Ever since the discovery of electricity and light bulb, light become one of the most important resource in human history. It often symbolises power, hope and dream that lights up those who are in fear or afraid of pursuing their goal. In reality, electricity-generated light have brought us to a whole new structure of economy, social, lifestyles and makes our world a little brighter and safer so that we can extend the night fun/work a little.

All of us were nevertheless born with the lights on, but we would never appreciate how it is to be in the actual darkness. Except from a book that i read recently about North Korea defectors, who always gazing across China border and amazed by the Neon lightings all over the night, or “paradise” they say. According to that, there is a complete darkness after 8pm at night in most part of North Korea. At the same time, people who suffering from natural disasters such as earthquake and tsunami, would have a hard time of losing everything and only subsist on the international handouts for basic needs. That is the core value and what LuminAID suppose to be.


Started soon after the incident of Haiti Earthquake in 2010, Anna and Andrea have created a solar powered inflatable light that can pack flat and is water proof. It designed to help victims who have no access to electricity, to give them a solid and sustainable way in the harsh environment. Partner with NGOs, LuminAID has distributed over 10 000 units to many disaster areas across more than 50 countries.

After receiving lots of requests, they have now coming back with the improved versions.

LuminAID – Solar Inflatable Lantern and Phone Charger (2-in-1)

PackLite Max Phone Charger is an upgraded version to the first, it integrates with the ability of cell phone charging and can be charged by both micro USB (1-2 hours) or sunlight (12-14 hours). It features increases in versatility and portability of being able to pack flat down to 1″ or inflates into 6″ cube lantern. Equipped with 2000 mAh battery, it provides 50 working hours on Low Mode and enable to charge up your phone/tablet/camera/electronic devices as fast as a wall outlet (5V/2.4 Amps).

As an emergency source of lighting, it only weights 8.5 oz (0.24 Kg) which is only one third of a conventional rechargeable lantern pack. PackLite is also for camping, hiking, or any activity in the wild, it can be pack flat to only 1″ and maximise the portability, and expanded into a 6″ lantern cube in no time. Design for practical uses, it built with 150 lumens and offers 5 adjustable brightness settings:

  • 150 lumens (3-5 hrs)
  • 75 lumens (6-8 hrs)
  • 18 lumens (16-18 hrs)
  • 15 lumens (44-50 hrs)
  • 15 lumens of flashing (60-72 hrs)

PackLite is 100% water proof. You can use it on any whether or even submergible up to 1 meter underwater (IP67).

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The drawback however, is on the low capacity of the battery whereby mayn’t able to fully recharge your smartphone as most of the smartphones now have 2000 mAh to 3000 mAh battery. Nonetheless, LuminAID is not designed to replace your battery packs or phone charger, but as a source of emergency when you ran out of options.

Charging by sunlight is slow and may take up to 14 hours or more. Technically, solar charging is the conversion of portion of energy from sunlight into electricity, and the efficiency is largely determined by the surface area of the solar panel and weather conditions. Even in the ideal experimental environment, solar cell technology will only be able to convert about 20% of the solar energy. In facts, most of the solar panels in the market are much lesser than the actual percentage, thus making the process slow and inefficient. On this matter, PackLite offers micro USB charging which takes about 1-2 hours as a much faster alternate charging method.

Where to buy and price

LuminAID Max (without phone charging version) is now available on most of the big online stores like Amazon and eBay for about $30. You can also get the first version for $17. Alternatively, it is also available on Kickstarter along with the donation packages if you would like to enlighten some refugee families. I have put up the direct links to their Amazon and Kickstarter campaign page below if you are interested to buy or to learn more.