Solar Powered Portable Lights

Testing complete…ready to deliver the info. And I really liked the results, good stuff!

So I bought a variety of solar powered lights to test. Wanted to see how they performed side-by-side. Boy, was I surprised and pleased…and disappointed. Here are the results…

Top #1 Light –

Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern: great light, top pick, clear winner.

Features:

  • Solar powered
  • Can be charged via USB cable
  • Can charge other devices via micro-USB cable
  • Both a lantern and a flashlight
  • Low/High power settings
  • “SOS” or flashing light capable
  • Unique adjustment capability to control amount of light
  • Very compact

I loved this unit even before I took it out of the box. It was very compact and lightweight. Once I opened it up I was even more impressed of its quality compared to the other units. It charged quickly via built-in solar panel. Its light was bright, 360°, adjustable, and warm. The built-in handle was a nice little feature as well.

There is plenty of smart technology built in to prevent over-charging and over-discharging. From fully discharged it takes about 5 – 8 hours of sun to recharge (varies depending on intensity of sunlight). It takes about 3 – 4 hours to recharge via USB cable (varies depending on the amp rating of your USB power source). It can recharge another device such as your phone but it won’t fully recharge it. More like mini-charge it so you can make those 2 – 3 calls to summon help. But hey, that is a great option to have!

Roughly speaking the light will last about 4 – 5 hours on high, 8 – 10 on low, and about 5 – 7 hours in the flashing mode.

Yes, it can handle some rain, just not sure how much. And no, don’t try to submerse it.

One area I was initially worried about was the expanding part of the unit. I thought it might wear out, crack and expose the unit to destruction. Ah, I was wrong. I’ve been testing it for over 6 months now and it is holding up fine. I would think you don’t want to expose the expanding plastic part to intense UV rays, I am sure it would break it down. But, normal use seems to be fine.

This is one great light! The ability of it to collapse to a very small disk is really a huge plus when it comes to saving space. To adjust the total amount of light you can turn it on to whichever power setting you wish, then expand it to get the exact amount of light you want. And the flash light feature is a nice little feature as well.

Clearly this light was my #1 choice.

Second Place Light –

Outlite 180 Lumen Portable Camping Light: nice light, useful features, clearly a good choice.

  • Solar powered
  • Can be charged via AC cable
  • Can be used with 3 AA batteries
  • 4800 mAh rechargeable built-in battery than can be charged via USB cable that you provide

Unit takes about 8 hours of sun to recharge, 4 – 5 via USB cable and the internal rechargeable battery.  The light is good for about 10 – 12 hours when fully charged. A couple of times I got significantly less when using the internal battery.

I like that you can simply open the unit to turn it on. Along with that you simply adjust the height to control how much light you want/get. The metal hanger/handle is great and you get a nifty “S” hook to hang it wherever you want.

The case is plenty sturdy and overall a nice little light and I am happy with it. But, it is not as feature rich and compact as the Kizen.

Two Loser Lights –
  • Outlite 240 Lumen Solar Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern Flashlight, Portable Water Resistant Outdoor Survival Lamp.  This lamp while rated at 240 lumen is not very bright at all. I think all the light tubes is a gimmick. Since it was by far duller than the two I did like, this gets a “no buy”.

  • ABC Ultra Bright Rechargeable Lantern , Solar Camping Lantern Powered Led, portable Camping LED Light. Light sucks! Fully charged it twice, worked for a little bit the first night. Didn’t work at all the second night. Light is now dead. This is for sure a “no buy”!!
Summary –

The whole concept of these lights is really great. What counts is the execution of that concept. Most everything you buy these day along these lines is going to be made in China. The quality of products varies widely but can be quite good at times. And it can really suck at other times. The trick is embracing the good stuff when you find it.

Have a couple of these on hand, they are worth the investment.

Yeah, I know…some of you like using solar yard lights. Nothing wrong with that, I do too. But, the Kizen and Outlight both have features that solar yard lights don’t have. and both are priced well within any prepper’s budget.

 

 

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