Whether you go to one of those home improvement shops or even a random supermarket, chances are you will find outdoor solar lights pretty much anywhere. They feature small solar panels on the top and they come in all shapes and sizes. You just cannot miss them, especially as they are everywhere. You walk down a random street and you see the small lights around someone’s driveway or along the fence. What is the deal with these fairy lights?
There are three major aspects of solar lights. First, they look quite futuristic. They come with solar panels, which is still a relatively new technology for many. Second, they seem to be environmentally friendly. You do not need to plug them in, but just “plant” them somewhere and they will do all the work by themselves. Third, they look pretty cool lighting up your driveway or garden.
With all these, do not just rush into buying the first thing you find in a random shop, but do your homework and invest in a quality item that will last you for ages.
What Are the Best Solar Lights?
Here are the basics – you have the sun, a small solar panel, and some lights. The solar panel turns solar energy into electricity for the lights to run. They charge during the day and they light as soon as the sun goes down.
Solar garden lights are quite diversified and may come in all kinds of shapes. They might have a sharp end to fit into the ground, but you can also find hanging lights for trees, bushes, and windows. Obviously, their sizes are just as varied. Generally speaking, the solar panel size is directly proportional to the light size.
Top 5 Reasons to Get high power solar lights
- Most importantly, solar landscape lights are affordable. You do not connect them to a power source, but leave them in direct sunlight. They charge by themselves during the day.
- Given the lack of electricity, they are also environmentally friendly. If you truly care about nature, you should know that they will reduce your carbon footprint.
- Think about the safety too. No wires outside will clearly reduce the risks of a fire. Plus, they will even run during power outages.
- While this technology might seem futuristic to many, it does not hide too many secrets. Solar lights for yard are hassle-free – no electricity, no wires, no dangers, no limitations, and no stress.
- Last, but not least, they are versatile. They are diversified and can go pretty much anywhere. Your imagination is the limit.
Pros and Cons
Apart from representing a green option, best solar landscape lights give you some flexibility too. Bored with your landscape? Rearrange everything for a change and it will not affect the way they work. When compared to electric lights, you will benefit from a gentler light, as well as extra efficiency. Plus, they run on low voltage, which is way safer to work with. It does not come with the same hazards as AC lighting. Versatility is by far the most significant benefit of LED solar pathway lights. Choose the right design and you just cannot go wrong. Lights go with any kind of architectural requirement and application. You can use them to create a focal point in your garden or just to make the pathway more visible. Plus, some models allow directional lighting – focus on what is needed and hide what is not.
On a negative note, you will need to research your options, especially as the cheapest units can be flimsy and not last too long. If the sunlight is limited in your area, you might need a battery bank for night uses.
How to Choose the brightest solar lights
The size of the solar panel is probably the first thing to look for in high power solar lights. The larger it is, the more energy it can capture during the day. Therefore, the light duration and output is greater. The battery life is just as important. It usually goes for around 8 hours, which is more than enough for a night. Precharging is a common requirement in some cool solar lights. In other words, they must be left outside for a few days before being turned on. Some others do not need precharging. Consider the dusk till dawn sensor too. Some sophisticated lights come with such a sensor, so they turn on by themselves. Some others require a manual operation.
As for the installation, you should not need more than just a few screws – that is if you want to mount them on a structure.
15 Best Solar Lights Reviews
These high lumen solar lights from GardenBliss come in a set of 10. They are rated among the brightest solar lights on the market these days. They are larger than the average light in this price range, but also fit with longer lasting batteries.
When compared to the kitsch lights you can find in random supermarkets, this set brings in the sense of elegance and taste. Apart from the performance, you can count on simplistic designs that can match any décor. They have a double waterproof seal and can be easily installed – just push them into the ground.
While based on LED lights, this model is rated to last for ages. They are guaranteed to last for over 30,000 hours. Lighting for around 8 hours a night on average, they will work for over 10 years if properly taken care of.
Moonrays is known for providing some of the best solutions for outdoor lighting and this LED light set makes no exception either. The set comes with two identical pieces. You have 30 lumens and warm light. The actual build makes the difference, as the casing is metallic and features a bronze finish. As for the ribbed glass lens, this model provides a 360-degree display.
