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The 11 Best Solar Lanterns: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide (2021)

Featured image for solar lanterns article

Editor's Choice

White background with LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Lantern on top

LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Lantern

2nd Best Choice

White background with Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Lantern on top

MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Lantern

3rd Best Choice

White background with Luci Original Solar Lantern on top

MPOWERD Luci Original Solar Lantern

The solar lighting market is expected to reach $10.8 billion by 2024, compared to $5.2 billion in 2019.

After being left in the dark during a recent power outage crisis when my flashlight stopped working, I’ve decided to give solar-powered lanterns a try. And I haven’t looked back since. In dangerous emergency situations where you don’t have any other source of light, a solar-powered lantern is a definite life-saver.

I’ve talked to my friends, and tested solar lanterns on my own, to bring you the list of the best solar lanterns out there.

Our 11 Best Solar Lanterns

1. LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Lantern

This is one of the best outdoor solar lanterns I’ve tried. I tested it myself during an electricity outage, and its two ways of charging — solar, and micro-USB port — meant I was never left without a source of light.

It packs flat — less than 1” — so you can just put it in your backpack, drawer, or glove compartment and take it out whenever you need some light, whether it’s during a blackout or a camping trip.

Designed primarily for disaster relief, this lantern was used to effectively help the population of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria in 2017. That tells you all you need to know about how this lantern will fare during an emergency situation.

White background with LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Lantern on top

PROS

  • Adjustable brightness 
  • Adjustable strap
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Portable

CONS

  • You’ll have to charge it with a USB on a cloudy day

We were greatly blessed to have the help of the folks at LuminAID, and I know that everyone who received these lights is also incredibly grateful… they knew that everything was okay when they could bring the lights to their team at their work and walk down the streets safely, able to see everything.


Yorelys Rivera, Executive Director of Iniciativa Comunitaria


2. MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Lantern

This lantern is completely powered by solar energy, which means when there’s a blackout you’ll never have to worry about batteries again.

What makes it one of the best outdoor solar lanterns is the clean, see-through design. Aside from using it for blackouts, it’ll also make a great ambiance in any outdoor space you want to light.

You want to go diving with it? You can. With an IP67 rating, it’s fully waterproof and submersible.

My only gripe with it is the plastic button on the arm of its strap breaks easily, so it’s not always the best option when you’re out sailing or camping.

White background with Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Lantern on top

PROS

  • Lasts for 24 hours on one charge
  • Extremely durable
  • Adjustable light
  • Built-in solar panels

CONS

  • The plastic button on the arm of the strap breaks easily

3. MPOWERD Luci Original Solar Lantern

I first tried Luci’s Original Solar Lantern on a friend’s recommendation. They’ve already been using it for 9 years so I thought to myself, I simply have to check out a lantern that lasted that long. And it didn’t disappoint.

Although slightly less powerful compared to the Luci 2.0 (65 vs. 75 lumens), this LED lantern works quite well in emergency situations. With built-in solar panels, it can be fully charged in only 8 hours, and an IP67 rating means you can submerge it up to 1m.

You have to note though that it can burn out within only an hour of use, so it’s not the best option during a long, drawn-out outage.

White background with Luci Original Solar Lantern on top

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to pack
  • Comes in different color models
  • 4 light options

CONS

  • Sometimes won’t charge even when in direct sunlight
  • Can burn out within an hour of use

4. Solight Solarpuff LS Solar Lantern

We all know hygiene can be challenging when on a camping trip and having to blow into a mouth nozzle in order to inflate a lantern isn’t ideal. This is one of Solarpuff's best features.

No need to blow into the nozzle, as the lantern can quickly self-inflate.

What’s the downside? Compared to Luci solar lanterns which last up to 24 hours, this lantern lasts only up to 12 hours, which isn’t ideal in a blackout that lasts for days.

White background with Solight Solarpuff LS Solar Lantern on top

PROS

  • Light sensor mode
  • 3 settings
  • Environmentally friendly

CONS

  • Users complain of dim light
  • Some models can stop working after one use

5. Aobik Mason Jar Solar Lights Lanterns

You can leave this jar on the ground or string it together to get backyard hanging lights.

However, even though it’s solar powered, the jar won’t work without the battery, which means your home will always have to be fully stocked with batteries in case of an emergency.

