Review of LUCI Solar Lantern

Review of Luci Solar LanternThis post is by Bernie Carr,

Having very little space,  I am always interested in checking out products that are lightweight, space saving, and energy efficient.  I wanted to see if the LUCI solar lantern would deliver these potential benefits.

Here is my review of Luci Solar Lantern with photos:

The LUCI Lantern came in a very small mailing envelope.  It came intact and well packaged.  Here’s what it looked like right out of the mailing package.

Review of Luci Solar Lantern1

I opened up the cardboard packaging and found the instructions.  The lantern itself is very light and flat.  All the instructions were illustrated, The pictures are simple enough to follow, but being the anal person that I am, I had to go look them up.

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I also had some unanswered questions regarding the LUCI Lantern I thought it best to go to the source:  The package indicated the User Manual can be found here.

Review of Luci Solar Lantern5

I used a carbiner to hang the Luci on a small branch of a dwarf orange tree I keep in the enclosed patio.


  1. Turn the LUCI with the valve facing up.
  2. Open the valve and pinch the bottom while pulling up.  You can then blow into it to inflate it.
  3. Close the valve and push down.
  4. I used a carabiner as a way to hang the LUCI on a nail with the solar panels facing up.  Later in the day, as the sun moved, I hung the LUCI on a tree branch.
  5. According to the User’s Manual, eight hours of exposure would give it a full charge.
  6. After the eight hours were up, I took it back inside.  Now it’s ready to test.
  7. A button in between the solar panels turns it on.  One push gives a normal light, 2nd push gives it a bright light, 3rd push makes it a pulsing light and the 4th one turns it off.

How long does it last?

According to the User’s Manual, when Luci is set on lowest light setting it will provide light for up to 12 hours after a full charge.

What if you store it away after the first charge?

Luci holds a full charge for about three months when unused. After that,
it retains up to 50% of its charge for two years.
How long can it be expected to last?
Again according to the manual, it should last for two full years with constant everyday use, meaning you charge it daily and use it every night.
For an emergency light, I can see it will last for many years, as long as you don’t puncture it or place it near a fire.

What I thought of the Luci Solar Lantern

I think it is a nifty product.

  • I like that it is lightweight, so you can take it backpacking,
  • It uses very little space, since it deflates and flattens when not in use.
  • I also like that it runs on solar power, so no batteries are needed.

Review of Luci Solar Lantern3The only part that I think can be improved is the plastic strip handle across the top – I would have preferred it to be smaller strap that you can hook into.  However this is just a minor point that does not take away from the overall usefulness and efficiency of the product.  As you can see from the photo below, the light output is nice and bright, even at the normal setting.

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The Luci Solar Lantern at normal setting in a dark hallway

Overall I think it is a great product and would come in handy for either recreational or emergency use.  It is flat and lightweight enough I can take it backpacking.  And, it is reasonably priced for $14.99.  I think the Luci is worth a spot in the emergency kit.  It would also make a great gift, even for both prepper or non-prepper recipients.



Bargain E-book for a Long Lasting Emergency Light

2000HrFlashlightI purchased a copy of The Amazing 2000-Hour Flashlight by Ron Brown.  It’s a manual that shows you how to add a 30-cent resistor to a $5 flashlight, to create a light that will run for 2000 hours on the same battery.   The e-book contains step by step instructions and includes illustrations.  You can’t buy such a light from a store; you have to make it yourself.

I first heard about the author, Ron Brown through his DVD, Lanterns, Lamps and Candles.  After learning from his DVD, I went on to experiment with making emergency lights from common household items and they were all super cheap and easy.  The e-book’s Foreword was written by Gaye Levy, who runs one of my favorite blogs, Backdoor Survival.  With two trusted writers, I figured this book is sure to be a treasure trove of information.

Being the inquiring mind, I asked Ron Brown a question that I am sure comes up:

APT PREPPER:  The book description indicates “using illumination for 2000 hours”  – how many lumens would you estimate the light to be?

RON BROWN:  You’ve asked an excellent question but not a simple one to answer. So I’m going to quote from the book itself (sans illustrations).

“When I first added a 150-ohm resistor to a flashlight, I was concerned about how much light it would produce. So I compared my newly modified light to a variety of other flashlights I already owned.

“In preparing a sequel to Lanterns, Lamps & Candles that would address electric emergency lighting (a future project, as it turns out), I accumulated a fair assortment of flashlights, old and new, borrowed and blue.

“Comparing them, I found that the Eveready 5109LS with a 150-ohm resistor was right down the middle, neither the brightest nor the dimmest of what I had on hand. So, even with the resistor in place, it’s fair to say that the light output is “good.” Not great, I’ll be the first to admit, but good.

“Now, what can I use as a cutoff point, a minimum, a threshold, to say that it’s NOT good anymore? Here’s where it gets sticky.

“Flashlights are commonly rated in “lumens” and most lights provide that info on the label. The Eveready 5109LS does not. Online, however, various sellers (e.g. Best Buy, Walmart) state that the 5109LS outputs 25 lumens.