These solar driveway lights are automatic. They have a dusk till dawn sensor, so they go on and off without any effort from you. Not only are they more convenient, but they also gain in efficiency, as there is no chance to forget them on during the day.
Each light measures 18.5 inches from top to bottom. Installation is a piece of cake too – just push the stake into the ground. Lights must be charged for a full day before being used though.
This eight-pack from HGTV comes with 400mAh NI-MH rechargeable batteries and the capacity to run for around 8 hours when fully charged. Just like many other LED solar pathway lights, these ones can be installed by pushing them into the soft ground. The easy installation allows some versatility, as you can change the décor whenever you feel like.
The casing is made of durable stainless steel. It is powder coated in a warm nuance of black, which perfectly matches the warm light. Each light measures 18.4 inches in height and apart from the actual light, it includes a solar panel, a battery, and a fancy glass lens.
The tubes are hollow, so those who want to install these lights at a greater height can always drill them. It is not what they were designed for though.
If you are sick and tired of those classic high lumen solar lights with diamond-shaped heads, Cinoton has come up with an amazing set that will definitely make the difference. Each LED light flickers and gives the impression of a dancing flame. There are 96 lights in each unit providing warm light.
Apart from the realistic view, you also benefit from an automatic sensor that turns the lights off as soon as the sun is up. The sensor will preserve them and prevent energy waste, which is a common issue in classic lights.
The weatherproof profile will withstand all kinds of weather, while the 2200mAh battery will light for around 10 hours in the summertime and 5 hours in the wintertime when fully charged. It takes 8 hours to fully charge these lights though, but you should not have any problems, especially during the summertime.
At first glance, Voona’s brightest solar path lights look classic – not too many differences from the usual ones. Just wait until it gets dark then. The nicely shaped element will beautifully display the light on the floor in a stunning star pattern.
Unlike other lights, these ones come with a transparent plastic lens, which is more durable than glass. As for the casing, it is made of stainless steel for durability. The dusk till dawn sensor works perfectly and ensures maximum efficiency. Lights will illuminate for around 8 hours on a full charge.
The output counts 6 lumens and provides warm white light. As for the installation, just push them into the soft ground. The pack comes with eight different lights – ideal for driveways, pathways or focal points around your yard.
Gigalumi’s outdoor solar lights are likely to impress with their design. Forget about the classic diamond shape and get something new. This set brings in some pineapple shaped lenses, which generate a unique pattern on the ground. The lower skirt part under the lens adds to the dramatic effect.
The set includes six different lights. You can use it to draw some attention to a pathway or perhaps a focal point in your garden. Installation is fairly simple – no wires, no current. The dusk till dawn sensor is in place and will preserve the energy once the sun goes up.
The casing is made of stainless steel. It is not powder coated in any colors, so it will maintain its shiny appearance over time. There will be no scratches or paint peeling off. Each light measures 13.8 inches from top to bottom. It is worth mentioning that when fully charged, they will run for about 8 hours.
Looking for maximum brightness in the best solar yard lights? Search no more – this set from Plow & Hearth brings in four different lights. Unlike most lights that barely have a couple of LED lights, this one has six of them. The illumination is superior and can draw the attention to anything. Plus, you benefit from tier ripple glass lenses for even more light. How come? Easy – the 50-lumen output is about ten times higher than in average solar lights.
Given the extra light, solar panels are also larger. However, when fully charged, they run continuously for up to 10 hours. The die-cast aluminum construction can withstand all kinds of weather conditions. Also, the casing is powder coated.
Each light measures 23 inches in height. They come with an automatic on/off function.
Voona’s bollard powerful solar lightings are more suitable for modern landscapes. They feature an elegant style that will instantly draw some attention. Once they are on, they provide a cross pattern lighting effect. Just like most other lights, they go straight into the ground. They are made of sturdy plastic, so they are likely to pass the test of time.
With AA Ni-MH rechargeable batteries, they are known to be more efficient than other similar lights. If fully charged, they can light your garden for over 8 hours. They give off the warm white light and come with a 6 lumen output. Batteries are preassembled, so you can install them out of the box.
