The 10 Best Inflatable Lights
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in September of 2015. If you are looking for a gentle, yet highly portable, source of outdoor illumination, consider one of these inflatable lights to help you find your way or decorate a space. Whether the priority is utility or ambiance, our selection includes a range of options that are perfect for camping, hiking, patios, pool decks, or front lawns. Many are waterproof and float in ponds and pools, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 18, 2020:
Inflatable lights can act as everything from decoration to emergency preparedness tool, which is why we've kept options in a range of sizes, shapes, and colors. On the small side, the Solight SolarPuff still comes out on top. It weighs only 2.6 ounces and can run for up to 12 hours on a full charge. Not only that, but it's made of recyclable PET and is packaged in an environmentally responsible manner. Its competition includes models from LuminAid and MPowerd, including the LuminAid PackLite Hero and the MPowerd Luci Pro Lux. Both are capable of charging your phone, making them excellent to have around in case of an emergency — or simply when you're camping or backpacking. We also like the MPowerd Luci Candle, but it's better at setting the mood than making a dark room bright; consider it a lightweight alternative to many LED candles.
As for larger, decorative choices, we opted to remove the Yunlights Ghost over concerns about its durability, even though it is a fun Halloween decoration. Instead, look to the OurWarm Ghost. This version is more silly than scary, but at 5 feet tall, he's sure to turn a few heads. For a festive December decoration, there's the Gemmy Minion Stuart. Paired with some Christmas lights, this model will make a top-notch holiday scene, but much like the LED Ghost, you'll need to be cautious about keeping it out in inclement weather.
Shindigz Multi-Function Star The Shindigz Multi-Function Star definitely lives up to its name, as this twinkling 11-pointed light will flash, strobe, and fade, in a wide range of fun colors. It's operated via remote control, and it has an attached blower for your convenience. shindigz.com
Inflatable Lights Versus Traditional Options
Then, think about how much room your lighting device requires.
You’ve probably heard about inflatable lights, which are becoming more and more common all the time. Looking at them, you can quickly see that they are different from flashlights and lanterns, but you might wonder how they measure up against these more traditional tools. As it turns out, inflatable lights offer quite a range of benefits over standard portable lighting.
To begin with, nearly all use rechargeable solar-powered batteries instead of traditional primary batteries. This gives them the eco advantage; instead of throwing battery after battery away, you can keep recharging the device via the solar panels, thereby reducing your impact on the environment. Some of these lights can handle up to 1,000 charges, in fact, so you’ll be using them for years. You’ll find that you get a benefit over standard rechargeable batteries, too, since the batteries used in these lights are not as heavy. On a long hike, when every ounce can add to foot or back pain, this lightweight option is definitely welcome.
Of course, not all standard lanterns are battery-powered. You might use a kerosene or propane lantern, especially if you don’t have to schlep your gear too far. Consider, though, that these devices carry a risk of fire that’s not present with an inflatable light. You’ll find that these inflatables usually stand up to the weather better, as they’re designed to be waterproof, not just water resistant, like most lanterns or flashlights. And inflatable lights float, so if you drop one over the side of a water vessel, there’s no harm done.
Then, think about how much room your lighting device requires. Not only are inflatable lanterns lighter, but they pack up smaller, as well. Most collapse down nearly flat, which saves you precious space. Where you might only have room for one lantern, you could bring a handful of inflatable lights — perhaps one for every person in your party. When you’re finished, just deflate them for hassle-free storage.
Finally, inflatable lights offer a softer aesthetic presence than bulky lanterns or flashlights. Most are gently glowing cubes that can create a mood without drawing unnecessary attention. And if white light isn’t your thing, there are even inflatable lights in a variety of colors, from fun and funky reds and blues to mild off-whites.
Uses For Inflatable Lights
Along with the obvious use of inflatable lights for camping or backpacking, there are plenty of ways to employ this versatile lighting option. This is doubly true since inflatable lights are highly affordable, so investing in a range of them is relatively painless. And since they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, there’s one for every application.
If you know anyone heading off to college, an inflatable light makes a good preparedness gift that he or she can use in the event of dorm power outages.
For instance, you could use inflatable lights to spice up your next nighttime pool party; toss three or four in the water to contribute to both atmosphere and safety. You might also use one to add to the ambiance of a hot bath or your Jacuzzi, as well.
If you’re having any kind of event that will last to dusk and beyond, then inflatable lights provide an excellent way to keep the party going. You can place them on tables or even hang them, as many have handles built in. This option is simpler than running strings of lights and safer than using candles.
Inflatable lights aren’t just about fun, however. They make a perfect addition to emergency readiness kits, including those that you keep in your car, perfectly complementing other crucial items such as water, survival foods, and a hand-crank radio. If you know anyone heading off to college, an inflatable light makes a good preparedness gift that he or she can use in the event of dorm power outages. Keep in mind that you’ll need to occasionally check the charge on your emergency solar inflatable light; many manufacturers recommend doing so every three to six months.
Inflatable lights also make great gifts for outdoor enthusiasts, whether they enjoy camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, kayaking, or whitewater rafting. You won’t even need to purchase extra batteries to go along with the gift, a hassle no one wants.
Brightening Our World
When you think about how many benefits inflatable lights offer, you can easily see why they’ve become so popular. But these nifty devices have another application, which is in disaster relief. In fact, most people became familiar with inflatable lights through the LuminAID, which was originally envisioned as just that — a way to bring light to those suffering through the aftermath of a catastrophe.
If you’re a fan of Shark Tank, you’ll probably remember the LuminAID pitch from season six, which introduced the brainchild of Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta.
If you’re a fan of Shark Tank, you’ll probably remember the LuminAID pitch from season six, which introduced the brainchild of Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta. As graduate students, they designed their solar-powered inflatable as part of a challenge that asked them to create a product that could help in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. On the show, all the Sharks loved the product, especially since it can be deployed in a wide range of natural disasters, but Stork and Sreshta decided to accept an offer from business mogul Mark Cuban. In 2017, they announced that their sales had grown considerably since the show and that they’ve been able to visit areas in need of relief and distribute many lights.
After LuminAID captured both the Sharks' and the internet’s fancy, inflatable lights have become more and more affordable, popular, and prevalent. A range of companies, following the humanitarian lead, have begun to offer solar inflatable lights with a unique “buy one, get one” twist — when you purchase one, they send one to a location in need of aid. Some companies also let consumers buy lanterns for a reduced price to send as a charitable gift. This way, you can provide help to areas in distress, even if you personally have no need for more than one or two of the devices.