Whether you’re going camping and need a light that doesn’t need electricity to keep the walking path safe, or you’re looking to light up the backyard in an eco-friendly, budget-friendly way, solar lanterns are a great way to go.
For my own adventures in camping, hiking, and backpacking, an energy efficient light is always important, so I’ve gotten into using solar camping lanterns.
And because they truly are awesome, I’m writing up this quick overview and list of the best solar lanterns that can help save your camping trip or backyard lighting scheme.
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How do Solar Powered Lanterns Work?
Each solar powered lantern is fitted with a small panel of photovoltaic cells. These are what make up the solar panel on the lantern.
The lantern uses these cells to collect energy from the sun. This energy is then converted by the panel into the type of energy that the lantern can use to power the light.
Why are they Worth Investing In?
Depending on what exactly your goals are, there a variety of different benefits to having a solar powered lantern over a standard electric powered light.
First off, solar powered equipment is always more eco-friendly than anything that runs on the electrical grid.
They use the natural and readily available power of UV light rather than electricity produced at some plant that harms the planet.
Initially, some solar powered items aren’t terribly budget-friendly, but in the long run, anyone running things like a lantern for camping, emergency lighting, or other lower energy consuming appliances and electronics will save a bundle.
Solar energy is free after the initial set up. Standard electrical power is pricey – not that I need to tell you that.
Easy to Install
Unlike other electrical items, solar powered appliances and systems are easy to set-up and install.
Most solar powered products simply need to be placed in sunlight to work, while standard appliances and electronics need an electrician to come in and install the proper wiring system to safely function.
Our Solar Lantern Reviews
I have found the six best solar powered camping lights, backyard lights, and emergency lights that are available on the market currently.
They all come highly rated and have unique functions and features that make them the best. I’ve put them into two basic categories for easier discernment and then chosen the absolute best in a specific standard to help you decide which lantern(s) is best for your precise needs.
How We Chose the Lanterns
I wanted to make sure I was only suggesting the best options in my solar lantern reviews. So, I went looking online for the reviews that other guys put together. I grabbed the lanterns off these lists to look at, but I also looked for the options reviewed by other consumers. I had a list of twenty or so options to look deeper into after I knocked out those that didn’t receive an above average rating.
From this list, I dug through specific reviews on each lantern until to see which ones really met the standards for what I could honestly suggest as the best solar camping lanterns. This left me with a list of about ten options.
From this list, I narrowed it down by the nitty gritty details that make one solar LED lantern stand out above the crowd. Those are the finalists for this list of the absolute best solar powered lanterns.
The Best Outdoor Solar Lanterns for the Backyard, Camping, and Survival
Here’s the list of the absolute best solar powered lanterns that I could find. I’ve reviewed and checked them each myself, and truly recommend them for anyone looking for each option in the categories, whether you’re looking for solar lanterns hanging or the best solar survival lanterns.
The Best Solar-Powered Decorative Lanterns
For the best decorative lanterns, check out these options that will add beauty and fun to any outdoor occasion. They’re perfect for pool parties, patio lighting, lighted pathways, and other outdoor living at home.
Overall Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
This unique lantern is an ideal choice for anyone who likes to entertain a fair bit. It’s also ideal for anyone planning an outdoor evening wedding reception. They’re reasonably priced and beautiful in a cool mint green/blue shade.
The Allsop Garden Solar Tea Lantern’s globe is made of blown glass, meaning each lantern has a slightly different and unique pattern to the next one.
The glass itself is a high-quality, water-resistant glass specifically designed for outdoor use. And since they’re solar-powered, you simply have to hang them up in at the beginning of the day of your event, and you’re good to go – no wiring or special installation required.
The lanterns will stay lit for at least four hours if fully charged, and often last much longer.
If you want to use the lanterns as centerpieces or set along deck rails, you can do that, or you can hang them from posts or hooks around the venue or yard.
The Allsop lanterns is an LED bulb, rechargeable batteries, and all the parts are replaceable, in case something happens to the lantern somewhere along the way. They also carry a one-year warranty from the manufacturer.
Overall Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
If you’re looking to upgrade the backyard lighting with some attractive but eco-friendly lighting, you’ll definitely want to consider this firefly solar lantern from Go2Garden. They’re gorgeous, easy to use, and fun for every occasion.
The Go2Garden Fairy Lanterns use a warm white light string to create an airy, decorative feeling for outdoor lighting. They work as a hanging lantern or tabletop lantern, or if you’re throwing a whimsical party, you can mix these in among the plants for a firefly feeling in the garden.
Personally, I love these for lining a walking path for a springtime outdoor party, or a summer picnic under the stars.
The customer service for Go2Garden is considered one of the best, and they offer a 3-month warranty, plus 30-day money-back guarantee.
The vintage style lanterns light up automatically when the sun goes down, and they stay lit for hours. They require about six to eight hours to charge fully, and they stay lit up for at least eight hours when the NIMH battery fully charges by solar light.
The Go2Garden Firefly lanterns are easy to install – i.e. they don’t require any wiring or external power sources – and they’re durable and reliable. The metal frame has a bronze look while the windows are made of real glass. The whole thing is waterproof and corrosion resistant, which means they’ll last for years. Just clean the solar cells regularly to keep the lanterns charging properly.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
There’s something peaceful about a backyard filled with low-light lanterns hanging from posts and poles. Whether you’re on the deck or propped up in a lounge beneath the stars, drinking cocoa by the firepit, those lanterns turn an otherwise drab yard into a magical escape from reality and anxiety.
The hanging lanterns from Homeimpro are one of my favorite options for backyard transformations. The blue finish adds attraction during the day, while the warm lights add that ambiance we all crave at night.
