Power Practical Luminoodle Review
Cons: Harsh light quality, challenging to wrap around objects
Manufacturer: Power Practical
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
This model earns points for its versatility as both a set of string lights as well as a functional lantern. Its waterproof rating means that you shouldn't feel badly about leaving it out for a long weekend. Its sliding magnetic anchors make it unique in the category and the battery pack can be used to charge any other device via USB cable.
We tested the 10-foot version which puts out 360 lumens from 50+ individual LEDs. Since the backside of the rope is what attaches to or wraps around a surface, light shines from only one face (as opposed to other string lights that have 360 degrees of light). The light quality is evenly cast, but it is also a fairly unnatural-feeling white color instead of a warmer yellow.
The light string itself is super durable. It's just ten feet of rubber and plastic with LEDs inside. It easily passed all of our drop tests and can be tossed and even stepped on. It also has an ingress protection rating of IP67, meaning that it is fully dustproof and can be fully submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes without any damage.
The battery pack is a different story. It is heavier and the housing is rigid plastic. We found that it can also withstand drops onto natural surfaces, but it wouldn't necessarily fare so well on concrete or asphalt. It also has uncovered charge in and charge out ports, so even if you keep the actual rope light hung up for a few days, we would take down the battery pack if it would otherwise be exposed to heavy rain.
This light has a variety of features that make it an attractive option, but some don't perform exactly how we would hope. There are four 'universal' ties included in the box. One loop slides over the rope and the tie can then be secured around a railing or pole. They are super helpful (and necessary) in most cases, but if you need to wrap the lights around something that is more than a couple of inches in diameter, you will have to attach multiple ties together and will quickly use them all.
Another built-in option for attaching the lights to a metal surface are magnets that can slide up and down the length of the rope. When we found a surface that they could actually stick to, like the side of a car, they were pretty helpful, but we also found that the magnets themselves are not terribly strong. They can hold up the rope well enough, but if you also need to attach the battery pack to turn them on, it needs to be resting on a surface, otherwise, it just pulls the whole thing down.
We also appreciate the stuff sack, which is made of white opaque fabric that allows you to use the rope as a hanging lantern.
Ease of Use
There are a few elements of this light that make it a little trickier to operate than it should be. Conceptually it is simple enough: plug in the USB end of the rope into a power source and voila. However, during testing, we found that the switch on the battery pack was difficult to turn on and off, and couldn't be done easily with one hand. Setting up the string was also sometimes challenging, primarily because of the issue with the magnets described above. The rope also doesn't hold the shape of what you are wrapping it around unless there is tension on it, so if you accidentally drop it before it is tied off, you have to start all over again.
On the plus side, the lights can be powered by any battery or power source with a USB plug. On the flip side, that is the only way as well. There is also no dimmability with this model. It's either on or off.
These lights, with the battery pack, are just over 10 ounces. It's a relatively small package to take car camping and doesn't particularly matter at all if you are using it in your backyard. All in all, for its primary purposes, we wouldn't sweat the weight or size of these string lights.
We think that for a few specific uses, the 10-foot rope is a great value. If you want to bring some extra light to a dark garage, or need a campsite light that can function as either a lantern or a set of string lights, this is a high-value option.
The Power Practical Luminoodle is a simple, but practical rope light. Though it has a few things that make it more challenging to use than it should be, we would still be glad to have it for a long weekend of camping. The fact that the lights themselves are fully waterproof makes them great for longterm camping and its adaptability as a set of string lights, lantern, or individual flashlight (on the battery pack) means that they can do a lot with a little.
— Ben Applebaum-Bauch