Gardens may provide an Eden-esque sanctuary in the daytime, but come nightfall, they can be remarkably perilous, especially for seniors and differently-abled among us. All it takes is one small lump in the lawn for a nasty fall, or one missed step for a searingly painful shin scrape.
Of course, battery-powered garden lights can bring some much-needed illumination once the sun slips away, but then you’re dealing with duds, deads, and a whole bunch of general maintenance, which isn’t ideal. What’s more, batteries aren’t exactly green energy.
Thankfully, there’s a fantastic renewable energy alternative… solar garden lights!
They power themselves, they last for ages, they keep us safe, and they look fantastic while doing so! — Solar lights in a garden just make sense, which is why I’ve been testing as many as I can get my mitts on, and today I’m presenting to you the best of the best!
Best Solar Garden Lights: Reviews
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Nothing beats these Anordsem “fireworks” for splendiferous, twinkly goodness! Arriving as a pack of two, installation is as simple as staking them into the ground; all that’s left to do then is kick back, wait until nightfall, and watch those dandelion clock-esque string lights sparkle to life.
Each individual LED bead is mounted on a bendable copper wire so you can customize the look — Sticking out perfectly straight to create the firework burst effect, or my personal favorite, windswept and bedraggled.
I like the latter of these options as, during my tests, it gave them a more natural appeal, helping them to blend in with and beautify the natural landscape rather than sitting atop it.
They’re surprisingly bright as well! Combined, the little LED beads emit an impressive 120 lumens for 8–10 hours straight when fully charged.
And while we’re on the topic of charging, it takes 4–6 hours of good sunlight, so don’t bury them among your plant life.
You also get two light modes to play with here, always on, and twinkle, so you can fine-tune them to suit your mood!
- Copper wires — Bend the lights to completely alter the mood of the installation.
- 120 lumens — Bright enough to be considered practical as well as ambient lighting.
- Installations — Stake and run
- 2 lighting modes — Customize the output to suit your vibe.
- 120 lumens — As impressive as this is, those looking for a purely ambient glow might feel this is too bright.
Also available from eBay
Should you be looking for elegance and quality in equal measure to augment rather than detract from the beauty of your garden pathways, then these Blahvit stake lights might be just what the doctor ordered!
Arriving as a very fairly priced pack of eight, just stake them into the earth on either side of your path, and let them get to work sucking in some sun.
Come nightfall, not only do they illuminate your path, they throw out a gorgeous crystallized pattern, adding a decorative element to what are usually purely practical fixtures.
During my tests, I found their 5-lumen output sits right in the Goldilocks zone between blinding brightness and unhelpful dimness, ensuring you get where you’re going without taking a tumble or seeing green spots.
But the real star of the show here is the build quality. Crafted from stainless steel, with real glass panels in the lanterns, they look fantastic, and they’re sure to stand the test of time!
- 5 lumens — Not blinding, not dim, just right!
- Build quality — Stainless steel and real glass… the good stuff
- Easy installation — Another example of stake and go
- Capacity — 12 hours constant output in ideal conditions
- Illumination pattern — Some may find it a tad distracting for safety lighting.
Also available from eBay
Spotlights can transform a humdrum residential property into a rather glamorous affair, emphasizing key features such as fountains, trees, or statues, giving them an almost museum exhibit appeal, and these Vont solar spots are as good as they get!
Rated IPX7 water and heatproof, they can handle any weather conditions, and, featuring a classic stake base, installation is a total breeze.
Output-wise, you get 100 lumens a light, each with a spread of 120 degrees, meaning you can use them as focused spots, or, by adjusting the angle, as general flood lighting.
With dusk-to-dawn functionality, you can leave them to take care of themselves while you get on with your evening.
They also have two brightness levels, and during my tests, the dimmer setting gave me roughly 12 hours of constant light, while the bright mode halved that run time.
In an ideal world, they’d have an extra 50 lumens and perhaps a third brightness option, but all in all, I was overjoyed with their performance.
- Easy installation — Stake them in and you’re done.
