Solar Camping Lights
One of the best feelings in the world is lying down under the stars and feeling the cold breeze of the night and inhaling the calming smell of leaves. This is why camping is an experience everyone should try at least once. It is even better if you don’t have to crawl around in the dark. It’s best to have a light source during the hours of the night. This will provide you a safer environment allowing you to feel relaxed and one with nature.
However, rechargeable batteries don’t often last long. Since most camping sites will not have grid electricity accessible, losing power in the middle of nowhere can be a problem. This is when solar camping lights come in handy. These devices trump regular lanterns in terms of design, portability, and functionality.
This article will explain what these lights are and how they work. We’ll tell what characteristics to look for when selecting the type or brand to buy and the pros and cons of each one. It will also list five of the best brands out there, so you won’t have to spend hours browsing the web to find the one that will best suit your needs.
What Is Solar Camping Light?
What exactly are camping solar lights and what are they used for? As you may have guessed, they are lights that are powered (or recharged) by solar power. The sun’s photons (or light particles) provide energy that is stored and then converted to electricity, which then allows the camping light to illuminate the area it’s placed in. This is just one of the many ways that solar power helps the planet preserve its non-renewable resources.
This sustainable solution makes it easy for campers to go as deep into the forest (or as high into the mountains) as they desire and still be confident that they’ll have light at nighttime. This means that they can camp for longer without worrying about being in the dark as they can easily charge their lamp through the ever-present sun during the day.
This type of light can also be an alternative or a supplement to flashlights. Flashlights may be used if directional illumination is needed. Solar lanterns like this can be used if more steady light is required. If you’re not camping, you can also use it as a light source for your garden or a yard light for barbecues. Some camping lights can also be used as charging devices since they have USB ports that use the direct current from the sun to juice up your battery.
How Does Camping Solar Light Work?
Now that you know what they are, let’s talk about how they work. The mechanism is quite simple. These devices have small solar panels. Solar panels or photovoltaic cells absorb the light energy from the sun and that energy is converted to electricity that charges the installed battery. This means that no plugs or sockets are required.
This, therefore, eliminates the hassle of finding a nearby outlet to charge your device. However, it is important to top up the charge whenever possible as sun-charging can take longer than socket-charging. Depending on the installed panel, charging may vary in terms of duration. It can take up to 16 hours, depending on the brand and product specifications to fully charge the device.
If the device has a built-in sensor, it can also automatically charge when exposed to sunlight and light up when night falls. This makes solar camping lights even more convenient. Solar camping lights are not just useful for camping, but also other outdoor activities, such as mountain climbing or late-night fishing. With its installed LED bulb, it won’t consume much energy either, meaning it can last overnight when you need it the most. For kids, it’s safe as it doesn’t require wires or any external electrical connection, so parents can let their kids use it without woes.
How to Choose Best Solar Powered Camping Lights
So, you’re now convinced that you need solar lights for camping. What are the characteristics that you should look for when buying your first one, then? We’ve listed them for you, so you can select the best one for your needs.
Good brands are not necessarily better. However, it is best to check out known brands and well-reviewed brands before cutting down your list to the best ones. Unbranded solar lights may not have earned a good reputation yet and quality and longevity are important with this device. LuminAid and Agptek are two of the popular brands out there.
What lighting modes are available? Some brands offer various lighting modes for different purposes. Some have a reserve mode, which uses minimal power while charging or until the next charge. There’s candle-light which mimics the candle’s flickering light. Some even have a party mode for more colorful lights. For example, LuminAid offers 5 different light modes, which can be useful for various purposes.
Lumen is a measure to determine the amount of light that the solar-powered camping lights can provide. The higher the lumens, the brighter you can expect the device to be. However, since color can also affect one’s perception of brightness, you may combine this parameter with lumens in deciding which one is brighter for you. Some solar lights can emit up to 150 lumens. In low-light mode, they produce less light and, therefore, preserve the battery more. MPOWERD’s solar lantern offers 150 lumens for its high power mode, so you can use this mode to lighten up dark spaces.
