There’s nothing better than a hassle-free camping trip. A weekend away completely isolated from city life. Nothing but the sounds of nature and that feeling of clean fresh air being inhaled. Sounds great right?
To successfully accomplish the above, you’re going to have to ensure you’ve brought the right equipment. One vital piece of equipment that is an absolute necessity is a solar lantern. To truly enjoy your experience you will need a light to illuminate your camp at night.
Plus a portable light source is an essential piece of emergency equipment too. You don’t know what situation you could end up in, accidents happen. And if on the off chance something bad does happen, you do not want to be relying on your campfire as your only source of light.
So let’s get on with it, in this buyers guide we will tell you our top picks for solar camping lights, we will then provide you with our buyers guide that explains how we rated the lights and lastly we’ll list our top 10 best solar camping lights for 2020!
10 Best Solar Camping Lanterns in 2020
Now let’s dive into the reviews:
1 – MPOWERD Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0
This is hands down my favorite on the list. This light has it all and it’s fairly priced too. Honestly, I can’t recommend these lights strongly enough, if you’re a camper or a hiker this is the best buy for you!
Let’s begin with the weight, the MPowered Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0 isn’t that heavy. These types of lights generally aren’t but that being said it’s one of the heavier lights on this list.
They are very compact and will take up next to no space as they collapse. When driving you could place them in the back on top of your stuff so that they charge through the car’s rear window.
The Luci Pro Outdoor 2 offers a great light quality. In fact, it’s one of the brightest lights on this list. You have 4 modes to choose from. These are: low, medium, high, 1-second flashing. The maximum lumen output is 150 lumens. I was really impressed with the brightness actually. That being said you probably won’t use the 150 lumen high option much.
There are 10 cool white LEDs packed within the compact shell. So let’s talk about the shell. The shell can be blown up by using a small blow valve. This is a really nice innovative feature that makes the light compact.
I’m assuming you’re now starting to see why this is one of my favorites. You would assume the features mentioned so far would make the light expensive but you’d be wrong! This is actually a very cost-effective light. This is by far one of the best camping lanterns on the market.
There are also mobile charging capabilities too, although I don’t particularly use it I like knowing its there. The handle can unsnap which makes it easier to hang the lamp.
Overall I’m impressed and would recommend this lamp to anybody looking for a powerful, durable, and compact solar lantern.
2 – SUAOKI Led Camping Lanterns for Lighting
I actually purchased one of these a few years ago and it’s still going strong. It’s not the most modern item on the list but it does the job! I’ve certainly put mine through the wars and it’s still functioning properly although there are a few scratches.
Now I would not recommend using this light for your main source of light one bit. I would however recommend having it as a nice little backup or even a tent light if you have space.
This is a collapsible lantern that has two main charging options. You can charge it via solar power or a USB port. It’s easy enough to carry, there’s a plastic handle on the top of the lantern.
The light features three different lighting modes. You’ve got the high mode that offers 65 lumens and the low mode that offers 25 lumens. Then there is the SOS flashing mode in case you ever need to use it in an emergency.
The light has an integrated 800mAh lithium battery that offers 10 hours of battery life in the low mode option when fully charged and 5 hours of battery life in the high mode option.
3 – AGPTEK Solar Camping Lantern
The AGPTEK 5 mode camping lantern has 5 different options when it comes to charging. Yup, there are 5 different ways to power this 36 LED light.
Let’s go through all five options.
- The first is the solar panel that sits on top of the lantern.
- The second is a USB charging port.
- The third is a car adapter charger.
- The fourth is hand cranked. Yep you can manually charge this light.
- The fifth and last option is 3 sets of AAA batteries.
You will need the 3 AAA batteries to store the energy generated by the other options. So i bought this light after having a shop around on amazon and seeing the amazing reviews this lantern had.
I’m not a fan of hand-cranked dynamo lights – you know the ones you have to spin the hand lever for ages until your hand cramps? It is however useful to have in case you have no other option to power the lantern. This is certainly the last option I’d try.
The primary charging option for me would be the fastest source of charge which would be the AAA batteries or the car adapter. However if I was on a long road trip I would make a point of carefully positioning these lanterns on the parcel shelf so that the sun could charge them as we drove.