Another thing I don’t like about this is that after several months in the backyard, the lids on the jar will rust, which isn’t the best look.

White background with four Aobik Mason Jar Solar Lights Lanterns on top

PROS

  • Great for decorations
  • Easy to set-up

CONS

  • Only has one light mode

  • Batteries can leak acid after a couple of weeks of use

  • Not one of the best camping lanterns

6. Maggift Hanging Outdoor Hanging Solar Lantern

If you’re into a retro look, these lanterns could be the best choice. It’s more suitable as a tabletop lantern than patio lanterns, as the vintage design casts out a light pattern.

But this solar lantern is more for decoration than actual lighting, which makes it almost useless during a blackout. Believe me, I’ve tried and I only ended up almost walking headlong into a closed door. 

Garden with Maggift Hanging Outdoor Hanging Solar Lantern

PROS

  • Vintage design

  • Sturdy material

CONS

  • Rust is visible after just the first rain
  • Solar-powered, but doesn’t work without batteries
  • Holds charge for only 8 hours

7. AGPTEK Solar Lantern

One of the best features of this lantern is its charging versatility. It can be charged in five ways. This means even in emergency situations, you’ll have several charging options that are available to you.

However, because it’s bulkier than other LED lanterns, it’s less suitable for camping or backpacking.

Also, the glare is too bright to look at directly, so you’ll have to move it far from you.

White background with AGPTEK Solar Lantern on top

PROS

  • USB charging port is a power source for mobile devices
  • Works on solar energy without batteries

CONS

  • Often doesn’t hold charge
  • Bulky, not camping appropriate
  • Extremely bright, can’t be used up close
  • Flimsy hand crank breaks easily

8. Kaixoxin Solar Lantern Lights

This is a subtle home lighting option, as these lanterns have a hollowed-out pattern. They can work up to 8 hours.

However, their illuminating features aren’t the best. If you’re not looking for a decorative glow, but a lantern that gives out enough light to use during a blackout, I recommend staying clear of this one.

The light is very dim, it doesn’t spread out far, and it tends to randomly flicker on and off.

Lights around a Kaixoxin Solar Lantern Lights

PROS

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • IPX4 waterproof rating — weather resistant

CONS

  • Small and dim light
  • Doesn’t light up consistently
  • Too lightweight, a gust of wind sends it flying
  • Not camping friendly

9. Yinuo Solar Lantern

This is one of the best outdoor choices for a solar lantern, as the yellow lights create a warm and welcoming ambience on your patio.

However, if you want solar lanterns that’ll last for a long time this may not be the best choice. After only a couple of months of use, the lanterns showed signs of dullness, and soon after they stopped working altogether.

White background with two Yinuo Solar Lantern on top

PROS

  • Can light up to 15 hours
  • Automatic on and off switch

CONS

  • The solar lanterns won’t charge unless you press the on button
  • Lightweight, cheap build
  • Tend to stop working after a couple of months of use
  • Many defective products

10. CHBKT Solar-Powered Mason Jar Lights

These lanterns are made of thick glass. Inside, there are 20 warm white LED lights, which work on a battery and solar-powered combo.

They’re better used for ambient lighting but stay clear of these if you need a reliable lantern for outdoor use. If left outside, the jars fill up with water and rust.

White background with four CHBKT Solar-Powered Mason Jar Lights on top

PROS

  • Sturdy built
  • Affordable price

CONS

  • Dim glow, not a bright light
  • Not good for outside use
  • The lanterns tops rust easily
  • Not ideal for camping
  • Hard to charge

11. Moonrays Solar Powered Hanging LED Lantern

This LED solar-powered lantern has hand-painted, stained glass, which is charming and pretty to look at.

But that’s it when it comes to its good features. The build is extremely cheap, the plastic it’s made out of isn’t durable, and the amount of light it gives out isn’t very good. I wouldn’t recommend this lantern even to my worst enemy.

White background with Moonrays Solar Powered Hanging LED Lantern on top

PROS

  • Nice design
  • Weather-resistant cover

CONS

  • Cheap build that uses poor plastic
  • Difficult to access the batteries
  • Screws and washers rust
  • Can’t be used for camping
  • Will only charge in direct sunlight

What to Consider When Buying a Solar Lantern

Design

Choosing the best lamp design can add classiness and elegance to your patio, garden, or backyard.
You can choose between different designs, such as:

  • Modern lanterns such as LuminAid
  • Vintage lanterns such as Maggift
  • Traditional lanterns such as CHBKT string lights

We’d like to see kerosene lamps entirely replaced by solar. Life improves significantly. Kids study more, more productive work is done at night, air quality is better, the chance of fire is removed, money is saved.


