LuminAID is a line of solar lights that first came to prominence on the popular reality TV show Shark Tank. I picked up the most popular model on Amazon, the PackLite Spectra USB, and today I offer my review.
Where to Purchase & About
You can buy LuminAID from Amazon, or direct from the official website.
The model I have features 9 color modes and is said to be ideal for hiking, camping, emergencies, and can even be used as a decorative piece. The battery lasts 3-12 hours, depending on the color mode selected. It can supposedly be charged via solar panel in about 10 hours, depending on time of year and amount of light and location. The unit measures 4.75 x 4.75 x 1 inch when collapsed. LuminAID is IP67 waterproof.
LuminAID PackLite Spectra Review
LuminAID is an inflatable solar lantern than can be charged in the sun or via USB. There are several models currently available, ranging in price from $30-$75. The model I purchased is the popular PackLite Spectra which cost me $30. It can be inflated into a cube or collapsed down into a 1-inch thick square while not in use. This model includes a USB charging port, which will fully charge the unit in about an hour. There is also a solar panel which can be used to charge it in direct sunlight. A battery indicator briefly shows the current battery charge when pressed. A small red indicator also displays whether the solar panel is charging.
LuminAID first appeared on Shark Tank back in Season 6 (2015) and was snapped up by Mark Cuban after gaining interest from all the sharks (it was later acquired by another company). It was presented as an emergency light for disaster relief and power outages. It’s interesting to look back at that episode from the perspective of 2022, as the marketing and even the design of the product have evolved. The original LuminAID presented on Shark Tank had a pillow-like shape when inflated, and its electronics resembled an iPod or 2000s-era electronics device. The electronics were also plainly visible. Newer models are made in the shape of a cube and most of the electronics are hidden behind a larger solar panel. Several variations also now exist that offer additional features, such as a phone charger or dimming effect. The PackLite Spectra is perhaps the most bare-bones of the line of lanterns, but also the most inexpensive.
To use the LuminAID, you must first blow it up, which only takes a few puffs of air. Then you can press the large power button to cycle through the multiple light modes (on the PackLite Spectra USB model). Those include
- Red 9-11 hours
- Orange 5-7 hours (This looks yellow/green to me)
- Yellow 4-6 hours
- Green 7-9 hours
- Blue 10-12 hours
- Turquoise 5-7 hours
- Pink 5-7 hours (This looked purple to me)
- Multicolor mode 5-7 hours (It cycles through each color for about 5 seconds)
- White 3-5 hours
- The last click turns the unit off
When collapsed, the unit fits entirely in my pocket. I timed myself inflating it and connecting the clasp, and the total time was about 19 seconds.
I wanted to see how bright the white light would be in a dark hotel room, so I walked around with the LuminAID to see how illuminated the room was. Although it is no replacement for a lamp, it did provide ample light to my immediate area and had a pleasant glow.
Although the instructions list estimated times for each color mode, I wanted to test this for myself. I put the LuminAID on the white light setting and it lasted almost exactly 5 hours before turning off. It was quite dim toward the end of that 5 hours, however.
Next, I wanted to see how much of a charge I would get after leaving the LuminAid outside all day, keeping in mind that it is November, so the sun is not as bright as other times of the year. I placed it on a table out in the open around 6:30am and brought it back inside around 5pm after the sun had set. The battery indicator showed 2 bars (out of 4), which resulted in about 2 hours of light on the white setting. This means I got about a 40% charge for a full day in the autumn sun. Placing this outside on a bright summer day would probably provide a full charge.
For my final test, I filled a bucket with water and held the LuminAID underwater to see if it was in fact waterproof – and it did not take on water. An IP67 rating means it can last up to 30 minutes underwater (up to 1 meter), so that claim also appears to be accurate.
In the end, I think the LuminAID does what it sets out to do. It provides ample light in a unit that is easy to pack and store. It seems best suited for emergencies, camping, or hiking. Although it’s advertised as a decorative piece, its $30 price tag puts this above competing products in that space.
If you’ve used the LuminAID, tell me what you think in the comments below!