the last blue light still flashing when plugged in , I was guessing it was bot done charging, after many hours of charging, but apparently it was full, shouldn’t all charging light’s stay on when charge is full?

    • Author
      goalzero 2 years ago

      Give our customer service team a call. 888-794-6250

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