Anish Thakkar, Co-founder of Greenlight Planet

LED Lights vs Conventional Lights

You’re not sure which ones have better features? Here’s why you should choose LED lamps:

  • LED lighting design is more environmentally friendly
  • Running and maintenance costs are low or free as solar LED lanterns use the sun’s energy
  • Solar LED bulbs are brighter than conventional ones and provide even illumination
  • Solar LED bulbs are safer, as they have no wires attached to them

Number of Lumens

Are you hosting a yard or garden party or you need a backup light during extreme weather conditions where solar lanterns are your only source of light?

Depending on what you’ll use the lanterns for, think about the brightness intensity.

When choosing a lantern for you, bear in mind that a lot of them have a decorative function and aren’t intended for lightning purposes. This means the light intensity won’t be very high.

Average lanterns have between 5 and 40 lumens. However, if solid lighting is your main goal, go for a LED lantern that has more lumens (such as the Luci Outdoor 2.0), and can give you more illumination. 

Charging Options

Choose solar lights with shorter charging and a longer working time.

If you live in an area where there isn’t a lot of direct sunlight, go for a lantern whose features include a combination of a battery and a solar panel. In this way, no matter the weather you find yourself in, you’ll be able to charge your product.

Pro tip: If you don’t have a good outdoor solar resource available, choose a battery with a low capacity type, as this will give you more time to charge it to the fullest, which will optimize its performance.

Location

To get the most of your solar-powered lantern, you should use it in a region that gets plenty of sunlight.

If, however, you live in a cloudy place, choose a lantern that uses an amorphous solar panel. (2)

Pro tip: Ensure that the solar cell isn’t shaded by foliage or surrounding structures, which can interfere with the charging. 

Maintenance and Lantern Materials

Using sun energy equals easy solar lantern maintenance. Solar products generally don’t have a lot of moving parts, which means it’s easy to clean them.

To not worry about lantern damage, choose a quality material. Go for a high-quality plastic that doesn't sustain exposure to direct sunlight. If there are any metal parts, they should be stainless steel to ensure the lantern won’t rust because of moisture.

In case you go for a glass lantern, choose the kind of glass that won’t fade or frost as this will affect the lighting quality.

Weight

We know that string lights will add that magic touch to your garden, but they might not be the best choice.

Over time, the string will thin and break, which will cause solar lights to fall and break.

Also, to make the hanging lights last longer, go for a lightweight lantern instead of a heavyweight one. 

Pro tip: Instead of buying lanterns on a string, choose ones that have hooks. This way, you can choose where you want to hang your lights.

Emergency Situations

It’s essential to have a reliable lightning source in times of crisis and emergencies. The last thing you want is to get stuck during a blackout without adequate lighting for your family.

Solar-powered lamps that are also a LED lantern is a great choice:

  • For night lightning purposes — Being able to illuminate your environment at night is key to survival in emergency situations
  • Emergency backup — If systems fail during extreme weather you’ll have a back lighting source
  • Safer alternative — A candle lantern, or camping lanterns, are safer alternatives than kerosene lamps or open-flame candles

We’d like to see kerosene lamps entirely replaced by solar. Life improves significantly. Kids study more, more productive work is done at night, air quality is better, the chance of fire is removed, money is saved.


Anish Thakkar, Co-Founder of Greenlight Planet

How Do Solar Lanterns Work?

A lantern is made of:

  • Battery
  • Light fixture
  • Controller board
  • Four cell solar array
  • Photoresistor

The solar cells are wired to the battery through a diode. During the day, the battery charges.

The controller board accepts energy from the solar cell and battery, as well as input from the photoresistor. Once the photoresistor indicates darkness, the controller board turns on the light fixture.

For the lantern to work correctly, its placement is important. Position the solar cell south at an angle perpendicular to the sun to make the most out of it.

Why Invest in Solar Lanterns

A Renewable Source of Light

Solar power is renewable and more eco-friendly than items using electricity.