The main advantage of this device is that you can charge it under the sun, and you won’t need a power socket nearby. However, sun-charging can take longer than wall-charging. You want to look for ones with faster charging times. Even 8 hours of charging time can provide you a nightlong light source with some brands. You also want to check out other charging modes, such as car or crank charging, so you have alternatives whenever sunlight is not available. Agptek’s solar lanterns have 5 charging modes, so you’ll never run out of light when you need one.
Since your device will be exposed to the sun and maybe carried around during unpleasant weather, you want to look for lanterns made of durable materials. Waterproof ones are great for outdoor use and are much more suitable for fishing trips. Many brands are weatherproof and offer warranties, so watch out for these features when looking for your first solar light. Kizen, for example, offers a lifetime money-back warranty, which is a testament to its durability.
This may seem unimportant, but it can influence the usability of your device. Aside from color and aesthetic quality, you want to check out the device’s functionality. Does it include hooks or stands for positioning? These features are useful for hanging the lantern over your tent or placing it on an uneven surface. Is it portable and light? Can it be folded for easy carrying? Many brands are collapsible, so you can easily carry them around your pocket. LuminAid’s sleek and portable design makes it perfect for long outdoor trips.
Top 5 Best Solar Camping Lights
Now that you know the features you should look for, let’s next, go through the brands we found to be the best among the marketed brands of solar camping lights out there.
5. SUAOKI Led Camping Lanterns for Lighting
first on our list is Suaoki’s LED camping lantern. Weighing only 5.6 ounces, this sleek and lightweight device is convenient to carry and easy to use. Since it’s foldable and only 1.77 inches long when fully-folded, it is handy, doesn’t feel heavy, and easily fits in your backpack. It’s got two charging modes: solar and USB and it can last up to 10 hours on low-light mode.
What’s even cooler about this one is you can even use it to charge other mobile devices. It has three lighting modes — high, low, and flashing – making it flexible enough to meet all your lighting needs. It is water-resistant as well, so you can use it during rainy weather or fishing trips. It comes in orange and green designs, so choose your color and make your camping experience brighter.
- Lightweight and foldable
- Has two charging modes
- Can be used to charge other devices
- Has a shorter battery life
4. Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern
Coming in blue and yellow designs, Kizen’s solar-powered light ticks the boxes for both design and functionality. It has a unique space-saver design that lets you collapse the size by 2.4 times its original length. It’s got triple lighting modes, a high beam mode, a low-power mode, and an emergency SOS mode. The emergency SOS mode blinks when turned on to alert people that you need immediate assistance.
You can also use it as an additional flashlight when it is in its collapsed mode. Aside from being solar-charged, it is also weather-proof, so you won’t have to worry about it not be able to use it on rainy or snowy days. It is also designed to be fail-safe, so it won’t overcharge or overheat when exposed to the sun for too long. It’s got a lifetime money-back warranty, so you know it’s top-notch in terms of quality. This 6.4-ounce device can make your camping trip a breeze.
- Has a good aesthetic quality
- Has a lifetime money-back warranty
- Has 3 lighting modes
- Rubber gripper pieces easily get lost
3. MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 Pro
MPowerd’s Solar light is indeed a pro when it comes to functionality and structure. Its minimalist, collapsible design makes it even more purchase-worthy. Coming in different colors, this 5.5-ounce device has two charging modes: solar which takes 14 hours or USB charging which takes 2-3 hours. You can also use the device to charge other mobile devices, such as your phone or MP3 player.
Once juiced up, it can last a for whopping 50 hours of use and has a charge indicator for monitoring how much is left. It’s got four light modes: low, medium, high, and second-flash mode. With its 10-LED lights, it provides 150 lumens of light. Since it is waterproof with an IP67 rating, you can submerge it in lakes with no problem. It’s light and handheld, so you can carry it around anywhere.
