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10 Best Solar Lights (2021): Reviews & Buying Guide

Nikola Gemeš

November 28, 2021
Best Solar Lights

I’m a big fan of low-maintenance gardens, sustainable landscaping, native plants, and gravel paths. Still, I don’t want my garden to blackout during the night.

To keep things eco-friendly, I went for solar landscape lights. 

These lights turned out to be a good investment — they don’t add up on my electricity bill and are pretty much maintenance-free. 

Now, I hope you’ll do the right thing and choose solar lights for your backyard as well. 

I’ll make your job easier by telling you all I know. 

So here are the best solar lights you should definitely consider in 2021. 

My Top 3 Picks for Best Solar Lights in 2021 

JSOT Solar Lights Outdoor

JSOT Solar Spot Lights Outdoor 

Overall Rating: 5/5

  • 700 Lumens Brightness
  • 8-10 Hours Runtime
  • IP65 Water Resistance
  • Li-Ion Battery
  • Dual Mounting
Biling Solar Lights Spotlights Outdoor

Biling Solar Landscape Lights

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

  • 700 Lumens Brightness
  • 8-15 Hours Runtime
  • IP67 Water Resistance
  • Dual Mounting
  • Two Lighting Modes
URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor

URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor

Overall Rating: 4/5

  • 200 Lumens Brightness
  • 6-10 Hours Runtime
  • IP64 Water Resistance
  • Li-Ion Battery
  • Dual Mounting

10 Best Solar Lights to Light Up Your Backyard 

1. JSOT Solar Spot Lights Outdoor — Best Overall

Brightness: 700 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP65 Rated)

A great option for those who need one product that fits all roles. 

Mount it above your garage as a security light at full brightness, or hide it in the undergrowth to softly illuminate the shrubs from below. 

Whatever role you have in mind, this 700 lumens solar light won’t let you down. The IP65 water resistance is enough for JSOT Solar Spot Lights to survive even a tropical downpour. 

These solar power lights offer an unrivaled level of adjustment: Both the lamp head and the solar panels can rotate 360 degrees in horizontal, and 90 degrees in the vertical plane.

You’ll have no trouble finding the perfect spot for these solar babies.  

JSOT Solar Lights Outdoor

Pros

  • High and low lighting mode
  • IP65 water-resistant
  • 700 lumens
  • Head and panel rotate 360 degrees
  • Low profile
  • Ground and wall mount option
  • Lithium-ion battery

Cons

  • Just one light color option

Why Do I Like It?

Thanks to 22 LED bulbs in 4 rows, this solar panel light can illuminate a large area. Perfect for big canopies.

2. Biling Solar Spotlights Outdoor — Runner Up

Brightness: 700 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  8-15 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP67 Rated)

Maybe it’s just me but these solar lights remind me of the robot Wall-E. And just like the cute trash cleanup robot, they hold more than meets the eye.

Twelve bright LED bulbs give you a total light intensity of 700 lumens which makes them one of the two most powerful solar lights on this list.

These outdoor spotlights come with both wall mount and the ground spike, so you can use them to illuminate your pool or patio area or accent a backyard fence from below. 

The Billing Solar Spotlights are made of durable ABS plastic and are IP67 water-resistant, which means they can survive a brief submersion

In other words, it can rain cats and dogs and these lights will still work.  

Unfortunately, the panel swivels together with the lamp head so it’s sometimes tricky to set the perfect angle for both the spotlight and sun exposure.  

Biling Solar Lights Spotlights Outdoor

Pros

  • High and low lighting mode
  • IP67 water-resistant
  • 700 lumens
  • Long runtime
  • Ground and wall mount option
  • Low profile

Cons

  • Solar panel moves with the lamp head
  • Non-lithium battery

Why Do I Like It?

Thanks to their low profile, these solar lamps simply vanish among the ground plants.  

3. URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor — Best Value

Brightness: 200 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP64 Rated)

You can use these solar lights to illuminate your facade, put an interesting feature in the spotlight, or simply shed more light on a dark corner of your backyard.

Thanks to their universal design, the URPOWER spotlights feel at home both on the wall and the ground. Screw them to your facade, pergola, or patio post, or simply stick them in the turf using the ground spike.

These solar landscape lights are highly adjustable — you can swivel the solar panel up to 180 degrees for maximum sun exposure and the lamp head up to 90 degrees.

