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Best Outdoor Solar Lanterns [2021 Buyers Guide]

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Best Outdoor Solar Lanterns [2021 Buyers Guide]
Virojt Changyencham / Getty Images

Solar lanterns pack the portability of go-anywhere light with the independence of solar energy. Whether you want to add a warm glow to your backyard space or need something to provide bright light on an outdoor adventure, we've narrowed down the five best solar lanterns on the market today.

Read on to discover the features of our top pics and shed some light on which solar lantern is best for you.


5 Best Outdoor Solar Lanterns

We've taken a look at top solar-powered lanterns that you can use in your backyard, toss in an emergency kit or take on a camping trip. When choosing our recommendations, we took into consideration our firsthand experience with the products as well as how each performs in terms of durability, ease of use, portability, charge and run times, cost and more.

Based on our research and firsthand use, these are our recommendations for the best solar lanterns:

Best Solar Lanterns

Our Award

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MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Inflatable Light

Best Overall

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SHYMERY Solar Lantern

Best Backyard Solar Lantern

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LuminAID PackLite Nova Solar Inflatable Lantern

Best Emergency Solar Lantern

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Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern

Best Solar Lantern for Camping

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Pearlstar Solar Lantern

Best Hanging Outdoor Lantern

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Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of each of our top recommended solar lanterns.

Best Overall: MPOWERED Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Inflatable Light

MPOWERED

The MPOWERED Luci 2.0 is our top choice for solar-powered lanterns. It's the first inflatable LED lantern to hit the market and continues to be a hit with consumers thanks to its durable, lightweight and waterproof design with an integrated 1000 mAh lithium-ion battery to power 75-lumen LEDs. The MPOWERED Luci 2.0 charges in direct sunlight in seven hours and can last up to 24 hours on a single charge, so you can rest assured you'll always have light when you need it. The Luci 2.0 collapses down to a convenient 1.5 inches and weighs a scant 4.4 ounces.

Pros:

  • Waterproof (IP67), lightweight and durable
  • Short recharge time
  • Adjustable base strap and fixed top strap for attaching to bags or hanging
  • Four lighting modes (low, medium, high, flashing)
  • Battery level indicator
  • Ultra portable

Cons:

  • Not the brightest option available
  • Charge time is not the fastest of all outdoor solar lights
Why Buy: The MPOWERED Luci 2.0 solar lantern squeezes impressive features into an easily packable unit. The company is also a certified B Corporation and works with over 700 NGOs and nonprofits to provide solar power and other clean energy sources to underserved populations across the globe, ensuring your purchase helps give back.
$25

Best Backyard Solar Lantern: SHYMERY Solar Lantern

SHYMERY

If your backyard could use a little solar-powered ambiance, look no further. SHYMERY outdoor solar lanterns combine elegance and function into an attractive alternative to traditional outdoor lighting. Made from bronze-colored plastic and toughened glass, this decorative lantern provides eight hours of illumination with just a six-hour charge time. When the sun goes down, this beautiful lantern turns on automatically, producing a warm, flameless candle-like flicker to set the mood for any outdoor occasion.

Pros:

  • Weather-resistant and dustproof
  • Good recharge time
  • Easy, wire-free installation
  • Can be used as outdoor hanging lights or on a tabletop
  • Great warranty and customer service
  • Come in a set of two

Cons:

  • Relatively short battery life (8-10 hours)
  • Useful for ambiance only, not suitable for bright light or steady illumination
  • Only one lighting mode

Why Buy: With the SHYMERY backyard solar lantern, you'll get a warm glow every time the sun goes down. Whether a patio, pool, garden, or your favorite backyard party spot, SHYMERY's elegant solar light gives an enchanting aura to any outdoor gathering.

$56

Best Emergency Solar Lantern: LuminAID PackLite Nova Solar Inflatable Lantern

LuminAID

A solar lantern is a great thing to have handy in any emergency situation, and a LuminAID light is the one you'll want when the lights go out. This 75-lumen collapsible lantern is waterproof, shatterproof and dustproof, giving it our seal of approval. The high-quality PackLite Nova folds down to a compact 1-inch thickness, so it's ideal for any emergency or travel situation. The LuminAID inflatable solar lantern boasts a 24-hour runtime on a single charge and can be charged in 10 hours via a built-in solar panel or one to two hours by micro USB.

Pros:

  • Waterproof (IP67) and dustproof
  • Floatable
  • Extremely lightweight and packable
  • USB charging option

Cons:

Why Buy: With the packability and functionality of the LuminAID PackLite Nova lantern, reliable solar lighting will never be out of reach. Each purchase of a LuminAID product makes a positive impact. LuminAID's founders designed the company's first lights to provide relief to hurricane survivors and continue to distribute solar LED lanterns to families in need across the globe.

$30

Best Solar Lantern for Camping: Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern

Goal Zero

We love the Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern for camping thanks to its combination of portability and durability. This 60-lumen weatherproof portable solar lantern can run up to 35 hours on a single charge. It can fit virtually anywhere, collapsing down to just over half an inch. Charging with the built-in panel is a bit on the slow side (20 hours), but quick charging is possible with a USB port (2.5 hours). Aside from three white light brightness settings and multiple color settings, the Goal Zero Crush Light also features a flickering flame candle mode for ambiance, a great touch many competitor utility lanterns don't have.

