Solar Landscape Lighting
When it comes to limiting your footprint, solar lanterns are a great place to improve your lighting needs and limit your electrical use, whether you’re looking at camping lanterns or decorative solar lanterns for at home. Let’s answer some of your questions.
Can you charge solar lights without the sun?
Yes, definitely! In fact, there are multiple ways to charge solar lights such as solar lanterns without direct sunlight:
- Indirect sunlight. Though your solar lanterns won’t charge as quickly as in direct sunlight, solar lights can still harvest energy from the sun on cloudy or overcast days.
- Incandescent lights. Surprisingly enough, many incandescent lights will also work to charge solar lights; the brighter the better, of course.
- LED lights. Because LED lights tend to be brighter than incandescent lights, they tend to work better for charging solar lights. Additionally, LED lights tend to be more energy-efficient, and if your LED lights are battery-powered, then you can charge your solar lantern even at camp if need be. (Though, admittedly, using batteries to charge solar lights seems a bit like defeating the purpose.)
- Mirrors. This can require you think quickly on your feet, but if your solar lantern isn’t charging because it is in deep shadows, for instance, placing mirrors in direct sunlight to reflect that light toward the charging panel can be a great workaround. Just keep in mind that the sun tends to move, meaning mirrors will need to be repositioned.
Can you charge a solar panel with an LED light?
Yup! As noted above, it can even be the preferred charging method when you don’t have good sunlight (at least indirect sunlight, such as on a cloudy day) at your disposal, simply because LED lights tend to be more energy-efficient, meaning you are using less electricity to charge your solar lanterns, for instance.
Can solar lights work in the shade?
Definitely! While direct sunlight is the best method for charging solar lanterns, any sunlight (such as with decorative solar lanterns that might sit in the shade part of the day, for instance) is better than no sunlight, and indirect sunlight is still a great way to charge your solar lanterns, including decorative solar lanterns.
What is the brightest solar landscape lights?
If brightness is all you are looking for, you want a good solar landscape spotlight, which generally shine at a brightness of far more lumens than other decorative solar lanterns. For instance, the DrawGreen Bright LED Solar Motion Sensor Spotlights offer 1400 lumens, which is bright enough to shine 45-60 feet on a dark night.
Of course, brightness shouldn’t be the only factor you consider in a solar light, especially when it comes to decorative solar lanterns.
How long do solar landscape lights last?
That depends on each solar landscape light of course, but many of them can last up to a few weeks on a good charge if they are shining intermittently (such as motion-activated solar lights, for instance) and in general, a full day’s charge will cover a full night. You should, of course, do your own research on each solar landscape light you might consider purchasing, however.
Toward that end, though, check out our list of the 5 best solar landscape lights.
5 Best Solar Landscape Lights
- Manor House oversized solar lantern. Nearly three feet tall, this decorative solar lantern differentiates itself from any other large decorative solar lantern in how it simulates three warm candles’ glow.
- LITOM outdoor solar lights 4-pack. One of our favorite outdoor security solar lights, LITOM’s 4-pack offers easy installation, wireless capability, motion sensor activation and more.
- SolarGlow LED solar path lights 6-pack. One of our favorite solar lanterns for pathways, SolarGlow offers a lifetime warranty and holds up to the weather better than many comparable options and they turn on automatically at dusk.
- Ohuhu stainless steel solar garden lights 6-pack. Like SolarGlow’s path lights, Ohuhu’s decorative solar lanterns hold up in all weather. They also automatically turn on and off.
- URPOWER 2-in-1 waterproof 4 LED adjustable solar spotlight. The highlight of URPOWER’s solar spotlight is the ease with which it can be customized, including angles, power, and whether or not it turns on and off automatically with dawn and dusk.
What is the best solar lantern?
Truthfully, the best solar lantern is the one that works for you and meets your illumination and charge needs. For some people who are using their solar lanterns as mood lighting, for instance, such as with decorative solar lanterns, a lumen range of up to a few hundred is probably perfect; for others, who want to be able to use their solar lantern to really see what they’re doing even on pitch-black nights, more lumens may be needed. Similarly, the duration for which each lantern will hold a charge, as well as how quickly they may charge, are important considerations. And if you’re backpacking, for instance, size and weight may also be considerations. (Even better, plenty of the best newer solar lanterns for camping come with cool extras, like USB capabilities so you can charge other devices, too!)
That said, check out our 5 best solar lanterns for camping.
5 Best Solar Lanterns For Camping
- MPOWERD Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0. Not only was the Luci one of the first collapsible solar lanterns, it’s still one of the very best. Not only does it offer two-way USB charging, but it’s light (5.5 oz), bright (150 lumens), incredibly efficient, and the warm white light is great for in-tent ambiance. Additionally, the snappable handle makes it incredibly easy to hang inside your tent as well. The charging option isn’t enough to fully charge up an iPhone, for instance, but it’s enough to top off—and far more charging power than any other comparable solar lantern.
- Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Powered Lantern. The Crush Light is one of the lightest backpacking solar lanterns (3.2 oz), but doesn’t skimp on quality as a result—offering a warm orange-yellow color that helps make camp feel homey as well as better reserve power than most other solar lanterns. After the lantern dies, it often still has much as an hour of power on the low setting. It doesn’t have a battery power indicator, unfortunately, but it charges quickly and feels like home.
- BioLite SunLight. The drawback first: BioLite’s SunLight solar lantern does not charge particularly quickly unless charging by USB. That said, once fully charged it lasts far longer than most comparable lanterns, and its slim profile makes it easy to pack. It also offers a party mode, in which it cycles through different colors.
- LuminAID PackLite Hero 2-in-1 Supercharger. Though definitely not one of the cheaper options, the PackLite Hero Supercharger packs down to less than an inch thick while offering the option of expanding into a six-inch cube in camp. While some users report occasional quality control issues, LuminAID is great about replacements and customer service, in addition to regularly donating solar lanterns to humanitarian efforts and disaster relief. As far as the waterproof and dustproof solar lantern itself goes, it offers two-way USB recharging and an incredible 300 lumens. Additionally, carabiner loops on the straps mean you can readily strap it to your pack, meaning it can charge while you hike. One potential drawback: Some users say the light is too white and too bright for an enjoyable campsite experience.
- AGPTEK Hand Crank Solar Lantern. The best part of AGPTEK’s solar lantern is the hand crank capacity, meaning that you can create light on demand even if there isn’t any solar power from which to draw. That, combined with its small, handheld size makes it a great solar lantern for nighttime trips to the bathroom, for instance. That said, it isn’t the best choice for an all-around campsite lantern, as charges don’t necessarily last that long (the light begins dimming rather quickly) if you are not using the hand crank. Kids love the hand crank, though, and for the price point, this is a great introduction to solar lanterns for families car camping.
What is solar lighting system?
When it comes to solar lighting systems, you might think of individual lights, such as solar lanterns, but there are also bigger systems. Let’s spend a moment looking at the different types of solar lighting systems:
- Solar Sky Lights. Solar skylight systems work with solar panels and an intrinsic sense of outdoor light to provide fluctuating lighting as needed (such as when there is cloud cover during a time of day when you would normally expect natural light).
- Photovoltaic Lights. Photovoltaic modules store solar energy to be used as needed later, such as for nighttime lighting or as a backup emergency system. (These systems are also sometimes referred to as grid-free or stand-alone systems.)
- Hybrid Solar Lights. Hybrid systems are sometimes also referred to as peak reduction systems, where they work in concert with utility systems already in place. These systems vary widely, but also have some of the most common applications as they work with the electrical grid already in place.