TEST SERIES BY JERRY ADAMS
INITIAL REPORT - March 18, 2013
FIELD REPORT - July 26, 2013
Portland, Oregon, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay in the Western half of Oregon and Washington. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 12 lb (6 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Mpowerd Inc.
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.mpowerd.com
Listed Weight: 4.5 ounces (128 g)
Measured Weight: 3.35 oz (95 g)
Size: 5 inches (127 mm) diameter x 1 inch (25 mm) high collapsed or 5 inches (127 mm) inflated
The Mpowerd Luci is a rechargeable LED lamp. The intended application is for people that are off the grid but it also makes a good backpacking lamp.
On their website, they say that it:
- charges in 8 hours of sunlight yielding a minimum of 6-12 hours of light at night.
- has an internal Lithium Polymer battery.
- can also charge off incandescent lights.
- can be used as a task light, flash light or diffused lantern.
- delivers 80 lumens providing 15 square feet (1.4 square meter) of light.
- should deliver 300-500 charge cycles.
- maintain a charge for three months.
- has a minimum lifespan of 2 years.
Some of the specs on the package are slightly different - 1 year lifespan and 1200 Lumens LED Bright Light.
The Luci consists of a panel with 10 LEDs inside a plastic bag that can be blown up or deflated, with a reflector above. I think the plastic is vinyl or PVC. There's a plastic strap on the top and bottom:
The reflector above appears to be an aluminized coating applied to the inside of the plastic. It's very thin. When the LEDs are on, I can see them through the coating. It spreads the illumination over an area, like for reading. The air pressure of the bag makes the reflective surface curved, providing a lens effect. By changing the air pressure, the curve can be adjusted to change the illumination pattern. I'll have to play with that a little to see if it makes any significant difference.
Here it is deflated:
On the bottom side of the panel with the LEDs is the solar panel. It is also inside the plastic bag. The on-off button is in the center. The button is inside the bag and can be pushed from outside the bag:
Push the button and the LEDs come on low. Push again and the LEDs are on high. Push again and it flashes. Push it again and it turns off. Repeat...
Looking at the solar panel, it seems fairly cheaply made - it consists of several pieces that are slightly different size, there is some soldering that doesn't look very uniform, must have been hand soldered. But, it doesn't cost a lot so probably this is what should be expected. It should be good enough to last 2 years and meet the other specs.
Since the Luci is enclosed in a plastic bag, it should be very water resistant. And the plastic bag provides some cushioning if it falls. I already tested this.
The Luci is made in China.
They say that if you buy one, they will send another one to someone that needs it.
They mention that one quarter of the world's population, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia has no electricity and another quarter has irregular electricity. Luci is intended to give light to that half of the population. If someone has no electricity it's really difficult to do anything at night, like study for school or manufacture something. The Luci could make a major improvement even though it is such a simple device. They also say that they want to provide manufacturing and distribution opportunities in developing nations.
The instructions were some clever pictograms:
Let me translate, left to right, then top to bottom:
- Pull out the valve
- Inflate by blowing into it
- That will result in the bag being fully inflated
- Push the button and it will come on low
- Push the button again and it will go to high
- Push the button again and it will flash
- Squeeze the valve to release the air
- Which will compress it
- Place in sunlight to charge the built in battery
Yeah, the Luci is pretty cheaply made, but probably good enough, and you want it to be cheap to mass produce.
Even though the intended application is for people that have no electricity, this could make a nice backpacking light, especially for long trips when I don't want to worry about spare batteries.
I inflated it, deflated it, charged it in the sun, turned it on and off. Everything works good. I used it in my windowless bathroom, which is 40 square feet (3.7 square meters) and the Luci provided good illumination for the entire room, so I think their 15 square foot (1.4 square meter) area spec is conservative. There is a difference between low and high but not enough to make any difference to me. As I find on almost all LED lamps, the low setting is way too high - I could use a much lower setting for most tasks which would prolong battery life.
I normally use an LED headlamp. That is good for walking around and doing stuff, but not so good for area lighting, like when I'm in my tent fiddling with my stuff. The Luci should be better. On the other hand, the Luci won't be so good for walking around and doing stuff, but I'll see if it's good enough.
The first part of my testing will be to just use it at home. See how long it lasts when fully charged. See how long it lasts after being charged for 6 hours. etc.
Then, I'll use it on some backpack trips. Figure out how to attach to outside of pack so it will charge. See how well it works.
I am just guessing that half the weight of this is the plastic bag on the outside. On the day after the test is over, I will cut off the bag and see how much it weighs then. It should be about 2 ounces (57 g). If that would provide indefinite light, that would be a pretty good piece of equipment.
The Mpowerd Luci is a rechargeable LED lamp.
Its intended application is providing light to people that have no electricity, but should also be a good light for backpacking.
