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February 22, 2023

What are solar lanterns good for and why are they so popular?

The portable power of the sun

Portable solar lanterns are one of the most useful solar technologies available today. Along with their long list of practical benefits, they offer a fun and unique twist on traditional camping lanterns and lamps. These lanterns are designed to conveniently collapse into compact, lightweight, easy to pack lights and typically have a built-in solar panel and battery that charges during the day. Among the various designs on the market today, you can fold, deflate or crush them into their compact shapes.

Solar lanterns have become a wonderful example of the portable power of the sun. When thinking about solar power, it would be typical to think of the big stuff like cars and infrastructure such as solar panel farms and rooftops. All impressive examples of the power of the sun as a renewable resource in a world that needs it. But the ability to hold a solar light in your hands and take it with you anywhere, is just as impressive and makes the point in a more individual, personal kind of way. Especially when you experience these lights around your campsite or during a power outage when you have no access to a grid system. As improved design and increased choices become available, solar lanterns have grown more popular as people discover how versatile and useful these lights can be for today’s modern lifestyle.

Already a hero in disaster relief

For over a decade, the solar powered lantern has proven itself to be an incredibly useful tool in the aftermath of major weather emergencies and natural disasters. They first started to appear as prototypes during the recovery efforts of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and since then, have spawned the creation of numerous brands and manufacturers around the world. 

Born out of the need to find reliable light sources during extended power outages caused by hurricanes and earthquakes, inventors and manufacturers were able to bring portable solar lanterns to market that were powerful enough to light up rooms and shelters. They weree also compact and lightweight enough for someone to easily carry around with them anywhere.

Fast forward a decade later with major natural disasters and weather emergencies a constant source of news, portable solar lanterns continue to demonstrate how the power of the sun's energy can be reliably accessed even in the aftermath of a major disaster. In many instances, these solar lanterns provide individuals and families with their own solar light that is not only practical and safe for long duration power outages, but in many cases also becomes a symbolic guiding light for the many days of recovery that lie ahead.

Today, solar lanterns for camping are considered essential gear

Given their role in disaster relief, it comes as no surprise that portable solar lights have gained popularity as a durable, reliable source of light for camping and outdoor adventures. Now considered essential gear, the best portable solar lanterns provide superior and eco-friendly lighting and easily meet the needs of campers. 

Key features and characteristics

Packable and Portable

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of portable solar lights is their obvious portability. Compact and lightweight, solar lanterns offer an easy to pack, easy to carry solution for convenient illumination anywhere. Campers have plenty of choice with several different product styles available from collapsible and crushable to foldable and inflatable. Another great feature of solar lanterns is everything is built in and self contained so there’s no additional batteries or cords to think about. You just need the sun to power up during the day. 

Weather Resistant and Waterproof

These solar lanterns also get high marks for being able to handle the elements. Given their roots in disaster relief, a quality portable solar lantern is durable and will be at least water resistant, with the best solar lanterns being waterproof at a rating of at minimum IP67. 

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.

Bright 360º Light

Solar powered lanterns may be small and compact, but they offer bright light and 360 lighting because of their unique design. Camping enthusiasts have become fans of these ingenious solar lanterns because they are a completely independent, stand alone lighting device that is so easy and convenient to set up and use. Most quality solar lanterns will come with multiple settings (eg. High/Low). Some offer options including Bright or Warm color light as well as Red and flashing capability.

Popular addition to outdoor decor

More recently, portable solar lanterns have made their way into backyards, patios and gardens. Early adopters have been utilizing solar as outdoor lighting decor to create beautiful lightscapes that provide both ambience and safety. The cordless, self contained design of solar lanterns creates the kind of beautiful, inviting lighting most people desire in their outdoor living spaces. Add to this, the fact that portable solar lights are easy and convenient to set up, are usually waterproof or water resistant and offer multiple modes of light from bright task lighting to lower ambient light. 

Their portability also means you can place them wherever you want and you don't have to worry about finding an outlet or running extension cords. They are powered by the sun during the day and require no access to the grid which remains one of the biggest challenges in setting up lighting in your outdoor living spaces. It seems a natural progression to find these standalone solar lanterns popping up everywhere.

Alternative to candles

Solar lanterns have also become a popular alternative to candles. Increasingly, we are seeing portable solar lights being used in ways that are similar to how you would use candles. Newer, more modern versions of portable 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! And this comes with the added benefit of not having to stress about burning candles all evening.

Becoming an important household essential

Not to be left outdoors, portable solar lights are making their way indoors and shaping up to become an essential household item. Whether you think of them as a gadget or decor, what might have originally been thought of as a strictly outdoor product has definitely made their case for use indoors as well. Especially with newer more modern styles that have recently come to market. 

They also offer an alternative means of light during a power outage. Solar lanterns can be the ultimate tool when you're caught in the darkness and your flashlights stop working or you can’t locate batteries. More and more households are adding solar lights to the mix of emergency household items if only to be prepared for power outages and weather emergencies.

Popular and here to stay

As we look to the future, we expect portable solar lights to continue to grow in popularity as more and more people discover how versatile, useful and eco-friendly these lanterns are. This renewable source of energy, drawing on the power of pure sunlight, offers a flexible and effective way to light up our lives. From camping and outdoor adventures, to backyard living spaces, to household essential, these solar lights will work hard for you. They are charming beacons of light and no longer considered a novelty or just for camping. With ample choice, they’ll become indispensable companions to those leading active outdoor lifestyles everywhere!

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