Being a homeowner, you might be looking for garden or landscape lights. Let’s make a sustainable choice — get solar lights. This guide tells you everything!
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.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Brightness: 700 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime: 8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP65 Rated)
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.
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.
Brightness: 700 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime: 8-15 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP67 Rated)
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.
Why Do I Like It?
Thanks to their low profile, these solar lamps simply vanish among the ground plants.
Brightness: 200 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime: 8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP64 Rated)
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.
Brightness: 450 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime: 8-12 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP65 Rated)
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.
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.
Brightness: N/A |Charging Time: 6 Hours | Runtime: 8 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP45 Rated)
Ho ho ho!
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.
Brightness: N/A |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime: 8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes
Why Do I Like It?
These lights have very economical LED bulbs. Even after a rainy day, they regularly stay on until 7 AM.
Brightness: 50 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime: 8-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes
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.
Brightness: 10 Lumens |Charging Time: 6-8 Hours | Runtime: 5-10 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes (IP65 Rated)
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.
Brightness: 10 Lumens |Charging Time: 6 Hours | Runtime: 5-6 Hours | Water Resistance: Yes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are three main solar panel types:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are a few final buying tips that help you start looking for the best outdoor solar lights.
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.
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.
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.
After much thought and testing, I can say with assurance that the best solar lights 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.