It weighs about the same as LED lights that have conventional batteries and no solar panel.
The Luci looks pretty cheaply made, but my testing should determine if it's good enough.
It's more of a lantern for small area illumination than a flashlight for walking, but I'll see how well it works in all modes.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
First, I did some testing at home.
I charged the Luci completely by putting under fluorescent light for several days. I then turned on the light on low. It ran for 8 hours without noticeable dimming. Over 6 more hours it got gradually dimmer until it was so dim as to be barely useful.
I then put it outside where it was cloudy with occasional bits of sun from 9AM to 4PM (standard time). I then ran it on low for 3 hours until it started getting dimmer but still useful.
I did several more cycles of charging and discharging. After the last cycle it ran 7.5 hours on low without noticeable dimming. Then another 3 hours until it was so dim as to be barely useful. It didn't run quite as long as before but maybe it wasn't quite fully charged?
April 26, 2013 - 4 night backpack up Herman Creek in North Central Oregon. I put it on the outside of my pack to recharge and occasionally placed it in the sun. Used it about 1 hour per night. When I got home I turned it on low and it lasted about 8 hours before starting to get dim, which shows that leaving it on my pack during the trip kept it fully charged.
May 29, 2013 - 4 night backpack and 2 night car camp at Zigzag Ridge and Ramona Falls in North central Oregon. 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C).
June 27, 2013 - 4 night backpack at Strawberry Mountain in central Oregon. 50 to 85 F (10 to 29 C).
For my backpacking trips, I strapped the Luci onto the top of my backpack:
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I took the Luci on 3 backpacking trips, each 4 nights. I put the Luci on the outside of my pack during the day and occasionally put it out in the sun to charge. I used it for about an hour each night. At the end of each trip I determined that it was fully charged by running the light until it started getting dim, and verified that it lasted about 8 hours on the low light level. Therefore, I think this light would be good for long trips where I wouldn't want to worry about having to carry spare batteries if I only needed 1 hour of light per night.
I did about 8 cycles of fully charging it and then running it down at the low setting. It ran for about 8 hours until it started to get dim and ran for several more hours at a usable level of brightness. This is consistent with their claim that it would run for 6 to 12 hours on a charge. They claim that it would provide 300 - 500 charge cycles. I only tested 8, but there was no sign of any degradation during that number of charge cycles.
When I was camping, it provided a nice amount of light for general usage.
One problem was that twice, I was camping without tent, and in the middle of the night it started raining so I had to quickly set up my tent. The Luci provided some light, but just wasn't very good for moving around to different places as I set up the tent so I used a LED headlamp that worked much better. If I could have attached it to my head or body it would have been better.
I walked around some, holding the lamp in my hand, and it gave pretty good illumination - wide area, not a spotlight. This isn't the best light I've used for hiking at night, (because of the broad illumination and having to hold it in my hand) but it's adequate. A better use is when I'm in my tent or around camp fiddling with stuff.
The reflector is probably not necessary. Some times I blew it up, and other times I just used it without blowing it up and it seemed equally useful. The blow-up valve and cap worked just fine.
The Luci has a handle made of the same PVC material as the cover. I used it to attach to my pack. This held up fine over my testing period. My last trip was 85 F ( C) and hotter in the sun which made the handle and cover a little soft but it didn't break or really show any sign of wear, maybe a little stretching.
Overall, the Mpowerd Luci worked pretty good - it would provide at least 1 hour of light per night indefinitely for just 3.35 oz (95 g).
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
It provided adequate light for general usage.
It ran for at least 8 hours on a charge although it would then take several days to charge back up assuming it was strapped to the back of my pack and not out in the sun all the time, but if I had to use it a lot one night, and then less for several nights, or whatever, then that would work pretty good.
The only downside is that for task usage, there was no way I could attach it to my head or body to free up my hands. I probably could have figured out something. When it was in the middle of the night and I quickly had to set up my tent, my head lamp worked much better.
It has a convenient handle to attach to the outside of my pack so it could charge during the day.
Probably the best thing about the Luci is the charity aspect. I would think this would be very good for someone that doesn't have electricity. I have read that having a few hours of light in the evening can make a big difference. I like that for every unit I buy, they will send one to a needy person. I didn't do any checking out of them as a charity, I just assume this is valid. I just evaluated the effectiveness of the product.
Now that the test is over I cut off the reflector part and the remaining light/solar panel weighs 2.4 oz (68 g). I think this is a more useful configuration. I don't know how much I'll take this backpacking, but if not, I'll just leave it on my desk and it will be ready to use, charged up, whenever I need a light.
Thanks to Mpowerd and BackpackGearTest.org for letting me test this.
Read more reviews of MPOWERD Inc. gear
Read more gear reviews by jerry adams