The best solar lights are easy to install, durable and effective at lighting up your backyard. Whether you’re buying with safety or aesthetics in mind, your solar lights should provide a good balance of tone and brightness. These come in all kinds of designs to suit different purposes, although they’re all powered by sunlight. They essentially charge through the day using a solar panel and then light up from dusk. For this reason, choosing how to best place your solar lights is equally as important as choosing which lights to buy.
Because they’re powered via the sun, solar lights are relatively low-maintenance — there’s no wires to plug in and once they’re placed they take care of themselves. They’re cheaper to run compared to typical plugged-in lights as well, so they will save you money on your energy bill if you switch. However, there are literally thousands of designs to choose from, so which should you buy? We’ve done the research to find the best solar lights the market has to offer.
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What are the best solar lights?
If you had to choose one set, the best solar lights are the Signature Garden Solar Garden Lights. These stick-style lights stand about 12 inches high, and provide 15 lumens of light, which is bright enough to illuminate your walkway. The shaft of the lights are made from metal, which should make them a little more durable than others, and its IP65 rating means it can withstand the elements.
The Signature Garden Solar Garden Lights have a built-in battery that should provide up to eight hours of illumination; a built-in sensor will cause the lights to turn on automatically at dusk, and turn off at dawn. Best of all, these lights come with a lifetime warranty, and according to online customers, the company has a pretty good track record when it comes to replacing the lights.
If you want to go more high-tech, the Ring Solar Pathlights have motion sensors, so they can turn on or brighten when they detect movement, as well as activate other Ring smart lights and security cameras. They’re also brighter, providing up to 80 lumens. However, at $30 each —not including the $50 Ring Bridge you’ll also need—they’re far more expensive than non-smart solar lights.
The best solar lights you can buy today
The best solar lights for most people, the Signature Garden Solar Garden lights will look good in between your hostas and phlox, and cast a glow onto your walkway. The lights are as durable as they are attractive: The company says they’re rain, snow, frost, and sleet-resistance, and come with a lifetime replacement warranty should they fail.
Each light produces a rated 15 lumens, so while it’s not as bright as some other models, it should be enough to see where your feet are landing. Assuming its rechargeable battery is full, it should provide up to 8 hours of battery life; the lights automatically turn on at dusk, and off at dawn. This kit includes six lights for around $40, which isn’t the cheapest, but isn’t the most expensive option, either. The Signature Garden lights are available in silver or black.
URPower’s 2-in-1 solar spotlight lets you shine some light on outdoor features you want highlighted at night. This model features four LEDs and two brightness settings, the higher of which outputs 200 lumens, which should be more than enough to spotlight the Christmas wreath you still haven’t taken down.
Inside each light is a 2200mAh battery, which will provide up to 10 hours of power in the low setting, and up to 6 hours on the high setting if the solar panel gets a good 4-5 hours of sunlight. (The light turns on automatically at dusk). The spotlight can be angled 90 degrees and the solar panel 180 degrees, and it can be mounted in the ground with the included spike, or on a wall or eave. Overall, the URPower is one of the best solar lights for the money.
If you’re looking for the best solar lights with high brightness, Litom’s solar landscape spotlights will impress with its 600 lumens and 12 LED arrays. The solar panels for these spotlights are built into the head of the light itself, which makes for a somewhat more compact unit. However, this design can be a little limiting when you need to adjust the light and the solar panel for the optimal position.
The Litom Solar Landscape spotlight is available in one of several varieties: Warm White (3000K), Cold White (6500K), and multicolored. The company also sells a version that lets you switch between cold and warm white. Each light has an 18,650 mAh rechargeable battery built in. This should provide up to 12 hours of illumination in low light mode and up to 6 hours in high light mode. The lights will also automatically turn on at dusk, and off at dawn. They can be mounted either in the ground using the included stakes, or on a wall with the included screws.
These lights from Aootek have motion sensors built in to turn on its array of 128 LEDs when it senses movement. The motion sensor can detect people or objects up to 26 feet away in a 120-degree arc, so it should catch most things that cross its path. The company recommends you install the lights at least 5.5 feet high.
