Although numerous options are available, outdoor solar lights are among the best. Not only are they stylish and easy to maintain, but they can also save you money. Each weatherproof light is outfitted with a small solar panel. This enables it to recharge during the day and automatically turn on at night.
But outdoor solar lights are not a one size fits all solution to exterior lighting. You have a lot of different varieties to choose from. Our buyer’s guide breaks down solar-powered outdoor lighting in more detail. Here’s how to find the best outdoor solar lighting for your home.
Top Picks 5 Best Outdoor Solar Lights
Let’s jump right into the best outdoor solar lights. Although this home product is available in numerous styles and varieties, these are five of the very best options models available to suit a wide range of needs and preferences.
Here are five of the best outdoor solar lights on the market:
SolarGlow Solar Garden Lights
The SolarGlow Solar Garden Lights are a stylish set of six ambient, garden lights from one of the top outdoor lighting brands.
The fixtures are made from stainless steel for an attractive aesthetic as well as the durability to stand up to the elements.
The entirety of these garden lights is 100% waterproof, including the fixture, solar panel, and battery. They’ll stand up to rain as well as snow and cold temperatures.
The solar panel and batteries work together very well. You’ll experience up to 12 hours of lighting time, depending on the amount of sunlight each day, every night.
One of the most enticing aspects of this SolarGlow product is the 100% lifetime replacement guarantee.
What We Like:
- Stylish design
- Stainless steel construction
- 100% waterproof
What We Don’t Like:
- Sometimes need to be switched on/off to reset
Nekteck Solar Powered Garden Spotlight
The Nekteck Solar Powered Garden Spotlights is a set of two solar spotlights for outdoor use. Although designed with function over fashion, these outdoor lights are still relatively stylish and won’t put a damper on your outdoor nighttime aesthetics. They are completely waterproof with large, fully adjustable solar panels that you can move towards the sun for even more charging power.
The built-in lithium-ion batteries are capable of storing enough energy to power the spotlights for between 6 and 10 hours each night. Like almost all outdoor solar lighting, this Nekteck model is incredibly easy to install and doesn’t require the use of any unsightly wires.
What We Like:
- Bright 200 lumen lights
- Fully adjustable solar panel
- 6 to 10 hours of battery life
What We Don’t Like:
- Not ugly, but not the most stylish
Steady Doggie Solar Lantern
Despite the odd brand name, the Steady Doggie Solar Lantern is a stylish and efficient option. This model is packaged as a classic hanging lantern with a fake candle inside. The exterior looks like antique brass with glass panels while the interior has the candle feature (which even flickers).
The innovative solar panel is high performing and efficient enough to power the candle lantern throughout the course of an entire night. Note that this isn’t the brightest outdoor lighting option – it’s definitely one of those cases of fashion over function. An additional highlight of this solar lantern is that it can be used with AA batteries instead of solar panel for interior use.
What We Like:
- Very stylish
- Can also be used with AA batteries
- Durable design
What We Don’t Like:
- Not very bright
Gama Sonic Solar Victorian Lamp
It doesn’t get much better than the Gama Sonic Solar Victorian Lamp. This outdoor solar light has it all: oodles of style, a high-quality solar panel and battery, and a bright lightbulb. Not only that, but Gama Sonic is one of the most reputable names in the business. They’re well-known for their commitment to quality and durability as well as their excellent customer service.
This solar light is powered 100% by the sun. No electrical wiring is necessary, despite its large size and bright output. Another notable feature is the powder-coated black finish and beveled glass planes. This lamp is simply gorgeous. It looks like something straight out of Victorian England.
What We Like:
- Beautiful design
- Stable construction
- Efficient solar panel and battery
What We Don’t Like:
UrPower Solar Motion Sensor Lights
Not everyone wants an outdoor solar light for looks or function. Some people want an outdoor solar light for security. If security is your prime concern, then the UrPower Solar Motion Sensor Lights are for you. These lights are designed with home security in mind. The four pack of lights automatically turn on when motion is detected. Plus, the lights are very bright (and come in a four pack) to scare intruders away.
