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BioLite SunLight 100

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: BioLite SunLight 100 battery-powered lantern

A nifty little light that works great for small campsites, travel, and where a larger lantern might not be practical. Solar or power charging options eliminate the need for batteries.

Pros

  • Two charging options
  • Light enough for most trips
  • Various light options/color modes
  • Moderately water resistant

Cons

  • Flashing indicator when charging
  • No memory of last color mode

Why did I buy this light?
I really enjoy my BioLite AlpenGlow 500 lantern, but for some trips, it just doesn’t make sense to lug around just a big lantern. So I started looking for a smaller, lighter option that would be able to slid into a pack without taking up much room but still provide similar results (i.e. a campsite light or small reading light in a tent), without the need for extra batteries. After doing a little research, I came across the BioLite SunLite 100 at my local outdoor gear shop and have been using it for 8 months now.

Uses have included a couple camping trips, backyard gatherings around the fire pit (great for illuminating the table of drinks/food), as a safety light when walking in the neighborhood at night, and even took it on a 7-day cruise to act as a reading light so I didn’t have to leave a bedside lamp on and disturb my cabin-mates.

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Dimensions:
Weight: 3.6oz (102 g)
Size: 3” x 3” x 1” (7.6cm x 7.6cm x 2.5cm) 

Features:
The primary feature of the BioLite SunLite 100 is namely, well, in its name — the ability to harness the sun for charging. For speed reasons, I’ve mostly used traditional electric power to recharge my SunLite 100, but I have tested the recharging in a controlled backyard setting and it works as advertised. I haven’t been in a situation where I needed to recharge my light while in the backcountry due to a depleted battery life, but if I ever need to, it’s good to know that I’ll have that option.

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Light modes (credit: BioLite.com)

Power Source:
The SunLite 100 is a fully rechargeable light with two charging options; 1) use the Micro USB connector (approx. 2 hours to charge from dead to full juice) or 2) use the giant ball of fire in the sky known as the sun (approx. 7 hours to charge from dead to full juice).

Most of the time, I’ve relied on the Micro USB charging option, but the solar option is a great back-up plan for longer trips or to “top off” the battery after a long night of use.

I do own a much larger BioLite AlpenGlow 500, which has both power input and output options. The smaller SunLite 100 only has power input and cannot be used as a power source for other gadgets. Fortunately, they use the same input cord, so now I have an extra when needed.

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Electrical charging option (micro USB)

  

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Solar charging option.

 

Construction and Durability:
Although small, this light is pretty mighty. It’s gone through the ringers of my 3-year-old daughter playing with it, throwing it, dropping it on pavement, etc. I don’t advise doing those things to it, but it works just the same and shows very little signs of cosmetic wear. 

Burn Time:
The manufacturer claims the SunLite 100 runs for 50 hours on the lowest dimmed setting and 3 hours at the brightest setting. Those times were pretty close to what I experienced when testing the light, with a little bit longer on the brightest setting than is even claimed. The light also has a reserve run time of about 4 hours, but is very minimal.

Light Settings/Color Options:
The SunLite 100 has three color modes, all of which are diffused with no ability to focus or pinpoint the light (think more lantern than headlamp). The settings are easy to navigate through with the touch of the power button. The three options are white (which can be brightened or dimmed with the power button), solid color (which can be cycled through different colors via the power button), and multicolor (or party mode as the manufacturer calls it).

One minor annoyance is that the light does not “remember” which color mode you last had it on when powering it on. It always starts on white mode, no matter what. At least it does “remember” what the last brightness setting was on white mode when it turns on.

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The power button (gray).

 

Battery Life Indicator:
The SunLite 100’s battery life can be checked one of two ways — 1) when turning off the light, a green, yellow or red light will flash or 2) when charging, the same three colors will periodically flash. These light flashes indicate the approximate battery life, with green meaning a full or near full battery, yellow meaning roughly half battery life, and red meaning it needs charged as the battery life is running on empty.

The flashing indicator is somewhat annoying to me personally. It’s not a major flaw or drawback, but I just personally don’t like the full flash indicator, when compared to other options like a small LED indicator or other, less intrusive option.

Water Resistance:
The sealed unit has an IPX4 rating, meaning it can handle splashed water like a good rainstorm, but shouldn’t be submerged. I’ve had it out in light rain conditions and saw no ill effects.

Recommendation:
The BioLite SunLite 100 has become my go-to little light for reading in a tent and when I want a little extra light on some area of the campsite without flooding the site with light. It’s small size and weight, coupled with its solar rechargeability allow it to be useful on most trips. 

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BioLite SunLight 100 next to the BioLite AlpenGlow 500

Background

I've used a variety of lighting sources over my many years of camping. I've grown fond of rechargeable options in recent years. This is the first solar/dual recharge light I've owned.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $20 USD

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Specs

Price MSRP: $19.95
Current Retail: $19.95
Historic Range: $11.42-$24.99
Lumens 100 Lm
Water Resistance IPX4
Charge Up Time USB 2 Hours
Charge Up Time Solar 7 Hours
Inputs Micro USB Charge In
Burn Time (hours) 50 LO/3 HI + 4 Hours In Reserve Mode
Battery 2.8 Wh (750 mAh) li-ion
Lighting Modes White, Full Color, Party Mode
Weight 3.4 oz (95 g)
Dimmable Yes in White mode
Dimensions 3.35 x 3.39 x 0.91 in / 85 x 86 x 23 mm
Product Details from BioLite »

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