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The tactical design is both waterproof and bright. Offers 9 functions including a glass breaker and compass. Can be charged via the built-in solar panel.
May take more than 8 hours in sunlight to charge.
Solar panel absorbs UV and artificial light. Hand crank for emergency use. Fits easily into pockets or backpacks. Integrated carabiner for belt attachment.
Can take a while to fully charge the device.
Several different light modes. Rechargeable battery powered by USB cable or solar panel. Resists water and shock damage for long-term durability.
Light can be too unfocused for some preferences.
3 types of short and long distance beams. For everyday use or emergencies. Receives weather radio signals from most stations. Built-in carrying handle.
Using the flashlight and radio at the same time can be a hassle.
Can switch between flashing and headlight modes. Built-on magnet. Glass breaker and seatbelt cutter in case of emergency. The light is fairly bright.
Bulkier, so it might be difficult to transport.
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Whether you’re experiencing a power outage or a vehicle breakdown on a dark country road, one vital tool you’ll want to have on hand is a dependable flashlight. Those without access to batteries or power to charge a flashlight can turn to a solar-powered flashlight to help them through such situations. These charged-by-the-sun flashlights are often sought by campers and hikers for their portability and reliability.
Anyone who wants to purchase a solar-powered flashlight can find many options with a wide range of features and tools. Factors to consider include brightness, charging method, and the amount of time it takes for the flashlight to reach a complete charge. Price matters, too, though you aren’t likely to encounter many outrageous prices when shopping for this handy little tool.
Our buying guide delves into charging methods, charge and run times, modes, price range, and other factors to know when shopping for a solar-powered flashlight. For your consideration, we also shine the spotlight on some of our favorite products.
While all solar-powered flashlights should offer durable construction, pay particular attention to this if you plan to use your flashlight outside more often than inside.
An outdoor flashlight — such as one used for camping or hiking — tends to take much more abuse than one sitting in an emergency kit in your car or house. As such, it should be able to stand up to frequent use on the trail and should be shock-resistant. Outdoor flashlights also experience much more exposure to the elements and should be waterproof and submersible.
Solar-powered flashlights for indoor use — an emergency back-up flashlight or one you stash in a bug-out bag — generally don’t need to be as sturdy as those used for camping. If you feel an indoor flashlight may end up playing an outside role at some point, definitely pay more attention to features such as waterproofing.
Solar-powered flashlights vary considerably in terms of size and weight. If you plan to use it on a hike, you want one that is more compact and lightweight as opposed to bulky and heavy. Flashlights tend to be bulkier when additional elements such as window shatter tools are built into them. Lower-quality (and bulkier) solar panels can also increase a flashlight’s size and weight. For camping and hiking use, you may be better off choosing a stripped-down flashlight with fewer features and tools and better solar panels.
There are three primary ways a solar-powered flashlight can be charged. The best flashlights incorporate at least two of these methods.
The length of a “run time” is a big consideration when choosing a solar-powered flashlight, particularly if you need to go for long stretches between recharging sessions. While a charge can last for as little as three hours or as much as ten, the average is around four to seven hours of run time. A flashlight that can run on a dim or low mode lasts considerably longer than one constantly running on high.
The recharge time for a solar-powered flashlight varies from model to model. Other factors also affect the recharge time, including method of recharging (solar is slow, USB much faster), the size and efficiency of the solar panels, and even the angle and intensity of the sunlight. You should plan on it taking several hours to bring your flashlight up to a full charge.
Solar-powered flashlights all typically use one or more LED bulbs, but some produce much more light (measured in lumens) than others. Flashlights that can produce up to 200 lumens or more are able to light up to several hundred feet. A brighter light is more useful outdoors than indoors, with the trade-off being that a brighter light also drains a flashlight’s charge faster.
The modes of a solar-powered flashlight refer to the various ways you can use it to produce light. The more modes a flashlight has, the more useful it is in a variety of situations, and the more control you have over how long your charge will last.
Solar-powered flashlights may have between three and seven modes. Some common modes include three types of light intensity (low/dim, medium, and high), slow or rapid flashing lights (either in white or red) for emergencies, and side running lights for lower light situations.
The majority of solar-powered flashlights feature some form of clip or other attachment to more easily carry it around or use it. This is often in the form of a carabiner clip, which can be used to attach the flashlight to a backpack, belt, or keychain.
A solar-powered flashlight with a magnet can be mounted to a car or other metal surface for use as either a set light source or a work light.
Solar-powered flashlights often incorporate additional survival and emergency tools. These can be a real bonus depending on how you plan to use your flashlight, though they tend to add weight and bulk to the flashlight.
Some common additional tools include:
Solar-powered flashlights range in price from under $10 to around $30. The average is $15 to $20.
Inexpensive/mid-range: At a lower price point, you find simple flashlights with few bells and whistles. If you are just in the market for a simple solar-powered light source to throw into an emergency kit, this should fit your needs.
Expensive: At higher prices are flashlights that burn brighter, hold a charge longer, and offer multiple methods for recharging. You can also find more multi-tool emergency/survival flashlights here, offering tools such as compasses, window shatter tools, and a variety of emergency lighting modes.
We had a few additional solar-powered flashlights we wanted to include here that caught our eye. The X-nego Solar LED Flashlight is both compact and lightweight, yet puts out an impressive 300 lumens. This inexpensive bundle includes two flashlights. If you want a flashlight that also functions as a lantern, check out Keytas Operkey LED Camping Lantern and Flashlight. It features 12 LED bulbs in all and collapses for easy storage.
Q. Are solar-powered flashlights environmentally friendly?
A. Their environmental “footprint” is considerably better than a traditional flashlight. Because they have a rechargeable battery, solar-powered flashlights don’t send dead batteries to the local landfill — a plus for the landfill and your wallet. Furthermore, if you recharge it solely by the sun, you aren’t using power from the grid, which is better for the environment.
Q. Can solar-powered flashlights be used to charge a phone?
A. This largely depends on the model you buy. Some function as a solar power bank, capable of powering up a phone or other device. If this is an important feature for you, try to verify how effective it is at this (some fall short of their claims), and whether the flashlight has safety precautions built into it such as overcharge or overcurrent protection.
Q. How long will a charge last if the flashlight is not being used?
A. Some solar-powered flashlights claim they can hold a charge for years without being recharged; others, several months. To be on the safe side, it is best to top off the flashlight every six months or so, whether you’re using it or not. If the flashlight is exposed to more temperature extremes (high or low), you should top it off more frequently.
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