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February 22, 2023

Everything you need to know about portable solar lanterns and why they are so popular

The portable power of the sun

Portable solar lanterns are one of the most innovative solar technologies available today. Along with their long list of practical benefits, they are a fun and unique twist on traditional lanterns and lamps for camping, outdoor adventures and everyday lighting.

Solar lanterns are powered by renewable solar energy from the sun and continue to grow in popularity as people discover how versatile and useful these lanterns can be for today's modern lifestyles.

Already a hero in disaster relief

The solar powered lantern has already proven itself to be an incredibly useful tool in the aftermath of major weather emergencies and natural disasters. The need for a reliable, waterproof, off grid light source was the genesis of these solar light devices.

Over the last decade, portable solar lights have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, how outdoor solar and the sun's energy can be reliably accessed even in the aftermath of a major disaster.

Today, thankfully, portable solar lanterns have allowed people better access to light and safety during major power outages which can often last for long periods of time.

A useful solar light for camping, outdoor adventures and outdoor living

In addition to their role in disaster relief, outdoor solar lanterns have gained popularity as a reliable source of light for camping and outdoor adventures. More recently, with the introduction of newer, more modern designs, the solar lantern has also become popular as outdoor living decor for backyard, patio and garden spaces.

When it comes to outdoor solar, these cordless, self-contained units are versatile, multi-functional and good value. In many cases, these units are also waterproof or at least water resistant. As a source of outdoor solar lighting, it's no wonder we're seeing them pop up everywhere.

The best camping lantern

Today, a portable solar lantern is considered essential gear by many campers and outdoor adventurers. The best portable solar lights are bright, lightweight, waterproof and easy to carry around. For weekend camping to full on adventuring, solar lanterns easily meet the lighting needs of your outdoor activities and provide a convenient, eco-friendly, and reliable source of light.

Why solar lanterns are the best camping lights

Packable and Portable

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of portable solar lights is their portability! With their compact and lightweight design, the portable solar lantern offers an easy to pack, easy to carry solution for convenient illumination anywhere.

There are many brands of solar products available from collapsible and crushable to foldable and inflatable. They come with their own pros and cons and what you choose is really dependent on what you like, your needs and budget.

Weather Resistant and Waterproof

Given its roots in disaster relief, a quality portable solar lantern will be at least water resistant, with the best solar lanterns being waterproof. When it comes to a source of light in the outdoors and wet conditions, these lanterns get high marks.

A rating of at least IP67 (waterproof rating) is ideal when it comes to protection against water. In addition to being dust-proof, an IP67 waterproof rating ensures resistance against short bouts of being immersed in water. Anything less than that – such as a lantern with an IP 65 or 66 rating – can only offer so much protection and is considered "water resistant" rather than waterproof.

Cordless and Off Grid

Bright, solar powered lanterns are an amazing way to illuminate any space without having to worry about being connected to the grid. This includes hard to reach areas where electrical outlets are likely non-existent. Often an unsung benefit in the world of outdoor solar, these ingenious solar lanterns are a completely independent, stand alone lighting device that can go anywhere and travel everywhere.

How portable solar lanterns are becoming a household essential

The solar lantern is shaping up to be an essential household item. Whether you think of them as a gadget or decor, they consume no electricity and are versatile and multi-purpose. They can be used as outdoor lighting decor in your garden, yard and patio to create beautiful lightscapes that provide both ambiance and safety.

In addition to being waterproof, newer, modern designs of solar lights have provided creative opportunities to replace candles inside hurricane lanterns and candle holders to beautiful effect. The decorative uses of solar lanterns are proving to be endless!

As well, with more solar lanterns being designed for everyday decor, these unique lights are being used increasingly as decorative lighting indoors. They are easily set up as tabletop, task, night lights.

They also offer an alternative means of light during a power outage. These lights can be the ultimate tool when you're caught in the darkness and your flashlights stop working. Every household should have solar lanterns in the mix if only to be prepared for power outages and emergencies.

Popular Addition to Outdoor Decor

Portable solar lanterns have increasingly become a popular addition to outdoor living spaces adding charm and character to a patio, yard or garden. It's an emerging trend in outdoor decor and has been gaining momentum. Not surprising of course as there are so many benefits to having solar power your outdoor lights! 

You can place these outdoor solar lanterns wherever you want, including your patio and in your yard. And you never have to worry about finding an outlet or running extension cords.

Unique and beautiful ways to create mood and ambience

What design and lifestyle enthusiasts have discovered are the many unique and beautiful ways to bring decorative lighting and ambiance to outdoor space with solar lights. From decorating for a special celebration to enjoying a quiet evening in your garden, these outdoor lights offer an impressive array of options. 

They provide a stunning visual effect that can make your outdoor area magical. You can hang them from trees for lovely, decorative focal points or position them around your backyard and garden for a glowing and inviting atmosphere.

There are endless possibilities for using solar powered lanterns as a versatile and eco-friendly way to add decorative, outdoor solar ambiance to your backyard, garden and patio. 

Among the many creative ideas out there,here are some of our favorite and increasingly popular ways you can incorporate them into your outdoor space:

  • Path lighting: Line your patio or garden walkways or steps with solar lanterns to create a well-lit and decorative pathway.
  • Tabletop lighting: Use as solar powered lamps on tables or other surfaces to provide ambient lighting for dining or entertaining on the patio or sitting around in your yard or garden.
  • Accent lighting: Use solar lanterns to highlight areas of your garden, patio and yard such as plants, trees, flower beds or water features.
  • Mood lighting: Arrange several lanterns around your patio, yard or garden to create a relaxing and inviting atmosphere. Think about these devices as solar powered lamps to create mood.
  • String lighting: Hang solar string lights on your fence, around your yard or patio to create a decorative and functional lighting solution. It will also provide a lovely way for your garden to glow at night.
  • Garden lighting: Use solar lanterns to light up your vegetable or flower garden at night, or to highlight specific plants or trees.
  • Hanging lighting: Hang solar lights from trees, pergolas, or other structures to add a touch of whimsy and provide extra light to your garden area.

