The Best Solar Christmas Lights of 2020: Our Honest and Unbiased Review
Mpowerd Luci Solar String Lights
2nd Best Choice
Binval Solar Fairy Christmas String Lights
3rd Best Choice
Lalapao Solar String Lights
Our obsession with Christmas lights started in 1895 when President Grover Cleveland decorated the White House Christmas tree with sparkling strings of bulbs.
We love them so much that we spend an average of 6.63 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year on Christmas light displays, which is an amount of electricity that many countries don’t spend for an entire year.
That’s a lot of electricity and a lot of carbon.
So, if you need a new set of Christmas lights, go solar this year.
Here's our verdict on the 20 most popular solar Christmas lights this year.
Our Top 20 Solar Christmas Lights
1. Mpowerd Luci Solar String Lights
These string lights fold easily into the compact expandable unit, so I can easily take them with me and use wherever I want — at home, at work, on a backpacking trip, and even at a beach party.
These lights are waterproof, so I don't have to worry about them getting wet.
Thanks to the USB ports, I can also recharge the lights in a pinch and even use the kit as a mini solar generator — to charge my phone on the go.
Get 40% OFF
Use Code: THANKFUL
2. Binval Solar Fairy Christmas String Lights
These LED solar lights are waterproof as well, so you can safely use them for both the Christmas tree and exterior decoration. One pack contains 200 lights, which is more than enough for the whole yard.
With a 72-foot cord, I found these lights easy to install and take down without any tools.
The solar unit comes with a light sensor, so the lights turn on at dusk and flick off during the day.
However, this light kit isn’t easy to carry around like some other options.
3. Lalapao Solar String Lights
The solar panel that comes with these lights is equipped with an extendable garden spike, that not only allows me to “plant” the panel firmly into the ground, but also orient it for maximum solar gains.
I discovered that the solar panel can charge the battery even on heavily overcast days, after which the lights work for almost 8 hours.
Unfortunately, since there’s no manual switch, these lights work only when it’s dark.
4. Mpow Solar String Lights
I bought these warm white fairy lights because of the bendable copper wires which allow me to wrap the lights around different objects, and even bend them in simpler shapes.
Another way to use these lights is to attach panels to any vertical structure with zip ties. This feature makes these holiday lights great for your pergola, veranda, or gate.
I noticed a funny thing with mine — they seem to turn off in below zero weather. Still, after I turn them off and on manually, everything seems fine.
5. Lemontec Solar String Lights
These quirky water-drop holiday lights are perfect for users who want a colorful light display this season.
I love the multicolor mode which you can pick instead of a warm white. These lights are bright enough for romantic ambient lighting.
On the downside, the string is only 20ft long and needs handling with care. Also, these solar Christmas lights only seem to work at a certain darkness level.
6. VMANOO M5 Solar String Lights
With 100 solar-powered lights, this affordable kit is ideal for illuminating your Christmas tree or entrance. Solar power makes these lights fully autonomous, so you can mount them in places where running a power cord would be inconvenient.
The manufacturer claims at least 8 hours of illumination, but the reality is much shorter. Even when fully charged, the lights last from dusk to about 1 AM. You might have longer working hours with a replacement battery. Also, I noticed that some LED bulbs shine brighter than others.
7. Semilits Solar String Lights
Unlike their buzzing counterparts, these LED honey bees rest in the daytime and get busy at night.
These solar holiday lights are best used outdoors, among flower beds, and even your greenhouse.
Keep in mind that these lights are far less durable than standard Christmas LEDs. Another disappointment was that I discovered that from afar there’s nothing special about them — they look like any other fairy lights.
8. Decox LED Solar Curtain Lights
These beautiful solar powered icicle lights come with a thin string, so you can wrap them easily around branches, vines, and fences.
These solar-powered Christmas lights are not super bright but will give you about 5 hours of illumination when fully charged. The first set of lights I bought stopped working after 2 weeks, and the manufacturer sent me a new one.
The whole set of lights feels flimsy out of the box, so it's a good thing they offer a 12-month warranty.
9. Ehome Starry Fairy String Light
With 100 fairy lights, this Christmas lighting kit glitters like real stars and creates a fairy-tale ambiance for any room. The bendable 33ft string allows you to get creative and flex the lights into different shapes.
These LED string lights give away a soft romantic glow, so they might just be the thing you need for those holiday Instagram shots.
Although advertised as energy-efficient, keep in mind that these lights are not solar powered. They don't need batteries but will consume more electricity than lights that run on solar energy.