The LEDs on this light are designed to effectively use the energy generated in order to maximise the runtime of this light. AGPTEK say the light has been designed so that it has an operation life up to 100,000 hours.
4 – SUAOKI Collapsible Clover Style 18 Led lantern
Thats twice now that SUAOKI has made the list. They are a very popular brand amongst solar powered products.
This product has quite a low price point considering the specifications. The product comes with an incredible turbo charge mode that uses the USB port – this will charge the built-in 680mAh lithium battery to full charge in around 3 and a half hours.
The Suoaki solar lantern looks great in terms of aesthetics and it collapses too – which is always a plus for campers who are concerned about weight and how much space they have to carry things.
The light has a hook which makes it easy to hang onto things like twigs. The three solar panels on the top need to be positioned in direct sunlight though. However the lantern does well for basic needs. It’s nothing amazing but with a low price tag, it’s worth the money.
The light has three different modes, these are, high which has a battery life of 2 hours, low which has a battery life of 4 hours and an SOS blinking mode which is designed for emergency situations.
The light functions well overall but the power-charging element of the light really fails it.
You’re not going to be relying solely on the solar light, this is purely a backup power source.
But this one doesn’t do anything well when it comes to charging it. I guess that’s what holds it back. Is it still usable? Yes.
5 – GOAL ZERO LIGHTHOUSE 400 LAMP AND USB
The Goal ZERO Lighthouse isn’t the most modern looking lantern and it doesn’t fold like the others. It’s still a really good lantern if you have the space though. The legs are a nice feature too – especially seeing as it has a hand crank as an option to charge the light. This makes cranking the light so much easier when it’s propped up on its legs.
The legs aren’t flimsy either, in fact there quite robust but if that isn’t enough you can also use the hook to hang the light up.
The lantern offers a 360 or 180 degree angled beam. It utalises a 4,400mAh lithium battery to power the 400 lumen lamp
Frequently Asked Questions
Are solar lights safe?
Yes they are. There is a chance of them catching fire but the likelihood of that happening is very slim. Plus you’ll be monitoring or nearby your light anyway otherwise you should have it turned off so that it doesn’t waste charge. Therefore as long as you’re a sensible person the risk is very very low.
Can solar lanterns still charge in cloudy weather or under shade?
Well, solar lanterns require the sun to charge their batteries. So if the weather is cloudy and there isn’t much sun you’re not going to get the most out of your solar panel. There will still be some rays coming through but it will not be the same.
So yes they will but it will take much longer to fully charge and it depends on how bad your environment is too. Try place your light in an area that gets hit with the sun the most i.e do not place it under a tree.
Can you leave solar lights out in winter?
Yes, if the light is waterproof it can be left outside all year. However that being said we recommend you keep your kit indoors if possible as it will help keep the condition good. Plus make sure you get one of the best brands and it will be capable of enduring a lot more strain than other lesser quality lanterns.
Why do outdoor solar lights stop working?
Normally if the solar light isn’t working it’s down to a fault with the battery.
How many lumens should solar lights have?
When it comes to camping, you’re not wanting to light the whole place up. In fact that would be really annoying. You just need enough lighting to see where you’re going so that you don’t trip or fall. 100 lumens is sufficient for a lantern light – anymore and you’ll probably annoy other campers.
What is the average lifespan of a solar lantern?
If you’re buying from a well known brand who is known for manufacturing quality products you will likely get a few years out of your lantern at the very least. The LED bulbs will last for decades, it’s the solar panels that don’t have much of a life span. Well built solar lanterns can last on average for about 2 years.
What are the Different Types of Solar Camping Lanterns?
Solar powered camping lanterns can be categorized based on a few factors.
You have your fixed design category that consists of solar lanterns that do not compress. These are large lanterns that need to be carried around. They don’t lack in performance but they do lack in storage and portability.
Then you have your collapsible solar lanterns. These are my personal favourite as they take up a small amount of space when not being used. This means its easy to carry them and store them in my backpack.
You could also categorise solar camping lanterns based on their charging modes. So either a USB solar lantern or a single-charging solar lantern.
How do I light my campsite?
There are many ways to light a campsite. Let’s go through some of them now. Starting a fire in the center of your campsite will be a great way of providing some warmth and help illuminate the camp.
We recommend keeping glow sticks handy too. Use these to mark anything like poisonous bushes or jaggy nettles.
