Best Outdoor Solar Lights: 2023 Buyers Guide
By Matt Chester /
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.
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||Buy Now|
|MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Solar Inflatable Light||Best Overall||Check Price|
|SHYMERY Solar Lantern||Best Backyard Solar Lantern||Check Price|
|LuminAID PackLite Nova Solar Inflatable Lantern||Best Emergency Solar Lantern||Check Price|
|Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern||Best Solar Lantern for Camping||Check Price|
|Pearlstar Solar Lantern||Best Hanging Outdoor Lantern||Check Price|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.