MPOWERD LUCI SOLAR LED LIGHT
TEST SERIES BY THERESA LAWRENCE
INITIAL REPORT - March 27, 2013
FIELD REPORT - July 31, 2013
theresa_newell AT yahoo DOT com
Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada
5' 8" (1.73 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
I have more than 15 years of backpacking experience. Day hikes and 2-3 day backpacking trips take place on most weekends throughout the year while longer trips are only occasional. I backpack predominantly in mountain terrain (Coast Range, Cascades and Canadian Rockies) with the goal of summiting peaks. Activities I use my gear with include mountaineering, ski touring, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, trail running, Search and Rescue and overseas travel. I like my gear to be reasonably light, convenient and simple to use though I would not claim to be a lightweight hiker.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://mpowerd.com
Made In: China
Listed Weight: 4.5 oz (128 g)
Measured Weight: 3.35 oz (95 g)
Dimensions: 5 in (12.5 cm) x 4.5 in (11.25 cm)
Battery: rechargeable 3.7VDC lithium polymer battery
LED Bright Light: 1200 Lumens
Lighting Area: 15 sq ft (1.4 sq m)
Light Duration: 6-12 hours
Charge Time: 6 hours
Charge Hold Duration: 2 months
Lifespan: 1 year
Mpowerd's Luci is a compact and lightweight solar powered LED lantern. Suggested uses include camping, backyards, parties, dorm rooms, roadside assistance, blackouts and much more. The light is intended to be used as a task lamp, diffused lantern and compact portable light all in one.
Luci consists of 2 discs separated by a transparent plastic cylinder. One disc has the solar panels on one side and 10 LED lights on the other. The other disc has a reflective surface facing the LED lights. To operate Luci, an air valve is used to blow up the plastic cylinder creating a lantern shape. A small button on top turns the LED lights on. There are 3 settings low, high and flashing. To deflate the lantern, the air valve just needs to be squeezed and lantern compressed. There are handles on either end for hanging.
Mpowerd is a socially responsible company that will send one Luci light to a developing country for every light that is purchased in a developed country. The idea is that it is an off-grid lighting solution for those in developing countries, which will not add any burden, as there is no need for batteries, fuel or electricity to operate it.
Luci arrived in an envelope to my door. I was impressed with how lightweight and compact it was, which I suspect will be ideal for packing in my backpack. The handles allow for a small carabiner to be attached for hanging the lantern. It was neat to see the solar panels first hand. I don't own any kind of alternative energy light source, it was very exciting to me that I don't have to carry replacement batteries or fuel for it.
Luci was easy to get started. I blew up the lantern with the use of the air valve and right before my eyes I had a cute little lantern. The button turned the lantern on and to my surprise it was quite bright and the next setting even brighter. The third setting was indeed flashing. Luci functions right out of the package. I have not yet tried to charge it or run it down. These and other observations are going to be part of the data I will collect over the next couple of months.
Overall, it seems so simple an idea, well thought up and just may revolutionize lighting in the backcountry. I look forward to testing Luci through her paces.
Thanks to Mpowerd and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to take part in this test series.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I've taken Luci on the following trips:
|Hang to Charge|
- 6 nights car camping in Moab, Utah (cycling and hiking trip)
- 2 nights car camping in Castle, Alberta (whitewater kayaking trip)
- 1 night car camping in Elko, BC (SAR training exercise)
- 2 nights backcountry camping in Banff National Park, Alberta (35 km [22 mi] hiking trip)
- 2 nights backcountry camping in Height of The Rockies Provincial Park, BC (24 km [15 mi] hiking trip)
- 4 nights backcountry camping in Skoki Vally, Banff National Park, Alberta (65 km [40 mi] hiking trip)
- 2 nights car camping in Sundre, Alberta (whitewater kayaking trip)
Weather and temperatures encountered ranged from about 6 C (43 F) to 38 C (100 F) and everything from dry happy sun to cloudy miserable raging storm.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
What can I say? Luci was an outdoor enthusiast magnet. I have never felt so poplar on the trail or in the camp. I can confirm that Luci has been a very effective conversation starter. It attracted curious hikers and campers alike with questions of "What is that? How does it work?" followed by "that's so cool, where can I get one?".
Luci outperformed all my expectations. I was never without light with Luci. I could always find a way to charge it, whether on my backpack, or on the outside of my tent, or hanging off a tree. It even withstood a substantial storm full of vengeful rain. It remained completely water tight and no shorting of any of the lights. At one point it looked as though there was some condensation (appeared as dark spots) on the inside panel housing the LEDs, but I see no sign of it now and the lights still work. On one trip I hadn't used Luci for about 3 weeks and didn't charge it up before using. The light lasted about 30 minutes before going dimmer and dimmer, the next day I charged it during the day in the sun and had no further problems. I've tried leaving the light on overnight and in the morning it was still going (that was about 8 hours).
|Ready to Read|
My favorite use for the light was reading in my tent. I don't need a headlamp to do this anymore. I was able to hook Luci onto my tent with a carabiner just above our heads in a 2 person tent and both of us could read off of Luci's light. Placing it in the middle of the tent on the ceiling was like a chandelier, which lit up the whole tent allowing enough light to play cards, etc.
When using the light outside it had to be carried like a lantern. So activities where I had to move around a lot such as setting up a tent was a bit awkward, always having to move the lantern and setting it down again. However, for tasks like cooking at a table, where I didn't need to move, the lighting worked quite well and didn't move with my head, which was nice.
While I didn't test this, I believe the reflectiveness of the disc would be a great signal if one became lost and had to signal an aircraft since it resembles a mirror. This discussion for use came up while hiking on a trail. I had it hanging from my backpack and every time the sun hit it just right it reflected my partner behind me in the eye, "making him blind" (so he claimed). On that safety note, Luci also has a flashing - off and on setting, which I'm sure would also make a great signaling device at night. (Again a projection if you will allow, I didn't actually test that).
|Charging On The Trail|
There has been no degradation in Luci's materials, the plastic and all the solar panel and LED components are all intact and appear to be of solid construction. The reflective mirror opposite the LEDs has somewhat dented ... probably because of setting my backpack down on its back on a rock, forgetting that the light was hanging there. However, it didn't take away from the function.
The fact that this light is so weightless and easy to pack around has convinced me it's a great lantern to backpack with. It wouldn't replace my headlamp, which I would still use to hike a trail at night or set up a tent, but all the tasks at camp and in the tent, I found to be more enjoyable with this lantern, especially when there were two of us, because then we weren't shining our headlamps in each others eyes, a great bonus!
Overall, I couldn't be more pleased with Luci. It provides adequate light in the dark for tasks such as reading and cooking. Hanging inside a tent, the tent becomes well lit for every occupant. It is easy to pack, very light and easy to charge. The bonus is that there are no batteries to replace and no extra batteries to bring. Luci will have a definite place on my backpack for all my future backpacking adventures.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
- Provides ample light for tasks in and out of the tent (reading, cooking)
- No batteries, no maintenance
- Charges anywhere
- Can hang it anywhere
- 2 settings (bright and brighter) and a 3rd flashing setting
- Easy to set up
Thanks to MPowerd and BackbackGeartTest.org for allowing me to test this great idea for backpacking.
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