What to look for when choosing the best solar lanterns

Ultimately, the best portable solar lantern will depend on your specific needs and preferences, such as the brightness you require, the amount of battery life you need, and the type of activities you'll be using it for.

With a vast array of portable solar lights and similar style products available to choose from, it can be a bit of a challenge to select the best lantern for your requirements. Researching the features and benefits around performance, power and size are a good starting point.

A guide to selecting the best solar lantern for your needs

There are several factors to consider to ensure you select the best solar lanterns for your needs. In addition to size, weight, and portability of the lantern, it's important to consider any other features that may be important to you, such as the ability to dim the light or to use it as an emergency signal. In general, the following are the key factors to consider:

Solar panel efficiency

Look for a lantern with a high-efficiency solar panel that can charge the battery quickly, even in low light conditions such as cloudy days. Check the features and specs for charge times and ability to charge in low light conditions.

Battery capacity

Consider the battery capacity and how long it can last on a full charge. A higher capacity, better quality battery will allow you to use the lantern for longer periods of time without having to recharge it.

Light output

The best quality solar lantern is bright and offers multiple light modes, such as low, medium, and high, to help you conserve battery life and create various levels of light for your setting. Look for a lantern with a high lumen output - 90 lumens appears to be an industry standard for bright, task lighting. However, lumens between 20 and 45 are also considered excellent for light, especially ambient and mood light.

And finally, check that the light is made with LEDs to ensure the most efficient light output. The LED bulb has become increasingly popular and is well worth it from a performance and efficiency perspective.


It should come as no surprise that given their roots in disaster relief, most solar lanterns are durable. Look for a lantern that is built to last, with high-quality materials and a durable construction and finish.

Water resistance and Waterproof

The best solar lantern is waterproof at a minimum of an IP67 rating. If you plan to use the lantern in wet conditions you will need to ensure your light is waterproof or at least water resistant.


And of course, price is a consideration. Depending on your requirements, you will likely discover that the solar lantern is good value for money. It is versatile with many different uses so one lantern can go a long way, from outdoor solar to indoor solar and everywhere in between.

It's also important to consider the quality including the use of high quality solar panels, batteries that are efficient and excellent construction as ways to ensure good value especially given the multitude of choices available. In the era of modern consumerism and fast products, not all brands are made with the built to last mindset.

Additional features

Some solar lantern brands also include USB ports. This means you can typically charge small personal devices and also charge the unit when you have access to an outlet. It's important to check reviews and capacity against what you need in order to make the best choice.

More frequently asked questions about the best solar lanterns

Q: How many lumens should there be?

For general camping and outdoor purposes, a lantern with 90 - 100 lumens is sufficient for basic tasks such as cooking and reading. Often, there are several portable lanterns being used providing multiple sources of light.

As well, it's also important to consider the battery life of the lantern, as a higher lumen output will likely have a shorter battery life. Experts recommend choosing a lantern with a balanced combination of brightness and battery life that meets your specific needs.

Q: How long is the charge time?

The time it takes to fully charge a portable solar lantern can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the battery, the brightness of the lantern, the amount of sunlight it receives, and the efficiency of the solar panel.

On average, it takes between 8 - 12 hours to fully charge a portable solar lantern in direct sunlight. However, the charging time can be longer or shorter depending on the specific lantern and the conditions under which it is charged. For example, the charge time may be shorter on a sunny day compared to a cloudy day, as the amount of light reaching the solar panel is reduced.

It's important to check the manufacturer's specifications for your specific lantern to determine the charge time, as well as to follow any guidelines provided for proper use and maintenance.

Q: What is the best way to charge solar lights?

To keep your solar powered lantern working at its best, the key is to ensure it gets direct sunlight. It is ideal to fully charge your lantern for 8 - 10 hours on a regular basis and also before first use.

Positioning it in direct sunlight for at least four hours can provide more than enough energy for a full night of light depending on the modes used. While some solar lanterns come with an internal battery and USB port, direct sunlight will help keep your lantern charged and working longer.

Q: Does it need the sun or just light?

The solar lantern charged directly in the sun will always be the best option for efficient and optimal performance. However, it is important to note that a cloudy day or even placing a solar lantern near a window will still provide enough light to charge. You will not get the same efficiency and it will take longer to charge fully.

Q: Will it charge on a cloudy day or through a window?

Yes, a solar lantern can charge on a cloudy day and through a window, but it will take longer than charging on a sunny day and directly facing the sunlight because the amount of light reaching the photovoltaic cells (solar panel) is reduced. The charging speed will also be slower on a cloudy day compared to a sunny day. For the most efficient and quickest charging time, direct sunlight is always best.

Q: Can you charge a solar lantern without the sun?

There are some brands of solar lights that come with a usb port that enables you to charge your lights when you have access to an outlet and electrical grid.

Q: Do solar lights stay on all night?

Yes, it's definitely possible for your solar lantern to stay on through the night depending on which mode you are using and how you have set your light up. Most quality solar lights will have enough charge time, if fully charged correctly, to last through the night.

Q: Can my solar lantern be left out in the rain?

It's important to check the manufacturer's specifications and to look for any water resistance ratings or certifications.

The best quality solar lantern will be waterproof with an IP67 rating. Other lights may be water resistant while others are not at all and should be protected from rain and other sources of moisture.

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