Both the lightbulbs themselves and the motion sensors in each fixture are powered completely by solar panels and lithium-ion batteries. These outdoor solar security lights are constructed to withstand all weather conditions, even heavy rain, and snow.
What We Like:
- Built-in motion detector
- Very bright bulbs
- Long-lasting battery life
What We Don’t Like:
- Only stay on for 10 seconds at a time
Outdoor Solar Lights 101
Outdoor solar lights might seem simple at first glance. But start poking around and you’ll see that they’re far from it. Although the basics of how they work are straightforward, there are dozens upon dozens of models available. Not only that, but these models are broken down into sub-categories. For instance, you have outdoor solar hanging lights, outdoor solar motion sensor lights, and outdoor solar string lights to name just a few options.
That’s where our buyer’s guide comes in handy. It breaks down the main types of outdoor solar lights as well as the other most important factors to keep an eye on. Here’s everything you need to know about buying outdoor solar lights.
Types of Outdoor Solar Lights
Outdoor solar lights are available in several varieties. Five of the most popular include:
These are ambient lights used to illuminate walkways, pathways, and gardens so you can see where you’re stepping while walking at night.
These are bright, motion-activated lights that automatically turn on when motion is detected to help keep your home and family safe.
These are bright lights you point at a specific landscape feature to illuminate it, such as a tree, shrub, or statue.
These stylish lights hang from light posts, trees, and other objects to provide a dash of stylish elegance in addition to nighttime illumination.
Go all out and install lamp posts with solar lights as a stylish option for nighttime aesthetics and residential safety.
This video from iLuvTrading breaks down the main types of solar outdoor lights in more detail.
Pros and Cons
Outdoor solar lighting has a lot of benefits. Chief among these is versatility. Because this type of lighting does not need to be located near a traditional electricity supply, they can be installed just about anywhere.
The other top advantages include:
- Affordable – No extra electrical charges are added to your energy bill.
- Environmentally-Friendly – This type of lighting helps you reduce your carbon footprint.
- Safe – Solar lights don’t rely on the electrical grid. This means they’ll continue working even after severe storms that may knock out power.
Despite their many benefits, outdoor solar lights do have some disadvantages. The main disadvantages include:
- Not Best in Winter – Although they do work in cloudy weather, the shorter hours of daylight in winter sometimes don’t allow solar lighting to fully charge.
Wonderopolis follows up these pros and cons with a few additional benefits.
These include the hassle-free easy installation and simple maintenance. Compared to traditional outdoor lighting, solar-powered models all but take care of themselves.
How Do Solar-Powered Lights Work?
Solar-powered lights are actually quite simple in function. According to Solar Power Authority, most outdoor solar lighting works by taking advantage of a three-step process. First, the photovoltaic solar cells catch the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity. These cells are the dark panels that you see on the top of most solar lights.
Once converted into electricity, the solar cells transfer the electricity into a battery. The battery continues capturing more energy until fully charged. The lighting fixture then senses when the sun starts to go down at night. When it’s adequately dark enough, the solar lights will then come on and utilize the electricity stored in the battery. Most models have large enough batteries to provide between 12 hours and 15 hours of lighting on a single day’s charge.
As the sun rises again the next day, the solar cells kick back into action, converting the energy from the sun into electricity to store in the batteries for use the next time. This video from Get Science and Technology shows you how solar lights work:
Outdoor Solar Lights Buying Guide
Don’t jump into the buying process without first doing your research. While shopping for the best outdoor solar lights, keep the following factors in mind throughout the research stages. Here are the most important factors to consider:
Style & Design
Style and design relate to the type of lighting (see above) and any additional style or aesthetic considerations.
Bulb Type & Brightness
Most outdoor solar lights use LED bulbs. But you still have a wide range of options in terms of lumens, which largely dictate the overall brightness. The type of bulb and brightness also directly affects lighting range.