“What the 5109LS wrapper does display is a little clock icon that says ‘FL 1 Standard 65h’ (meaning 65 hours). ‘FL 1’ stands for ANSI/NEMA FL 1 – Flashlight Basic Performance Standard. In that standard, run time is defined as ‘the continuous time lapsed from the initial light output to when the light is at 10% of the initial output.’

“So the FL 1 standard uses circular reasoning. A flashlight is measured in terms of itself. If the 5109LS starts out at 25 lumens, when it reaches 2.5 lumens its run time is deemed to have expired. (According to Eveready, that’s 65 hours.)

“I would argue that we need a fixed standard of comparison, not a moving target. When I’m trying to compare light output and battery life using a 56-ohm resistor versus a 150-ohm resistor versus no resistor at all, a run-time benchmark defined as ‘10% of wherever you started’ is useless.

“So I picked a light that supplies, in my opinion, a minimum threshold of useful light. It’s a keychain light, the Maglite Solitaire. It’s been around since 1988 and kicks out a blazing 2 lumens. Count ’em. Two.

“Although the two-lumen Solitaire will not inspire Tarzan-yells and chest beating, it does produce sufficient light to be useful. You’ll be able to find your way to the privy at midnight. It’s a practical standard by which to compare various flashlight designs. And it’s widely available; Walmart carries it.

“I bought a new Solitaire. The Solitaire’s blister-pack contained a Duracell alkaline battery in addition to the flashlight. I swapped out the Duracell for a new Energizer Ultimate Lithium battery. I removed the lithium battery from the Solitaire between tests.

“I used a pass/fail test. As long as the flashlight being tested was visibly brighter than the brand new Solitaire, I judged the test-light as ‘passing.’ I would waggle my finger at the test-light and say, ‘Keep on trucking.’

“When the light being tested had dimmed to the point of being MERELY EQUAL to the brand new Solitaire, I judged the test-light to have ‘failed.’ I would then jerk my thumb and yell at the test-light, ‘You’re outta here.’

“That was my standard. That’s where the 2000 hours came from. 

“You might well ask, of course, ‘How did you determine visibly brighter?’

“In answer, the simplest test I found was to stand in a dark room with the light being tested in one hand and the Solitaire (the control or standard) in the other and shine the lights in quick succession, one after the other, at an analog wall clock with a sweep second hand, twenty feet away. If you try it, you’ll discover there really isn’t much question about which one best illuminates the clock face.”

This response shows how thoroughly this book is written.

I have read through it and found that the materials are very easy to find, and the instructions are easy for me to figure out.  I am going out to get the parts and assemble a couple of these 2000 hour lights for myself.  Having an emergency light that’ll last for 2000 hours is certainly a money-saver for apartment dwellers and homeowners alike.   This information is a bargain at  99 cents and I highly recommend this e-book.


How to Make a Bacon Grease Emergency Lamp


This post is by Bernie Carr,

I couldn’t resist making this Bacon Grease Candle after I saw it on Willow Haven Outdoor.  

After all, bacon is my favorite breakfast food.  I wanted to find a use for all that bacon grease, and as tasty as it is, I never use much of it.  I’ve made other lamps before, and I wanted to see how if this one would work.  Though the original instructions are in Creek Stewart’s article, I made some variations.

Here’s what I did:

1.  Cook bacon as normal, either by frying or placing in the oven.  Remove the bacon and leave the grease alone for an hour or so.

2.  Wait until the bacon grease cools, and collect it in a container.  I kept collecting the grease over a few days until I had about half a cup (about 3 batches).  Refrigerate so it doesn’t smell rancid.  I did not strain the grease; the bacon bits do not interfere with the lamp.

Bacon Grease3.  Pour the grease into a candle holder or other heat resistant container.

Collect the grease4.  Clean around the edges.

5.  Make your wick.  The original article suggested using cotton twine, mop fibers or tampon string.  There are multiple ways to make a wick and I used the method I learned from making the emergency lamp from common household items:  I wrapped cotton around a wooden toothpick.

6.  Stick the toothpick upright in the solid bacon grease.  Moisten the tip of the cotton wrapped toothpick with a some nail polish remover, OR even bit of bacon grease.

7.  Light the lamp and enjoy the aroma.

Bacon Grease Lamp8.  Because the weather was cool, the grease stayed solid for a long time, allowing the toothpick to stay upright.  I did not see the grease melt all the way through-it stayed solid.  (Warning:  Your results may vary-do not leave this lamp or any other homemade lamp unattended; keep out of reach of children and pets etc..)

This was a really easy project.  If you don’t have bacon grease, lard, tallow or Crisco should work just as well.

© Apartment Prepper 2013


For beginning preppers


Incredibly Simple and Cheap Emergency Lamp


This post is by Bernie Carr,

It’s been a couple of months since my last homemade lamp creation, and it continues to be a very popular post.  I thought it’s about time to try making an even simpler one, with items that can be found in most homes.  This lamp, as my previous one, was learned from reading  Lanterns, Lamps & Candles by Ron Brown, which contains a wealth of information about emergency lighting.

