Some time ago I was sent a Goal Zero Torch 250 for review. Full disclosure: it was sent free of charge. I must say that when I was first contacted by a Goal Zero distributor about reviewing a product I never expected to be sent a flashlight. Let’s face it, this is NOT what Goal Zero is known for! However I was optimistic that they had come up with a way to integrate a handy light source into a power storage unit.
Let’s begin by taking a tour of the unit…
The Torche 250 sports 3 light sources. An LED spotlight with high or low settings, a multi LED floodlight with high or low settings, and two red LED emergency lights with solid on or flashing settings. For charging options there is a build in USB cable that is not replaceable, a small 0.8 watt solar panel, and a hand crank dynamo.
On the bottom of the unit are 3 pushbutton switcheds for the 3 light features, a USB output port, 2 fold down hooks for hanging, and 4 LED lights as a charge indicator.
Of course the first thing I wanted to look at was the actual battery life vs the advertised battery life. To do this I simply turned the unit on and watched for it to go out. Here are the results.
Spot light on high setting:
Advertised – 7hrs
Actual – 10 hrs
Flood light on high setting:
Advertised – 22 hrs
Actual – 11 hrs
Goal Zero claims a charge time of 5 hrs from a USB source, which is just about on the mark. As you can see however, the battery life estimates are completely out of whack! As for charging via the built in solar panel or hand crank, the estimates given by Goal Zero were so poor (23 – 46 hours for solar and 1 minute of cranking for 2 minutes of light) that they don’t warrant testing. It should be noted that I was able to charge the light using an external folding 10 watt solar panel and the built in USB cable in about 5 hours of direct sunlight.
SInce Goal Zero is known for solar power generation and storage, I decided to check out a few devices I would want to charge or power up in real life. I was able to charge my flip phone twice with a full battery and I could also run a small QRP ham radio for several hours.As for todays popular smart phones, I have no idea as I do not own one and hopefully never will.
What I liked:
I love rechargeable lights, so as such it is simply OK, but has limitations as you will read lower down.
What I didn’t like:
Limited recharge options. The solar and crank options are all but useless and the built in USB cable looks cheap and prone to general wear and tear. Remember, it is built in and therefor not replaceable.
The fold out hooks for hanging are small and limit yuor options for placement. For example they would not fit around a standard shower curtain rod to help see where you are “going”.
The operating temperature rating is from 0c to 40c. Not Canada friendly.
The price. At $110 CAD from MEC (others may sell for more or less) this is one expensive flashlight!
All in all the Torch 250 missed the mark on many levels. I had hoped for a power storage unit with a lighting option, but was disapointed. Look for better options.
Source: CPN Blog