Solar lanterns are great for dependable emergency light. They are more common than ever and come in a lot of sizes.
Backdoor Survival has put together this list of some of the solar lanterns that are standouts in terms of value, availability, reliability, and overall function. Before we get started with the list let’s go over a few things about lanterns and what you should pay attention to when picking which ones to buy.
- Lanterns Vs. Flashlights
A lantern usually provides more light and the light is spread out over a greater space. This doesn’t mean flashlights are not good things to put back for some of your light but for those that want a lot of household light, having more lanterns are more practical.
- LED Quality
One major thing to look for if reading any lantern review is complaints about LEDs burning out quickly or being non functional on arrival. There is a big difference in the quality of LEDs in some cases. Unfortunately it can be very difficult to tell by just reading a description. I know that our household has had a very difficult time finding 12V LED standard base light bulbs that last for any major length of time. Sellers such as Amazon are generally good about taking back bulbs or lanterns that are not up to standard.
- Size Of Lantern
There is an argument to be made for having several sizes of solar lanterns. A few larger ones for main lighting and a few smaller ones for adding a little light can be a winning combination. Very compact lanterns are good for bug out bags or light backpacking on the weekends. Larger lanterns can make family and dining areas more pleasant and usable.
- Overall Light Output
Lanterns are often rated in lumen. The higher the lumen rating the more light it can put out. It is important to remember that the lumen listed are if you run the lantern at its maximum setting.
- Charge Time
Some lanterns take longer to charge than others. A shorter charge time can be good if you are using your lantern during the winter months when you need more hours of light in the evening but have fewer daylight hours to charge with.
- Alternative Methods Of Charging Or Powering
Lanterns that can be charged via USB, 12 volt, standard household power, or run on batteries, are nice because it makes it far less likely that you will find yourself with no way to get light.
- Other Uses
In a world of gadgets there are plenty of lanterns that are more than just a lantern so that means you can pay more and add some functionality but I would be careful about buying very cheap lanterns that claim to do a lot. All those bells and whistles may mean that you just have something that breaks quickly. Spending more on a basic yet functional lantern is something to consider.
I have to say there are a lot of inexpensive lanterns out there that get fantastic reviews. Would I want to rely on the cheapest 4 pack of solar lanterns I can find? Probably not. At the same time there is something to be said for having a lot of lights.
- Solar Lanterns Could Be A Valuable Trade Item
Since there are plenty of packs of cheap lanterns on Amazon and there is the d.light brand that gets good reviews regardless of the low price, preppers might want to put back some extra solar lanterns for trade and barter during SHTF.
Light is an easy thing to take for granted when all you have to do is flip a switch but during a real survival situation light can help make doing things a lot safer. There are a lot of things that you might have to do that makes daily life more dangerous than what is typical for your lifestyle.
Even extra food preparation has its hazards. Falling or slipping due to lack of light can be life threatening, especially in a situation where major medical care might as well be on the moon.
d.light S20 Solar Rechargeable LED Lantern Camping Light
This is a solid solar lantern option for those that want affordability and reliability. You can charge this lantern via the built in solar array or you can use USB. This light can be used anywhere and comes with a bail handle that makes it very versatile.
At this price you may want to get a lot more than one of these. If you are trying to add to your prepping stash a little at a time, this is an under $15 light that could make a big difference in a survival situation.
The lantern will last up to 8 hours on a single charge.
Suaoki Collapsible Clover Style 18 Led Camping Tent Lantern Lighting Lights Flashlight Rechargeable Battery Powered By USB Charging and Solar Panel
The way this light folds down for storage and then expands for a great spread of light is enough to sell me on the idea of it. The hook on the top allows you to attach the lantern to a hook or clip onto the roof of your tent for a powerful light fixture.
You can charge the lantern in 3.5 hours off of a standard USB cord or you can get about 15 minutes of the highest light setting per hour of charging time so you want to make sure to keep this out and charging when not using, especially if you have no way to charge via USB.
The manufacturer claims that the lantern can be used for 4 hours on the low setting on a full charge. Keeping this light on high means only a 2 hour window of light with no power input. It is still a a good choice for a small high out put lantern.
With plenty of lanterns having less LEDS, this is bright enough to provide light for several people to read or if you needed to prepare a meal during a grid down situation.
Using A Solar Lantern To Charge Batteries
Some solar lanterns may have AA battery backup. The batteries can be charged via the sun which means your lantern can double as a battery charger. Just remember to switch out batteries after charging and with just a little effort you will have quite a few batteries charged up via your lantern.
Internova Yeti 800 Monster LED Camping Lantern - Massive Brightness with Tri-Strip Lighting LED Lantern
This lantern offers exceptional brightness. With plenty of LED lanterns only offering 180-300 lumen, The Internova Yeti gives you an amazing 800 lumen which means it is a good choice for a main light lantern while you use your lower powered lights to spotlight areas as needed. The built in base hook allows for hanging upside down where ever you may need it.
