April 2, 2023
What should I look for in a solar lantern?
With a vast array of portable solar lanterns and similar style products available to choose from, it can be a bit of a challenge to select the best solar light for your requirements. Researching the features and benefits around performance, power and size are obviously the best starting point.
Which is the right solar lantern for me?
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. In addition, several factors such as size, weight, and portability of the lantern are also important to consider along.
There are several factors to consider to ensure you select the best solar lanterns for your needs. The following is a helpful guide to making the best choice.
When it comes to portable solar lights there are a number of different models on the market. Your choice will essentially come down to personal preference and what your light will be used for.
Generally speaking, portable lanterns can be categorized as inflatable, crushable or foldable. This reflects the way the solar lantern was designed to collapse into a flat, packable shape.
Inflatable solar lights use a mouth nozzle to blow up the unit (similar to a beach ball) and deflates by pressing the air out of the unit through the nozzle. Other versions of inflatable lanterns are self-inflating where you pull them open and tug them into a cube shape.
Crushable solar lanterns are open and closed using an accordion like product design.
Meanwhile, foldable solar lanterns are exactly as described - you fold them flat and unfold them into their shape.
All of these designs have their pros and cons depending on your preference but at the end of the day, once you become friends with portable solar lanterns, you’ll likely become a real fan.
Solar Panel Efficiency - Charge Time
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 or through a window. Always check the features and specs for charge times.
Battery Capacity - Run Time
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. As well, selecting solar lanterns with multiple settings, including a low setting, will help to preserve battery life (see next point!).
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 the price 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. In an era of modern consumerism and fast products, not all brands are made with a built to last mindset.
Water Resistance and Waterproof Rating
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.
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.
And of course, price is a consideration. Depending on your requirements, you will likely discover that a high quality solar light is good value for money. The best solar lights are versatile and can be used in many different ways. In today’s modern lifestyle, finding versatile products with multiple uses is smart, efficient and budget friendly.
Some solar lantern brands also include USB ports. This means you can typically charge small personal devices and also charge the light when you have access to an outlet. It's important to check reviews and capacity to ensure these additional features are efficient. In many cases, you will discover that a portable charger will deliver better performance.