The automatic on/off setting adds to their efficiency. Compared to other lights in this segment, they are slightly shorter – just 15.83 inches.
Measuring 16.53 inches from top to bottom, the best solar lights for yard from Hosus feature a full 100% lifetime replacement guarantee. It tells a lot about how much the manufacturer trusts its quality standards. There are no wires or holders required, as they can be easily pushed into the ground. Obviously, they turn on and off automatically – no action required. They save battery life and come with their own AA NI-MH batteries, so no separate purchases needed.
The design is weather resistant. Forget about leaks and smoking circuits. Whether it is snowy or frosty, these lights will go on whenever the sun goes down. They are made of rugged ABS plastic, which will resist for ages.
The 6-lumen output guarantees for extra brightness. They only need 8 hours to fully charge for the whole night.
Made of stainless steel, LampLust’s best outdoor solar lights will successfully face the taste of time without losing their shiny appearance. They are elegant, but also classic for traditional landscapes. Apart from the steel, you also benefit from quality glass. The build is waterproof, yet not submersible. It can withstand all kinds of weather conditions. Each light measures 13 inches in height – slightly shorter than the competition.
The light is warm white and fueled by a 4-lumen output. There are six identical lights in the set, so they are suitable for patios, pathways, driveways or just a focal point in your garden. Each light comes with its own 1.2V AA NI-MH 600mAh solar rechargeable battery. The installation implies attaching the plastic sharp stakes into the metallic body, then pushing the light into the ground.
Lights turn on automatically at dusk and stay lit for 8 hours.
Looking for something stylish and elegant, but versatile enough to match any landscape? Consider it done! Oak Leaf’s outdoor solar lights are bollard shaped and add a touch of style to your pathway. Whether you have stones, wood planks or just a plain pathway, these lights will successfully compliment the décor. They are made of rustproof stainless steel and feature crystal plastic lenses. In other words, they can take any kind of weather, from sleet to snow.
The color temperature ranges between 3000K and 3500K, while the output is rated at 6 lumens. Lenses are dimpled, so the warm light is scattered all around the stick. Once on, it will go for about 8 hours. It must be fully charged though. Also, lights turn on and off by themselves – no worries, no stress.
There is literally no maintenance required. As for the installation, you will have to put a few parts together before inserting the spikes into the ground.
With a modern design based on stainless steel, these outdoor solar lights promise to last for ages. They feature an oversized solar panel on top, so they can capture more energy. They have their own NI-MH rechargeable batteries, which release the energy after dusk. The whole operation is automatic. You do not have to turn the lights on and off or worry about forgetting them on during the day.
The installation is fairly simple and involves four steps. The whole operation should take less than a minute. Once put together, push the lights into the ground and wait for the dusk. There are no wires or tools required.
Even if the weather conditions are not too friendly, the design is weather resistant. You do not have to take the lights inside during snow, sleet or frost. If they get some sunlight, they will still light up after dusk.
Measuring 16 inches in height, these outdoor solar lights from Enchanted Spaces can be visible anywhere, regardless of how tall the grass in your yard is. The set comes with six identical pieces – suitable for pathways, driveways or just random elements in your garden. The automatic sensor prevents energy waste by turning lights on and off according to the sun.
Each light features a 500mAh AA NI-MH rechargeable battery. They are made of stainless steel and come with real glass lenses. The glass is reinforced for durability. As for the light, you will love the star-shaped pattern on the ground.
If fully charged, the lights are likely to run for over 8 hours.
Looking for something to stand up in the crowd and make the difference in terms of outdoor lighting? Consider it done! Gigalumi’s best outdoor solar lights look like miniature window lampshades. The set comes in two pieces. They are not all about lighting, but also about decorating.
Installing these lights implies pushing the spikes into the soil. Make sure you turn on the switch under the cap. From that point on, they will go on and off according to the sun – no further action needed. They are made of sturdy plastic and provide a warm light due to the creamy design.
The weather has no effect over this set, as it can withstand rain, snow, sleet, and frost with no issues at all. No maintenance is required either.
TomCare’s solar torches will instantly draw some attention. These are not the average lights around a pathway or driveway, but some gorgeous dancing flames releasing warm light. The flickering design perfectly imitates a realistic flame. Plus, the warm yellow light can easily go with the black cover.
