Best Solar Lanterns
If you are a freak when it comes to solar-powered devices then you are in for a treat today. What is it about these types of devices that is so alluring? Is it their ability to draw energy from the sunlight or is it the fact that the energy itself is truly renewable? Or, is it a collection of all of its amazing properties? Either way, you get the point that this type of energy is beneficial and one manner in which you see it integrated is into lanterns. A lantern itself is a pretty basic lighting tool but when powered with solar technology, it becomes a revelation. But, you need to know that there are various different styles on the market and factors that separate the bad from the good and the good from the great.
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
Sports an IP67 waterproof rating
It is both collapsible and inflatable
Features both top and bottom straps
- GOAL ZERO CRUSH
- ANTIQUE METAL
- SUAOKI Collapsible
- SAN RAFAEL II
- SHANNA HANGING
- MOONRAYS LED LIGHT
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Expert Interviews & Opinions
- Frequently Asked Questions
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST SOLAR LANTERNS
Can also be charged via its USB port
It is super compact and easy to carry
Also can be used as an emergency power bank
One user felt the housing was not the best
One of the most popular uses for this type of technology is when you are either camping or backpacking. And, perhaps no other model on the market is better for that than this.Read more
There are actually different modes that are featured here and when this is in “lantern” mode, it will emit light that spreads out in all directions.
Overall, this is definitely made of high-quality materials. However, one specific user did feel that the main casing would tear with nominal use.
The main reason why this is ideal for travel is that the entire light folds down compactly. Even for backpackers, this is going to work perfectly due to its compact nature.
In addition to being solar powered, you can also charge this via the integrated micro USB port. This comes in handy when the sun is in the clouds. Also, on a full charge, you can expect this to last for around 10 hours (on its lowest setting).
All in all, there are three lighting modes. You have low and high brightness modes and also an SOS flashing mode. Oh yeah, and this can also be used as an emergency power bank.
While this is not going to light a football field, it is one of the most versatile units on this list. This alone makes it extremely compelling for just about anyone.
Sports an IP67 waterproof rating
It is both collapsible and inflatable
Features both top and bottom straps
Some buyers have noted that this can fail to hold a charge very well at times
In a world filled with so many great options, this right here could be the most well-known and critical acclaimed of them all. You will quickly see why this is the case.Read more
As with the last model, the emitted light here is solid but not astounding. There are 10 white LEDs that are equipped, for the record.
What sets this apart is its IP67 waterproof rating. This means that it can be submerged in water for a brief time, making it rugged enough to handle outdoor use.
In addition to the fact that this is fully collapsible, it also sports top and bottom straps. For backpackers, these provide a convenient means of clipping it to your backpack.
You will 100 percent need the power of sunlight to operate this. If set in direct sunlight for around seven hours, this will fully charge (and then last right around 12 hours). However, a few buyers noted that it can struggle to hold a charge for that long.
Three modes are equipped here. Much like the previous model, two of them are different brightness levels while the other is a one-second flashing mode.
With its rugged nature and extremely portable design, you can see why this is a go-to for outdoor adventures. The different lighting modes are also a nice touch.
3. GOAL ZERO CRUSH
Can also charge from any USB port
It has three different settings of light
Can be collapsed fully for storage
Some previous buyers have received defective designs
Along the lines of the previous two models, the Goal Zero Crush Light is yet another one that can completely be collapsed for storage and transport. It also sports multiple power sources, which is nice.Read more
Outside of the fact that some users have received defective models, the performance of this Crush Light is pretty good with a maximum output of 60 lumens.
Even though this is not waterproof, it seems to be water-resistant. It will hold up to rainfall but is not suitable for submersion.
If the name did not already give it away, the Crush Light can be “crushed” down. When collapsed, it measures just over half-an-inch in height.
Due to solar technology, this does use the power of the sun to charge its battery. However, thanks to the included micro USB cable, you can also charge the battery that way.
With three modes in total (high, low and flicker), there are a few options at your disposal. Also, it is noted in the description that this arrives in demo mode. To exit it, you need to press and hold the power button for 10 seconds.
Really, this is very similar to the previous two models on this list. It really is a total package and is yet another brilliant option for camping and travel purposes.
Can be charged in five different manners
Can emit 240 lumens of light at its highest setting
Features built-in Polysilicon solar panels
Various users have had longevity issues
It is not waterproof
Would you believe it if you heard that this next option can actually be charged in five different manners? While this seems absurd, it is one of the many reasons to love this light.Read more
On this list, this is one of the more powerful options. At its maximum, it can emit 240 lumens of light and even on low, it can emit bright light. Of course, various users have had longevity issues.
You could probably get away with using this outside but when it starts to thunderstorm, it would be advised to protect it as it is not rated to handle such weather.
