Tom's Guide Verdict
With its impressive overall sound and ability to charge via sunlight, the Lodge Solar Speaker 4 is a great way to bring sound to the outdoors. But because solar charging only works in direct sunlight, you’ll need to have the right situation for it to work.
Well balanced sound
Charge from sunlight
Can be paired with multiple speakers
Solar charging needs direct sunlight
Limited app control
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
Power output: 50W
Drivers: 4-inch midrange/bass, 4-inch passive bass radiator, 3/4 inch tweeter
Size: 10.5 x 7 x 6 inches
Weight: 7.5 pounds
Battery life (rated): 22 hours
Increasingly, we're seeing the best outdoor speakers come with powerful battery packs, strong durability and wireless connectivity. But most need hooking up to a power outlet at some point to keep them juiced up. In a world full of speakers that claim to be wireless, Lodge produces one that actually can be. The Lodge Solar Powered Speaker 4 Series 2 taps into the power of the sun to keep it playing tunes — theoretically for as long as the sun is shining.
But it’s more than just a speaker with a gimmick. The Lodge speaker produces sound that rivals the Sonos Move 2, with well-balanced treble, midtones and bass. It’s premium sound comes with a premium price, though.
Whether the Lodge speaker is for you will have a lot to do with your budget as well as where you intend to put it: because of how solar power works, it has to be in direct sunlight to charge wirelessly.
Should you add the Lodge speaker to your backyard? Read on to find out.
Lodge Solar Speaker 4 review: Price & availability
It's available in a black finish with contrasting trim only.
Lodge Solar Powered Speaker 4 Series 2 review: Design
The Lodge speaker looks like a traditional bookshelf speaker: the rectangular 10.5 x 7 x 6-inch unit isn’t meant to attract much attention.
What’s inside sets it apart. Four solar panels allow it to recharge the battery from the sun. It also packs in a 4-inch driver and ¾-inch tweeter as well as a 4-inch passive radiator for bass.
The only port it includes is a USB-C port that you can use to charge it when the sun’s not shining. That port is protected by a very small plug; if you remove it be careful not to misplace it — you have to put it back in to maintain the unit’s waterproofing.
As for ruggedness, the Lodge is rated IP66, which means it can handle water and dust without issue and should stand up to the rigors of an outdoor environment. It claims to capable of operating between 32º and 115º Fahrenheit (0º to 46º Celsius).
The speaker ships with a stake that you can use to mount it in the ground. You can also place it on a table.
Lodge Solar Powered Speaker 4 Series 2 review: Controls and connectivity
The Lodge speaker features Bluetooth 5.3. It paired easily with my phone and maintained a strong connection from more than 50 feet outdoors, and should have a range of up to 100 feet. However, each time I turned on the speaker, I had to manually reconnect to it; most Bluetooth speakers will automatically reconnect when you reboot them.
On top, the unit features buttons for power, volume, play/pause and Bluetooth pairing, as well as a way to connect to other Lodge speakers.
The only sound adjustment you can make is Bass Boost (and you’ll want to). You can engage Bass Boost by long pressing the play/pause button. But Bass Boost turned itself off each time the speaker powered down, an annoyance that could hamper your enjoyment of the music, especially if the speaker isn’t close to you. However, Lodge says this is intentional, as their research showed customers prefer Bass Boost only at lower volumes and for certain music genres.
Lodge Connect is a free control app, but it’s extremely limited. You can only update the firmware; there’s no way to engage Bass Boost or otherwise adjust the sound through the app. The company says the app will continue to evolve and add features.
Lodge Solar Powered Speaker 4 Series 2 review: Sound quality
Solar power or no, the Lodge deserves consideration for its sound quality alone. With its well-balanced treble, midrange and bass (with Bass Boost on; without it, it lacks oomph), the Lodge sounds about as good as the Sonos Move 2 — one of the best portable speakers available.
On Foo Fighters’ “Under You,” the distorted guitars had a sharp edge and the crashing cymbals rang crisply, while the bass line was prominent in the mix. The bass on Killer Mike’s “Down by Law” rumbled deeply but with good definition, while his vocals were clear. Similarly, SZA’s vocals on “Kill Bill” sounded rich over a resonant bass line.
The Lodge speaker handled all kinds of music well, including the acoustic guitar of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again” and the horns on Charles Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” Listening outside, you may not pick up all the intricacies it produces, but it’s good to know they’re there.
The speaker can get loud. Powered by a 50W Class D amplifier, it measured 93 decibels at max volume — which should be more than enough to be heard above the din of a pool party. Two speaker can be paired together in stereo.
Lodge Solar Powered Speaker 4 Series 2 review: Battery life
While in direct sunlight, the Lodge speaker should never run out of power. Lodge says solar will give the battery 2-3 hours of playtime for each hour in the sun.
The trick is, like any solar-powered device, it has to be in direct sunlight. In my shady yard, with limited sunlight in winter, I had a hard time finding a spot that provided sun for long enough to give it much power. But I can confirm that solar charging works.
You can also charge the battery through the USB-C port. Lodge says the battery will play for 22 hours on a full charge.
Lodge Solar Powered Speaker 4 Series 2 review: Verdict
The Lodge Solar Powered Speaker 4 Series 2 offers what could be a great solution for bringing tunes into your yard. With solar power, it can be a truly wireless option — no need for power cables or speaker wires.
Couple that with excellent overall sound, and you can almost justify the $449 price tag.
There are a few reasons why you might hesitate to drop that kind of cash. Foremost, you’ll want to make sure that your yard — and the location you want the speaker to be in — offers enough direct sunlight to take advantage of the solar power.
The Lodge also lacks a bit of refinement that you expect in a speaker that costs this much. It doesn’t automatically reconnect to your Bluetooth device, for example, and you’ll have to reengage Bass Boost each time you turn it on. And while you can connect several Lodges together to create a larger soundfield, it lacks multiroom capabilities like a Sonos Move 2.
There are plenty of portable Bluetooth speakers you could choose if you don’t want to shell out $450, such as the UE Hyperboom or even the very affordable UE Wonderboom 3. If you already have a Sonos system, the Move 2 may be a better fit, allowing you to play the same tunes indoors as out.
But for those whose requirements match the Lodge’s capabilities, you’ll enjoy a rare freedom: excellent sound without wire.
More from Tom's Guide
Michael Gowan is a freelance technology journalist covering soundbars, TVs, and wireless speakers of all kinds of shapes and sizes for Tom’s Guide. He has written hundreds of product reviews, focusing on sound quality and value to help shoppers make informed buying decisions. Micheal has written about music and consumer technology for more than 25 years. His work has appeared in publications including CNN, Wired, Men’s Journal, PC World and Macworld. When Michael’s not reviewing speakers, he’s probably listening to one anyway.