This allows you to illuminate virtually any spot you want and still get the optimal charging. It makes no difference if you fix them high or low.

Choose between Cool White, Warm White, and festive Multicolor versions that cycle between four colors.
URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor

Pros

  • Adjustable panel and lamp head
  • Automated switch
  • Ground and wall mount option
  • IP64 water resistance
  • Heat-resistant

Cons

  • Multicolor version can’t be fixed on 1 color

Why Do I Like It?

I love the possibility of adjusting the angle of illumination. This allows me to shift the focal point of my backyard in seconds. Variety is the spice of life. 

4. CREATIVE DESIGN Solar Lights Outdoor — Best for Security

Brightness: 450 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  8-12 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP65 Rated)

Having one product that does it all is always good, but if you want the best, you need the right tool for the right job. 

When it comes to security lighting, these outdoor solar lights from Creative Design are hard to beat.  

These pole-mounted floodlights pack a whopping 36 LEDs each, providing a good illumination for your driveway, carport, or deck. 

You can choose between four working modes including the two modes with the motion sensor. 

Although these solar lamps are not meant as landscape lights, I use one to illuminate a post wooden post with climbing vines from above. 

CREATIVE DESIGN Solar Lights Outdoor

Pros

  • Easy to mount
  • IP65 water-resistant
  • Four working modes
  • Motion sensor

Cons

  • No ground spike
  • Fixed solar panel 

Why Do I Like It?

I love the option to run these lights on dim all the time, with the motion sensor kicking at full brightness in the time of need. 

5. Guardian Torch Solar Powered Waterproof Outdoor Floodlight — Budget Option

Brightness: 200 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  15 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP65 Rated)

The Guardian Torch Solar Floodlight is another solar lighting option made for the security role. 

Unlike the Creative Design, which looks pretty much inconspicuous, these solar flood lights have an unmistakable security look. Someone may even take them for IR security cameras.

This is good if you’re looking for a visible deterrent that doubles as a solar spotlight after dark.   

But, sincerely, let’s hope the looks discourage the intruder during the day because those 200 lumens are simply not enough for the night. I wish they would make a 700-lumen version. 

If it came with a ground stake, the Guardian Torch would be a great landscape accent light. 

Guardian Torch Security Solar Lights

Pros

  • Adjustable lamp head
  • Long runtime
  • IP65 water-resistant
  • Motion sensor

Cons

  • Wall-mounted only
  • Not bright enough for security 

Why Do I Like It?

This solar light’s motion detector covers an area of 120 degrees. Put it above your front door and your entrance is pretty much covered. I’d use two of them for extra illumination. 

6. Greluna Solar Wall Lights Outdoor — Best Decorative

Brightness: N/A |Charging Time: 6 Hours | Runtime:  8 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP45 Rated)

Intricate and outlandish but at the same time warm and inviting, the Greluna Solar Wall Lights can make your deck shimmer like lanterns on an old sail ship.

When it comes to decorating vertical surfaces, these solar lights are my personal favorite. The possibilities for mounting are endless: You can hang them on fence posts, bird feeds, deck railings, awnings, risers, even your front door.

With the holiday season just about to start, the Greluna Solar Lights are an ideal alternative for usual string lights. They have two modes — amber yellow and color-changing.

And since they are rust and corrosion-free, they’re ready for winter.

Ho ho ho!

Greluna Solar Lights Wall Lights Outdoor

Pros

  • Very decorative
  • 8 lights in the pack
  • Color-changing mode
  • IP45 water-resistant 

Cons

  • Not very bright

Why Do I Like It?

Since they are more of a decoration than a source of light, these solar lights have an amazing design at this price point. They blend easily into almost any American house style.

7. GIGALUMI 16 Pack Solar Path Lights Outdoor — Best Pathway Lights

Brightness: N/A |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes

If you live in a mid-century modern or contemporary-style home and feel like something’s missing on the outside, I’ll tell you what it is:

You need a pack of GIGALUMI Stainless Steel Solar Path Lights. Thanks to their sleek and upstyle look, these path lights lend themselves to many architectural styles but look best in modern, minimalistic gardens.

Use it to line the sidewalk or a back-garden path, decorate flower beds, or simply accent the entrance.

