The 10 Best Solar Tiki Torches
This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in February of 2018. What do you do when you love the tropical lifestyle, but live in the landlocked suburbs? Tiki torches can add a fun, beachy ambiance to any outdoor space, and these solar-powered options are convenient, safe, and eco-friendly. Our picks include hanging, wall-mounted, and ground-stake models in a multitude of designs, and will keep a backyard or patio lit up for hours. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 12, 2020:
Unlike traditional tiki torches, these convenient solar options require very little maintenance on your part and don’t involve any potentially dangerous flames, making them a safe option for backyard parties where children are present. Today’s update sees the addition of the Otdair Landscape, an elegant option that feature shapes reminiscent of wine glasses. They come with attachable poles that let you install them at one of two heights, the taller being near 36 inches. They come in a pack of four, and each contains 96 bright LEDs that stay safely cool to the touch. We also added a choice with nontraditional color options to the selection. In addition to yellow, the Cocomox Lights are available with blue or purple flames. You can choose a set of either two or four, and their IP65 waterproof rating means you can leave them outside with less worry of weather-related damage.
The Espier Lantern also comes on board in this update, and this option can be hung from a tree branch or a banister to illuminate your patio or deck and add some nice ambience to your next party. It attaches via a sturdy clip on a hoop, and you can control it via the photosensor or the manual on-off switch. It’s also great for use indoors for some soft light after the sun has gone down. These three additions replace the Missbee Lanterns, the Frecibo Garden, and the Marlrin Landscape, all of which suffer from issues with availability at this time. We also kept the TomCare Waterproof in the top spot, which hit all of the marks for good looks, durability, overall quality, and ease of installation. They’re made of tough ABS plastic, and you can choose housings with either a black or a bronze finish. For a fun backyard light that’s sure to brighten up any outdoor party, look to the VP Home Light, a fierce, yet miniature, tiki god with a pint-sized torch. While it’s made of sturdy polyresin that resembles finely carved wood, note that it can be blown over rather easily by a strong wind.
June 07, 2019:
Joining the list is the Marlrin Landscape, which conveniently comes with two height options, so you can place it on the ground or mount it onto spots like the railing of your deck. It’s lit by 96 LEDs, and will stay safely cool to the touch, no matter how long it’s been lit. Chance are, you’ll want several, so note that it’s also sold in a four-pack that offers a lower price per unit.
In addition, the Moonrays Party comes onboard, which features soft, amber-colored lights that you’d swear are flames, at first glance. It holds its charge relatively long and its photosensor ensures it turns off at dawn, when it’s ready to start taking in the Sun’s rays again. This versatile choice can also be placed on your table (indoors or out) as a centerpiece and is crafted from a brown, wood-like finish.
The newly added, rust-resistant Camabel LED hold up to the elements, since, unlike many, they're made of stainless steel. Due to this, they’re priced significantly higher than most others, but they’ll likely hold up much longer. Also joining the mix is the unique VP Home Light – a hybrid between a garden gnome and a tiki god, who looks great anywhere outside your home, while his miniature torch shines brightly after dark. Leaving the list are the Kshioe Dusk to Dawn, the Nunet Auto, and the Moonrays Path Light, due to issues with availability.
Suntorch Solar LED Tiki Torch Sold in a pack of three, these torches feature LEDs that can be set to emit a steady white light or a soft glow, or they can flicker like a real flame. They turn on automatically at night for up to eight hours after soaking up sunlight all day. They’re good for year-round outdoor use, thanks to their durable design. Each contains 40 LEDs and resembles a bamboo tiki torch. touchofeco.com
Which Solar Tiki Torch Is Right For You?
The standard life expectancy of an LED is around 50,000 hours, so you can use your torches daily for over a decade without ever having to replace them.
Solar tiki torches come in an array of styles and sizes, ranging from rustic and retro to sleek and modern. While having a high-efficiency solar panel is an obvious must, many manufacturers take things a step further, making weather-resistant designs with handy features like automatic shut-off, a realistic flickering light, and extending poles. No matter the aesthetic of your backyard or the climate you live in, there’s an option out there to suit your needs.
