When it comes to solar powered LED lights, the d.light S20 and S300 are certainly excellent options. While the lights themselves are competitively priced, and offer good value, d.light’s business model shouldn’t be overlooked either. Even though d.light is run for profit, they still give back a generous 10% of the net proceeds of their US sales by providing lights for people in developing countries around the world. Just a few benefits to the recipients are increased productivity (they can work after dark), better education (children have light to ready and study by), improved health (liquid fuel lanterns are extremely unhealthy, especially indoors), and financial gains (solar saves money). Of course, this review is about why you should own either the d.light S20, S300, or both, as part of your emergency kit. Remember, September is National Preparedness Month. I just had to open with why this is one of the companies we chose to cover.
Handling the d.light S20 solar powered LED light for the first time, I didn’t know what to make of it. It’s easily mistaken for a funky water bottle. Don’t be fooled by what appears to be random a random design effort. That bit that looks like a pint glass actually diffuses the light out the sides, and focuses it somewhat through the base. An angled top positions the solar panel to catch plenty of sun, and makes it easier to direct light. A simple removable wire swings through multiple detents, allowing it to be positioned at varying angles too. Use it on a table, hang it on wall, or point it up from the ground. You can get light where you need it fairly easily.
More then just a solar powered LED light, the d.light S300 is a powerful lantern with a USB port for charging your phone. There’s even a fuel gauge for the internal battery. It’s something we take for granted, but without reliable electricity, it’s not easy to keep a mobile phone charged. So the S300 empowers its owner in more ways than one. Rather than positioning, it offers the flexibility of more output options. The wide angle design has four brightness settings. That allows it to light up a room or use it as a night light. And the large handle as well as small strap on top still offer some versatility in placement. A detachable solar panel is included for charging.
Some specs are common to both units,since the solar portion and LED lights are similar – charging can be done in 8 hours via solar, or the included USB cable. Unlike many USB products, they use a standard Nokia plug, which is more common overseas than in the US. Both run 4 hours on high, and 8 on medium. The S300 has a low setting, good for 16 hours, and a bed-light which provides up to 100 hours of run time. It’s also got a cord to charge a variety of mobile phones. Each is weather, dust, and impact resistant, never requires a new battery, and comes with a two year replacement warranty.
Like all lights, solar LED lights are pretty easy to test. Charge them up, run them down, and light things up in the middle. We found the S20 had ample light for most tasks we might do in the dark during emergencies. It provides enough light to read or cook by, and is sufficient for lighting your way to the restroom. With more output, the S300 can light a 15×20 room, so close work was no trouble at all. Being able to charge a phone is certainly a bonus too. Despite our somewhat rough handling, both endured the test period unscathed. The only complaints we had were minor – the solar panel for the S300 could use some sort of mounting option, even if it’s just a hole to hang it from a nail. And the Nokia plug, rather than the standard USB micro, was a bit of a surprise. Other than that, the $19.99 for the S20 and $52.99 for the S300 seem to be more than fair. Check them both out, and read more about the contributions d.light has made at d.lightdesign.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: We received the d.light S20 and S300 solar LED lights for free from d.light, in consideration for review publication