- IPX7 — No weather is too much for these lights.
- Dusk-to-dawn — Removes the burden of manual operation
- Sleek design — A very smart aesthetic
- Style — The modern style might look a little shoe-horned into some gardens.
- Lumens — 100 isn’t bad, but 150 would be better.
Also available from Poshmark
For those looking for a more rustic, yet highly effective approach to solar garden lighting, these Brightech string bulbs are simple but stunning, the perfect way to illuminate (and celebrate) your outdoor social space.
I strung mine across my patio, and they instantly zhuzhed the place up, providing both practical and decorative lighting where I needed it most.
They stretch a total of 27 feet, and towards the end of the “string” is a single solar panel that powers all 12 bulbs.
I really loved this design when testing these lights out, as you can station the panel in direct sunlight, but string the lights elsewhere that perhaps doesn’t get quite as much sun.
They also stand strong in some pretty turbulent weather conditions, and the bulbs are shatterproof, which certainly instills some peace of mind. In terms of activation, they take care of things themselves, but there’s an off switch if you want to turn them off at night.
It’s just unfortunate that the off switch also shuts down the solar panel, so you have to manually switch them back on again each morning!
- Semi-discrete solar panel — Optimize solar yield without sacrificing flexibility of installation.
- Shatterproof bulbs — They’re as tough as they come!
- 12 bulbs in one — One set can beautify an entire patio or gazebo.
- Off switch — Deactivates charging until switched back on.
Also available from Anyden
Certain light fixtures can be a little imposing, especially in smaller spaces, but I found that these ground lights can bring the brightness without being too physically declarative.
Arriving in a pack of eight, you can dot them around your outdoor area however you see fit.
During my tests, I found that they were great as path lights, step lights, border lights, or general decorations.
They feature a stake for installation in soft ground, but each disk also comes with an adhesive for mounting on fence posts or concrete, which is a nice touch.
They have an 8–10-hour automatic run-time, a sleek aluminum and ABS build that can ABSolutely roll with the punches, and insane luminosity considering their modest size.
- Brightness — Both decorative and practical
- 8 in a pack — You don’t feel at all short-changed.
- Dual installation — Choose between a stake and adhesive tape.
- Aluminum & ABS construction — Built like tiny little tanks!
- Off switch — Much like my penultimate pick, the off switch disengages the solar panel, so you’ll have to flick it on manually come morning.
Also available from Sears
Although solar is by no means a new form of green energy, most of us don’t have all that much experience with the technology involved, making picking quality products a little tricky at times.
So, if you need it, I’ve composed this brief yet informative buyer’s guide you can dip into as and when necessary.
Below you’ll find the key factors to keep in mind when shopping around for solar garden lights.
First on the agenda is deciding how you want your outdoor solar lights to behave. Generally speaking, there are three options here:
- Motion Sensor — Does exactly what it says on the tin. When you’re within range, a sensor registers your presence and triggers the light. These are great if you’re worried about the persistent glare of “always-on” lights creeping through your windows at night when you’re trying to relax and catch some shut-eye.
That said, they don’t provide the same twinkly aesthetic as alternatives, as they’re only active when you are.
- Dusk-to-Dawn — As the name suggests, these solar garden lights will fire up come dusk and stay on until dawn. The beauty of these lights is that you don’t have to lift a finger to control them. You install them, and then simply walk away and wait for them to bring your garden to life when darkness falls.
The issue this time around is that, in gloomy weather, these lights may not draw enough solar energy to keep them lit throughout the night. Furthermore, the lack of user control could also be spun as a downside, as many wouldn’t want full dusk-to-dawn illumination.
- Timer-Controlled — Finally, we have timer-controlled solar lights that put all the power in the hands of the user. You decide when they turn on and off using integrated timers.
Purpose & Installation
Next you should be thinking about where you want your lights to go in your garden, then choose installation type accordingly. Fitting types are as follows:
- Screw Mount — If you’re looking for a solar light that can be mounted like a traditional light fixture, you’ll need to keep an eye out for screw mounts. Typically, these sorts of lights will arrive with all the screws you need along with a mounting plate.