This is a truly prototypical lantern and it even sports a handle that allows it to be hung. Or, it can work great on tabletops.
Indeed, there are five different methods of powering this. Past the obvious solar energy, you can also charge it via the integrated USB port, in a car, with AA batteries, or via the crank dynamo.
With two different lighting modes, you can adapt the light to your needs. Also, this sports a USB output and that means it can act as a power bank.
Does it get more versatile than this? The sheer methods of powering make this option stand out and almost guarantees that it will be accessible at all times.
Designed with a smart protection chip
Resembles the look of a ceiling fan
Sports three individual solar panels
The battery life is not the best
Not ideal for use in high-humidity or high-heat environments
From one unique entry to the next, you can consider this the “ceiling fans” of solar lanterns. Though this seems silly, this design actually sports three different “fan” blades and is very effective when you are camping in a tent.Read more
This encompasses 18 LEDs in total and all together, they emit a light that will be sufficient for most of your needs.
Here is the deal; not only is this not waterproof but in the manual, it states that it is not applicable for use in high-heat (or high-humidity) environments. It can still get splashed on and be fine, however.
As mentioned, due to the “fan” blades (that actually sport the solar panels) this works great as an overhead light source. It is also foldable and portable, for the record.
The battery life is, admittedly, not the best here. You can expect right around four hours of battery life on a full charge. Also, this can be charged in less than four hours with the integrated micro USB port.
In addition to the three different lighting modes (high, low and SOS), this also sports a smart protection chip. This will protect the lantern from overcharging and over-discharging (and also over-circuits).
With improved battery life, this may have landed even higher on this list. While this is a drawback, the design as a whole is well-though-out and solidly executed.
6. ANTIQUE METAL
Has a nice flickering light effect
Sports a golden brush finish
Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
The emitted light is nothing spectacular
A majority of the options thus far have been ideal for camping but this right here is an excellent model for your home. It offers ambient lighting and also a sense of style.Read more
This does use LED lighting but it more so produces a flickering effect. It emits useful light but it is nothing overly substantial.
As is stated in the description, this is a weatherproof design. This is thanks to the solid metallic casing on the exterior.
Being optimized more for use in your yard, this requires no installation or wiring. Merely place this bad boy in direct view of the sun and you will be good to go.
Even though this mainly uses the power of the sunlight, it can also be powered via a standard AA battery (making it suitable for indoor use).
At night, this is going to turn on automatically. So, if used indoors, it will only turn on in darker conditions.
Really, this is a great choice if you are looking for subtle light and also an accent piece for your outdoor décor. It can hold its own in inclement weather so remember that.
7. SUAOKI Collapsible
Features a smart protection chip
Can be powered via USB, as well
There are three lighting modes in total
The handle is made of weak plastic
It is not waterproof
The technology that is integrated here is very similar to that of the previous SUAOKI model on this list. Of course, this is another design that is foldable and portable.Read more
With a maximum lumen output of 65, this is not going to light the world up but it can still deliver an adequate amount of brightness.
Though the handle is made of cheap plastic, this is not as cheap as it seems. Of course, it is also not waterproof and should be stored indoors during intense inclement weather.
This is a lot like some of the previous models on this list in that it can fold completely down for storage and transport purposes. It is actually shorter than an iPhone 6 Plus when done so.
On low, you can actually get around 10 hours of use out of this (this is halved if used on maximum brightness). Also, it can be charged via the sunlight or the integrated micro USB port.
The same protection chip that was featured in their last model is also featured here. Additionally, this also sports three lighting modes (high, low and SOS).
If you are a fan of this type of style then you will probably like this one as much as you would the others. Then again, this is not going to suit everyone’s needs.
8. SAN RAFAEL II
Contains one amber LED light for a glowing effect
Will automatically turn on at dusk
Designed from all-weather poly
A few users have had longevity problems
Being built from all-weather poly, this can withstand the elements very well. This is ideal because this could be the next centerpiece of your outdoor décor.Read more
While this would not be that optimal as a main lighting source, it will allow you to see better at night. However, a few reviewers have reported that theirs did not last long.
Thanks to the combination of the all-weather poly and the seeded glass effect, this has been rated to handle all types of inclement weather.
Ideally, you will probably use this as ambient lighting for your garden, deck, or patio. Also, it sports a handle and can be hung from above.
After the solar panels have charged the integrated battery, you can expect to get around eight hours of use before the sun will be needed again.
For a warm glowing effect, this actually sports an amber LED bulb. Of course, it is pretty much devoid of any other notable features.
Some solar lanterns may not emit that much light but are so elegantly designed that they can be used to enhance a certain décor. That is a perfect way to describe this product.
