I first heard about the Luci light at the 2015 Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR).
Someone brought one to the gadgets workshop, a kind of show and tell of devices helpful to van dwellers. I didn’t attend that workshop, but someone (maybe Miss M) who was there told me about a really cool, inflatable solar light that had been shared with the group. Later during the RTR, I met a couple of women who had Luci lights and raved about them. The lights sounded great, and I wanted one for sure, but I didn’t get around to buying one until I was just about on my way out of the city.
I’ve been living at a campground with no electricity for nearly a week, and I love my Luci light.
When I bought my Luci, it was flat, like in this photo I took. (It was a little bit neater when I bought it; the edges were lined up.)
The Luci starts out flat, and is easily inflated by blowing into the valve.
Inflating Luci. (Self portrait)
Luci’s almost full of air. (Another self portrait.)
Here’s Luci fully inflated. (I took this photo too.)
Because Luci is full of air, it is very lightweight and easy to carry. There is a loop for hanging on each end, and the Luci light floats. (I haven’t tested the floating part.) It’s also waterproof and designed to withstand extreme temperatures and wind.
If I am sitting outside reading after dark, I use a clothespin to attach Luci (with LEDs up) to my shirt near my shoulder, and I have plenty of light to see the words in my book.
The other night Luci was pinned to my shirt while I was reading. I got up to do a few little chores around the campsite and simply left Luci attached. I had plenty of light to see what I needed to see to do what I needed to do. I probably didn’t have enough light to do brain surgery (not that I’d do brain surgery anywhere, much less in the woods in the dark), but to lock my doors and fold up my chair, it worked great!
This photo I took shows Luci lighting up my van.
It’s difficult to tell in the above photo, but Luci lights up the van well. It works as well as either of the two battery operated lanterns I have. Actually compared to how those lanterns work after the batteries have been used for a few hours, Luci works much better to light up the van. The battery operated lights fade after just a few hours of use.
Luci illuminates the whole van enough for me to see to dress, undress, put things away, or cook a meal. If I want to read or do any kind of close-up work, I have position Luci so it shines directly onto what I want to see. It generates plenty of light for reading, although I usually have to move it around to find a good position so shadows don’t block what I’m trying to see.
Because Luci is powered by the sun, I don’t need batteries for it. That saves me money and saves resources used to produce batteries, as well as keeping dead batteries out of the landfill.
These are the Luci’s solar panels. (Yes, yes, I took this photo too.) The orange dot in the middle is the on/off switch.
The company that makes Luci says that 8 hours of solar charging (in direct sunlight) will produce 12 hours of light from Luci. (According to the FAQs at https://www.mpowerd.com/frequently-asked-questions-and-information-booklets, “[w]hen Luci is set on Bright [lowest light setting] she provides light for up to 12 hours after a full charge.”) I’ve read reviews where people have shared different experiences with how long Luci’s light lasts. I usually use my Luci less than four hours a night, so I can’t really speak to whether or not it shines for 12 hours at a time. In other reviews I’ve read, people have said that they have multiple Luci lights and some hold a charge and provide light better than others do. Again, I can’t speak to that issue.
Luci has three settings: bright, brighter, and flashing. So far, I’ve only used the bright setting, which has been adequate for my needs, although maybe I wouldn’t have to have the lantern so close to my book if I used the brighter setting. I guess the flashing setting would be helpful in an emergency (including an emergency dance party).
My friend suggested that I get two Luci lights so I could be sure to always have one charged and ready to go. When I left the city, I really didn’t have the money for that, so I just bought one. So far I’ve been good about putting it out in the sun to charge every couple of days, and so far, Luci has shined for as long as I’ve needed light. If I do find myself in a position where Luci is not fully charged when I need light, I have my two battery powered lanterns as backup.
One woman I met at the RTR told me that she’s had two Luci lights, the switch in both of which broke after repeated use. Both times she contacted the company that makes the lights, and they sent her a new one. This information has motivated me to be very careful with the switch on my Luci. The switch works with a push. One push turns it on. To turn it off, I have to push it again, which takes it to the brighter setting. I then have to push it another time, which takes it to the flashing setting. I push it one final time to turn it off. I could see how doing this multiple times each night could wear out the switch.
The company’s FAQ (at https://www.mpowerd.com/frequently-asked-questions-and-information-booklets) says,
Luci has 300-500 cycles of full charge, so the length of time she lasts depends on frequency of use. If you fully charge and fully discharge every single day, Luci lasts approximately 2 years. If used less frequently, she will last for many years.
The Luci light is made by MPOWERD. You can find out more about the company at www.mpowerd.com. (I’m not sure why this photo turned out kind of crappy.)
This is what MPOWERD says about itself on the website (https://www.mpowerd.com/our-story):
We Stand for Solar Justice™
MPOWERD™ aspires to empower people everywhere with innovative and affordable personal clean energy products. Inspired by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that left millions without power, MPOWERD was founded by a group of like-minded individuals in 2012 who wanted to “do good by doing well.”
Headquartered in New York City, MPOWERD is a fast growing consumer products company that develops and manufactures brilliant, transformative clean energy products and solutions for people living and playing on and off the grid.
There are several styles of Luci Lights available. They can all be ordered directly from the MPOWERD website (https://www.mpowerd.com/products). Amazon.com also has some varieties available. If you live in or visit a city, Luci lights are also available at Big 5 Sporting Goods stores.
I recommend Luci lights for folks who ever find themselves in the dark and wanting light, even if that’s during a power outage. They store in such a small space, and according to the MPOWERD website (https://www.mpowerd.com/frequently-asked-questions-and-information-booklets), “When not in use, Luci holds a full charge for about three months. After that, she retains up to 50% of her charge for two years.”