I use my pack of 16 lamps to line the walkway from the gate to the porch on one side and the remaining lights are scattered all around the garden — wherever there is something of interest, there’s a solar sentinel next to it.
GIGALUMI 16 Pack Solar Path Lights Outdoor

Pros

  • Stainless steel body
  • Very decorative
  • 16 lights in the pack
  • Waterproof 

Cons

  • Plastic ground spike breaks easily

Why Do I Like It?

These lights have very economical LED bulbs. Even after a rainy day, they regularly stay on until 7 AM.

8. Twinkle Star Solar Path Lights Solar Garden Lights — Best for Patios

Brightness: 50 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes

These versatile path solar lights come with a ground stick and screw base, so they can “grow” from both the ground and hard surfaces like wood or concrete.

The stainless steel stem and cap on these lights have a dark matte finish for a more conservative look.

Unlike the stainless steel GIGALUMI lights, these path lamps look good with traditional home styles as well.

They are also the more durable of the two.

However, versatility and ruggedness come at a price: You get 4 Twinkle Star solar lights for almost twice the price of 16 GIGALUMI pathway solar lights.

On the downside, the “50 lumens” are what all four lamps produce, not each one separately.
Twinkle Star Solar Lights Path Lights

Pros

  • Great for decks and patios
  • Very decorative
  • Water resistant

Cons

  • Expensive 

Why Do I Like It?

Twinkle Star solar lights are the only path lights in this list that have a screw-in base for fixing them to various surfaces. I plan to use them for the poolside.

9. BEAU JARDIN Solar Pathway Lights — Best for Period Homes

Brightness: 10 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime:  5-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP65 Rated)

Solar lights come in a variety of styles and shapes, and nowhere can you see a bigger variety than in the pathway lights category.

Consisting of a stainless steel body and an ABS plastic ground spike, these solar lights end with a diamond-like lampshade with a steel cap on the top. The cap houses a rechargeable AA battery, a 10-lumen LED, and has a solar panel at the top.

The crystal pattern of the shade creates an intricate star-like pattern on the ground, which is especially effective on gravel and other flat surfaces.

Like its cousins, the GIGALUMI and Twinkle Star, the BEAU JARDIN is also water-resistant. If you protect them from curious pets and physical variety, they can illuminate your pathway throughout the seasons.
BEAU JARDIN Solar Lights Pathway Lights

Pros

  • High-contrast LED
  • IP65 water resistant
  • Stainless steel body
  • 8 lights in the pack
  • Very decorative

Cons

  • NiMH battery
  • Low brightness

Why Do I Like It?

Thanks to the diamond-shaped shade, I can use multiple BEAU JARDIN lights to create unique patterns on my lawn.

10. Brightech Ambience Pro Outdoor String Lights — Best Solar String Lights

Brightness: 10 Lumens |Charging Time: 6 Hours | Runtime:  5-6 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes

Turn your gloomy veranda into an Italian seaside cafe and lift the spirits with these warm solar string lights. The Ambience Pro lights are bright enough to let you grill and ear, but not too bright to break the mood.

The LEDs are protected with a layer of silicon while each bulb is made of durable plastic. The manufacturer claims that these string lights can survive a 50 mph wind.

I can’t guarantee that, but I guarantee that this 12-light kit will easily last for several holiday seasons.

Sometimes you don’t get ideas until you hold the product in your hand. As I played with these string lights, I came to realize they can make awesome beach party decor.

You don’t need to plug them anywhere, and wherever there is sun, they’ll flicker for the better part of the night.
Brightech Ambience Pro Solar String Lights

Pros

  • Durable plastic bulbs
  • Variety of applications
  • Both decorative and functional
  • Weather-resistant 

Cons

  • Could use a better battery  

Why Do I Like It?

The solar panel is located on one end of the string, which lets me clip it in the best position for solar gains, while I arrange the rest of the string as needed.

Solar Lights Buyers’ Guide 

Types of Outdoor Solar Lights 

Solar Landscape Lights

These solar lights come in a spotlight configuration that allows you to highlight outdoor features like trees, fences, thickets, or ponds during the night. 

To achieve this, landscape solar lights use between 4 and 36 LEDs with an output of 200 to 700 lumens. 

For maximum performance and flexibility, landscape solar lights often have a lamp head and solar panel that you can separately adjust for the maximum solar gains and the best angle of illumination. 