9. SHANNA HANGING
Backed by a 90-day money-back guarantee
Each one will create a welcoming ambiance
Waterproof to IP44 standards
The emitted light is not that bright
Are you looking to enhance the mood in your back patio at night? This pack of four may for you if you are but do know this, the emitted light is very low.Read more
As hinted at, these will not produce that much light. Each one is rated to emit seven lumens and is only going to create a nice ambiance.
What is nice is each one of these lanterns is rated to be waterproof per IP44 standards. But, do be aware that this makes them water-resistant and not ideal for submersion.
Each light is pretty compact and is equipped with a durable circular ring and hanging lamp. This way, you can use them each in different ways.
To avoid wasting your time, you need to turn the light on (via the corresponding button) so that it will charge. Otherwise, the battery will not charge via the solar panels.
When you then turn the bottom switch to “AUTO” after the battery is charged, these will light up at night automatically.
If you need a ton of lighting then you should just pass on this option. The seven-lumen rating for each of the lights will be disappointing to you, after all.
10. MOONRAYS LED LIGHT
One full charge can last for up to eight hours
Crafted from glass, metal and plastic
The installation is a breeze
Some have felt the art is a bit tacky
The light is not the brightest
If you are looking for a suitable option for your garden or patio then this could be more up your alley. This is thanks to the unique artisanship and the included spike.Read more
This is yet another model that provides excellent accent lighting. Ironically, the glass itself blocks a lot of the light that you see, however. Also, some users have complained about the longevity.
Due to the nature of the design, this is able to handle inclement weather. It is designed with a combination of metal, plastic, and glass, for the record.
Literally, all you need to do is stick this into the ground in an area that is exposed to sunlight. This makes it suitable for your patio, garden or anywhere else in your yard.
You will need the power of the sun with this model as there is no other alternative. As for how long it lasts on a full charge, expect up to eight hours.
Overall, this is a really basic design that is devoid of additional features. Merely follow the installation instructions above and watch the sun do the work.
To be honest, this is probably only going to appeal to a certain demographic of consumers. It is still a well-designed piece no matter what, though.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
For any lighting source, its lighting capabilities and performance will play critical roles.
When it comes down to it, solar lanterns are like various other lighting sources when it comes to analyzing their performance. There are some key areas to focus on and the first is to assess what types of bulbs are used. Truth be told, the only real answer here is LEDs. You have probably heard it many times before but it really reigns true that LED lighting is one of the most efficient sources available. Two main reasons why are because of its longevity and its efficiency. Most LED bulbs will be rated to last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 operating hours. And, they are also incredibly energy efficient and will not draw power at accelerating rates.
Of course, there is more to it than this. You also need to pay attention to the lumen rating. When it comes to lighting, it is all about the lumens. While you may want to look at the wattage to determine the brightness, this is done so with lumens. Now, solar lanterns can range from as low as five lumens to as high as 200 or 300 (or even more). To give you a decent point of reference, 100 lumens of light is considered bright enough to light most walkways. If a particular model is rated to emit low lumens, it is probably better served as accent or ambient lighting.
No, not all models will be weather-resistant. So, you may want to find ones that are.
It would be easy to assume that all models on the market will be weather-resistant but you can’t afford to make that assumption. The reality is that the lantern you pick needs to be sealed properly and needs to sport rust-resistant materials. Now, the former is pretty self-explanatory as the interior components need to be protected from water. The latter, on the other hand, will only be an issue if you buy a model that is made of iron (or at least contains it). For models like these, look for coatings to provide protection against rust. Of course, if the design you buy is not rated to handle inclement weather, then keep it inside during downpours.
Now, speaking of ratings, let’s talk about the IP rating. This is probably one of the better ways to determine the protection level of any given model. You see, this rating consists of two numbers (the first representing solids and the second liquids). And, the higher the number, the more resistant a model will be. Now, when it comes to water protection, there is a fine line between waterproof and water-resistant. Water-resistant models will be able to handle mild rainfall (depending on their rating) while waterproof designs will actually handle submersion (at limited depths).
Some designs are portable and others are ideal for your home decor. Finding the style you prefer will be key.
Here is the somewhat tricky aspect of buying a solar lantern; there are different styles that can completely make the difference. The best way to elaborate on this is to break down the typical designs that you will see and explain what they are optimized for. Let’s start with the models that are suited for travel. These will either be prototypical lanterns (that will be designed with handles to allow them to be hung) or ones that can be “crushed down”. The latter is perfect for backpackers who are looking to save as much space as possible.
However, what if you want lanterns to be “installed” in your yard and around your home? Do not worry; there are plenty of options out there that are suitable for that. These are also usually designed to be accent pieces and will oftentimes sport rustic or artistic designs. Basically, you need to buy according to what you need and as long as you do that, you should be good.