- Has 2 charging modes
- Light and sleek
- Has 4 light modes
- Opening and closing the snaps on its adjustable strap can be challenging
2. LuminAID Solar Inflatable Lanterns
LuminAID’s solar lantern can give you lumens and more with its inflatable version of a carry-on light. This device has all the elements of durability necessary; it’s waterproof, dustproof, and shatter-proof. Its inflatable, lightweight design makes it super convenient to carry around during camping trips, hikes, or any outdoor activity. It can be recharged either through the sun or through its USB port, and it can also be used to charge other mobile devices.
When fully charged, it can last for up to 50 hours of use. Sun-charging takes only 10 hours, while USB charging takes 1-2 hours. It’s got 5 light modes: low, medium, high, turbo, and flashing, and its turbo mode can supply up to 75 lumens of brightness. This brand is also known for its humanitarian activities, so you can contribute to their cause for every purchase.
- Lightweight and inflatable
- Has 5 light modes
- Sun-charging is shorter
- Has a sleek design
- May not stay inflated after months of use
1. AGPTEK Solar Lantern, 5 Mode Hand Crank Dynamo
Agptek’s solar lantern is at the top of our list with its 5-mode model. As its name implies, it has five charging modes: through solar power, through its crank dynamo, using a car adapter or an AC Adapter, or through its 3 AA batteries. This means you can be as eco-friendly as you want, whether through solar or hand-crank charging and keep your device going for hours.
It also has a built-in indicator for low battery (red), charging (bright red), and charged battery (green) states, and it only takes 6-7 hours to fully sun-charge it. With its polycrystalline panels, you can expect better-charging results. This 36-LED light device can be adjusted between 2 light modes, bright and super bright; depending on your needs. This adds up to up to 10,000 hours of light! It’s got hook strings and string holes for easy hanging.
- Has five charging modes with charge-level indicator
- Has a shorter charging time
- Has a hook and hook holes
- Very bright
- Not foldable
Pros and Cons of Solar Camping Lights
We have gone through what solar-powered camping lights are, how they work, and which brands are worth the investment. However, are there truly benefits to buying these instead of regular camping lights? Here are the advantages of this type over regular carry-on lanterns.
- They are eco-friendly, and convenient to charge. You don’t need to worry about finding outlets to hook a device to when it runs out of power. You also don’t need to spend extra bucks on electricity as they are sun-chargeable. They also help reduce your carbon footprint
- Some of them are multifunctional. You may be able to use them not just as a light source, but also to charge other mobile devices
- They are generally weatherproof. This means you can use them even in heavy rain or extreme heat.
- They’re portable and light. Since they don’t require heavy circuitry, these devices are generally under 10 ounces in weight. Some are also collapsible or inflatable for convenient storage
What are the disadvantages, then? The benefits truly trump the negatives. In fact, we can only think of two.
- They take longer to charge. Charging can go from 6 hours to 16 hours, depending on battery capacity and solar panel efficiency
- Inflatable or collapsible ones may not be as long-lasting as standing lamps
Outdoor activities are fun and exciting. What makes them even more special is the fact that you can be closer to nature and lie under the stars with such a feeling of calm and contentment. However, outdoor activities such as camping, hunting, or hiking can be dangerous once the night falls. You have to have a light source to see your path well or to be able to cook. At night, you need a good light source to easily see approaching animals.
Solar lanterns are cool in that they solve these challenges in an eco-friendly manner. With these devices, you have a light source that can be charged using the unlimited energy of the sun, so you won’t have to worry about finding power sockets in the middle of nowhere or using up your power bank’s juice for light. In fact, some solar lights can even be used to charge other mobile devices, making them truly useful when in remote locations.
When looking for solar lanterns, check out the charging time, lumens, functional features, design, and lighting modes. The more charging modes and the longer the battery life, the better. Also, make sure that your device is weatherproof and is made of durable materials, so you can use it for outdoor trips. Truly, light sources do not have to be expensive with solar camping lights.