Solar Path Lights

For most people, this is the idea of “outdoor solar lights”. Plant them among your hostas or hydrangeas, or use them to cast a soft glow on your walkways. 

Just like landscape spotlight, these low-intensity lights are able to withstand pretty much everything mother nature throws at them. 

They typically come 4 or 16 in a pack and each of them holds a rechargeable battery that provides at least 8 hours of runtime.

Solar Security Lights

This is what you should get if you’re more concerned about seeing who (or what) visits your garden at night. 

Security solar lights come with wall mounts and provide good illumination of the area below. Unlike landscape solar lights, these usually do not come with a ground spike. 

On the other hand, they do come with a motion detector. Apart from acting as a deterrent, this feature can even save your power, as the light comes up only when a trespasser triggers it.

Solar String Lights

These waterproof string lights are an ideal eco-friendly Christmas decoration. Often mimicking the vintage Edison bulbs, they can warm up the atmosphere at outdoor parties. 

Solar string lights end with a solar panel which you can clip to a railing or stick into the ground using a ground spike.  

Solar Step Lights

Apart from making your yard look enchanting and keeping intruders at bay, solar lights can help you not miss a step. 

These solar lights attach to risers or the sidewall, illuminating the steps leading to your house or deck. 

They are not the brightest of the bunch, but you don’t want them to blind you either. Anything from 10 to 50 lumens is more than enough for you and your guests to find a sure footing. 

Advantages of Using Solar Lights 

Eco-Friendly

Solar Lights use a renewable energy source that is unlimited. It doesn’t surprise that sustainable city projects already use them for street lighting. By using solar in your garden, you help cut the carbon footprint of the energy sector. 

Save Electricity

You may pay a bit more upfront, but solar lights and quickly pay themselves off. They use zero grid power and whatever you paid to cover for the solar panel should come around in a few months. 

Low Maintenance

These lights are watertight and dustproof, so the only maintenance these outdoor solar lights need on your part is to make sure the solar panel is clean and free of leaves, debris, or snow. 

Many Styles to Choose From

It makes no difference whether you need landscape spotlights or pathway lights, you can find solar lights in many styles and forms. 

Most of them are made of durable ABS plastic, but a few have stainless or powdered steel housings for an extra aesthetic appeal. 

If you want to make your solar lights a part of the decoration, choose a lantern style or pathway lights with decorative shades.

On the other hand, if you’re most interested in the illumination alone, your lights will remain hidden throughout the garden, so you can use any style you want. 

No Wiring

Not only can conventional power cables become a trip hazard, but they usually don’t fare well in wet conditions. Use solar lights and you won’t have to run underground cables either. 

Safe to Use

Since there are no cables and junction boxes, there’s no risk of anything catching fire. At the same time, solar lights are resistant to power outages, as for example caused by natural disasters. 

When the whole neighborhood blacks out, there is comfort in having no-cost lighting that will last to the morning. 

Things to Consider When Buying a Solar Light 

What are Lumens?

A lumen is a measure of the total amount of light that a light emits per unit of time. So, more lumens are always good if you need a landscape spotlight or a security light.

On the other hand, some solar lights might be too intense if you’re going for ambient or decorative lighting, anything more than 100 lumens might be too much. 

Battery Type and Capacity

You can find solar light with lithium-ion, NiMH, and NiCad rechargeable batteries. Lithium-ion batteries last longest and have more capacity, but it might be tricky to find a replacement.

On the other hand, NiMH and NiCad batteries are usually the standard AA types that go into your remote. 

More capacity is always good, but here’s the trick. More capacity means little if the light uses twice as many LEDs. 

The only way to tell if the battery + LED combo is working is the runtime you get at the end of the day, pardon the pun. 

Solar Lights Buying Guide
Charging Time vs. Runtime

Manufacturers usually give a range for charging hours and runtime hours, which depends on the locality and time of year, the amount of sunlight, etc. 

As your solar lights just sit there the whole day, soaking the sun, the charging time shouldn’t be a problem. 

You should, however, make sure that they get enough sunlight. In an ideal situation, there should be no shade at all.    

Keep in mind that you can have a longer runtime if you choose lights with different lighting modes. 

One or Several Lighting Modes?

The simplest solar lights will have one lighting mode only and this is usually OK with budget options. However, I advise you to look for solar lights with at least two modes — high and low brightness. 

