The makers of the WakaWaka Light say it is the most efficient solar LED lamp on the market today and I tend to believe them. They were kind enough to send me a sample of their product to review. I am absolutely blown away by this product!
The impetus behind the creation of the WakaWaka Light was to make available to Third World countries a safe and efficient means of illumination. Many of these areas rely on things like kerosene lamps, which are great in and of themselves, but do carry a risk of fire and injuries.
The solar panel can provide a fully charged battery in as little as four or five hours near the equator, a bit longer the further north or south you go. Here in the upper Midwest, figure about eight hours or so. At a full battery charge, the WakaWaka Light will stay lit on the middle setting for at least a couple nights.
The light has five settings.
1) 120 lumen, which is incredibly bright.
2) 60 lumen, a very bright ambient light.
3) 30 lumen, plenty bright enough for reading.
4) 6 lumen, bright enough to be seen by searchers.
5) An automated SOS beacon.
At even the lowest lumen setting, the light provided is plenty bright enough to be able to navigate through a room in the middle of the night.
It is built from recycled ABS plastic, making it incredibly durable. Currently it is only available in yellow, though the manufacturer is planning to add more color options. The heart of the WakaWaka Light is an innovative chip that allows the solar panel to acquire the maximum amount of power from the sun to charge the battery.
This thing was built to be used extensively in very hostile environments, from jungles to deserts. In other words, it is made to last.
The WakaWaka Light is a little bit bigger than two decks of cards laying side by side and doesn’t weigh much more than that either. It will comfortably fit into the side pocket of cargo pants. However, the base plate has a large round hole in it so you can strap the light to your pack and let the solar panel charge as you travel. The base plate is attached with a robust hinge that allows you to prop up the light for hands free operation.
They figure the solar panel will work at peak efficiency for about ten years. The 800 mAh NiMh battery is good for 500 cycles. That means the battery is designed to last a minimum of 500 charges and discharges before any degradation. Translated into real world scenarios, you could use the light for 16 hours a day at the lowest setting, charging it back up every day, and it will last about three years.
The LED bulbs should last at least 50,000 hours. That’s about eight full years if you ran the light for 16 hours a day, every single day.
We’ve been playing around with the WakaWaka Light at home the last few days. It is bright enough at night to illuminate a good sized campsite or room inside the home. It isn’t designed to carry around like a flashlight, though it will serve that purpose well anyway.
At the time of this writing, it is available for about $40 www.wakawakalight.com. I cannot possibly recommend this product any more highly. It is a great piece of gear that will last for many years to come.