When I first handled MPOWERD’s Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern, I had no idea how much I would end up liking it. Superficially, it is quite basic, but as I came to appreciate, its favourable qualities actually stem from this simple design and clever implimentation. Basic doesn’t necessarily mean low quality or ineffectual, and in this case, it doesn’t. With this product, basic happens to mean that the priority of the design is on base function as opposed to overpriced marketing gimmicks. Certainly not something I would ever complain about.
MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Light – Amazon
The packaging of the MPOWERD Luci Lantern is austere and straight to the point. It clearly denotes its purpose as a no-frills serious tool. It’s certainly nothing you’d buy as a collectible – this thing was made to be used. And no extra gimmicks like you might see on a multi-tool. There’s one solid purpose, and it’ll either fulfill it well or poorly.
I’d like to note that while we personally have and are reviewing the Luci Original, it appears that the Luci Original and the Luci Outdoor are one in the same product, just with different packaging. I do not own the Luci Outdoor, so I cannot confirm that there are absolutely no differences between the two products, but MPOWERD’s website does state that the “Luci Outdoor is the same great light as Luci Original, but packaged for the outdoor enthusiast.” I’ll take that as meaning they’re identical – so if you’re not sure which to buy – they should both be exactly the same.
The Lantern is powered by the sun using 2 photovoltaic panels. All information written on the backside is informative and upfront with very little marketing nonsense. A spartan introduction to a simple lantern, and I like it.
Even though the packaging is relatively austere, I am quite happy to note that stated lifetime is a minimum of 1 year. I’ve been testing mine for months, so I daresay unless you’re intending to break it, it’s likely to last much longer than that, but it’s nice to know that even at such a low price point, MPOWERD stands behind their product.
Construction is plastic and feels good to the touch. Think those inflatable pool toys, except more grippy so it doesn’t slip out of your hands. Definitely thick enough to withstand adverse weather conditions and general manhandling.
The photovoltaic panels users are of the monocrystalline variety, which is quite nice if you ask me. That awesome solar juice gets dumped into a Lithium Polymer Battery (200mAh @ 3.7VDC).
The recharge time is 6 to 8 hours, and run time is an estimated 16 hours. Not too shabby and definitely viable for everyday use, especially on a campsite or boat, though you can most certainly use it indoors as well.
Be aware that you’ll need to put it in direct sunlight for it to recharge properly. None of this leaving it in the farthest corner of the room and expecting it to fully charge. Set it on your windowsill in direct light and forget it, but make sure it’s getting as many sun rays as possible.
MPOWERD’s Luci Lantern is programmed using a single switch – that little square box with the circle in the middle you’ll see dead center in the picture below. The switch is mechanical and satisfyingly clicky. I don’t foresee it breaking down with use.
User interface is basic with the following 3 modes:
- Low (30 Lumens)
- High (40 Lumens)
- Flashing (40 Lumens)
It should be noted that the flashing mode is more of a signal/warning flash rather than a strobe. It’s a (relatively) slow off/on repetition.
The MPOWERD Luci is inflated using a pretty standard nozzle, the type found on most inflatable goods. I will say that the seal is not ideal, and that air will deflate somewhat before you can get the cap placed back on, but this is not a big issue. You really don’t need to get it all that full to make sure it still has its buoyant properties.
The MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Lantern crumples down to a remarkably compact size taking into account how much light this little tyke can crank out. Definitely a viable EDC if you can see yourself needing a lantern on a regular basis. Will easily fit into a thin front compartment of a backpack.
Utilizing MPOWERD’s Luci is a lot of fun. It’s like having an almost weightless orb of light in ones hand. 40 lumens may sound puny, but diffused through a 5 inch diameter, it’s pretty substantial! I was definitely impressed.
Unsurprisingly, the MPOWERD Luci Lantern can be held like a… well lantern! There are two strap handles, one on each side, so you can hold it right side up or upside down, whichever you prefer. In practice, the MPOWERD Luci is so light that how you hold it becomes irrelevant in terms of general comfort. The strap does offer the option of hanging it on a branch, hook or peg though, definitely a nice touch. Elise insists that buying 5 of these and stringing them up on some rope in the garden would make an excellent replacement for those cheap outdoor lights that go in the ground.
It’s very easy, due to it being so incredibly light weight, to just grab it and use it, then plunk it down wherever there’s an acceptable spot. I personally treat it purely as a lantern and not as a torch or flashlight. The output is enough to light up 15 feet, which in my opinion is quite impressive, especially taking into account that the Luci is maintenance free and doesn’t require batteries.
Yes, its most definitely waterproof, buoyant, and basically shatterproof. Doesn’t matter if you drop this thing from a tree, it’s going to survive the fall. It’s an inflatable cylinder! The only possible issues I can foresee that might lead to its demise are extreme heat, say by it being placed way too close to a camp fire, or some serious tearing/abrasion on your part. But these are not issues with the design, as it’s really not meant to be fireproof or unbreakable. I doubt you’ll run into problems with durability anyway.
I will point out that functionally the LED’s will still work even if the seal of the container is compromised. Take that for what its worth. Personally, I find its simple build and reassuring simplicity to be a pleasant change of pace from all the tech gizmos we are swamped with in our day to day lives. It’s also nice to be able to buy a second one as a back up considering the simplicity allows for such a low price point. Wouldn’t want a more durable lantern, because that would drive up the price and weight significantly.
The 10 LED’s have a colder light than is typical of flashlights or even indoor bulbs. In day to day use, it’s not a big deal, but it can be a bit harsh, especially if you switch it on after being in the dark for a few hours. That being said I’m actually quite fond of its more ghostly appearance, and Elise always prefers cooler light to warmer light anyway. If this is ever a deal breaker for you, though, be aware that MPOWERD does also make the Luci Aura, which has lights that change to a variety of colours, including yellow, so you can always go for that option if you prefer having warmer light.
For sheer style and presence, I’ve gotta give some major points to the Luci Lantern. It feels like it’s the sort of lantern one of the four horsemen would have! Definitely nice to use and carry.
The MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern is a pretty popular lighting option amongst preppers due to its low cost, solar capacities, and interesting design features. I’m pleased to say that its popularity is well deserved, and even though its small size and low price point makes it the perfect item for an emergency stockpile, I dare say you might also end up using on day to day basis, like I did.
It’s also excellent for campers, survivalists, and bushcrafters. Considering its light weight, waterproof and buoyant qualities, the fact that it dpends on solar energy, and that it will most certainly make an excellent signal light if you end up lost in the wilderness, you can’t really go wrong throwing one or two into a camping bag or survival kit. For even more visibility (if you think you might use it to signal for help with) you might go with the MPOWERD Luci Aura, which can cycle through 7 different colours + the cool blue light from the Luci Original.
Construction and utility really eclipses its low price point by leaps and bounds, and it’s definitely one of my favorite solar products of recent times. For 15 bucks, honestly, this product is a no-brainer.