Wind-Up and Solar-Powered Lanterns


Here are some lanterns that can be charged via the sun or via human power. Freeplay’s Indigo is a well-designed, rugged lantern. It’s one of those products that, when you hold it, feels extremely solid. This lantern shines with a cluster of seven bright LED bulbs. It won’t brighten a room, but at full power, it provides good illumination. It has a built-in Ni-MH rechargeable battery. The battery can be charged via two power sources — AC  power, and by hand cranking it. A 60 second wind will provide up to 2 hours of light in the lowest setting or 5 minutes at maximum brightness.

The lantern has a dimmer, which reduces the output to that of nightlight. It also has a task light, which is a thin beam that’s angled downward, making it more convenient to use for reading. It won’t replace a good flashlight, but can be used in a pinch. Weighing just under one pound, the Indigo is easy to transport and provides up to 70 hours of light on the lowest setting with a fully charged battery. Freeplay’s Indigo is available from Amazon for about $35.


Here are two lanterns by Global Marketing Technologies that can be charged via built-in solar power, AC power or DC power. The yellow lantern is a “motion activated” solar lantern, and the silver one incorporates an AM/FM radio with weather channels. They both use 9W fluorescent bulbs for illumination, and have a built-in rechargeable 6V seal lead acid battery. But note, because the solar panels are so compact, it takes about 8 hours of charging in bright sunlight to get 3 hours of power.

The Solar Rechargeable Lantern With Motion Activation is also available from Amazon for about $80.

Another solar lantern is the Wagan — it’s less powerful but less expensive than the lantern above, and it is available from Amazon for $30.

Check out this smaller Wind-Up Tent Lantern for camping.

4 thoughts on “Wind-Up and Solar-Powered Lanterns”

  1. I found one of these by chance at my local Target a few days ago. It had a clearance sticker on it that showed the original price as $35.99, but it was marked down to $8.98. Since I’d been wanting to try a Freeplay light for a while, I figured this was my chance and grabbed it.

    Checked the box to make sure the AC charger was in there, along with the instruction booklet–’cause, seriously, that’s one heck of a markdown and it’s still on for the original price. Brought it home, charged it up.

    I’ve played with it some since charging it, but I’m practically itching for a power outage now to test it out properly. Spring and summer weather here will almost guarantee that I’ll get a chance at some point. In the meantime, I’m using it around the house where I’d normally use a regular flashlight, to save batteries.

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