10. SKYFIRE Solar Powered Honey Bee String Lights
Instead of pollen, these 30 busy bees harvest sunlight. You can use them indoors, but these solar bees feel at home outdoors as well, thanks to the IP65 waterproof rating.
Now, the manufacturer claims that after a full sunny day, the lights give you no less than 10 hours of illumination, but in my experience, 4-7 hours is more realistic.
The lights I tested worked for only 4 months, and I didn’t bother with the warranty. If you like honey bee lights, there are other more durable products around.
11. SKYFIRE Solar Powered Twinkle Fairy Lights
Instead of one, in this kit you get 10 light strings with a total of 200 miniature LED stars. If you need to illuminate a signpost or entwine a whole tree in warm white glitters, tick this one.
On the downside, these strand lights are incredibly easy to get entangled if you don't take care. Also, the solar panel that works as the power box seems to have a will of its own — there are times when lights refuse to work even after a full day of charging.
12. Joomer Solar Christmas Lights
This 72ft string comes with 200 LED lights, so even if a dozen of them burn out, you won’t know the difference. This is a very real scenario, as it’s the lower quality LED lights that keep the price down.
When I bought them, the on/off switch didn’t work so I had to open the panel case and solder a jumper wire to override it.
I guess most users won't bother with that. Luckily, Amazon offers 30-day money returns.
13. Inngree Solar Christmas String Lights
These snowflake lights allow you to bring some of the dazzling winter magic indoors. You can choose between winter white, warm white, and multicolor light option, and switch between “always-on” and automated modes.
Although the battery they came with was solid, it seems that the solar panel is the weakest link, as it takes at least 12 hours of direct sunlight for the LED snowflake lights to work for 4 hours.
14. JMEXSUSS 100 LED Solar String Lights
Since these Christmas lights are shaped like drops on a string, you’ll be able to use them for table decorations, small trees, and even inside mason jars and Halloween pumpkins.
However, although the manufacturer claims 8 hours of illumination, that is largely optimistic, even after exposing the panel to direct sunlight for an entire day.
These lights are tiny but also quite fragile. If the lights get entangled with the Christmas tree, make sure to untie them with care.
15. VMANOO Solar Powered Meteor Shower Rain Lights
If you’re looking for something to replace the boring lights that only blink or flicker, check out these falling star string lights.
You can put them inside, but they reveal their true charm outdoors, on quiet winter nights.
These warm white lights are easy and quick to install, but although listed with a waterproof rating, I had to caulk the top of the tube where the wires go with silicone to keep the rain out.
A bit disappointing for a product you should be able to put outside.
16. Windpnn Solar String Lights
These star string lights are for those looking for something completely different. These LED lights are weatherproof, so you can freely use them to decorate fences, shrubs, even tufts of grass.
My star lights fade quickly after a couple of hours, no matter how long I charge them. Maybe a more powerful rechargeable battery could solve the issue.
I also discovered that wires come out relatively easy, so you may want to fix that before using these light outdoors.
Or simply buy a more reliable product.
17. SOCO Solar Rope String Lights
Thanks to the flexible transparent tubing, this Christmas light kit should be more durable than its “exposed” counterparts in the same price range. No risk of snapping or entangling here.
Unfortunately, I wish these lights came with more durable electronics and better quality LED bulbs.
They still work after two Christmas seasons, but are so unreliable I had to ditch them for a product that works all the time.
I guess that the heat buildup is causing the problem.
18. Dephen Solar String Lights Moroccan Ball
These solar LED lights are shaped like mini disco balls, casting colorful patterns all around.
Although they come with a remote, I couldn’t test these lights for longer than two weeks before they went dead.
Maybe I was sold a dud, but I decided to go with a more durable option, as having solar lights that become junk themselves after one holiday season is not my idea of sustainability.
19. SOCO Solar Globe String Lights
Unbelievably romantic, these round crystal ball solar holiday lights seem ideal for any festive occasion. String them up for a romantic dinner or create a chillout nook in the backyard.
Those are nice ideas, but I have yet to see these lights hold out longer than one hour.
So either you hope that the romantic dinner doesn’t last for too long, or plug them into a DC inverter.
But what’s the point of having solar festive lights that don’t charge on solar energy?
20. Joomer Globe Solar String Lights
The main selling points for these round LED bulbs shaped as crystal balls are the multiple color options, and the memory function that remembers the lighting modes you used last time.