Pros:

  • Weatherproof (IPX4)
  • Great customer service
  • Generous warranty
  • Multiple color modes and candlelight setting

Cons:

  • Slow solar charge time (20 hours)
  • Larger footprint than some competitors
Why Buy: The Goal Zero Crush Light contains all that you'd expect in a solar-powered camp lantern, plus way more. We love the candle flicker mode, and the multiple color and color fade modes allow you to turn any campfire into a party. For those looking for a solar-powered lamp that works hard and plays harder, this is the one to get.
$20

Best Hanging Outdoor Lantern: Pearlstar Solar Lantern

Classy style and solar meet with this elegant outdoor light from Pearlstar. Featuring a marine-styled design with a warm LED tungsten Edison bulb, the Pearlstar Solar Lantern is the perfect choice for adding ambiance and charm to any outdoor space. We love the all-metal construction, and replaceable batteries and bulbs extend the light's service life. The light turns on and off automatically, running up to eight hours on a single charge.

Pros:

  • Available in two colors (copper and black)
  • Waterproof (IP44)
  • Replaceable AAA batteries and bulb
  • Fast solar charge time (6-8 hours in full sunlight)
  • Easy installation and operation

Cons:

  • Single lighting mode
  • Not very bright
Why Buy: The Pearlstar Solar Lantern is a classy option for a wide variety of outdoor solar lighting needs. While it doesn't kick out the lumens of other solar lanterns, it provides good lighting for patios, decks, pools, and more. An excellent recharge rate, replaceable components and stylish design make the Pearlstar a great fit for your outdoor landscape.
$25

Why Get Solar Lanterns?

Have you tried camping without a light recently? How about hosting an outdoor dinner party in the dark? We can all agree that lighting is essential, but providing that lighting ala solar offers attractive benefits that traditional lighting doesn't. From a casual get-together to a life-threatening emergency, a solar lantern is a great way to ensure the lights stay on when you need it most. Solar lanterns combine the best of portability, function and energy independence to ensure consistent lighting when and where it counts.

How Much Do Solar Lanterns Cost?

The cost of a solar lantern depends on a number of factors, including lumens, battery capacity, weatherproofing, efficiency, solar panel output, materials and more. Most consumer solar lanterns cost $20 to $50, with more expensive options generally having better build quality, design and features.

How to Choose the Best Lantern for You

There's no one-size-fits-all solar lantern. Before making a purchase, determine what the primary use of your solar lantern will be. For example, an emergency solar lantern with bright LED lights will make for a terrible backyard ambiance, and a warm glow likely won't be sufficient for a campsite in the backcountry.

Consider the following factors when choosing the best solar lantern for you:

  • Design, size, and weight: If you'll be taking your lantern on the go, it must be lightweight, durable and packable. Extra features, like carabiners and handles, are also nice to have. If your solar lantern is stationary (like a patio lantern), weight and size aren't as important to consider.
  • Ease of use: Solar lanterns are generally very easy to use, but your specific use conditions will help determine which one to buy. For on-the-go applications, a solar lantern must be easy to unpack, set up, turn on and put away. Choose a lantern that's intuitive to use, store and transport.
  • Durability: All of our picks for outdoor solar lanterns are waterproof, but other factors must be considered before a purchase. If you expect much wear-and-tear on your solar lantern, pick one that's waterproof, dustproof and shockproof. A stationary solar lantern or one for interior use (like a backup for power outages) may not require the durability of a camping lantern.
  • Portability: If you plan to travel with your lantern, the more portable, the better. Be wary that portability may come at the expense of other features, such as battery life, output, durability and more.
  • Charge time/run time: A stationary lantern, if positioned correctly, will almost always have enough time to fully charge. Charge time is an important consideration for portable lanterns, as they continuously move. You should weigh the charge time with run time, too. A lantern with a short charge time that only runs for a few hours may be the wrong choice, especially for an emergency or camping lantern.
  • Cost: Solar products in general have seen drastic price reductions in recent years, so most solar lanterns are similarly priced. High-end models and feature-packed units generally come with a steeper price tag (though not outlandishly so), and if you can swing a few extra bucks, they are definitely worth the investment.
  • Charging options: Solar charging has its limitations: The sun doesn't always shine, you don't get power during storage and panels come in varying efficiencies. As such, it's a good idea to purchase a solar lantern that provides both solar and plug-in charging.

FAQ: Outdoor Solar Lanterns

What is the best solar lantern?

The best solar lanterns balance durability, efficiency, weight and size, features, and price. We recommend the MPOWERED Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Inflatable Light for high ranks in all categories.

What are the brightest solar lanterns?

Solar lanterns usually have fewer lumens than non-solar counterparts. The brightest solar lanterns are usually around 150 lumens, but the average product usually has a 50- to 75-lumen output.

How long do solar lanterns last?

Assuming the lantern is well cared for and used as intended, its batteries can be expected to last three to four years before needing replacement (some solar lanterns don't have replaceable batteries). LEDs can last 10 years or more.

Can solar lanterns be left out in the rain?

As long as it's waterproof, the short answer is yes, a solar lantern can be left out in the rain. But there's a caveat: Waterproof solar lanterns can take varying degrees of water without suffering damage. Long-term exposure to the elements may compromise weatherproofing and damage your lantern.

Christian Yonkers is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and outdoor junkie obsessed with the intersectionality between people and planet. He partners with brands and organizations with social and environmental impact at their core, assisting them in telling stories that change the world.

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