One of the most important considerations has to do with the weather you'll require your torch to endure. If you live in an area that sees rain or snow often, you'll need something with rugged, waterproof housing. To gauge a product's effectiveness at sealing out moisture, look for what's called an Ingress Protection, or IP, rating. An IP rating of 65 indicates that the item can withstand pressurized water projected from a nozzle from three meters away. If your model has this rating or higher, you can rest easy knowing it can confront rain, snow, frost, and dirt with no issues. If you anticipate heavy winds, consider a style that you can mount to the wall or firmly dig into the ground so it doesn't blow over.
You’ll also want an option with a reliable battery. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a capacity of at least 2,200 mAh will soak up sunlight during the day and can complete a full charge in as little as five hours in direct rays. Once the sun sets and the lights come on, they should last for the better part of the evening — some models can even go all night (around 12 hours). However, how long they’ll shine will depend on the season and how effectively they were able to charge during the day.
Every type of torch available will hold a certain amount of little LEDs that emit a warm, yellow glow excellent for establishing a comfortable ambiance. The standard life expectancy of an LED is around 50,000 hours, so you can use your torches daily for over a decade without ever having to replace them. In order to conserve energy and make things easier for the consumer, a quality torch will have a built-in light sensor that automatically turns on at dusk and off once dawn approaches.
Tips For A Tropical Oasis
There’s a reason tiki culture has captured so many American hearts over the years — it offers a vibrant aesthetic that can transform even the most urban area into an exotic getaway, and it gives you the opportunity to learn about Maori and other native traditions. If you’re looking to turn your outdoor area into a Polynesian-inspired paradise, below are a few ideas to try.
You may also want to consider wicker, rattan, or bamboo furniture.
One surefire way to instill an island vibe is to pepper your patio with lush vegetation. Plants like areca palms and croton boast gorgeous green coloring and patterning, plus they’re low-maintenance, require little water, and can endure high temperatures. Their bold hues work well with the pinks, oranges, and purples of flowering vines and plants such as mandevilla, hibiscus, and plumeria.
You may also want to consider wicker, rattan, or bamboo furniture. Everything from a simplistic set of chairs to a full-blown tiki bar can create a charming effect, although you might need to apply a few coats of varnish to protect them from moisture. Complement your new pieces by placing them around a fire pit piled high with lava rocks, and a cantilever umbrella that will keep you shaded while you lounge during the day.
Working small additions into your motif can make a big difference. You'd be surprised at how a matching side table, patterned accent pillow, or some tropically-scented candles can add an extra level of detail.
A Brief History Of The Tiki Torch
While folks who hail from the islands of the South Pacific surely wield flame-topped torches for myriad reasons, the tiki torch as we know it is not a product of Polynesian culture. Tiki is the name of a Wisconsin-based company launched in the 1950s, who most likely derived their moniker from the popular 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition led by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. Their flagship product? A six-foot aluminum torch that came in copper, brass, and ebony finishes — a far cry from the bamboo model we're familiar with today. It was initially described as "the famous Tahitian fire torch", and the company trademarked the name tiki torch in 1956. So, how did an American-made item come to represent escapism?
Americans began their love affair with Polynesian culture in the 1930s.
Americans began their love affair with Polynesian culture in the 1930s. Much like the Tut-mania of the 1920s, keen enthusiasts wanted to infuse a bit of exotic culture into their everyday lives. An example of this comes to us in the form of the first tiki-themed bar, Don The Beachcomber. A traveler named Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt opened up shop in Los Angeles in 1933 with the tagline, "If you can't get to paradise, I'll bring it to you." It became popular enough to draw patrons like Charlie Chaplin and Howard Hughes, and this success inspired plenty of imitators.
Once World War II ended, soldiers returned home having experienced the wonders and perils of the Pacific Theater. They were now familiar with the decor, cuisine, and flavors of island life, and restaurateurs were only too happy to cater to their new tastes. They weren't spot on, of course. The Americanized version of Polynesian culture mostly consisted of borrowed idols, fruity cocktails, and slightly altered Chinese food. Nevertheless, it was a sweeping fad throughout the 1950s and 60s. Naturally, Hollywood cashed in on the action with hits like Blue Hawaii starring Elvis and From Here To Eternity with Burt Lancaster, which helped to fuel the fervor.
During all this time, the producers of the tiki torch improved on their iconic design and continued to sell it, paving the way for it to become a backyard fixture and an unexpected representation of mid-century Americana.