Luci vs Luminaid: Solar Light Showdown

Luci vs Luminaid

I saw mpowerd.com‘s Luci solar powered light on a gadget site and instantly made the purchase. Small pack size and internal solar power would make for the perfect tent light. After purchasing I saw someone had commented on LuminAid‘s entry into the same market and I also had to have it….ok…here it is:


Luci vs Luminaid

First lets take a good look at the specs. There are more intensive specifications located at the manufacturers websites.


  Luci
mpowerd.com
LuminAid
luminAid.com
Weight: 4.5 oz. 3 oz.
Dimensions Expanded: 5″ Diameter X 4″ Height 8.25″ W x 12″ L X 3″ H (inflated)
Dimensions Packed: 5″ Diameter X 1″ Height 2.5″ W x 4″ L X .75″ H
Modes: High / Low / Flash High / Low
Charge time/yield [high] 8 hours yields 6 6 hours yields 8 hours
Charge time/yield [low] 8 hours yields 12 hours 6 hours yields 16 hours
Life Expectancy: 300 – 500 charge cycle life Lithium-Polymer Ion battery with hundreds of recharge cycles
Lumens Up to 80 lumens *Up to 35 lumens
*Published by other source other than manufacturer.
Weather: Water resistant Water proof
# of LED’s 10 1

Right off the bat I LOVED the design of the LuminAid. It packed smaller, weighed less, was waterproof, could be as a pillow to sleep on, and possibly be used as a water carrier in an emergency. When I began testing I found myself rooting for the LuminAid to win.

Lets look at the amount of light each gave off from outside the tent after 8 hours of charging. I tried my best to recreate the exact camera angles and light placement. Both of these lights are on the HIGH setting. The lights each ran for 4 hours before these photos were taken.

LuminAid

LuminAid obscured by tent wall:

luci vs luminaid

You cannot see the LuminAid inside the tent. It is illuminating the inner wall of the tent. It is putting out enough light that someone could find your tent. This photo was taken in pitch black conditions from about 30 feet away.


LuminAid in tent window:

luci vs luminaid

In this photo you can see the LuminAid inside the tent and that it is illuminating some of the area around it. This photo was taken in pitch black conditions from about 15 feet away.


LuminAid in the tent hanging:

luci vs luminaid

You can see the LuminAid clipped to the roof of the tent functioning as a tent light. This photo was taken inside the tent from the prone position 3 feet away from the light.


Luci

Luci obscured by tent wall:

luci vs luminaid

You cannot see the Luci inside the tent. It is illuminating the inner wall of the tent. It is putting out enough light that someone could find your tent. This photo was taken in pitch black conditions from about 30 feet away.


Luci in tent window:

luci vs luminaid

In this photo you can see the Luci inside the tent and that it is illuminating some of the area around it. This photo was taken in pitch black conditions from about 15 feet away.


Luci in the tent hanging:

luci vs luminaid

You can see the Luci clipped to the roof of the tent functioning as a tent light. This photo was taken inside the tent from the prone position 3 feet away from the light.


While both lights performed their function of “more than enough light for a tent” the Luci was clearly putting out more light. The Luci also is a little more flexible in where it can direct it’s light. By turning it over you can concentrate the light to point downward on a map that sits atop a table or upward on peoples faces sitting around a table.

I was still leaning toward the LuminAid because of the weight and packability when I happened on a dealbreaker.

After playing with these lights for three days I became a bit fed up with the LuminAid’s membrane on-off switch. It was very finicky in contrast to the Luci’s actual hardware button. I would have to fidget around with the LuminAid to get it on and off. Sometimes in trying to click it twice to actuate the high setting I would click it a third time and it would go off. The Luci responded with an actual button “click” each and every time.

Buttons:

LuminAid Membrane Button

luci vs luminaid

The LuminAid button is a ‘membrane’ button and can be frustrating. With cold hands and/or during an emergency this might be an issue.


Luci Hardware Button

luci vs luminaid

The Luci’s button was responsive and enabled me to click easily through it’s three settings each and every time…click, click, click…


Luci vs Luminaid: First off both of these lights make a great tent light that needs no external energy other than the sun. Both of these companies are also doing their part to better the world as these aren’t really designed as tent lights, rather they are designed for people who might not have access to electricity in developing nations. Each company, mpowerd.com and LuminAid has a program where you can help fellow human’s that are may be less fortunate across the globe. LuminAid will donate a light with every purchase and Mpowerd [Luci] will offer a reduced price for donations you may want to consider at checkout.

I really love supporting new ideas like these that are helpful and supportive of things outside my own selfish “I need cool gear for my trip” way of thinking. I donated a LuminAid and a Luci.

Both of these lights exceeded expectations of charge times. I ran three separate nights of testing with each after only one charge and was never wanting for more light.

The Decision: Luci vs Luminaid

The Luci puts out more light and while it is a bit bigger and heavier the hardware is much easier to work with. It also has a ‘flash’ setting that could be helpful in an emergency [or if you wanted a strobe light in your tent during burning man]. I think the button issue was problematic enough to make up for the size and weight difference so I am picking Luci as the victor. You can place the Luci in different ways to make the most of the reflective coating and LED placement depending on where you want the light to shine. After using it for three days and having both in the tent I found myself reaching for the Luci when I needed light.

WINNER: Luci by mpowerd.com.

NOTE: I gave the LuminAid to my Mom.