Tag Archives: Frugal Zealot



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.