Battery Type & Size
A quality battery is a key component to a functional solar light. The battery must be large enough and efficient enough to store converted energy from the sun as electricity for nighttime use. Most models now use lithium-ion batteries which are known for their efficiency as well as their long lifespans.
Solar Panel Size
Most solar lighting has the actual solar panel integrated into the fixture. A handful of models require a separate solar panel instead. Of course, you can also run normal outdoor lighting connected to a home solar energy system. Note that larger solar panels often provide more juice for batteries, although solar lights don’t require much electricity to run in the first place.
Look for solar lights with an on/off switch. An on/off switch lets you turn the lights off when you’re away from the house – or just don’t want them on at night. Another settings-related feature is an adjustable brightness switch.
Best Outdoor Solar Lights Brands
Outdoor solar lights are manufactured by a wide range of brands. Like any other industry, some brands are known to create much higher quality products than others. To take the guesswork out of the picture, here are the top outdoor solar lights brands:
SolarGlow is a blossoming outdoor solar lights brand. Although they have an extensive product line, the vast majority of their outdoor lighting is both solar powered and designed to illuminate pathways. The brand is notable for its commitment to quality at an affordable price.
Nekteck doesn’t focus solely on lighting – they also produce a wide range of high-tech electronic equipment. From their solar lighting to car jump starters to mobile phone accessories, all of this brand’s products are created with durability and performance in mind. Better yet, they provide excellent customer service if you have any questions about your outdoor solar lights.
Gama Sonic is another company dedicated solely to solar lighting. And this dedication shines through in their vast product line. Options range from solar accent lights to solar lamp posts to solar security lights – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In addition, Gama Sonic is widely known for its overall reputability as a company – with thousands of products installed around the world.
Kichler Lighting is another big name in the world of indoor and outdoor lighting. Established in 1938, the company has maintained a “family” feel despite its incredible success and growth into one of the world’s leaders in residential lighting. In addition to outdoor solar lights, they sell interior lighting, ceiling lighting, step lighting, and much more.
Brightech LED strives to make lighting as simple as possible. They know that traditional lighting solutions are intimidating to many consumers. And, so it’s their goal to minimize the confusion by offering easy-to-install, easy-to-maintain outdoor lighting solutions, many of which utilize solar power. In addition to ease of use, Brightech LED is known for its stylish, innovative lighting that brings a modern take to an age-old product.
Here are the answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about outdoor solar lights:
Q: How do I maintain my outdoor solar lighting?
A: Clean your outdoor solar lights on a regular basis. Make sure that the solar panels stay free of dust and dirt so they continue to work properly.
Q: How long do outdoor solar lights stay on at night?
A: The operating time of a solar light varies depending on model and time of year. However, the majority of models will stay on for at least 12 hours and up to 15 hours on a single day’s charge.
Q: Will outdoor solar lights work in cloudy weather?
A: Outdoor solar lights aren’t as efficient in winter. But this isn’t due to cloudy weather. Instead, it’s because of the shorter days that limit charging time. These lights work well in summer, even on rainy and cloudy days, since there is still enough sunlight to allow ample charging time.
Q: How to charge my outdoor solar lights without the sun?
A: There is no efficient way to charge outdoor solar lights without the sun. Although you could charge them with artificial sunlight this is more hassle than it’s worth. Luckily, most models charge well even in cloudy weather.
Q: How long will my outdoor solar lights last?
A: The actual lighting fixtures (including the solar panels) can last for a decade or more with proper care. The batteries typically last around three years with daily use. Replacement batteries are available for most brand models.
Our Overall Winner
The right solar light model for you depends on your exterior lighting needs, style preferences, and budget. That said, the SolarGlow Solar Garden Lights stick out from the competition thanks to their overall versatility.
Not only do they have multiple uses, but they are also bright, durable, 100% waterproof, 100% solar-powered, and require minimal installation. They’re very affordable to boot. Even though these SolarGlow lights are our top recommendation, any of the five options above can light up your outdoor space. What feature of solar lighting is most important to you? Leave a comment and let us know.