I wish there is more to say about these solar lights, except that their performance is exceptionally bad, even with the upgraded solar controller that is supposed to make the illumination last up to 10 hours.
On the first day of charging they gave off a dim light, and the next day they stopped working. By no means can I recommend this product.
Things To Consider When Buying Solar Christmas Lights
Many Christmas lighting options are made of plastic. If you’re looking for lights for one holiday season, that is fine, but if you need something that is going to last, look for a product that has solar panels protected with tempered glass. They are guaranteed to work longer, especially if you mount them outside.
Even the best solar Christmas lights have a service life, so you should look for a set that lets you replace individual bulbs easily. If you get a lighting kit that doesn't allow you that, you may have to look for a new one each season.
Most solar LED lights require eight hours of sunshine a day to work decently after dark. Others can charge and store enough solar energy even when it’s cloudy. Make sure you know how much sunshine your yard gets on an average day before you choose solar holiday lights.
If someone lives in a city with a lot of sun, and their property gets a lot of sunlight, solar lights may work. Those living in places such as Vancouver or up north may have difficulty getting the lights to actually light up.
David Hardisty, Sustainability Professor at the University of British Columbia
This is something you can check easily in your browser. Knowing the price allows you to eliminate products that don’t meet your price range. There are pricier and more affordable options, but when considering the cost, you need to include other things, such as warranty, type of battery, users’ reviews, etc.
A longer warranty not only indicates that you’re buying a quality product but also adds to the peace of mind that you are covered whatever happens. When comparing warranties, you should know that money back is one thing and a replacement warranty is the other.
An important consideration, especially if you’re planning to mount your Christmas lights outside. Light kits with IP65 protection should be able to handle dust, snow, and heavy rain. Still, make sure you read product reviews, as not all manufacturer ads are honest about waterproofing.
Make sure the Christmas lights you buy come with an installation manual. Look for products that are easy to install and avoid those that get entangled easily. Some of the lights have bendable copper strings that allow you to make different shapes.
A typical set consists of a portable photovoltaic panel (which also acts as a control box) and a string with LED lights attached.
Quality And Performance
Quality solar LED lights have low consumption and once charged last for at least 8 hours. Also, you want a product that is going to last for several holiday seasons at least. Otherwise, you'll have to deal with electronic waste every time you take them down.
Solar Panel Type
Apart from choosing a kit with a solar panel that is protected with tempered glass, you need to consider the type of panel as well. Between polycrystalline solar panels, monocrystalline solar panels, amorphous silicon, and concentrated PV cells, keep in mind that monocrystalline and concentrated PV have the best efficiency and longer service life.
Most solar-powered lights have a daylight sensor for automated turn on/off modes. Still, many of them lack the manual switch. Since these lights have several working modes, look for those that remember your last setting, so you don't have to set them every time.
Charging Time & Battery Life
Another thing to consider is how long it takes for the lights to charge on direct sunlight. In most cases, leaving the panel outside all day should be enough for any light string. However, reviews show that in real life not many products meet the manufacturer’s claims.
String Length & Number Of Lights
Having a long string is a good thing, but you also need to consider the number and arrangement of individual bulbs. Most string light kits come in a single string configuration, but some have multiple strings, allowing you to make a “cascade effect”.
While some lights only have automated on/off option, others have advanced settings like fade, chase, blink, or any combination of these. If you plan to mount the lights on a sport that is hard to reach, look for those with a remote.
What Are Solar Christmas Lights?
Solar Christmas lights are lights that look and work just like other decorative holiday lights, except they are much more environmentally friendly, as they run on solar power.
With solar bulbs, you’ll be able to save on your electric bill. Since they come with rechargeable batteries, they can work at night as well and be fully independent of the grid.
It’s an enormous reduction in electricity, the less electricity that is used the less the environmental impact.
University of Toronto professor Danny Harvey who studies energy efficiency and global warming.
They are ideal for users who like clean energy products and users who live off the grid. Another benefit is that they are easy to install — since they don’t need external power, you don't have to worry about sockets and extension cords.
Types Of Solar Christmas Lights
Strands Of Mini Lights
For many users, this is a go-to option because it works well inside and outside. The strings come in 30-72ft length and typically have 100 or 200 mini LED lights that can be set to blink or glow.
Solar Rope Lights
These strings have miniature lights that seem to be in-line with the string, so you can wind them tight into a ball. They produce a warm white glow which makes them ideal for “warming-up” your patio or front door.