Made of sturdy plastic, the lights are likely to withstand any weather conditions. They are also equipped with high capacity lithium-ion rechargeable batteries – 2200mAh. If fully charged, they can go for over 10 hours in the summertime and 5 hours in the wintertime.
The on/off sensor ensures an automatic operation. If there is one drawback, that is the fact that you only get two pieces per set.
What Is the Brightest Solar Outdoor Light?
Different solar lights come with different levels of brightness. The best outdoor solar lights for someone may not be the best choice for someone else. They are measured in lumens. When looking for energy efficient lights, the brightness is one of the first things to look for. Obviously, more lumens imply extra brightness. If more light is your primary purpose, then simply choose the model providing the most lumens.
However, lots of people are used to measuring the light in watts. That was the fact decades ago – not anymore. To give you some hints about the main requirements for outdoor lighting, path lights require around 100 lumens, while landscape spotlights may need just a bit more. Those interested in larger lamp posts should get double the amount of lumens.
As a general rule of thumb, path lighting is said to be decorative lighting. In other words, these solar lights can indicate the pathway without actually lighting it up. Solar lights have come a really long way from this point of view. You can find them in all kinds of shapes, from diamonds and bollards to unique designs. Having 100 lumens equals about 20 watts, so the above-mentioned options are ideal for walkway lighting.
When it comes to landscape lighting, brightness may vary widely. If you want to put the accent on some signs or shrubs, you will most likely need more than 100 lumens – up to 300 lumens. Garden lights, on the other hand, require way less – 50 lumens is normally sufficient to add a dramatic dimension to your garden.
Can Solar Lights Stay Out in Winter?
The answer depends on a few factors. For instance, if you live in an area with a moderate climate or closer to the equator, chances are your solar lights will work year round. They will still get a good amount of sunlight during the day, so they will light overnight too. On the other hand, if you can barely see the sun in the wintertime, your lights may not be able to go for the whole night. Keep in mind that nights are also longer in the wintertime, so days are shorter. Therefore, your lights may not get enough energy to run the whole night. The good news is they will still go for about half the night, but they might stop in the early hours of the morning.
In terms of maintenance, make sure you invest in properly sealed solar lights if you truly want to keep them outdoors in the winter. You will get lots of moisture. Without weather resistant sealing, snow and rainwater will go inside. The moisture buildup will smoke the lights and cause them to stop working. Such lights require a bit of maintenance. Turn them off to preserve battery and store them in a safe place. Once the winter is over, turn them on and reinstall them. They will need a few days in the sunshine for proper light.
On the other hand, waterproof lights can be kept outside regardless of the weather conditions. It may snow or rain for the whole season – it makes no difference. They might be entirely covered in snow, as it will not affect their functionality. However, you might want to wipe snow and debris off the top. If the solar panel is covered, it cannot recharge your lights, so there will be no light at night.
Simply put, the answer to this question varies – yes and no, depending on the lights you have.
How Long Do Outdoor Solar Lights last?
Outdoor solar lights use rechargeable batteries. They must be exposed to sunlight throughout the day in order to work at night. Solar panels generate electricity, which is then stored inside the batteries. When the sun goes down, lights turn on using the stored energy. Batteries tend to last for at least a few years – it depends on the model. However, once they are done, you can purchase new batteries and keep your lights going. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of it, so they simply purchase new lights instead – a terrible idea.
As for the actual lights, they are based on LED lights. Such lights are rated to last for decades. A quality set of outdoor solar lights is likely to go for around 30 years. Just like you have probably guessed already, maintenance depends on the type of lights you purchase. If they are weatherproof, they do not require too much. Just wipe the solar panels clean every once in a while. If they are not waterproof, they should be turned off and stored inside during the wintertime. Otherwise, the moisture buildup will cause them to stop working.
In terms of daily charges, solar lights work best when placed in direct sunlight. The more sunlight they get, the easier it is to light the whole night. When fully charged, they will last for at least 4 hours. A quality set like the ones mentioned above will most likely go for over 8 hours, so it can run the whole night. To preserve battery, invest in a set with a dusk till dawn sensor. The lights will turn on when the sensor detects low levels of sunlight – usually around the evening, as the sun goes down.
