A few weeks ago, I wrote about the brilliant young ladies who invented the LuminAid to help disaster victims as part of a grad school project after the Haiti earthquake. It sparked my interest in their product, and happened to coincide with a time when I, like the good old paranoid person I am, was working on upgrading my own family’s disaster kits.
While I had already made a handy, affordable, and oh-so-easy batch of homemade jar candles (a post on making those later), I wanted to add something that would not require flame or batteries or hand cranking to produce light. We have a little solar-powered lantern in our camping gear, but the LuminAid sounded even better.
So I ordered two – one for the emergency kit in each of our cars. I figure if a disaster hits at home, we have two dozen flashlights… somewhere… around the house. Geez, I know there’s at least one in every room, if only I could find them. They’re there, really! Plus I think I have at least three dozen scented candles at any given time. So yeah, wanted the LuminAids for the cars and possibly for use on camping trips as tent lights.
This week they finally arrived, and now I get to play with the new toys. First impression, these really are nice and small. First pictures shows the LuminAid in the package, with a standard black pen for size reference.
First strike was the packaging. It’s that godawful cardboard-sandwiched-around-plastic-with-too-much-glue thing. Basically you end up having to destroy the thick cardboard part to get the darn thing out – peeling was not gonna happen.
Second strike was the overwhelming plastic chemical spill when I took it out. Think of the worst cheap plastic inflatable toy you’ve ever taken out of a dollar store package. That smell. The plastic feels fairly thin/flimsy, but only time will tell how that will hold up, and the small size/weight wouldn’t be possible without the plastic being so thin.
Once I let it outgas for a few, though, things drastically improved. Reading the packaging (from the one I didn’t destroy opening it), I followed the directions for charging and inflating. It’s super easy to inflate – took me two deep breaths to get it filled all the way up. It’s extremely lightweight (just a few ounces) and you can hang it somewhere by the handle to free up your hands. It also has a little loop you could use to clip it up with a carabiner or something similar.
I charged it for the full seven hours in sunlight, and then went to put to the test their assertion that it will run on that charge for up to 16 hours on the low setting. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell my husband to leave it on. So I turned it on after dinner last night, and he turned it off first thing this morning. So we know it will go for at least 12 hours but didn’t find the limit. I’ll post an update when I get to try round #2 of that experiment! I will also be testing out the 8 hour max at the high setting.
The low/high settings are 15 and 30 lumens respectively. To give some reference, my mini maglite LED flashlight is 84 lumens. So the LuminAid’s not terribly bright, but would be sufficient in a tent, shelter, or other small space – and remember it’s fairly diffuse light. You’re probably not going to do your homework or sew or perform surgery by this light, but it’s fine for most routine tasks.
I’m not going to actually test the waterproof assertion this week (I’ve always had back luck breaking my new toys when trying to verify that one), so whenever my kid manages to submerge it or spill something on it, which she inevitably will at some point, I’ll post an update on that result, too.
It also deflates fairly easily – have to do a little extra rolling/folding to get all the air out, but overall not too bad. Then it folds up and snaps shut with a little strap, to a little bigger than your average smartphone.
Overall, it’s awfully neat, but only time will tell how well it holds up. More to follow on that whenever a member of my family manages to break it!