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Published Sep 18, 2023 12:40 PM
Transform your backyard or patio into an extra livable space with solar-powered lights. Forget about trailing extension cords or the additional cost of lighting up your yard by opting for eco-friendly solar-generated lights. These innovative lighting solutions reduce energy use and offer the added convenience of effortless wireless illumination for your outdoor spaces. Whether you’re looking to create a cozy oasis or simply enhance the safety and ambience of your pathways, choosing the right solar garden lights can make all the difference. There’s an array of options flooding the market, however, so this guide is here to help you stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and designs to make the best choice for your home. From dazzling string lights that create a magical atmosphere to motion-sensor security lights that keep your property safe, we’ve done the research to help you make informed choices about the best solar garden lights.
How we chose the best solar garden lights
Our recommendations for solar garden lights are based on extensive research. We surveyed peer recommendations, critical reviews, and user impressions to create a list of contenders and then put them through their paces. We drew on our experience with everything from solar landscape lights to solar deck lamps. We considered a wide variety of solar garden lights suitable for various purposes, different outdoor spaces, and user needs to develop a comprehensive list of the best solar garden lights.
The best solar garden lights: Reviews & Recommendations
The sun is a powerful energy source, one we recommend harnessing for everything from the best solar generators to the best solar panels. Using the power of the sun to light up your garden can help illuminate and beautify your landscape while using renewable energy. Whether you are looking for floodlights, path lights, or motion sensors, we’ve rounded up a list of recommendations.
Best overall: URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor
- Charging Time: 4-5 hours
- Operating Time: 8-10 hours
- Number of Lights in Set: 2
- Bright light
- Quick charging
The URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor are our top choice as they offer bright beautiful light on specific areas of your house or yard, which are both useful as a security feature and as outdoor ambience. You can easily adjust them to direct the light 90 degrees to where you need it most, and with a bright 200 lumens of light, they provide excellent illumination.
They are very hard-wearing and durable even in cold weather and rain. Take your pick when it comes to installation; you can either attach them to the wall or use the stakes to put them in the ground, depending on your space and design aesthetics. Both types of hardware options are included in the pack. They automatically turn on and off at dusk and dawn, offering peace of mind and ease of use. Choose from either cool or warm white tones and two different lighting modes to create your ideal effect. The design is rather plain, especially compared to other prettier options on the market, but for a reliable lighting source, the URPOWER Solar Lights are a top-rated choice.
Best motion-sensor: Aloftsun Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights
- Charging Time: 1-2 days first use, then up to 8 hours on overcast days
- Operating Time: 6-12 hours depending on use
- Number of Lights in Set: 2
- Great range on motion sensor
- Easy installation
- Good light coverage
Motion-sensor solar garden lights provide a cost-effective, eco-friendly, and convenient lighting solution for outdoor spaces while improving security and curb appeal. They offer several benefits over regular outdoor lighting. They only activate when motion is detected, which helps conserve battery life, and this limited use extends the life of the LED bulbs and batteries, reducing maintenance and replacement costs. They can also deter potential intruders by illuminating areas when motion is detected, enhancing your property’s security (making them a great pairing with outdoor security cameras).
The Aloftsun Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights have three different light modes, allowing you to customize their use to your needs with either wall mounting or stake installation available. The 120-degree detection angle and a 33-foot sensing range offer peace of mind for various triggers, including visitors, animals, or cars. They give off a bright light in a cool tone and are incredibly durable and able to withstand even extreme weather conditions.
Best string lights: Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights
- Charging Time: 6 hours
- Operating Time: 5-6 hours
- Number of Lights in Set: Comes in 27- or 48-foot options
- Ambient pretty lights
- Create a romantic atmosphere
- Safe shatterproof plastic bulbs
- Can’t connect more than one together
The Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights offer pretty ambient lighting, perfect for outdoor parties or get-togethers. The Edison bulb-style lights offer a romantic look but could be brighter. They are best used for atmospheric lighting, but if used in conjunction with other lights, you could create a brighter outdoor space with accent and task lighting options, which may be more suitable for reading outdoors or even dining.