You get up to 5 hours of super bright light on a single charge with this lantern. For your money you also get a warranty good for 5 years rather than the typical 1-2 years of cheaper brands.
With an impressive up to 100 hours of light on a single charge, this lantern grabbed my attention. Not only do you get up to 400 lumen of light, you can use the USB input to charge a cell phone, tablet, or other USB device. You can easily turn brightness down to save power.
In the description this lantern is described as charging just fine off of incandescent light indoors if needed. This is good information to have especially for preppers in areas where winter days result in dramatically reduced levels of sunlight.
The charge in the batteries is supposed to remain stable for years. The model above is a bright color that gets attention. If you want a lantern that blends in more when not on you can get it in real tree camo for a higher price.
LED Solar Lantern Outdoor - Hatori Batteries Powered Hanging Camping Lights - Emergency Charging Bank for Android
This is a great bargain set of lanterns that collapse down for easier storage and transport. The light section is also more protected from falls or hits when it is collapsed down so when you are keeping it stored you don’t have to worry so much about broken bulbs or the globe area being dirty and reducing light.
These lanterns put out an impressive 400 lumen each. Each lantern has three ways to be powered. You can use 3 AA batteries for each lantern or allow it to charge via the built in solar panel. The included cord allows you to plug the lantern in to a standard outlet.
Not only do you have all those options for charging, you can use this lantern to recharge AA batteries via the sun or plugging into your regular 110V electric system. These lanterns easily charge USB devices and come with a 2 year warranty.
d.light has a solid reputation when it comes to solar lanterns. They provide value that goes well beyond what some lanterns provide. This powerful lantern comes with a small detachable panel that plugs in with a simple input. There is a battery charge indicator so you always know where you are at so you don’t let the charge get really low.
There is a single USB input that allows you to charge small devices like cell phones, tablets, and wireless speakers. The bright orange color makes it easy to see. At $30 this is a real bargain lantern for preppers. You can get 100 hours of light in night light mode or you can get 16 hours of full light on a days charge.
This is pretty impressive for this type of lantern. Of course light times are going to be less if you are charging USB devices but even if that reduced your light life to 8 hours on a days charge you are still getting superior performance.
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This little light can fill up a room and requires zero maintenance except for just putting it out in the sun to charge. At $9 these are a good deal for preppers on a budget or anyone that wants a lot of lights that are basic but effective.
You can’t charge any devices off of this light, you just get a good light and that is all. This light is small enough to stash in a backpack or keep in your car for emergency light.
Solar Lantern, AGPtek 5 Mode Hand Crank Dynamo 36 LED Rechargeable Camping Lantern Emergency Light, Ultra Bright LED Lantern
When I first saw this lantern what struck me was that it has so many ways to charge it! It actually reminds me a bit of some of the fancier solar generators because it can be charged off of a 12 volt car or solar system battery, via standard household outlet, hand crank, setting in the sun and charging via its own built in solar panel, or it can run on 3 rechargeable AA batteries! To top this off you can also charge a USB device with this lantern!
At $23 I am considering buying a few of these for our place and another for my father and my father-in-law that loves any useful gadget! For the price I am impressed that it only takes 6-7 hours in the sun to charge. With so many ways to charge the lantern it guarantees that you have a way to get light when you need it and that is worth a lot to any prepper!
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This is a solid choice for putting back some cheap lights for trade and barter or just so that you have a lot of light potential around your place. These lights will run for up to 12 hours when left on continuously and can be charged via the attached solar panel or you can plug it into a standard outlet.
While it is a lantern, it can also be used in flashlight mode, making it more versatile than a lot of lanterns. When they are collapsed they are only the height of a credit card so you can fit a lot of these lights in a small storage space.
Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern - Solar or USB Chargeable, Collapsible Space Saving Design, Emergency Power Bank, Flashlight, Water Resistant
This little lantern provides a lot of light. You get 5 hours on the brightest setting and an d10 hrs on the lowest setting! There is a The strong waterproof housing makes it ideal for those that want a rugged lantern for extreme situations or outdoor camping light.
The lantern collapses down to a size that is comparable to a hockey puck. This light can be stashed in a very small pocket in a bug out bag or you could even put it in a cargo pant pocket. USB devices can be charged using this lantern.
Choosing Your Lantern Array
As you can see there are tons of options for every scenario. Choosing lanterns that have a lot of positive reviews is a smart bet. I would also advise not just putting lanterns back without testing them first. You don’t want to find out you have a defective product when you need it the most.
Having a variety of sizes and styles can help make life safer and easier in a grid down or SHTF situation. Investing in a $10-$25 lantern is an affordable step towards being more prepared. Solar lanterns also make good gifts for those you care about.
Elderly and disabled persons can find themselves in a worse situation than the rest of us if the power goes out. My father always has a flashlight and a battery powered lantern nearby in case of a power outage. A little bit of light can sometimes make all the difference.
What lanterns have worked best for you? Do you have any experience with the lanterns on our list? Please feel free to comment below with links and advice so we can all learn together!
Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them.
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