These floodlights, which have an effective arc of 270 degrees, can be set to one of three modes: Security, where the motion sensor activates the light for 15 seconds; On, where the lights turn on at dusk; and Smart Brightness, where the lights turn on a low setting at dusk, and brighten when they detect movement. These lights have a 2200 mAh rechargeable battery, which should get you through the night, depending on the mode you choose.
The Ring Solar Pathlight is the best solar light for anyone who has other Ring products, such as the Ring Video Doorbell. . These lights provide downward-facing illumination for your walkway, have adjustable brightness settings, work with Alexa, and can send you notifications when they detect movement.
In our Ring Solar Pathlight review, we really liked their motion sensors, which we could set to turn on only when they detect a person’s presence, helping to preserve the Pathlights' battery life. Additionally, you can connect them with other Ring devices, so that if the Pathlights sense something, your Ring camera or video doorbell can start recording automatically.
However, at $35 a piece, the Solar Pathlights aren’t cheap, and you’ll also need the Ring Bridge ($50, sold separately) to connect them to your home Wi-Fi network.
The best solar lights are not just about making your yard look cool; they also serve a safety function, too. Ring’s Solar steplight helps brighten stairs leading up to your house or deck, making sure that you and your guests have a sure footing. These lights are small — just 4 x 3.4 inches — but provide 50 lumens of brightness for your steps.
Each Ring Solar Steplight has a motion sensor built in, which you can use for a variety of purposes: When they detect movement, they can turn on or brighten the lights, and, if they’re connected to Ring’s other products, can trigger other lights to activate, or security cameras or video doorbells to start recording. These lights are $30 apiece, but you’ll also need the Ring Bridge ($50, sold separately) to use them.
Want to make your patio look like an outdoor bistro or Italian cafe? Brightech’s solar-powered string lights should do the trick. This string of LED bulbs are designed to look like retro Edison-style lights, which will cast a warm, gentle glow on your deck in the evening. The bulbs are made of shatterproof plastic, and are designed to withstand winds up to 50 miles per hour, as well as rain, snow, and temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
The 12 Brightech Ambience Pro lights are connected on a 27-foot cord, with 20 inches between each light. (The company also sells a 48-foot version with 15 bulbs, with three feet between each). At the end is a solar panel, which can be clipped to a railing or some other platform, or staked into the ground. There’s no ambient light sensor, but the lights should last up to 6 hours on a full charge. The lights also come with a 3-year warranty.
The AMIR string lights are so Pinterest. Add these solar-powered string lights to your pergola, fence, or wall, and you’ve got the makings of a cozy outdoor evening set. Amir’s solar-powered string lights are 72 feet long, with 200 LEDS spaced 3.5 inches apart. The lights are held together by thin copper wire, which virtually disappears, so all you see are the twinkling lights. The copper wire can also be bent to conform to various shapes, too.
AMIR’s string lights can be set to eight modes, including fireflies flashing, waves, fading, chasing/flashing, fading slowly, twinkle/ flashing and steady on. You can also set them to turn automatically at dusk, and off at sunup. These lights are available in warm white, cool white, and blue, and also comes in shorter 33-foot/100 LED lengths.
This high-tech tiki torch alternative lets you avoid getting fuel and soot all over your hands, and instead gives you a faux flame you can stick in your yard for that Survivor tribal-council look. When turned on, the Aityvert Solar Flame Torch lights will provide a flickering 35-lumen glow, just like the real thing.
These lights are rated to last up to 12 hours, and can be set to different heights, from as low as 12.6 inches off the ground to as tall as 42.9 inches. However, some online customers mention that they’re not as tall as traditional tiki torches. The Aityvert Solar Flame Torch can also be set to turn on automatically when it gets dark outside, and they’ll also turn off automatically at dawn. You can purchase them individually, or in packs of two or four.
These small flat disks lie flush with the ground, and provide accent lighting for garden beds and walkways. Each Agoist Solar Ground Light (they come eight to a pack) has a small 600 mAh battery that can provide illumination for up to eight hours.
