Why buy a solar lantern?
Solar lanterns save money over time. If you’re an avid hiker, camper, or general outdoor enthusiast, you’ll discover how much you spent on batteries. The same holds for decorative outdoor home solar lanterns. If you exchange the decorative lights with solar lanterns, you may see a considerable savings difference, as they’re lit constantly for longer. Consider a solar lantern for its lighter environmental and safer impact than electric lanterns.
What should you look for in a solar lantern?
- Design: Not all solar lanterns are created equally. If you’re looking for a solar lantern to take on the trail, boat, or RV, you’ll want a compact, lightweight, and weatherproof design. But suppose you’re interested in a solar lantern to set outside your home. In that case, you’ll want to look for other features such as mounting type, noncorrosive material, look, and run-time. These home exterior solar lanterns should add a lovely accent and illuminate pathways or entranceways for as late into the night as you need them to.
- Energy: Many portable solar lanterns turn solar energy into light and power to recharge electronic devices like cell phones and tablets. Ideally, these lanterns have large-capacity, built-in, rechargeable batteries to serve both purposes for as long as possible. Some camping-oriented models draw on other power sources, including solar, to ensure you have light if stormy weather occurs. You’ll also find dual energy-source designs in decorative, outdoor home solar lanterns. Typically, these lantern constructions make the most of any surface space with several mini solar panels plus a rechargeable battery so that no wiring is needed.
- Waterproof: Unless you live in an arid environment, your solar lantern will get wet eventually. Some product descriptions use terms like ‘weatherproof,’ ‘splashproof,’ or ‘waterproof’ to showcase how well they’ll hold up during the year. The level of actual proofing may be challenging to pin down. IPX4 waterproof rating, for example, indicates that the lantern has undergone a five-minute continuous spray test without harm and is “splashproof.” Solar panels, generally speaking, are completely waterproof, or IPX8. The issue is that when looking for solar lanterns, you must check the waterproof rating for the whole product, not just the panel.
What should you know about LEDs and lumens?
How do you know how bright an LED bulb will be? You have to look for the lumens (lm) and the amount of visible light. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light. It does take a little ‘rewiring’ of our understanding of the relationship between Watts and light output. LED lights use less energy to produce light than conventional bulbs, about 87% less. Solar-powered LED lanterns can use any unused power for other things, like charging your phone. So while you shop for a solar lantern, look for the LED lumen rating. If you want the brightness of an incandescent, 60-watt bulb, shoot for about 900 lm.
Mesqool LED Solar Camping Lantern
A solar lantern that charges from three power sources and can power mobile phones via USB.
Pros: This impressive multifunctional solar camping lantern functions as a powerful flashlight, a winning combination when you’re off the grid. Charge the device with the following power sources: solar, AC/DC power, and dynamo crank (generator). The lantern has 12 LED bulbs that emit 200 lm of light, 360 degrees for between four and 28 hours, depending on your chosen setting. The rechargeable battery-powered 3-watt 350-lm flashlight will cover you for no less than 38 hours if you run out of solar energy. If your mobile phone dies, power it up by connecting it to the lantern with the USB cord. The solar lantern is also collapsible, lightweight, and compact.
Cons: Even when fully charged, the lantern may fail to charge electronic devices.
Bottom Line: This solar lantern offers so much and comes at a low price. It’s worth consideration for its dual functionality and three charging options. Also, it comes in three colors—black, green, and yellow.
KIZEN Collapsible LED Solar Lantern
An accordion-like collapsible solar lantern with LED light settings.
Pros: Compact is right. This solar lantern-flashlight hybrid collapses from a full 3.5 inches to a tiny 1.7 inches and weighs only 9.6 ounces. You may want to pack it in your pocket, so you don’t lose it in your camping bag. Power it via solar energy within seven hours or USB within two. Choose one of three light modes—high, low, and SOS- to meet your circumstances. On low, the lantern will shine for 10 hours. This little guy has your back during emergencies and power outages with its built-in rechargeable 1200mAh lithium battery. Hang the lantern by its handle or hold it as you walk along a woody path.
Cons: It’s unclear if the KIZEN solar lantern is waterproof.
Bottom Line: They packed many desirable features in this solar lantern’s design. Not only can you charge the lantern via USB, but you can use the lantern to charge devices.
Kaixoxin Solar Lantern Lights
A solar lantern that casts decorative LED-lit light patterns at night.
Pros: Hang this stainless-steel solar lantern in a tree from its handle, set it on the front porch, or place it in the garden. Wherever it goes, it will add beauty and allure with its ornate ornamentation, and expert solar LED design. Remove the protective film from the solar panel, press the ON button, then set the lantern in direct sun. The lantern needs between six and eight hours to fully charge so it can illuminate your home’s exterior for eight hours. The 2V 80mA solar panel is backed by a rechargeable Ni-Mh 600mAh AA 1.2 V battery, which comes included. No wiring is required. The Kaixoxin solar lantern measures 5.12 x 8.86 inches and features IPX4 waterproofing for wetter weather.
Cons: You may be surprised by the size of the solar lantern—it’s smaller than expected.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking to swap out your current nighttime outdoor light fixture, you’ll be pleased to see how much money you save going solar. Maybe go for two, as adding a lantern won’t increase the cost much.
PASAMIC Solar Wall Lanterns
This pair of solar wall lanterns frames a doorway or garage door, adding elegance and illumination.
Pros: These antique-looking solar wall lanterns feature tempered glass and bright LED Edison filament bulbs. The 5.5 x 5.5 x 9-inch pyramid-shaped lantern tops have four built-in solar panels for each side. With two solar lanterns, that’s eight solar panels. Use them as wall sconces, installing one on either side of a garage door or porch. All you need to install the lanterns are screws; no wires are necessary. It would help if you placed them only in areas where they get direct sunlight exposure. In ideal conditions, the lanterns charge to full between six to eight hours and shine for eight to twelve hours. These solar lanterns are made to keep their appearance and performance with protective anti-rust and waterproof surface treatments.
Cons: With only one mounting option, these lanterns limit where and how you place them.
Bottom Line: With a dusk-to-dawn sensor to orchestrate energy output, these lanterns may require little upkeep. If needed, they come with rechargeable batteries.
LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 Power Lantern
This solar power lantern flattens from six inches to one inch, charges phones, and brightens dark paths.
Pros: This LuminAID lantern works equally well out in the woods as in a kids’ indoor play tent for sleepovers. It’s practically possible because the lantern recharges via solar (12 to 14 hours) and battery charge via USB (one to two hours). You can use its charge to recharge your mobile phone or tablet with a 2.1-amp output port; the USB cord comes included. The built-in 2000 mAh lithium-ion battery supplies about 50 hours of light when you use the lantern on the lowest five light settings. It meets its power capacity in terms of convenience and versatility. The lantern expands to a 6-inch cube and flattens to one inch. It’s also shatterproof and 100% waterproof.
Cons: The lantern may work better as a lantern than a phone or other device charger.
Bottom Line: The LuminAID PackLite solar lantern truly packs light. Take it with you wherever you go, using the carrying handle to hook it to a backpack.
Take a solar lantern on your next outdoor excursion, or start a neighborhood trend with a couple of eco-friendly, stylish patio solar lantern lights. With incredible versatile features, you can power up your devices and provide light on the go with your solar lantern.