After eight hours of charging, the Big lantern – which measures 7.9-inches in diameter and 6.8-inches in height, brings a load of warm, inviting light to the area where it’s hanging. The lantern itself is made of stainless steel that’s finished in blue, making it a weather resistant feature for your yard.
The lantern turns on automatically but does have an on/off switch. The light shines for up to eight hours after a full charge. The light itself in these lanterns has a 7-lumens output in an LED light, for a bright light that reflects through the decorative pattern of the casing.
The lanterns come with a 180-day money-back guarantee if you have any issues, though that’s very unlikely. You can either receive a full refund or replacement lantern.
The Best Backpacking, Camping, and Emergency Lanterns
For those heading out on the trail or pitching a tent somewhere, solar lanterns are the perfect way to go. Check out these options to find the right one for you.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Another highly portable lantern I’d recommend for campers and hikers is the Odoland USB rechargeable lantern. This particular lantern has a modern hurricane lantern-esque feel to it, but collapses down and tucks away easily for camping needs.
I love this particular lantern for the incredible light it provides. With a full charge, this lantern can offer up to 20 continuous hours of light.
It charges by either solar power or USB port before leaving home.
The panel is exposed and easily collects energy from the sun while you’re hiking. You can clip it onto your backpack straps while you hike to make sure you’re getting plenty of charge even when you’re not stationary.
The Odoland lantern has three light settings for versatility and use in the great outdoors.
- Cold white light – emits up to 150 lumens for up to 5 hours
- High warm white light – emits up to 90 lumens for up to 7 hours
- Low warm white light – emits up to 20 lumens for up to 20 hours
The lantern is made of high-quality plastic and is incredibly durable and portable. This is genuinely my top choice for wilderness adventures where you could run out of access to electricity or light.
Overall Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars
At first, I was kind of skeptical of inflatable lanterns. They seemed flimsy and unrealistic, but because of the practicality of space economy, I wanted to check them out.
As I did so, I looked at several options and discovered that several brands have decent options that make sense. My top choice in this category, however, is the Luci.
If you’re looking for a fun lighting situation for your camping and backpacking adventures, you’ll want to check out the Luci solar lanterns that are inflatable. They have a few different options, but the one I found as the best option for multi-functionality is actually the most fun option as well: the Multi-Color inflatable solar-powered lantern.
If the Luci inflatable multi-colored lantern gets full sunlight charge, it will last for up to six hours. This will take about seven hours of direct sunlight recharge to get that full charge.
For the fun stuff, this light has a glittery finish and has eight colors to choose from – you just have to toggle through the color settings to get the one you want. You can also select a “white plus color” cycle for an added element of fun.
These lights are perfect for backpacking because they only weigh 4.4 ounces and collapse down to tiny. I personally love these for use in tents, pool parties, and a relaxed evening on the patio, as well. I set the light to yellow for the tent and deck for relaxing, and the more colorful settings for parties.
The Luci inflatable solar lanterns come with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty. They’re incredibly durable and waterproof. They also have a battery indicator so you roughly know how much time you’ve got left.
Overall Rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars
So, if I’m going camping, this is the lantern I’m going to bring along.
The Suaoki LED camping lantern not only works as a standard camping lantern, but it provides backup charging sources for emergencies.
This particular lantern also provides a backup power source for charging ahead of time. Which means you can start out your trip with a fully charged lantern, even if you can’t put the lantern out in the sun for a charge.
In other words, before you head out, you can plug this baby into a USB charging port or electrical outlet with an adapter. This makes for a great way to start out a trip.
And while you’re out there in the great outdoors, if you discover your power’s out, or your phone runs out of charge, you can pull this lantern out and save the day. It works as a flashlight, lantern, or charging station.
The Suaoki is a water-resistant and collapses down to save on space. It’s fairly lightweight, too, so works for backpacking, or for hiking. They have three light modes, as well: bright, low light, or SOS blinking for emergency situations.
The lantern also has protection to avoid over-charging, discharging, and guarantees safe use.
How Long do Solar Camping Lanterns Last Once Charged?
The length of charge for solar camping lanterns will vary based on the wattage of the cells in the lantern. Most lanterns, admittedly, don’t list their wattage, but they do typically tell you on a case by case situation how long the given product should hold a charge.
How Long Does it Take to Charge a Solar LED Lantern?
Again, the wattage of the solar cells powering the lantern will greatly alter the charge time of a lantern. Most of them will require a full day – 6 to 8 hours of direct or mostly direct sunlight – though a few will require longer for a full charge.
Do Solar-Powered Camping Lights Hold a Charge?
Yes, solar-powered camping lanterns hold a charge. They are designed with batteries that are recharged by the sunlight that creates the solar energy, and these batteries are what discharge the energy that powers the lights.
Do Solar Rechargeable Lanterns Have Another Power Source?
Some lanterns may have a backup source, but most simply use a rechargeable battery that’s charged by the sun. If backup batteries are critical, be sure to verify the lantern has this unusual feature, as most don’t include it.
Other solar lighting lantern choices may also be charged via electrical outlet or USB charge. (You’ll notice two of these below.) These are great for charging ahead of time if you’re headed into the woods, hiking, backpacking, or other situations when charging to a full power may be a little tricky because of being in transit.
The Best Solar Lanterns are Inexpensive and Easy to Use
Solar Lanterns are one of the handiest, most useful, and often most attractive options in solar-powered lighting. I love my lanterns personally, and highly recommend others investigate them.
They’re great for saving money, but they’re even better for saving the environment, creating emergency lighting or easy-to-maintain lighting schemes in the yard. And because they’re solar-powered, they’re easy to install and use.