Last year right before I took off to the forest, I bought myself a solar Luci light.

The Luci light worked great for me, and I was really pleased with my investment.

One evening midway through last season, I put my Luci light on a stump on the edge of my campsite to get the last of that day’s solar energy. Less than an hour later when I went to retrieve it, the light’s plastic had been chewed to shreds! I suspect some little rodent of this crime against my property.

I have no idea why a squirrel would chew plastic. I don’t think my light smelled of food. Maybe the rodent was just bored—or mean.

There’s a sporting goods store in Babylon that sells Luci lights, so the next time I was in town, I bought a new one. It was even on sale, which made me happy.

Being the frugal gal I am, I didn’t throw away the chewed light. No way! I trimmed off the shredded plastic and was left with a flat disc. On one side are the LED lights. IMG_6728On the other is the solar panel. IMG_6729

After charging in the sun, the lights shined just fine, for as long as they had before the fatal squirrel encounter. However, since I could no longer hang it with the lights facing down, it wasn’t as convenient as a light source as it originally was. But I kept it on hand as backup.

One morning I had both lights propped on the van in the sunshine, charging. When I left for work, I forgot to move the lights. After the twelve mile drive, the inflatable light was still hooked to the radio antenna, but the disc was gone. I thought that might be the end of it, but decided to look for it upon my return to the campground.

I didn’t think about the missing light again until the next morning. I walked the route I’d taken in the van, and sure enough, I found the light disc on the highway, not very far from the campground gate. The disc had obviously been run over by some vehicle, but when I pushed the button, the lights came right on. That is a quality product!

While I’ve kept the original light as backup (and have used it on several occasions when I needed more hours of light than one Luci could provide), for the past year, I’ve mostly used the second Luci light because it’s more convenient to hang it above where I’m reading or writing. I don’t know exactly how many hours I used the second Luci light, but according to my calculations, I must have used it a couple hours a night for a minimum of nine months.

In the last couple of weeks, I realized the new Luci light was not holding a charge as long as it once did. On two occasions, after being on for less than an hour, the light shut off and was done. I thought maybe the solar panel hadn’t gotten enough hours in the sunshine, but the second time it happened, I was confident the solar panels had  charged plenty. When I pulled out my original Luci light, I realized it was much brighter than the replacement, which had dimmed so gradually I’d not noticed.

The next problem with the replacement light is that I could no longer click over to the bright or blink settings. The switch only worked for on and off.

The final straw was when I turned the Luci on, and it immediately shut off. RIP Luci.

While writing this dispatch, I had an idea. Could I combine the working solar and light disc with the inflatable plastic bubble of the non-working Luci? Turns out I could.

The solar and light component fits into a thin pocket at the top of the plastic bubble. By carefully slitting the pocket partially open, I was able to slide out the nonworking solar and light disc and slide in the one that does work. Clear packing tape closed up the slit (although my operation has probably rendered the light no longer waterproof), and I can now hang my light.

In five minutes, I saved myself the approximately $15 a new Luci light would cost. The Frugal Zealot would be proud.

I took the two photos in this post.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now I have a little travel trailer parked in a small RV park in a small desert town. I also have a minivan to travel in. When it gets too hot for me in my desert, I get in my minivan and move up in elevation to find cooler temperatures or I house sit in town in a place with air conditioning I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

7 Responses »

  1. Great job! They say that necessity is the mother of invention. It must be true!

    I have never heard ot them — must fix that.

    • Yes, learn more about Luci lights. As you can tell, I highly recommend them. Good company, as far as I can tell and great product.

  2. Send this story to the folks at Luci lights. They would enjoy it. But you know what? They will replace lamps that don’t work. Great company.

    • Thanks for the tip, Nelda, but after a year of use and getting run over by a car, I would feel bad asking for a replacement on my Luci light! I definitely feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth, especially since the second light was on sale when I bought it.

      Yes, I should send a link to my blog post to the Luci light people. I’ll get on that!

      Thanks for writing and commenting, Nelda. I sure like knowing you are out there.

  3. A while back, I learned a way to make an emergency lamp. It isn’t useful for reading, but it would be a nice glow for a picnic table or as a marker in the dark.

    You need a milky plastic jug of water and one of those LED headlamps on a strap. Just wrap the strap around the ‘waist’ of the jug (facing inward) and turn it on. I haven’t tried it on a clear water jug. I should do that tonight, because that’s the kind I usually use (they don’t crack and drain for no reason, like the milky ones do — ever had a whole gallon of water leak in your van?)

    • What’s a “milky” plastic water jug? I didn’t realize there is a difference in the look of water jugs. I will have to look at them next time I go to the store.

      I have had water jugs leak in my van…maybe not a whole gallon, but enough to be a pain in the neck.

      My pet peeve (among so many) is water jugs with caps that snap on instead of screw on. Those snap on caps always seem to snap off! I won’t even buy jugs with snap on lids if I can help. I will pay extra for jugs with screw on lids, then cherish those jugs for as long as they last. I think the snap on lid companies want the water to leak all over the place so we have to buy more!

      Thanks, Sue, for the tip on making a low key light with items that are probably already on hand.

      • I just moments ago spilled a bunch of water in my van. Not nearly a gallon, but it made a big puddle. Thankfully, I was able to move the clean laundry before the water puddle spread, and I hadn’t yet put down the newly clean rug. It’s so hot out, the puddle will probably be mostly dry by the time I go back out there at 1:15. I think I didn’t screw the cap back onto the bottle after brushing my teeth last night. Then I knocked the bottle over and bam! I guess screw on caps don’t do much good if I don’t screw them on.

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