For most outdoor uses, low brightness is all you need, and having an extra-strong bright mode comes in handy if you want to use your light as a security floodlight. 

Some solar lights even let you choose between auto-on all night, the motion-sensing bright, and motion-sensing dim.  

Which Solar Panel Is the Best?

There are three main solar panel types: 

  • Thin-film
  • Polycrystalline
  • Monocrystalline 

While this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, if you can’t choose between two solar lights, go with the one with a monocrystalline solar panel, as this technology is most efficient in converting sunlight to electricity. 

Can I Install It Myself?

Most of these solar lights are easy to install, especially those with a ground spike. If the soil in your backyard is compacted, don’t try to force the spike in. Use a planting tool to make a hole first and then wedge the spike inside. 

On the other hand, if you want to install the lights on a hard surface like a wall, post, or deck, you may need a cordless drill. 

Durability and Materials

Your solar lights will stay outside, exposed to the elements for months, maybe years. Stay clear from cheap plastic and give advantage to ABS and stainless steel. 

All solar lighting options on this list have some kind of water resistance standard, but if the housing cracks, there are no guarantees how long the lamp will work. 

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Solar Lights 

Place Them Right

These solar lights need at least 6 hours to fully charge, provided that you selected a sunny spot. While this can be tricky in a lush garden, make sure that the solar panel is not shaded at any time of day. 

This is the reason some lights have the panels separate from the lamp, while others have a panel that rotates and swivels separately for the best possible angle. 

Monocrystalline solar panels work even in partial shade, but your charging rate drops, so your lights may not list through the entire night. 

Keep Them Clean

As I already mentioned, the word “maintenance” has little to do with solar outdoor lights. This, however, doesn't mean you should forget about them. 

There is one simpler maintenance task that ensures your solar lights keep up the peak performance — keep them clean. 

Wipe the glass shade or front every now and then to keep the light intensity at the same level as when they were new. 

More importantly, keeping the solar panel free of dust, debris, and snow allows it to charge the battery more efficiently. 

Tips for Buying the Best Outdoor Solar Light for Your Home 

Here are a few final buying tips that help you start looking for the best outdoor solar lights. 

Decide How Much Light You Need

In other words — What do you need it for?

If you want to illuminate your backyard, deck, or pool area, you need a powerful solar light of at least 400 lumens. 

Keep in mind that solar lights usually aren’t as powerful as their non-solar counterparts, so you need to read the tech specs fearfully before purchasing. 

A solar light of 400 lumens is enough to brighten up 200 square feet of space. When I purchased mine, I took time to read previous buyers' reviews with photos, so I could see how bright they really are.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for safety lights for your stairs or decorative lanterns to make your veranda pop, you shouldn’t be concerned with lumens.

What Extra Features You Need

I myself like to keep things simple, but when it comes to solar lights I love to have a high and low brightness setting. 

While there’s definitely no one-type-fits-all product in this category, the extra features allow you to use your solar lights for different purposes.

With a motion detector onboard, your landscape light can become a security floodlight, while a regular white light can become a captivating Christmas decoration if you turn on the multi-color mode. 

Flexible Solar Panel

Since solar panels can’t work without the sun, you need to make sure the solar panel is always facing the star. This is sometimes easier said than done, so you want all the help you can get. 

Having a solar panel that is fully separate from the light base is always the best, but often not the most aesthetically pleasing. You need another place to fix it and there are always wires included. 

My idea of solar lights is to get rid of wires entirely, so I’d always go for solar light with a solar panel that adjusts separately. In that case, the lamp can face one direction and the panel the other.

Final Thoughts

After much thought and testing, I can say with assurance that the best solar lights in 2021 are the JSOT Solar Spot Lights Outdoor

Their low profile makes them a perfect landscape light while the high-brightness mode lets me use them as a security light in a punch. 

What really bought me, however, is the fully adjustable solar panel — wherever I’m pointing the beam, I can find an optimal angle for solar charging. 

This feature coupled with a 2,200 mAh Li-Ion battery easily leaves behind the Biling Solar Spotlights (non-adjustable panel) and URPOWER Solar Lights (far less bright) as the top contenders that still have to learn. 


One Comment on “10 Best Solar Lights (2021): Reviews & Buying Guide

    Thanks for sharing this article! Adding some solar power lights to my area will make my driveway safer to traverse at night. These lights will surely make my driving experience feel like a breeze!

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