The 7 Best Solar Lanterns of 2021

Light up your space with these eco-friendly lanterns

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The Rundown
Perfect for camping, lounging poolside, or powering through a storm with no electricity.
Inspired by origami, this lantern collapses for easy, on-the-go light.
Best Solar Hand Crank:
AGPTEK Solar Lantern at Amazon
This lantern is a great, handheld size, perfect for campsites and young hikers.
These outdoor lights automatically come on at night and switch off in the morning.
Best for Emergencies:
MPOWERD Luci EMRG at Walmart
Collapsible and lightweight, the Luci EMRG is great to have in your emergency kit.
Create a fairytale space with these warm, glowing Mason jar lights.
These lanterns dance with faux flames to create a warm, cozy ambiance.

Solar lanterns offer a number of advantages over flashlights and other plug-in lights. You don’t have to worry about replacing batteries or running out of the right battery size, you don’t need to plug them in, and charging is free — just set them in the sun. Solar lanterns can also be a nice way to bring light to dark spots around the house or garden.

Most solar lanterns are also kind to the environment, thanks to long-lasting LED bulbs, durable materials and no need for fossil fuels to operate them. Many models are lightweight and compact, making them better for camping and travel than heavy handheld torches and bulky lanterns that require D batteries. They’re easy to tuck into an emergency bag or glovebox, so you’ll have a backup in case of emergency, although you’ll want to charge it up from time to time. 

Whether you’re looking for a handy solar lantern for camping, something decorative for your patio or walking path, or something simple and effective for emergencies, there’s a solar lantern for it.

Here, the best solar lanterns for every situation:

Best Overall: LuminAID Solar Inflatable Lanterns

LuminAID Solar Lantern

Perfect for camping, lounging poolside, or powering through a storm with no electricity, this is the solar lantern for the job. Seventy-five lumens of LED lights create a bright light, with multiple settings for indoor or outdoor light.

The battery lasts up to 24 hours when fully charged, and no additional batteries are needed to power the lantern. LuminAID is collapsible as well, so it fits easily into a backpack, purse, or overnight bag. The unit is also waterproof, shatterproof, and inflatable. Don’t have time to let it charge in the sun for 10 hours? Use the USB port to recharge it in a flash.

Best for Camping: Solight Solar Puff™ LS Lantern

SolarPuff Solar Latern

Inspired by origami, this lantern collapses for easy, on-the-go light. Simply pull the lantern open and it's ready to use. The lantern has a dusk-to-dawn light sensor mode and has three light settings (low, high, and blinking). Charge time is eight to 10 hours and gets you up to 12 hours of light. The Solar Puff lantern is made from recyclable PET sailcloth with UV protection, and is made without PVC.

A velcro handle makes it easy to hang the light if you wish, and it’s waterproof design means you can take it on all your adventures. Worried about a lantern taking up space? Don’t be. Solar Puff can be packed flat and only weighs 2.6 ounces, it's an ideal choice for backpackers or for plane travel.

"The Solar Puff is my lantern of choice on camping trips. I hang it at the top of my tent, and it illuminates everything. It charges well even in low-ish indoor light, so you can leave it anywhere near a window and it will be all set." ~ Margaret Badore, Treehugger Senior Editor

Best Solar Hand Crank: AGPTEK Solar Lantern

AGPtek Hand Crank Solar Latern

Great for creating light even when there’s no solar power available, a hand crank lantern is good to have on hand for emergencies, outdoor adventures, or some old-fashioned campout fun. This one has five charging methods including solar power, the crank, a car adapter, an AC adapter, or three double-A batteries. Bonus points go to the USB output port that charges other devices in a pinch.

Built-in solar panels mean brighter lights and lower energy consumption, and two brightness modes (bright and super bright) function to give you proper lighting depending on the situation. This lantern is also a great handheld size, perfect for campsites and young hikers.

Best Pathway: MAGGIFT 6 Pack 25 Lumen Solar Powered Pathway Lights

MAGGIFT Lumen Solar Powered Pathway Lights

Looking for a way to light the pathway to your front door without using electricity? Solar lanterns are the energy efficient–and stylish–way to go. Powered by the sun all day, the lights automatically come on at night and switch off in the morning, and function normally under all weather conditions including rain, snow, and sleet.

There are no wires to worry about, just push the stakes into the ground and you’re ready to go. Be sure to place your pathway lights in an area with plenty of sun, as they usually take six to eight hours to fully charge and then shine for up to eight hours.

Best for Emergencies: MPOWERD Luci EMRG

Luci EMRG Solar Latern

Collapsible and lightweight, the Luci EMRG lantern fits in your pocket and is a nifty lantern to have in your emergency kit for blackouts, storms, roadside trouble, or when you need light in a hurry. The lantern has five modes (low, high, flashing, SOS, and steady red), meaning you can set it to whichever mode fits the situation.

The lantern is waterproof as well, so you can use it in rain and snowstorms if needed. On low, the battery will last up to seven hours, flashing for six hours, and on high for four hours. Charge via direct sunlight for eight hours, or using the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

Best for Gardens: CHBKT Solar-powered Mason Jar Lights

Mason Jar Solar Laterns

Create a fairytale space with these warm, glowing Mason jar lights. They come with metal handles for hanging, and the LED bulbs emit little heat. They usually charge in the sun within five to eight hours, and stay lit for up to 12 hours. The built-in light sensor ensures that the lanterns turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn automatically.

If there’s not enough sunlight, the triple-A rechargeable battery can be used as backup. These lanterns are also waterproof, with a sealed ring lid that doesn’t let liquid into the jars. Simply hang or place near flowers, greenery, or even fairy houses at the trunk of a tree, and enjoy a magical, whimsical garden space.

Best for Patios: TomCare Flickering Flame Metal Solar Lantern

TomCare Solar Laterns

Perfect for tabletops or hanging near a beautifully decorated space, these lanterns dance with faux flames to create a warm, cozy ambiance. Constructed with rustproof metal, these lanterns are also waterproof so you don’t have to worry about weather exposure like extreme heat or snow.

Create a beautiful wedding reception space by placing a lantern on each table, or hang on shepherds hooks for an elegant affair. Each lantern also has a built-in battery so you can activate them even if the sun’s been weak.

Final Verdict

We love the LuminAID lantern (view at Amazon) for it’s long-lasting capability and ease for transport as well. The Luci EMRG lantern (view at Amazon) is also a staple for its numerous lighting modes for emergencies, and the Mason jar lanterns (view at Amazon) are perfect for creating a magical garden space.

Solar Lanterns Can Have a Global Impact

Access to light is a basic human necessity, yet almost 1 billion people in the world don’t have access to electricity in order to have light. Furthermore, a lack of electricity means that millions of people around the world are still relying on kerosene lamps for light, which contribute to global warming and create poor indoor air quality. Solar lanterns can be an answer to this problem, as they harness the sun’s power to create light and don’t require a grid hookup or polluting kerosene.

That's why a number of companies that make solar lanterns work with nonprofit partners to distribute lights to communities facing energy poverty and to areas hit by natural disasters. Both MPOWERD and Solight have programs that allow customers to donate solar lanterns to people in need.

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Treehugger is committed to helping our readers reduce the environmental impact of our day-to-day lives. Author Amanda Ogle is a veteran reporter who loves writing about sustainability and believes it is important that we all strive to be as environmentally friendly as we can. She strives to educate adventurers on sustainable gear and the importance of buying eco-friendly products.