Snowflake Solar Lights
Many people can't imagine a Christmas tree without snowflake details. These lights shave between 20-30 LED bulbs shaped like snowflakes that can be winter white or in multi-color variation.
These lights are ideal for users who want bigger bulbs that will make an impact. Shaped like crystal balls, these globes are typically sold in multicolor options and up to 8 different illumination modes.
If you need something that is going to last, look for a product that has solar panels protected with tempered glass.
Icicle lights are set in free-hanging plastic tubes and turn on and off in a programmed setting so they look like a romantic meteor shower. You can switch between several speed modes, depending on the mood you want to achieve.
Garden Stake Lights
Not all lights come on strings. Some of them consist of a single LED bulb and a stainless steel stake that goes into the ground. They are usually designed to shift through several colors and have bulbs shaped like angels, snowflakes, snowmen, or Santas.
These lights have bulbs designed to look like frozen drops of water. You can put them on the Christmas tree but they look much better in tree canopies. Although they are available in multicolor variants, these drop bulbs look much better in winter white.
How Do Solar Christmas Lights Work?
Solar Christmas lights don’t need wall sockets or extension cords because they only use solar power. A typical set consists of a portable photovoltaic panel (which also acts as a control box) and a string with LED lights attached.
First, you need to pick the place for the panel. Solar lights that are suitable for the outdoors usually have a garden spike, which you can plant somewhere in your yard. Otherwise, the spike comes in handy for fixing the panel to a tree or a fence post.
During the day, the panel collects energy from the sun and stores it in the battery that comes with it. At dusk, the daylight sensor automatically turns on the lights.
Instead of traditional incandescent lights, solar lighting kits come with LEDs, which are not only more energy-efficient but also last several times longer. This means the lights will stay on longer on the same amount of charging and won’t burn out as quickly as incandescent lights.
Benefits Of Solar Christmas Lights
Solar-powered Christmas light kits are an environmentally-friendly alternative to standard electric lights that take power from the grid. The only energy they need is the one that comes from the sun.
By reducing the amount of energy you draw from the grid, you’re in a way helping electric power companies burn less fossil fuels and reduce harmful carbon emissions that add to the greenhouse effect.
Cost Less To Run
Although solar light kits can be a bit more expensive than standard lights up-front, mainly because of the panel assembly, once you set them up they work totally for free.
Stats show that the consumption of electrical power in the U.S. increases by 6% during the Christmas holidays. Sun’s power is a free and renewable source of electrical energy that does not add to your utility bill.
We were really surprised to see this vibrant increase in activity during the holidays, particularly around areas in the suburbs with a lot of single-family homes, and a lot of yard space to put up lights.
Miguel Roman, Scientist from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Easy To Use
Since they don't need power strips or nearby outlets, you can use solar LED lights in your home or yard any way you want. You can twine them around trunks, braches, even mailboxes, or make a Christmas decoration in the most remote corner of your yard.
Once you position the panel so it gets the most sunshine during the day, arrange the lights in a matter you want and you’re good to go. The control box takes care of both charging and switching the lights on and off.
LED solar Christmas light kits are functional because you can use them for any festive occasion. Apart from decorating the Christmas tree, you can use them to make your garden retreat cozy and romantic.
Since they come in different shapes and themes, you can use them for parties, weddings, and anniversaries. On any given occasion, you’ll be able to lift the spirits of your guests by stringing a couple of solar fairy light sets.
Unlike many of their electric-powered counterparts, solar light kits are designed for outdoor use. This means they are made with tougher materials that allow them to resist elements and weather changes.
On paper, this should give them the advantage over standard light kits, but tests and reviews show that even some of products that are advertised as weatherproof still have poor performance or service life.
Since they don’t need external power, solar light kits are perfect for off-grid use, such as in mountain retreats, cabins, boats, and campsites.
Most solar LED lights require eight hours of sunshine a day to work decently after dark. Others can charge and store enough solar energy even when it’s cloudy.
Use them to bring the Christmas atmosphere to your off-grid place without fumbling what power generators or heavy batteries. Solar light kits create all the power they need by themselves.
These lights come in all shapes and designs. You can find snowflake lights, colorful stars, tube lights, globes, and even bees or flowers.
Apart from decorating your Christmas tree, you can use these lights to improve the aesthetics of your indoor space, outdoor room, pergola, or floral garden.
Disadvantages Of Solar Christmas Lights
Because of the compact solar panel, solar holiday light kits are a bit more expensive than regular electric lights. While you can always find $10 deals at Wal-Mart, if you want a quality product that is going to last for years, you’ll have to pay at least twice as much.
