Review – The Luci Solar Powered Portable Light Source

The annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas always offers a wonder of technological invention and surprise. Sometimes the surprises aren't big or flashy, or have a large marketing campaign or a sports star behind them. Sometimes they are simple, small, why-didn't-think-of-it ideas that can really make a difference. The Luci solar-powered inflatable light source is one of those rarities. First seen at the ShowStoppers press event during CES in January, the Luci lit up the room.

Packed in small flat container, the shiny plastic Luci slips easily out of its cardboard sleeve. On top is a little clear plastic handle, along with a mouth inflation valve similar to that of a beach ball. On the bottom is a set of small solar panels, with a small black button. It weighs about 4 ounces, and is 5 inches round. What is it?

Pull up on the handle and Luci expands to 4 inches tall, about the size of a can of soup. A few puffs on the inflation valve and it expands out to a firm little lantern shape. Press on the little black button on the bottom and a line of LEDs illuminates, turning it into a portable emergency light source that can pack flat, recharge during the day, and last all night. At first glimpse this small, elegant light is perfect for backpacking, camping, car, travel, or in an emergency; it has three light modes, normal, brighter, and flashing. Luci can be stashed in a glove compartment, computer bag, or anywhere you’d want to carry an extra light.

But this all-in-one rechargeable light source has a larger purpose: provide low-impact, eco-friendly light for undeveloped rural areas at home or in the global community. Luci allows for a night of light without the environmental or monetary cost of wood or fossil fuels. It lasts from six to twelve hours of light per charge (6-hour charge time), emits 15 square feet and 1,200 Lumens of light, and has a one-year lifespan.

We think it's a brilliant (pun intended) idea whose time has come. Best of all, in addition to buying one for your own emergency situations ($14.95 per unit), these unique personal lanterns can also be purchased as a donation to the Give Luci “Solar Justice” movement on the site. This gesture will help folks in need ($14.95 for the first donation; $5 for second and subsequent donations). Rarely has blowing up a little lantern felt so good or offered so much to so many, for so little. The Luci comes highly recommended!

 Harris Fogel, Posted 11/29/2013

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