Featured, My Favorite Things, Road Living, Travel

Fiat Lux!: Lighting Options for the Road

When I bought my camper, few of the core systems – plumbing, electrical (except for the refrigerator) – were still in working order. The guy who sold me the Avion had solved his lighting needs by dotting the walls and cabinets with those plastic stick-on LED disks. A perfectly serviceable system, but I wanted more. However, one look at the snake’s nest of original wiring and it quickly became clear that any electrical restoration would be partial at best.

And so, I too have resorted to a variety of add-on lighting options (though the few stick-on battery-powered LED disks I kept from the original owner have been relegated to the closet and bathroom). Here are my Top Three on the lighting front – and they’re all under $20!

Dying to hear the details of the restoration?
Read The Avion Story
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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

1. USB Reading Light by Goal Zero
The Luna Touch LED light (pictured above) is a super handy little wand light with a bendable neck that allows you to position it exactly as you want it. It plugs into any USB port, including the cigarette lighter adaptor and boasts  super low-draw LED lights so you could use it as a night light without draining your battery overnight. Because it turns on and off with a light tap to the tip of the light, it’s become my go-to bedtime reading light – when I find myself getting sleepy I just reach over and tap it, no struggling to find the switch as I’ve experienced with the Luci light. With a 50 lumens/4000k LED rating, the light is a bit bright for my highly sensitive system. However, the super bendable neck allows almost unlimited positioning; if the light is in my eyes, I just give it a slight twist and voila, indirect lighting. I picked this up on a whim at Target for $9.99 – half the price of the other two – and with its uber flexibility, it has become my favorite road light ever. My top pick!

The “Atomic Beam” Lantern.

2. The Atomic Beam by BulbHead
My dad bought two of these and gave one to me, and boy, am I grateful for the share! This little canister light has some super trick features and an uber-industrial, even military, vibe to the design. The squat, black canister has two metal arms fold that against the body of the canister for storage; lifted up, they pull an interior cylinder from the external housing, revealing the lamp and activating the three vertical LED strips. This quick-pull feature means it’s usually the first light I turn on when arriving home in the dark. The lamp can be hung from the metal arms but there’s also a recessed hook that pops out of the base should you need to hang it the other way. The base also features four super-tough magnets for further versatility in placement. Though the diffuse 360-degree beam isn’t quite as effective as an ordinary flashlight or head lamp, it’s super lightweight and the lantern styling makes it easy to carry, so I often take this to light the way on late-night tinkle walks with Fiona. The Atomic Beam runs on three AA batteries, which isn’t the most environmentally-friendly option, but the LEDs are pretty low draw and I’ve haven’t found myself constantly replacing the batteries, as is the case with most flashlights I’ve tried.

The Luci Inflatable

3. The Luci Outdoor 2.0 by Mpowerd
There’s a reason these collapsible solar lights are beloved by backpackers around the world: they’re super lightweight, they fold down to the size and thickness of a CD in its cover, and they charge up after just a few hours in the sun. The version I have is translucent with green and orange details, a vaguely mid-century modern styling which lends a cool off-grid-Ikea vibe. It has a hanging strap at both ends, one just a plastic strip that you slide over a hook or a branch, the other has snaps for greater versatility. I snap mine right onto the curtain rod over the bed so it charges while it hangs out (though it does better charge-wise if I wedge it solar-panel up on my dashboard for a day). I especially appreciate that there are multiple light settings, offering three levels of brightness as well as a flashing setting for emergencies. Despite the different settings, I’ve found the Luci to be the harshest of all the LED options in the Avion. It’s great for general lighting but gives me a headache if I use it for bedtime reading. And it’s a real challenge to turn off when I’m getting sleepy which invariably wakes me up so that I have to read more to fall asleep only to be reawakened yet again by trying to find the light switch. Still, at only $19.95, there’s a lot to love about these little solar powered workhorses. And Mpowerd offers other options, including a build-your-own kit, a frosted decor light, a multi-color mood light, a multi-colored party light, and more, at prices ranging from $14.95 to $34.95.

NOTE: The links in this review are for your convenience only; they are not affiliate links and I’m getting no special perks should you be inspired to learn more about these products.

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