The solar ground lights have a nice, stainless steel cap on top, with a plastic spike on the underside. All you need to do is turn on the light and insert it into the ground, and it will do the rest. A built-in sensor will detect when it gets dark out, and automatically turn the light on; when it gets brighter, the light will turn itself off. With an IP65 rating, they should be pretty much impervious to rain, sleet, and wind, too. However, the company recommends replacing the battery after a year or two, as its capacity to hold a charge degrades over time.
How to choose the best solar lights for you
Before you pick your favorite solar lights, take a stroll around your property at night and consider which areas you want lighting up. Then, think about what solar light type would be most suitable. You might want to brighten up your driveway or the side doors, or perhaps the path itself. Think about how many lights you are going to need and how bright they will have to be to achieve what you want. If you’re not 100 percent sure, then adjustable power solar lights might be best. Take into account how much sunlight that area gets too. If it’s limited, you will need a separate solar panel which can be better placed.
If you want to improve the aesthetics of your deck or patio, then string lights or Edison bulbs are worth considering. These don’t provide intense lighting, but it’s enough for the background and adds a soft glow. However, if you’re buying solar lights so you can better see the steps, you need ones which are bright and fit for purpose — solar step lights are available for this very reason.
Ease of installation and battery life are important aspects to take into account, especially if you want the lights to last through the night. If battery life is your priority, you might want to consider a solar light with motion sensors — these will provide light only when you need it and ultimately save on power.
Don’t forget about what the solar lights will look like during the daytime as well. You don’t want them to look too cluttered or obtrusive. Some come with stainless steel casing to give a more premium appeal, while others have glass lampshades. Some can also be concealed easily as well, but make sure they’re not a tripping hazard.
Solar light types
Path Lights: Solar path lights are designed to light up a path. These more often look like stakes which are inserted in the ground and the solar panel can usually be found directly on top. Bear in mind, if you choose this design, your pathway will need ample sunlight in the day; otherwise, opt for path lights which come with a separate solar panel.
String Lights: String lights feature a long cable which connects multiple bulbs — these can be dainty such as fairy lights or full-size bulbs. String lights look best when draped around the desired area, which can be anywhere from the patio to the flowerbeds. They’re designed for aesthetic effect rather than practicality and so won’t shed vast amounts of light.
Flood Lights: These solar lights are bright and intense, flooding light on your chosen area. They are usually mounted high up on a wall for maximum coverage. They’re great if you want full visibility for added security.
Spot Lights: These produce a narrow beam which can be angled to light up a specific point. They are designed to highlight areas in the backyard and are a great option if you don’t want to fill it with lights. Like path lights, these are usually designed with stakes to hold them in the ground, but they appear much more prominent.
Wall Lights: As the name suggests, solar wall lights are installed on the external walls or fence of your property and provide light immediately around it. These are great for added guidance and security at night.
Step Lights: Solar step lights are a must-have if you struggle with steps around your property at night. These are installed alongside the wall and light up the steps better than a singular light source would.
Things to consider when you buy solar lights
It should go without saying, but be prepared for your solar lights to struggle in the winter months or if you live in a particularly cloudy climate. The more sun they get, the longer they will last — ideal if you live somewhere like Phoenix, but not so much if you live in Seattle. The same goes for if you plan to place them in a particularly shaded location; they may not give you the performance you’re hoping for.
Don’t be seduced by the online images before you buy. These can make the bulbs look brighter and bigger than they actually are so look over the specs for accurate information. Be sure to check how many bulbs you actually get and the length of any cable, if you need it to cover a specific area.
Think about what tone of lighting you want in the garden as well. Most solar lights use LED bulbs which project a white light. Some may find this too harsh, especially if it’s lighting where you plan to entertain guests! If you want a warm or soft tone, invest in solar lights with tinted covers.
If you’re about to throw away your current lights, before doing so check they really are broken. If you don’t have much sunny weather, they may be struggling to charge. Bring them indoors and leave them under your regular lights. This will actually charge them! Some also come with a USB charger which you can use.
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