Solar camping lights are great from several perspectives, not the least of which is the fact that they’re powered by the sun! So, in addition to providing light for your campsite, that light doesn’t require any of your RV’s precious battery power. For those of us who love to boondock, that’s always an awesome thing. Besides – harnessing the energy of the sun to power the things we need is not only a win for our electrical system, but it’s also a win for us and the environment. By our counting, that’s a triple win… and we’ll take it any chance we get!
Today’s post looks at five of the best solar camping lights available to enhance the space where you’re camping, all while conserving your RV’s precious battery power. What do we mean by that? Let’s take a look!
- 1) What Are Solar Camping Lights?
- 2) Are Solar Lights Good for Camping?
- 3) What to Look for in Solar Camping Lights
- 4) 5 of the Best Solar Camping Lights
- 5) BONUS Suggestion:
- 6) Do You Have a Favorite Solar Camping Light?
What Are Solar Camping Lights?
Solar camping lights are portable lights that contain a small solar panel. When that solar panel is exposed to the sun, it soaks up its energy and charges a built-in battery. This enables it to deliver the power necessary to illuminate the light, whenever you need it.
The solar panel is directly integrated into the design of the camping light!
Are Solar Lights Good for Camping?
Solar lights are awesome for camping! You can simply set your solar light on your dashboard or on a window sill during the day (while the sun is shining). That will expose the integrated solar panel to the sun so that it can charge. Later that evening, when you’d like a light for reading or simply for ambience, the solar light is charged and ready to illuminate your space.
Even those of us who enjoy tent camping can benefit from solar camping lights. As you hike along a trail during the day, for example, you can have the camping light clipped to your backpack with the solar panel exposed to the sun. When you’re winding down in or outside your tent after nightfall, you can simply turn on the solar camping light you’ve been charging as you hiked.
What to Look for in Solar Camping Lights
As you might expect, not all solar camping lights are created equal. There are a number of factors you may want to consider when shopping for a solar camping light. Let’s take a look…
Lumens are a measure of how bright a light is, (technically the amount of visible light emitted per second – a numerical measurement of the output of the light).
If you want a solar camping light that’s very bright and will illuminate a large space (either inside or outside your RV or tent), then you’ll want to be sure to choose a solar camping light that offers a higher lumen count.
If, on the other hand, you’re simply looking for a dim light that offers a peaceful, relaxing, or romantic ambience, you’ll want to choose a light that’s at the lower end of the lumen spectrum.
Warm or Cool LEDs
Solar camping lights use LEDs, and as you may know, LEDs come in warm or cool tones. This is also referred to as color temperature.
A cool white light looks brighter to the eye, as it contains more blue light. Cool LEDs tend to also have more lumens for this reason. A warm light has more of an orange/yellowish glow.
Commonly, cool white light is chosen for areas such as a kitchen, office, or bathroom, while a warm light is more appropriate to the ambience desired for a bedroom, living room, or hallway.
So, where camping lights are concerned, if you’re looking for a brighter light to illuminate a space more brightly, or to read by, you may want to select a camping light with a cool LED. But if you’d like to gently illuminate the inside of your tent, or to provide additional ambiance around the campfire, you may want to choose a camping light with a warm LED.
For more information on LED lighting, you can check out our entire series on converting to LED lights in your RV on our YouTube channel. In part of this video, you’ll find a discussion on the cool vs warm temperatures of LED lights:
This one can be important. You want to look for a solar camping light that charges as rapidly as possible via the solar panel. But for days when the sun doesn’t shine, it can be important to have a light that also charges via USB. This way, if you have several days of cloudy weather, you can simply plug your camping light into a standard USB port (from the 12V port in your car/RV’s dash… or from a larger portable battery bank or solar RV generator) and charge it that way.
So, having a couple of charging options can be important, just as is always the case with solar.
Time to Charge
As noted above, you want your solar camping light to charge as rapidly as possible. If you run your light all night, for example, then by the following day it will likely require full recharging so that you can run it again throughout the next night.
Whether you intend to charge your camping light via solar or USB, you’ll want to be sure that the time-to-charge leaves it ready for your use at the end of the day.
Depending on how you want to use your solar camping light, you may want to shop for a waterproof light. This enables you to use it outdoors even in misty or rainy conditions. It also allows you to carry it on a backpack with the solar panel exposed to the sun for daytime charging as you hike, without having to worry about rain or splashing from a creek you hike across, or any other exposure to water.
Dimmability or Changing Colors
Some solar camping lights are dimmable and some actually offer different colors. These are sometimes operated by a small module integrated with the light or even by a smartphone.
If you want to be able to dim your solar camping light or change the colors of illumination, you’ll want to look for these features.
Size and Weight
As with anything we use when camping and RVing, the size and weight is best kept to a minimum. You want a camping light that stores away easily, with “easily” depending on the size of your rig or whether you’re hiking or biking to camp.
So, you’ll need to choose the camping light that best suits your storage ability based on how you’re traveling and camping.
Along similar lines is the portability of a camping light. If you’re camping on foot, you may want a light that collapses into a very small form for extreme portability. If you’re traveling in an RV, you’re less likely to require that degree of portability, but you still may want something that folds into a compact form for simple storage in a drawer or cupboard.
5 of the Best Solar Camping Lights
Now let’s take a look at five of the best and most popular solar camping lights currently on the market.
