Skip to main content

How to best place solar lights

How to best place solar lights
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Choosing the best solar lights is one thing, but finding the best place for them in your backyard is a whole other task. This requires a combination of taste and practicality — you want the lights to look good, but they need to work as well. 

Your options can be restricted by several factors including function, aesthetics and the environment. We’ve pulled together a handy guide to help you decide where’s best to place your solar lights. 

How to best place solar lights: Environment

Ideally, the more sunlight the solar panels will receive, the better, but that’s not to say solar lights won’t work in partially shaded areas. 

Consider where sunlight is best in your garden and try charging up the panels there before permanently placing them. Look out for any trees or fences that are going to shade the panel for significant portions of the day. 

It’s also good to check that any leaves or vegetation won’t block the solar panels too. The lights won't be as bright if they can’t effectively charge. 

Keep the panels away from any other light sources, such as windows, so they won’t mistake the light for daylight and switch off at night.   

How to best place solar lights: Function vs aesthetics 

Placement also depends on the type of solar lights you choose. If your solar lights were bought with practicality in mind, such as lighting a pathway or shining a spotlight on the patio, you know the result you want to achieve and this can give you a rough indication of where to place them. 

If you want your solar lights to add some aesthetic value to the garden, then you’ve got much more freedom in your placement, which can make things more tricky.  

How to best place solar lights: Path lights 

How to best place solar lights: Path lights

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re placing stakes along a pathway, you need to achieve a balance where they’re not clustered together, but they give enough light to effectively illuminate the path. Too many of these types of solar light can look messy in the daytime. 

The best practice is to charge them up and test a couple in a small area before you plant them along the whole path. This can save you from making unnecessary holes in the grass! Make sure these can be easily seen as well so they don’t become a tripping hazard. 

If you have steps or uneven areas along your pathway, place lights close to those areas, so that you or your guests don't trip over any hazards.

How to best place solar lights: String lights 

How to best place solar lights: Solar string lights

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

With string lights, you should have an area in mind where you want to hang them, be it the trees, a flowerbed or around the patio. If you’re unsure, think about where you will spend the most time and where you plan to entertain guests. 

You should first consider how much cable you have and how far this will realistically stretch around your desired area. So many of us are guilty of running out of lights halfway through hanging them! It’s helpful if these are lit while you hang them so you can see the impression it’s giving as you go, unless the packaging advises otherwise. 

If you're running string lights over longer distances, it may be wise to connect them to a guide wire, so that the light cord itself isn't under as much strain — which could lead to it breaking.

If you’re hanging fairy lights, try to evenly spread them across the desired area and have someone standing at a distance to help guide you. 

How to best place solar lights: Wall lights and step lights 

How to best place solar lights: Solar step lights

(Image credit: Ring)

When installing wall lights, whether they’re designed to be placed highly to illuminate the whole garden or at height level, check you’re happy with the level of lighting and position before installing. 

For those placed higher up, the light will need to cover the desired area, but bear in mind that you will need to get up there again if you need to adjust it or change the bulb, so it needs to be accessible. 

Similar to wall lights, before you place step lights, charge them up and check that the level of light is sufficient at the height you plan to install. An inch or two in height can make all the difference and it’s important to illuminate the steps effectively. You also don’t want these to protrude too far and be a tripping hazard. 

Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Follow her on Twitter at @KatieMortram.