St. George—Eight years ago, Terry Peterson had a bright idea: he wanted to make solar-powered flashlights. And while Peterson said the world wasn’t quite ready for his product back then, Peterson has persevered in his vision—and in the past year and a half, his hard work has paid off. HybridLight, Peterson’s St. George-based solar flashlight company, has been taking off.
Eight years ago, Peterson was working in the construction supply business, and while working on a project in China, he got turned on to the idea of making flashlights.
“Flashlights are more fun than tools,” he said, adding that living in St. George has always given him ample opportunity to test and play around with flashlights. Waking at 5 a.m. and coming home past dark means that Peterson is always in need of light, in addition to needing one for most of his hobbies. “I’ve always been a flashlight guy—it’s been one of my interests to start with. Everything I’ve done—hunting, fishing, camping—has always required a flashlight. Making it solar was the challenge.”
Peterson returned to the states, armed with knowledge he’d uncovered during his trip, and met with friends of his, mechanical engineers, to help design his solar-powered flashlight. At the time, Peterson said he wasn’t exactly met with applause for his solar design—so Peterson built a flashlight that you shook to make work.
“The first few years we started out, my very first flashlight I did was a shake flashlight. It was more of a novelty. When I went to solar, it wasn’t embraced,” said Peterson. “That was the first thing we did, but it was a short-lived thing; you couldn’t patent it and knockoffs started happening. So we moved away from that.”
While the novelty item sold, Peterson and his team focused on perfecting the solar flashlight. Peterson added a battery to supplement the solar energy and put in a USB port. What resulted is the current HybridLight model: a hybrid flashlight that charges either in the sun or within an hour and a half plugged into the wall. The flashlight’s lithium battery then holds the charge for up to seven years and can supply 12 hours of light before needing to be charged again. The added USB port means that it can charge a cell phone fully.
“You never really use a full charge,” said Peterson. “I just leave mine around so it’s always trickle-charging. The better the light source, the faster it charges. If I use the flashlight for 30 minutes in the morning and 20 at night, I’m never using the full charge. And then when I charge my phone, it might pull 50 percent out of the flashlight, but that still leaves me six hours of light. It’s always got power.”
Furthermore, Peterson built in a 20 percent reserve into the flashlight’s circuitry. This means that if one were to plug in their phone and then wander off, the flashlight wouldn’t exhaust its power trying to charge the cell phone—the charge would cut off when the flashlight’s charge sank to two hours of remaining light, making sure both the phone and the flashlight still have the ability to work.
Now, HybridLight has five different flashlights, three lanterns and a headlamp. The company is growing so quickly now that Peterson said the company could quadruple in size in a year’s time. The company will soon be diversifying into other solar-powered products, including an automotive light with a magnetic base that can shine a powerful 400-lumen light for people who need to work under the hood or under their cars in the dark, as well as solar-powered speakers and power banks for construction sites or camping. While HybridLight currently manufactures their products in China, Peterson said he wants to one day be able to move the manufacturing into the United States instead.
“In the next few months, we’re going to be looking pretty broad,” said Peterson. “We have a lifetime guarantee—we’re here to please.”