An extraordinary amount of research, design, technology, and innovation goes into the creation of every Goal Zero product, from the earliest CAD drawings to the final phases of production. In our From the Engineers series, we get a behind-the-scenes look at the development of our portable power, solar, and lighting products, straight from the engineers who design them.
Over the years, we've created portable lanterns and lights designed to hang, pack, and strap to everything from backpacks to tents to vehicles. With our latest lighting offering, we've added another useful feature to our lineup: collapsiblity.
Meet the Crush Light.
With 60 lumens of light, a built-in solar panel, and the ability to collapse down to half of an inch, the Crush Light is made to be the ultimate lightweight adventure companion. In the following video and interview, Head of Product Innovation and light enthusiast Norm Krantz shares where the idea for this crushable lantern came from and divulges a few secrets for how to make the most of your Crush Light experience.
What was the goal in creating the Crush Light?
When we came up with the idea for the Crush Light, we wanted a way to take all the things that Goal Zero does so well - solar, battery, and light - and bring them together into one tiny package that you can put in your pocket and take with you. Having them separate works great in so many applications, but sometimes you want all the elements in one product that you can just toss in a bag or your pocket and be ready for anything.
The Crush Light works for a lot of different situations. One of our goals for the light was for it to be versatile. So it works great for camping, but also looks good at a backyard party. Our roots go back to disaster relief and helping people who are facing difficult circumstances, and I can see the Crush Light working really well in those situations, as an emergency prepardness product, as well.
Why make it collapsible?
The most obvious answer is that you can get it really, really small so it's easily packable. But there's more to it than that. There's added flexibility that comes along with being collapsible. You can work with angles a bit and hang it and use the light in different ways. You can expose it halfway or all the way. The other thing about these kind of stepped, collapsible items is that they support themselves without needing to be inflated. They can't be popped or deflated, so you don't have to worry about them being punctured and then losing their structure. Lastly, they have a nice form to them.
What makes the Crush Light unique?
There are several features that make this product unique compared to other small solar-rechargeable lanterns out there. For starters, it's not only solar-rechargeable, but also USB-rechargeable. Let's say it's the night before a camping trip and the sun isn’t out, so you can’t rely on that option for recharging but you can get it all charged up via USB.
Also, the Crush Light has three brightness settings: high, medium, and low. On high, it’s 60 lumens, and it'll run for three hours this way. All the way down on low, it'll actually run for thirty-five hours. It's also waterproof with an IPX4 rating, so if you leave it outside and it gets wet in the rain, that's no problem.
Any tips and tricks for using it?
The Crush Light has two hang holes that are used to hold it to the package, but those same hang holes can actually be used to hang the light from a backpack while you're hiking. That way, it can be exposed to the sun and always charging while you're out there on the move.
Another fun feature to know about is the detachable handle. Let's say you're out camping and you see a tree branch that you want to hang the Crush Light from to illuminate your campsite, or you're caught in a storm and you need to hang it from a hook in the ceiling or bar in the closet, you can actually easily detach that handle, hook it, and then reattach and secure it.
Next, because it’s so flexible and collapsible, you can do a few tricks to get it to charge really well from the sun. You can point it and angle it so that the solar panel lines up perfectly with wherever the sun happens to be in the sky. The Crush Light also tends to not blow in the wind, like some products do. You can kind of do some cool things with how it's lit, or how it's hanging; make a wide beam of light or more of a shaded light. It's not just either open or closed.
One more neat thing about the Crush Light is that there are a couple ways you can illuminate an area with it. One way is to get just a really powerful light in one central location. But that tends to have diminishing returns. The further away objects are, the harder it is to illuminate them. You have to get an extremely bright light to pull it off. If you don’t want to go that route, the other thing you can do is to simply have lots of little lights spread out, and that's actually a much more efficient way to illuminate a space. The Crush Light compacts so small for packing that you can easily get a whole bunch of them and spread them out across a whole area, whether it’s at a campsite or a party, or in an emergency situation.