It’s disappointing that you can’t connect different cables together for larger spaces, but these string lights look great on a balcony or smaller patio. They offered the least operating time of any lights we reviewed.
Best path lights: Hampton Bay Solar Powered Black Led Outdoor Integrated 3000k Warm White Landscape Path Light
- Charging Time: 10-12 hours
- Operating Time: 8 hours
- Number of Lights in Set: 10
- Good value
- Bright light
- Attractive design
These solar-powered path lights from Hampton Bay allow you to easily illuminate walkways, driveways, and paths, enhancing safety by preventing trips and falls in the dark. With no wires or plugs to contend with you can simply walk the route placing your lights where you like for optimum safety. They also help create a charming and inviting atmosphere in your garden or outdoor space, leading the way to doorways, seating areas, or the driveway.
The 10-pack size offers good value and allows you to plot longer sections to illuminate. However, it also means that if you need just one or two extra lights you have to buy an entire set. These lights are very bright, and the bulb has an attractive cracked glass effect that makes them look more expensive than they are. Dusk-to-dawn operation creates a hassle-free option for your garden or outdoor pathways.
Best budget: Better Homes & Gardens Ellis Solar-Powered Path Lights
- Charging Time: Not listed
- Operating Time: 8 hours
- Number of Lights in Set: 2
- Easy to assemble
- Long stake for maximum coverage
- Not as bright as competitors
At under $30, these Better Homes & Gardens Ellis solar lights offer great value for money. They come as one unit perfect for smaller yards, patios, or for specific areas you want to highlight, like close to your front door, a particular bush or flowerbed, or to light the way to your car. An attractive lantern style with some weight to it, they look just as good in a uniform row as one-off lights. They give off 20 lumens of warm white light, and the auto shut-off helps to conserve energy. The long stake means you get good coverage, and the light produces a sunburst pattern. This is a pretty simple design featuring only an on/off switch but as a budget model, it does the job very nicely.
Things to consider when choosing solar garden lights
When choosing your solar garden lights, keep the following factors in mind:
Determine the primary purpose of your lights, whether that’s security, accent, pathway, or decorative, or a mix of different needs.
Check the lumens rating to ensure the lights provide the desired brightness level for their intended use.
Look for lights with larger battery capacities for longer runtimes, especially during cloudy days.
Check for an IP rating to ensure the lights are weatherproof and withstand rain, snow, and extreme temperatures for four-season use.
You may wish to choose lights that also complement your outdoor decor and landscaping style.
If you plan to add more lights in the future, consider whether the brand offers expandable options that can be easily integrated into your current setup.
Q: How do solar garden lights work?
Solar garden lights have photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight into electricity. This energy is stored in the batteries, which power the LED bulbs when it’s dark.
Q: Do solar garden lights need direct sunlight to charge?
While direct sunlight is optimal, most solar lights can charge in indirect sunlight or on cloudy days, albeit at a slower rate.
Q: Can I replace the batteries in solar garden lights?
Many solar lights have replaceable batteries. It’s a cost-effective way to extend the life of your lights. Check the details of the manufacturer when you purchase your lights.
Q: How do I clean and maintain solar garden lights?
Wipe clean the solar panel regularly to ensure optimal charging. Replace batteries when needed and check for loose connections or damaged parts from time to time.
Final thoughts on the best solar garden lights
Our top choice for the best overall solar garden lights is the URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor. It scored well for its very bright light, easy installation, durability, and adjustability for optimum performance. But we hope we’ve offered enough options that your face lit up when you found the right lights for your home and budget.
Why trust us
Popular Science started writing about technology more than 150 years ago. There was no such thing as “gadget writing” when we published our first issue in 1872, but if there was, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have been all over it. Here in the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly intimidating array of devices on the market right now.
Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We each have our own obsessive specialties—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and beyond—but when we’re reviewing devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trustworthy voices and opinions to help guide people to the very best recommendations. We know we don’t know everything, but we’re excited to live through the analysis paralysis that internet shopping can spur so readers don’t have to.