Solio Clip-Mini Solar & USB Rechargeable LED Light Review

Testing


The Solio Clip Mini has many potential uses, from a general flashlight, to a nighttime map reading light, to a bike light, to an emergency signal.  In fact, Solio is experimenting with a companion adapter which would allow you to mount it onto your bike, which I think would be an awesome addition to the Clip Mini.  It works great as a bike light, either rigged to the front as a headlight or on the back as a flashing red light on your bag or around your belt.  If used as a camp light, which is probably where it is best-suited, the relatively-short 5-7 hour charge time means that with at least partly cloudy conditions, you'll have hours of light come nightfall and nearly unlimited S-O-S signal flashing. 

 

As we generally experience with solar chargers, the charge time was closer to the latter half of the range, seeing about 6-7 hours on average.  Via USB, the charge time is reduced to a brief 1 hour and 15 minutes on average from a completely-depleted battery pack.  The operational times saw just shy of 3 hours for full-brightness continuous lighting, which is quite a long time, considering it can be charged via the sun in 5 hours on an optimal day.  The 50% mode is about equivalent to the constant flashing which is on only half of the time, and we saw about 9.5 hours of operation that way, turning it on in the morning in front of me so I could see when it turned off working at my desk.  We saw around 32 hours in 10% brightness mode, doing the "desk test" three days in a row, which is solid.  Being lit a little over half the time, the S-O-S flash lasts a little over a day so you can have plenty of continuous S-O-S signaling if needed (we hope not!).

 

And to reiterate, this thing is durable.  It feels rock solid, and has taken nasty spills, and I've even accidentally stepped on it a few times (I can be lazy about picking things up).  All it has to show for it is scratches I'd expect from typical use anyway.

 

 

Final Thoughts


The Solio Clip Mini is dead simple to use and only requires repeated pushes of a single big button.  The different brightness and flash modes are useful, and enable several hours to days of continuous operation.  Either as a primary bag light or an emergency backup, the Clip Mini works great as a bike light when not pulling camping flashlight duty.  As a flashlight, the beam is well-focused, intense, and very bright.  The beam is relatively compact, which is surprising given its "bar" light arrangement.  The red lens diffuses the light well, making it great for map reading and again as a bike light that doesn't glare into drivers' eyes.  Durability is also great, and the charge times via solar and USB are quite good, especially given the amount of "light time" you have with the Clip Mini.  The S-O-S is a great feature and something that could be useful to hikers and campers who may find themselves lost and out of cell service range. 

 

Solio Clip Mini Solar LED Light

 

The Solio Clip Mini can be found at major retailers for around $30, and really what you're getting is a $10 flashlight attached to a solar panel, which is the primary differentiator here.  Solar panels aren't cheap to produce (yet) and anything you can see that uses a panel large enough worth using will be fairly expensive.  However, Solio essentially owns the market for a solar charger-equipped light.  When you compare to standalone bike lights which can run about $20-30 each, it is a pretty good deal for that usage, albeit you won't have as long of battery life.  You also won't need to buy batteries, which can add up very quickly, especially over the lifetime of any flashlight.  But you can also use it for camping, as a nighttime reading light, and it has pretty good overall utility, even just around the house.

 

The Good

  • Well-focused and intense beam
  • Red diffused lens for night reading/bike light
  • Light and portable
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Quick charging, long-lasting light
  • Many lighting modes
  • No need for batteries

Not so Good

  • $30 gets you a solar-chargeable $10 flashlight with a carabiner clip (but no need to buy batteries will work to pay itself off)

 

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