The items needed for this lamp are super easy to find:


Cotton ball or cotton puff

Glass container – I used a clear candle holder from Goodwill, but you can use a cereal bowl or even a tuna can

Vegetable oil

Aluminum foil

Matches or lighter

Flammable liquid (you can use a drop of nail polish, nail polish remover or petroleum jelly)



  1. Soak the cotton ball with vegetable oil. Shape a little tip on one side of the cotton ball.  This will be your wick.20121218_145117
  2. Cut a piece of aluminum foil the size of a nickel and poke a small hole in the middle with pencil.20121218_145226
  3. Pull the tip of the cotton ball through the hole in the aluminum foil.
  4. Place a drop of flammable solution (petroleum jelly, polish remover or nail polish) on the cotton ball tip.
  5. Light the cotton ball wick.

This lamp should last for a couple of hours.


I realize there are cheaper fuels that vegetable oil, but it is good to know how to make  lamps from easy to find materials in case of emergency.

© Apartment Prepper 2012

For beginning preppers


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How to Make an Emergency Lamp from Common Household Items

Emergency lamp from table salt and oilThis post is by Bernie Carr,

I followed instructions given in the Non Electric Lighting series, on how to make this vegetable oil lamp.  What got me interested in trying this out was, all the materials are items most people have readily available at home.

Materials for emergency lampMaterials:

Vegetable oil

Baby food jar or votive candle jar (I got mine from Goodwill)

Table salt

wooden toothpick

cotton (must be 100% cotton, not a blend)

nail polish remover



1.  Fill the jar with table salt.

Mixing table salt and oil2.  Add vegetable oil and mix well with the salt.  Let it settle down.

3.  Add a bit more vegetable oil after it settles.

4.  Wrap a wooden toothpick with the cotton from end to end.  Do not skimp on cotton but don’t make it too thick either.

5.  Stick the cotton wrapped toothpick in the vegetable oil/sand mixture.  If it is too tall for the jar, snip the end until the tip is level with the mouth of the jar.

6.  Drop a tiny amount of nail polish remover on the tip of the cotton wrapped toothpick.  Take care not to spill into the vegetable oil.

7.  Light the tip.

You’re done!  This homemade lamp will burn for about two hours.

Trouble shooting tips

When I first made the lamp, the flame kept sputtering and burned out quickly.  I contacted the author, Ron Brown to inquire about what I might be doing wrong.  He suggested the following:

  • The toothpick must be well wrapped with cotton
  • Use only 100% cotton.

On my first attempt I had used  recycled cotton from a pill bottle which may not have been 100% cotton.  The next time, I made sure it was 100% cotton.  I also had not wrapped the toothpick well enough and had a few gaps that weren’t covered with cotton.  This time around, I wrapped the toothpick until it was completely covered with cotton, but not overly thick.  Sure enough, it worked very well.

This experience showed me that even though you have instructions on how to do something, there are unforeseen variables that may hamper your success.  You need to test your knowledge and practice your preparedness skills.  The time to practice new skills is now —  not when an emergency is in full swing and the power is already out.

(Note:  Apartment Prepper is not affiliated with Lanterns Lamps and Candles – I reviewed the CD recently and found it to be a great resource.  My thanks to author Ron Brown for taking the time to suggest some fixes with my experiment.)


© Apartment Prepper 2012





Learn about Lanterns, Lamps and Candles before the Next Power Outage

Lanterns, Lamps and Candles DVD

I recently finished reading Lanterns, Lamps and Candles:  A User’s Guide by Ron Brown.  It is an e-book that is available on CD.  The book delivers just what the title says:  everything you need to know about lanterns lamps and candles.  It tells you the various types of emergency light, fuel types, safety tips, complete with instructions on how to make your own.

I learned a lot about emergency lighting from reading this book.  It was interesting to find out there is a lot of misinformation on the internet regarding this subject.  You’ll also become more knowledgeable about what fuels can be used with what items, and whether certain fuels are interchangeable.  Even if you are not that interested in fuel types, it will come in handy should you ever need to improvise in an emergency.  Knowing this also increases your safety, as you won’t be making mistakes in misusing fuels.

As regular readers know, I enjoy testing things and do-it-yourself type instructions, of which this CD has an abundance.  I hope to make some of the simple lighting projects, especially those that are made with items readily found around any home.  If you don’t have a lot of room to store extra gadgets, knowing how to make your own lighting from various materials will save you space, time and money.

Ron Brown, the author, is a retired industrial engineer.  He is quite knowledgeable regarding the subject matter, and it is evident in the examples and anecdotes given.

This is not a book to speed read or multi-task through, as it contains very detailed information that should be absorbed. This is not a flaw, just an observation.  The book is only available in CD format, but you can always print out a few pages of instructions so you can follow step by step.  I liked that it contains lots of color photos, a glossary and an index

At some point, we will all experience a power outage and knowing how to provide lighting is a valuable skill.  The time to learn how to do things is now, and not in the midst of an emergency.   This book will tell you all you need to know about emergency lighting.  For this reason I recommend Lanterns, Lamps and Candles.  The CD is available from


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