How Many Lumens Should Solar Lights Have?
A lumen represents a unit of measurement for light. When interested in environmentally friendly solar lights, understanding the light output measurement is among your main priorities. Unsurprisingly, lots of people fail to do their homework and end up buying the wrong lights. More lumens underline more brightness. To make it simple, if you want lots of brightness, simply look for the solar lights with the most lumen output.
Lumens are often compared to watts, yet they measure different things. Wattage describes the power taken by the bulb. A few decades ago, people used to estimate the brightness based on how much power their bulbs needed. Lumens target the actual brightness. The power needed becomes irrelevant. Therefore, making this investment with lumens in mind is more accurate.
A higher wattage no longer represents a brighter light, like before. These days, you can get more light by using less energy thanks to modern lighting. LED lights require close to no power to run. For example, a 23 watt LED light will provide as much light as a classic 100-watt incandescent bulb.
Finding the best outdoor solar lights depends on what you hope to achieve, but also on where you want to install them. Some lights are ideal to light a pathway or a driveway. Some others are used for dramatic accents on certain shrubs or pieces in your garden. There are no rules in terms of home improvement, yet there are a few general considerations to keep in mind:
- Outdoor walkway lighting needs about 100 lumens.
- Landscape spotlighting needs about 120 lumens.
- Lamppost lighting needs about 150 lumens.
- Shed lighting needs about 250 lumens.
- Security floodlighting needs about 1000 lumens.
Do Solar Lights Work on Cloudy Days?
There is a myth saying that solar lights do not work on cloudy days. The short answer is pretty simple – solar lights will work in cloudy weather. Lots of people assume that without direct sunlight, their outdoor lights are less likely to recharge – nothing but a misconception. Solar lights operate on solar panels. Panels collect sunlight, which is then generated into power. Fully recharging your lights depends on the manufacturer’s quality standards, as well as the batteries. On the same note, the time the lights run depends on the same elements.
Cloudy days will, indeed, have an impact on these estimates. If the clouds would be able to turn a day into night, then solar lights would not work anymore. However, what they do is diffuse the sunlight. Solar panels will still get sufficient sunlight, yet you cannot compare a cloudy day to a sunny one. While different manufacturers come with different specifications, a cloudy day will most likely reduce the solar panel efficiency by about 50%. In the wintertime, when days are also shorter, the solar panel efficiency might drop down to 30%.
The good news is quality solar lights can usually store enough power to safely operate over a few cloudy days. Therefore, if you have a few cloudy days every once in a while, there is nothing to be worried about. Temperature does not affect their efficiency. Even if you have freezing temperatures, sunlight will not be affected, so your lights will safely operate. It is worth noting that solar panels collect solar energy even if they are turned off.
In conclusion, the clouds can and will affect the efficiency of your solar lights, but they will still work overnight.
And the Best Solar Lights Are…
In the end, deciding on the best outdoor solar lights is definitely tricky. At first glance, they all look alike, so the actual design appears to be the only relevant factor – wrong. Sure, the design must match your landscape, but functionality is just as important. You want maximum efficiency from your lights. If you live in a sunny climate year round, chances are you will not have to worry about cloudy days. Your lights will charge anyway and can work every night. But if you do not, then you need to look for good batteries and large solar panels. Such elements define the actual functionality overnight.
In terms of weather, you should double check the actual building quality of a light set. The cheapest units you can find in home improvement shops are likely to fail during the rainy season. A few days of rain will cause leaks. Moisture buildup will smoke your lights – nothing you can do then, but replace them. On the other hand, a quality set will be weather resistant. It should be waterproof, so it can be outside year round. It can face rain, snow, sleet, and frost with no issues at all. You have the sun up there, so your lights will operate during the night.
What works for some people will not necessarily work for everyone else. Assess your personal necessities and expectations before spending your money. Think about what you want to achieve. Are you just looking for some basic lights to define the walkway between shrubs and trees? Maybe your driveway? What about drawing some attention to a shrub or a small statue? Luckily, most lights also come in sets, so you should have enough for small applications.