Best Solar Lanterns for Camping Today
Solar lighting is the way of the future, but the technology is still relatively new. As such, the market for solar camp lanterns is ever changing. For the customer, this is great news, since most brands strive to outdo their competition in quality and attractive prices.
Still, the plethora of options can, at times, become a little overwhelming. To help light your way to a more optimal purchase, here is a list of what we believe are currently the best solar camping lanterns available on the market.
What are Solar Lanterns?
Most solar camp lanterns look just the same as any traditional lamp. They are used in a similar manner and are just as easily packed on a trip. The difference is that, as their name suggests, solar powered lanterns are fuelled by the renewable energy of the sun.
These lanterns function in virtue of the photovoltaic effect, which is a fancy way of saying that certain materials have the ability to absorb sunlight and turn it into electric current. One such material is crystalline silicone and it is this type of silicone, together with specific chemicals, that makes up the multiple layers of most solar panels.
A solar powered camping lantern is built of a solar panel that absorbs energy from the sun, a rechargeable battery that stores the energy accumulated throughout the day, and one or several LED lights that are turned on during nighttime using the available energy stores. Once the battery is depleted, the light is turned off and another charging cycle can begin.
Solar Lanterns vs. Battery-Powered Light Sources
You might wonder whether it’s worth switching from the more common battery-powered torches to solar camping lanterns. Here are a few things you could consider in order to make up your mind:
- Solar powered lanterns are more sustainable than their traditional counterparts. They use renewable energy and are therefore an important step forward in preserving the natural environment we all want to enjoy while camping.
- Solar camp lanterns are not battery-dependent. You won’t have to worry about forgetting extra batteries for your light source or packing too few. As long as the solar panel is exposed to sunlight, the lantern will work.
- Solar camping lanterns are versatile and perfectly suited for outdoor activities. They can easily be carried or attached to backpacks during hikes, they can be stood upright on the ground for pauses, and they can be hung once the camp is set up.
All in all, solar powered camping lights are equally, if not more, reliable than battery-powered light sources. Differently put, you get the same performance and you reduce your carbon footprint while exploring the great outdoors.
Should You Use a Solar Lantern?
There are options aplenty in what concerns the best solar lanterns on the market in 2019, but is such a purchase the right fit for you?
The answer to this question depends entirely on the way you plan your camping trips. For instance, do you intend to spend the night outdoors or will you return home before dark? If you do spend the night in the woods, do you intend to sleep in a tent or will you be using your car? Do you have the possibility to carry multiple spare batteries or are you trying to keep your backpack light?
Generally speaking, whenever you decide to spend the night under the starry sky, especially if you plan to do so in a tent, you’ll want to pack a reliable light source. Not only is a solar camping light a solid option, the latter is also eco-friendly and, more often than not, lighter to carry than traditional lamps.
Light Requirements for Campers
As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, solar camp lanterns are often compared based on their output in lumens or their brightness, in other words. Certainly, this is an important criterion, but it’s equally relevant to know just how much light you actually need in order to stay safe during typical camping activities.
For instance, if you plan to hike during the night, you’ll probably need anywhere between 50 and 100 lumens to safely light your path, depending on whether the terrain is smooth or otherwise. To light up an entire, average-sized tent, you’ll want up to 100 lumens, while reading comfortably inside the tent will likely require no more than 50 lumens.
To make dinner, you’re looking at 20 to 40 lumens, but if you’re going to have dinner with friends around a large picnic table, you’ll probably want approximately 200 lumens for sufficient visibility. To light up a large campsite, you’ll need a bright solar power camping lantern of over 300 lumens or several less powerful lamps.
Before You Buy a Solar Lantern
Once you decide to purchase one or several solar powered lanterns, it’s a good idea to take a peek at the best solar lanterns currently on the market. It’s equally important, however, to find the optimal fit for your specific needs, which is why you should consider the following features.
Brightness options and battery life
Most brands advertise a night-long battery life for their solar camping lanterns. They state, for instance, that a lantern will stay on for as long as 10 to 50 hours. What they usually fail to mention is that this is the case only when the lantern is switched to its lowest brightness setting. Bear in mind that on higher settings, solar lanterns generally last for less the half of the advertised duration. Make sure that the lantern you buy has multiple options for brightness so that you can save power when a dim light is sufficient for you to safely carry out an activity.
Multiple power sources and charging
It can be fairly dangerous to run out of light while camping during nighttime, particularly if you’re dealing with an emergency. If your solar light for camping did not absorb sufficient energy during the day, it is quite possible that it will switch off during the night, which is why you want to make sure that the LED lantern you choose can be recharged in more than one way. Possible options include USB ports that can be connected to another device or your car, hand-cranked chargers, and batteries. In addition, some of the best solar lanterns feature an emergency power bank that you can use to recharge the lantern or your phone in crisis situations.
Design and suitability for outdoor use
The great outdoors is often stunning, but it can also expose you and your equipment to dire weather conditions. Light is essential to navigate such circumstances, sometimes even during the day, so your solar power camping lantern should be built to withstand the elements. Last, but not least, ensure that the design you pick is comfortable for you to carry and that it can easily be attached to your backpack in situations when your hands are otherwise occupied.
Choosing one of the Best Solar Lanterns for your Camping Experience
It’s wonderful to leave the city and enjoy the fresh air of the forest for a change, which is one of the reasons why we should all strive to protect these green oases. Switching from battery-powered light sources to solar camp lanterns might seem like a small step, but it’s the perfect place to start towards a more comprehensive change of lifestyle.
Eco-friendliness aside, you’ll still want to get the most out of your purchase, which is why we’ve put together this guide to the best solar camping lanterns of 2019. Whether you’re interested in a budget-friendly option, in the brightest solar light for camping, or in a durable, sturdy module, the choice, from here on out, is yours.