MPOWERD Luci Lux: Solar Inflatable Lantern
The various iterations of MPOWERD’s Luci lights are among the most popular solar camping lights available. Long a favorite of all types of campers, these little inflatable lights check a lot of boxes in terms of what people generally want in a camping light.
Because they’re inflatable, they’re also DEflatable… which means that they compress into a very small package. This is great for all types of campers, including those who hike and bike to camp. In fact, the Luci lights are very popular among Appalachian Trail hikers who hang them on the outside of their backpacks to charge during the day, and have a nice light in their tent or lean-to during the night hours.
This particular model of solar camping light has a built-in rechargeable 1,000 mAh lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 24 hours in LOW mode on a single charge. Its charge time is listed as 7 hours. With 65 lumens, this light has a warm white LED that shines through a matte finish plastic inflatable cylinder.
This Luci light weighs a mere 4.4 oz and collapses to 1.5 inches. It’s waterproof and has four modes – low, medium, high, and flashing. It even has a little battery indicator so you can see how much of a charge remains before it will require recharging. This Luci light does not offer USB charging.
- This stylish lantern with a matte finish is completely powered by the sun, no additional batteries needed. Set it in direct sunlight for 7 hours and...
- With 10 warm white LEDs and up to 65 lumens, Luci Lux is a clean, reliable source of light that can turn any moment into a magical experience
MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0: Solar Inflatable Light
- This extremely durable and lightweight lantern is completely powered by the sun, no additional batteries needed. Set it in direct sunlight for 7 hours...
- With 10 cool white LEDs and up to 75 lumens, Luci Outdoor 2.0 is a clean, reliable source of light to keep you out of the dark, no matter how far off...
This Luci light is brighter. While the Luci solar camping light noted above provides 65 lumens, the Luci 2.0 offers 75 lumens of a cool white light using the same number of LEDs (10).
The Luci 2.0 light is chargeable via both solar and USB. It takes 2-3 hours to charge via USB and around 7 hours via the solar panel (in broad daylight).
The runtime on the Luci 2.0 is 18 hours vs 12 hours for the original Luci solar camping light, so that’s another 6 hours of light that the 2.0 provides which is substantial. This extra run time, along with the additional brightness and adjustable straps (top and bottom) make for a worthwhile upgrade at such a low price point.
BioLite Sunlight Solar Powered Lantern
This little light has become pretty popular with the camping crowd. Looking at the list of features it’s easy to see why.
This is a 100-lumen dimmable white lantern that’s very compact and offers up to 50 hours of runtime.
The BioLite Sunlight Solar Powered Lantern has a panel that allows you to choose from white, color, or “party mode” which lets you auto-cycle all colors. It has an integrated hanging clip for attaching to backpacks, tents, belts, etc., as well as the ability to charge via micro USB in only two hours.
The solar panel allows the BioLite Lantern to fully charge in 7 hours of sunlight. It has a kickstand for optimal positioning and an analog sundial so you can aim it at the sun for the fastest solar charging.
- Dimmable 100 Lumens of Light. Pack a backup light for fellow campers or set up around the site for key area markers or ambient mood lighting - with a...
- Outdoor Sidekick. With an IPX4 water rating and durable plastic housing, the SunLight can handle life outside and won't pop or deflate like other...
Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Camping Lantern
Goal Zero’s Lighthouse 600 is another level of solar camping light… and another level of price as well.
There are three ways to charge this camping lantern. You can use any USB port to recharge the internal 5,200 mAh battery, via the sun using a Goal Zero Nomad10 solar panel (NOT INCLUDED with this lantern) in around 6 hours, or by using the built-in hand crank. In an emergency situation, cranking the hand-crank for 1 minute will power the lantern for 10 minutes on the lowest setting.
Weighing in at just over one pound, this lantern has foldable legs and can be hand-carried, hung, or set on its legs.
The Goal Zero 600 offers 600 lumens of adjustable (up to 360 degrees), multi-directional light, and also serves as a power hub. The 5,200 mAh battery output on the lantern can be used to charge phones, tablets, headlamps, etc.
- CAMPING LANTERN: Directional and adjustable LED light, up to 600 lumens. Recharge the internal battery from any USB port, from the sun with a Goal...
- SOLAR CHARGER: Internal lithium battery boasts 5200 mAh with a USB output, enough power to charge phones, headlamps, tablets, LED flashlights and all...
Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern
Goal Zero’s Crush Light and Crush Light Chroma solar powered lanterns are collapsible camping lights that offer 35 hours of runtime and can be recharged via the solar panel or via micro USB (3.5 hours).
They both weigh in at just over 3 oz for a lightweight, compact package.
The Crush Light offers four modes – high, medium, low, and candle flicker, all in a white temperature.
The Crush Light Chroma offers five modes – high, medium, low, candle flicker, and multi-color mode which offers white, green, aqua, blue, orange, magenta, and red.
MPOWERD Luci String Lights
These little Luci string lights offer a compact way to add ambience to your indoor or outdoor space. These lights are less for bright, direct illumination than they are for ambience, but with string lights so popular in the camping and RVing community, we thought we’d throw this one in for good measure.
Luci string lights have a 2,000 mAh lithium battery and offer up to 15 hours of 6 colors of light across 20 multi-color LEDs built into the 18-foot cord. They’re rechargeable via solar (16 hours) or USB (4 hours).
Do You Have a Favorite Solar Camping Light?
What’s your experience with solar camping lights? Have you tried them and do you have a favorite? As always, we’d love to hear from you so drop us a comment!
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