Even the best solar Christmas lights have a service life, so you should look for a set that lets you replace individual bulbs easily.
Solar light sets also need plenty of direct sunlight to charge. If you live in an apartment that faces west or northeast, your lights may not receive enough sunshine for proper charging. While most quality products will charge up on overcast days as well, the illumination won't last nearly as long.
Also, tests have proven that some of the more affordable products in these reviews don't shine as bright as regular electric lights in the same price range.
Yes, solar Christmas lights really work. They’re just like regular string lights except they use solar power. Their performance and duration depend on the quality of the solar panel and how long you charge them during the day.
Yes, they work in winter as well. They are designed to perform outside, and if they have a waterproof rating, there’s no way water can get in and freeze inside the panel. Higher-end products can also withstand heavy rain and snow.
It largely depends on the quality of the individual items. The rechargeable battery can last at least 3-4 years, and quality LEDs can last up to 6 seasons if you use them reasonably. If you use them all-year-round, they will last significantly less.
Some solar lights can charge without direct sunshine. In that case, however, their performance will be considerably worse. If you’re not sure our lights will get enough sunshine, check out the specification on the label or user manual.
Yes, you can use normal AA batteries in solar lights to test if the LEDs are working. The solar panel won’t be able to charge normal, non-rechargeable batteries, so you shouldn't try to use them.
Yes, for the best results you should turn solar lights off at night. When everyone is off to bed, there’s no reason to keep the lights on anymore. This way you can preserve the battery life as well as save some of the day’s charging for the next day.
I’m all about being festive, but you don’t need to be festive at, like, 3 a.m. Putting your lights on a timer can have a “huge benefit.”
Eleanor Stokes, Research Scientist at the University of Maryland
Yes, they charge on cloudy days as well. Although the direct sun rays are blocked by the clouds, the solar panel is still receiving charge. The clouds are dispersing the sunlight, so even the best solar lights take longer to fully charge.
In most cases, solar lights stop working because of charging problems. The faulty battery either does not receive enough charge or is not able to hold it. If the lights work with normal batteries, then either the rechargeable battery or the panel is the cause.
Yes, you can leave solar lights out in the rain. Some of the best solar Christmas lights are designed to be used outside, exposed to rain, snow, and dew. Of course, if the panel/control box is damaged, the water protection guaranteed by the manufacturer means little.
Solar lights should be placed where they will be plainly visible from the street and walkways. Still, they shouldn't get in the way. Since they need solar energy to work, you need to find a sunny spot for the panel unit.
Yes, you can charge solar lights without the sun. Instead of sunshine, you can use any type of artificial light, such as incandescent or LED lights. However, that beats the whole point of having a sustainable Christmas light kit.
Clean the panel regularly to allow it to produce the maximum amount of energy, which translates into longer hours of illumination. To make the most out of your solar light, let it fully charge every day and wipe the panel surface with a clean cloth every two weeks.
Quality rechargeable batteries in solar lights can last up to 3-4 years. You can extend the life of your battery by taking your light inside when you’re done using it, even if it can be used outdoors.
While most manufacturers claim that their lights can stay on for 8 hours and even 10 hours when fully charged, in reviews, many products fail to deliver those times. Their working hours depend on the amount of available solar energy but also on the lighting setting you choose.
First, check if the solar panel is getting enough sunshine during the day. Then, check if the solar panel is clean. If there is no visible damage to the solar panel, try replacing the battery with a more powerful one.
Our Recommended Solar Christmas Lights
With so many Christmas light products on the market, it’s hard to choose one model that beats them all. However if there can be only one best solar Christmas lights kit, it's definitely the Mpowerd Luci Solar String Lights.
This kit keeps the lights neatly stored inside the expandable unit until you need them. This makes it perfect for travelers and digital nomads like me who like to take the holiday atmosphere wherever they go.
Speaking of traveling, it's also compact and also has several USB ports for charging mobile devices. What more can you ask from a solar traveling companion for the holidays?
The Mpowerd Luci takes my vote for sure.
Get 40% OFF
Use Code: THANKFUL
Mpowerd Luci Solar String Lights
Our # 1 Solar Christmas Light
Nikola uses his background in electrical engineering to break down complex sustainability topics for GreenCitizen’s readers. He is a firm believer in environmental conservation, which he practices daily through recycling and home-grown food. He enjoys hiking, engaging in white-water sports, and collecting pocket knives.