Yes, all solar lanterns will be powered via solar energy. However, the sun will not always be out so you may want to find models with additional power sources.
Okay, so how exactly does solar energy work? To avoid a convoluted explanation let’s break this down as simply as possible. Basically, what happens is the photovoltaic cells that are featured on the panels themselves will convert the energy from the sun to electricity. What this means are the panels need to be in direct exposure to the sun itself. But, what happens on cloudy or rainy days? Well, what happens is the efficiency of the charging is drastically decreased. And, while the panels can still convert electricity on such days, it will take much longer.
As you know, this could be problematic because the sun will not be out from the clouds 24/7. Thus, you may want to look for models that can be charged in different ways. The most common additional method of charging is via a micro USB port. But, some models may even allow you to power them via batteries or even via a crank. No matter what, though, you also need to pay attention to how long they will last on a single charge (assuming it is full). This can vary significantly from model to model and can be as little as three hours to as great as over 10. Also, remember, though, that the battery life of any given model will be affected by how often you leave it on a specific lighting setting.
Some models will have various features to look out for.
Not all solar lanterns out there will be equipped with several features. In fact, some will only be designed to turn on automatically at night and off during the day. Then again, other options may sport different lighting settings. Typically, this will consist of a high, low, and SOS mode. The former two are self-explanatory but the SOS mode is something special to look out for. This is ideal in situations where you need to send out a distress signal.
Past this, highly versatile models will sometimes even double as power banks. Though standalone power banks will be much more efficient, in a pinch, this can be very useful. Oh yeah, though rare, some engineers will even equip protection technology into their designs. This can be to avoid the possibility of overcharging the integrated battery, for example.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
At the end of the day, the effectiveness of any given model will come down to its lighting prowess. In order to determine this, you need to pay attention to some key details. Two of the most important will be the type of bulbs used and the lumen rating. For example, if you are looking for a highly efficient lantern that can emit enough light to be a main lighting source, look for LED bulbs and a high lumen rating.
This section should be simple because all models will be weather-resistant, right? Well, this would be nice but that simply is not going to be the case. And, even if a specific design is rated to handle mild weather, it may not hold up to intense inclement weather. Your best point of reference here, outside of the materials and the sealing, is to assess the IP rating of any given model.
The type of style you want will go a long way to dictating the lantern that you ultimately end up going with. Really, a lot of it depends on if you want one for travel or as an accent piece for your yard. The reason this is important is that most designs will not be optimized to do both. This seems simple, and it is, but you can’t overlook it.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What are the benefits of this type of lighting?
In general, solar energy is widely regarded as being an incredibly energy efficient lighting source. After all, it makes perfect sense as it does not use external electricity and merely converts the power of the sunlight into electricity. Past this, though, when choosing solar lanterns for your yard, their installation is also a breeze. There is no external wiring to mess around with, after all, and all you need is sufficient sunlight. In a sense, you could also consider this type of lighting safer because of it.
q: Will they charge in the shade?
Okay, so it was already covered that solar panels can still gather electricity on cloudy days but they will not do so with the same efficiency as they would in direct access to the sunlight. However, what about in the shade? This becomes important because what happens if the only logical location you have to install the lanterns is in an area that will experience shade at some point? Just as before, granted there are a few rays coming through, the panels can still work. Yet, the charging time, again, will be much longer.
q: Is there any maintenance required?
For the most part, this type of technology is not going to require much maintenance. No matter if you go with portable or homebound units, however, you should always make sure that the exterior and the solar panels are cleaned. What you need to be most concerned with is the buildup of dirt and mud as this will negatively affect the panels’ ability to convert sunlight into energy. To clean them, do so with a soft cloth (deep cleaning will not be necessary if you stay on top of it).
q: What about fixing one if it breaks?
There is always more than one way to skin a cat. This saying comes into play here because, with some products, you can use your imagination to fix them. Yet, that will very rarely be the case with solar lanterns. Look, you really need to know your stuff here if you want to manually fix a certain component that breaks. Honestly, your best bet is to see if the damage is covered under warranty. If not, it may be best to buy a different model.
q: Is there an average lifespan for solar lanterns?
This question follows up on the last one very well. Clearly, the longevity of any product will depend on various factors. But, the bulbs (if they are LED) will last several years (if not decades) and the housing should last several years, as well. Of course, the solar panels themselves may only last a couple of years. Then again, this will depend on how you treat them and how often you clean them.
q: Why are they often advertised to be used after a disaster?
If you understand the basic principle of solar energy then this question should be easy for you to answer. The primary reason why any lighting that utilizes this energy is ideal for use after disasters is that it only relies on the power of the sun. No matter what happens in the world, the sun will always come up and that means that it will always supply a power source. This way, you can have much-needed light at night if you do not have power.