These lights can be fitted on fences, posts, walls… you name it. Depending on the mount location, you may need a drill to get the job done, but that’s it.
- Adhesive Mount — Looking for an easy time of it? Why not spring for some solar garden lights with adhesive surfaces so you can literally just set them in place and walk away — no screws, no drills, no nothin’!
- Hanging Hook — If you’re looking for more of a lantern aesthetic, you may be fine with a simple metal or fabric loop that you can hook on a pole. These lights look fantastic, but it’s probably best to bring them inside when the weather gets a little turbulent.
- Stake — To light your way down a darkling path bordered by lawn or earth, solar lights atop a stake are the only way to go. You simply stake them into the ground, and that’s that!
- Tabletop — Perhaps you’re not fussed about mounts at all and you just want something to sit on a railing or tabletop. In that case, you can keep an eye out for the purely decorative.
Brightness is measured in lumens. To put it in perspective for you, 5 lumens spread across a lighting array is considered perfect for creating landscape ambiance, while more practical lighting, such as floods or spots will need to be much brighter — we’re talking 100 lm+!
Simply choose an appropriate brightness for the task you have in mind. No one wants blinding decorative lights giving them a headache when they’re sipping a nice glass of red wine in the garden. Likewise, nobody wants a path light that doesn’t quite light the way ahead.
Style & Material
Okay, so that’s the purely functional side of things covered; now it’s time to consider style.
There are numerous options when it comes to aesthetics, from Moroccan-style lamps that add some flair and spice to your yard, to traditional lanterns you’d expect to find lighting a Victorian London street.
There are also a number of materials to choose from, including plastic, metal, and sometimes even real glass.
Plastic is weather resistant, but obviously isn’t as brave in the face of impacts as metal.
Glass is also incredibly weather resistant but much more delicate than plastic. Solar lights with real glass also tend to be a little pricier, but boy do they look good!
Best Solar Garden Lights: Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but if you still have a few questions about outdoor solar lights, you just might find your answers here.
How Do Dusk-To-Dawn Solar Lights Work?
The solar side of dusk-to-dawn functionality works much the same as any other type of solar light — PV cells soak in energy from the sun, convert it into usable electricity, then feed it to a rechargeable battery for storage.
Where dusk-to-dawn lights differ is the inclusion of a special component called a photoresistor.
These nifty gizmos sense light levels, much like the automatic flash function on your camera or smartphone does.
When natural lighting dips below a certain threshold, the photoresistor triggers the battery, thus turning the light on.
When natural light increases come dawn, the photoresistor senses that the light’s duty is over and shuts the system down.
Do Solar Garden Lights Need Direct Sunlight?
All solar panels perform best when exposed to direct sunlight, and those found in solar garden lights are no exception; however, that’s not to say they’ll be useless if stationed in indirect sunlight or on a gloomy day.
It’s just that they won’t be able to store quite as much power, meaning they won’t be able to stay lit for as long as they could in ideal conditions.
The lumen output may also take a slight dip if a solar light doesn’t get enough sunlight.
How Much Direct Sunlight Is Best For Solar Lights?
If you’re really looking to optimize your solar lights’ performance, you should install them in spots that receive between 6 and 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.
If you’re mounting your solar garden lights, it might be worth installing them higher than you initially thought, as they will be a tad closer to the sun, and out of the way of obstacles and shadows.
Are Solar Garden Lights Worth It?
As long as you pick the right ones for the jobs you have in mind, solar garden lighting is well worth the price tag.
Even the pricier options aren’t too steep, and they’ll save you money on the energy bill and/or batteries over time.
They’re also highly automated units, so you just sit back and enjoy the ambiance or rest assured that your security lights are primed and ready to go — sounds good to me!
There are tons of solar garden lights to choose from these days, which is great, but it can slow down the acquisition process significantly, so do yourself a favor, and pick from my shortlist.
These are by far the most impressive garden solar lights on the market for transforming your yard into your own private, safe, and ambient Eden!