The best way of lighting up a campsite is by using solar-powered lanterns. You can hang these around the campsite in strategic areas to maximise the amount of light produced. Some lanterns have a run time of up to 40 hours and produce a nice amount of floodlighting.
How Many Hours of Light Can You Expect to Get from One Charge?
It totally depends on the lantern you buy but I can give you a rough idea. We have touched on this question briefly in the buyers guide section of this guide but let’s go a bit more in depth.
The hours of light that you will have available depends completely on the battery that the light uses and the lighting mode you have selected.
Most lights offer multiple modes – each mode offers different lumen outputs and uses different amounts of power.
Lanterns used for camping typically have a battery capacity that works for anywhere between 4 and 20 hours.
Where Should You Place the Lanterns around a Campsite?
You want to keep the lanterns near common places that you’re going to walk by. Leave them hung up and make sure that they can get exposed to sunlight during the day. You could even carry about with you. There isn’t a right or wrong place to put your lantern, mainly because it’s very dependent on your campsite.
Just focus on making sure your solar camping lanterns can get sunlight during the day.
Today buying lights for your campsite is more affordable than ever. Lights are cheaper, more durable, brighter and much more compact than the old gas lanterns that used to be the norm. Does anybody remember the old dolphin torches?
Technology keeps getting better and it can be hard to keep up. There are a few features you want to look for when buying a solar-powered camping lantern. We have listed them all below:
The first thing you have to consider is the number of lumens you’re going to need. What are lumens? Well, think of lumens as an indicator of the amount of brightness your light offers. More lumens, more brightness.
This lumen parameter will help you compare solar powered camping lanterns pretty easily. You’re obviously going to want a light that can sufficiently illuminate your camp but how many lumens will I need to accomplish this? The brightest light isn’t necessarily the right light for you.
A lumen output of 100 is about sufficient to light up the inside of a tent. So I would recommend you look for a product that has a lighting mode that can offer that.
There are lights that have upwards of 1000 lumens. These are great for very specific situations but not for camping. 1000 lumens is most certainly overkill and by turning that on the nearby deers / wild life will probably think it’s daylight.
Your campmates would probably get annoyed too as it is the equivalent of shining a car’s headlights (which are typically 1300 lumens).
Even 500 lumens is too much!
You are trying to illuminate your campsite, not hunt Pablo Escobar in a Columbian forest.
You will want to have the ability to cycle through different lighting modes too. Let’s look at three different scenarios and why you need different lumen outputs for each.
- You may want a 20-30 lumen option to help you navigate your way to the toilet without tripping at night.
- Having a 100 lumen output option is good for sitting around the camp at night.
- You would also want a higher lumen output mode for emergencies, something around the 2-300 range. This is bright enough to bring attention to yourself.
It is also worth noting that the color of the light will also influence your perception of how bright it is. Warm or yellow LEDs will not attract insects as fast as a blue colored light would.
Each lighting mode will drain the battery at a different rate too. The higher the output the fast the battery drains. So you can use this to filter through the products mentioned too. It’s hard to find a healthy medium between all the different requirements, but only you know what would suit you best.
Now you’re out in the wilderness so the chances are you’re going to get wet or muddy.
You have to pick a light that isn’t going to break if it gets a little wet. Make sure you look at the IPX rating and pick something that will be sufficient.
|IPX Rating||Protection Offered|
|IPX 7||Complete Immersion to a depth of up to 1 meter for a duration of 30 minutes.|
|IPX 8||Complete Immersion to a depth of up to 3 meters for a duration of 30 minutes. Tested in water under conditions set by the manufacturer.|
When purchasing any light you should carefully consider the charging requirements of the light. Does it require lithium batteries? Can you charge it with a car plug-in? Now obviously you’ve landed on a page that focuses on solar-powered camping lights but we should be considering other methods of charging too.
Remember there might not always be enough sunlight to fully charge your light. Your light will still charge with clouds but it will not charge as fast.
Generally the more charging modes the light has the better the light will be.
Weight / Size
Now obviously the smaller and lighter the better. You don’t want to be carrying unnecessary big items. This is just extra weight and more things to carry. Most of these lanterns can compress now too, well the best ones can. It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice brightness or battery capacity. The best lights on the market are small yet powerful.