The sun always rises, so you’ll never worry about running out of energy, which can’t be said for other finite sources.

Also, solar energy is readily available and it doesn’t harm the planet.

Solar Light Will Save You Money

Most solar garden lights are DIY, so you don’t have to worry about high installation costs, and provide good general lighting.


Denise Hammond, Product Knowledge Specialist at Beacon Lighting

They pay off in the long run.

We all know how pricey electricity is, but energy from the sun is free. Whether you want to light up your patio, garden, yard, or you need a lantern for camping, using the sun to charge energy-consuming items will save you a pretty buck. 

Mobility

Pick up your UV light products and place them wherever you want. If any part of your space doesn’t have tons of sunlight, it’s easy to reposition the solar lantern.

You need to take your dog out in the middle of the night? A solar lantern will give you all the light you need wherever you go.

Solar Lights are Safe

Solar lanterns don’t have any external cords or wiring to worry about.

You don’t have to worry about your child or pet being electrocuted or tripping on these cordless lights.

Finally, they don’t overheat. Their design is safe to use.

FAQ

Are solar lights worth the money?

Yes, solar lights are worth the money. They’re budget and environmentally friendly, can add ambiance to your yard, and stay on for 8 hours. All you have to do is position them where you want them to be.

How long do solar lanterns last?

Solar lanterns last for 3-4 years before you have to replace the battery. The LEDs last even longer, up to 10 years. Those that have a build made of stainless steel will also last for a long time.

Do solar lights need the sun or just light?

Solar lights don’t need the sun to charge. Just place the lights under artificial lights and it will charge speedily, without any sunlight.

Is it OK to leave solar lights on all night?

Yes, it’s OK to leave solar lights on all night long, but be aware that come morning chances are after about 8 hours the lantern will be empty, and you’ll have to charge it.

Do solar lights stay on all night?

Yes, solar lights will stay on all night unless you turn them off, based on the energy they have stored during the day.If the battery is in good condition the LED bulb should have enough energy to illuminate all evening and night — starting from sunset until the next morning.

How can I make my solar lights last longer?

You can make your solar lights stay longer by regularly cleaning them, changing the expired battery regularly, putting them in a location with direct sunlight, or turning them off on a rainy day.

Does rain ruin solar lights?

Yes, rain can ruin solar lights. If it rains continuously, the panels can’t charge efficiently, so the lights put a strain on the battery. To save the battery, switch off the lights on rainy days.

What to do when solar lights stop working?

If your solar lights stop working, you can check if they’re turned on, check if they receive enough sunlight, replace the battery, clean the solar panels, or switch them off for 72 hours and try again.

Can I leave solar lights out in winter?

No, you can’t leave the solar lights out in winter if it snows on your backyard where you live. You should dismantle them and put them inside until spring.

How many lumens should solar lights have?

How many lumens solar lights should have depends on their purpose. A lantern used for backyard lighting should have 100 to 200 lumens. If you want a solar light for security, it should have 700 to 1300 lumens.

How do I make my solar lights brighter?

You can make your solar lights brighter by cleaning the solar panel, checking for debris, checking the battery, checking if there isn’t rust or corrosion, and checking if the panel is getting enough direct sunlight.

How do you charge solar lights without the sun?

You can charge the solar lights without the sun by placing them underneath an artificial light, LED, or incandescent bulbs, directing the sunlight to lights with mirrors, or using alternative charging options such as a USB port.

Do solar lights charge on cloudy days?

Yes, solar lights charge on cloudy days. The solar panel still gets sunlight, but because the clouds diffuse direct sunlight, the solar power generator will be less effective.

Can solar lights catch fire?

Yes, solar lights can catch fire because batteries hold sunlight energy. However, most solar bulbs put off a little heat, which isn’t enough to set the lighting on fire.

Our Recommended Solar Lantern

So, what’s the solar lantern to rule them all? LuminAID PackLite.

Most importantly, this lantern proved itself to me in emergency situations, such as long, drawn-out power outages. Because of that, I could rest easy knowing I always have a reliable source of light on hand.

Whether you’re looking for something to create some backyard or patio ambiance, a loyal companion on your next adventure, or a source of light you can always count on, my vote goes to the LuminAID PackLite.

LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Lantern

Our # 1 Solar Lantern

  • Adjustable brightness
  • Adjustable strap
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Portable


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