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Best Outdoor Solar Lights

Updated October 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 7 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 123 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best outdoor solar lights

    Last Updated October 2018

    You put the hard work into making your yard a pleasant place to spend time, so why should you only be able to use it during daylight hours? The right outdoor solar lights can turn your garden into a magical space that’s perfect for entertaining or relaxing after dark. Deciding you want some solar lights for your yard is the easy part. The tricky part is finding the right ones. You'll find a wide variety of outdoor solar lights for sale, but then you have to think about such factors as weather resistance and battery life.

    We at BestReviews are here to help you find the best outdoor solar lights for your yard. In order to pick out the best products, we go through a process of lab testing, consulting experts, and assessing customer opinions. With this information, we craft in-depth buying guides to aid you in making important purchases.

    If you would like more information about outdoor solar lights, our shopping guide will illuminate your way to finding the perfect lights for your needs.

    One of the major benefits of outdoor solar lights is that they're very easy to install. Just stick them in the ground or screw them in place and they're ready to go.

    Types of outdoor solar lights

    First things first: to decide which type of outdoor solar lights are right for your yard, think about what you want the lights to do and then choose accordingly.

    Solar pathway lights

    • Small lights on stakes that stick in the ground.

    • Illuminate edges of paths or driveways for visibility after dark.

    • Illuminate flower beds or other attractive plants.

    • Low light; may need many lights, depending on desired level of illumination.
       

    Price:

    • Most solar pathway lights are sold in packs of 4 to 16. Basic models cost about $1 to $2 per light.

    • High-end options can cost more than $10 per light.

    Most outdoors solar lights use long-lasting LED bulbs, which don't require much power. An LED bulb should last approximately 25,000 to 50,000 hours. That’s between 8.5 and 17 years if it runs for an average of eight hours a day.

    Solar motion-sensor lights

    • Usually mounted on wall.

    • Only come on when they detect movement; switch off after short while.

    • Mostly used as security lights.

    • Not practical for illuminating outdoor space for socializing.
       

    Price:

    • Most solar motion-sensor lights cost about $10 to $15 per light.

    • You may find cheaper options sold in multipacks.

    Solar spotlights

    • Used to light areas for nighttime entertaining, relaxation, or family fun.

    • Used for landscape lighting to uplight or downlight attractive features; hiding the fixtures can be tricky – the solar panels need to get enough sunlight.
       

    Price:

    • Most solar spotlights cost between $7 and $20 per light.

    You may need a masonry drill to install wall-mounted outdoor solar lighting.

    Solar post mount lights

    • Designed to sit on top of existing posts.

    • May not fit non-standard-size posts.
       

    Price:

    • Most solar post mount lights come in multipacks and cost between $5 and $15 per light.

    • More decorative options may cost $50 per light.

    Solar fairy lights

    • Perfect for adding ambience to outdoor space.

    • Not extremely bright; another light source necessary for entertaining or recreational use.
       

    Price:

    • Solar fairy lights vary widely in price, depending on the number of lights, size, and design. Basic solar fairy lights cost about $10 per string.

    • More decorative solar fairy lights cost between $30 and $50 per string.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Most outdoor solar lights have daylight sensors. They turn on when the sun goes down.

    Outdoor solar light features to consider

    Brightness

    While solar lighting has many benefits, one of the drawbacks is that it's not as bright as regular electric lighting. Some solar lights are brighter than others, though, so check the manufacturer's specifications to get the full picture.

    The brightness of solar lights is measured in lumens. The output of a bright solar light is about 200 to 400 lumens, while a small pathway light may only emit 10 to 15 lumens.

    If you're looking to light up an area of your yard so that you can sit outside or entertain at night, we recommend outdoor solar lights that emit at least 200 lumens. Dimmer solar lighting is fine for illuminating pathways or accenting garden features.

    Place your solar lights near a reflective surface, such as water or a mirror, to increase the amount of light the solar panels absorb by up to 75%.

    Battery life

    The battery life of solar outdoor lighting determines the number of hours the lights can stay illuminated following a full day of sunlight. Most outdoor solar lights claim to have a battery life of between eight and 12 hours, but be aware that this is usually based on the assumption that the light’s solar panel is in full sun all day, which isn’t always the case.

    We recommend taking a couple of hours off the maximum battery life listed by the manufacturer to account for conditions that are less than optimal.

    Style

    If you want to make the most of your yard, choose outdoor solar lighting that complements your outdoor space. For example, ornate, traditional-style light fixtures would look great in a cottage-style garden. Sleek, modern-looking outdoor solar lights would look better in a more contemporary yard.

    The battery life of outdoor solar lights decreases over time. You’ll eventually need to replace the battery.

    Ip rating

    The “ingress protection” (IP) rating of your outdoor solar lighting is important because it tells you how weatherproof your lights are. Water resistance is important both for safety reasons and to keep the lights from getting damaged when exposed to wet weather.

    IP ratings are expressed by the letters "IP" followed by two digits, such as "IP44." The first digit refers to the degree of protection from solids (such as dust and dirt) and isn't extremely important for solar lights. The second digit refers to the degree of protection from water, and this is what you need to pay attention to.

    The second digit should be at least 4, which means your light is protected from water sprayed from all directions.

    EXPERT TIP

    Place several low-output solar lights close together to boost the amount of light in a given area.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Tips

    • Look at the light color and temperature of your chosen outdoor solar lights. You can find both "warm” and "cool” white solar lighting, as well as more colorful options. You can even buy color-changing models that cycle among a rainbow of colors.

    • Check what kind of solar panels are used. Mono-crystalline solar panels are better than polycrystalline panels at converting sunlight into power. That’s good news if your yard doesn't get a lot of sunshine.

    • Consider changing the angle of the solar panel for optimal results. If your lights allow you to adjust the angle of the panel, the optimal angles to make the most of the direction of the light are 15° in summer, 45° in fall, and 60° in winter.

    • Make sure replacement batteries are available for your lighting. Solar batteries don't last forever. If you can't buy replacements, you'll have to replace the whole lighting unit.

    • Check the battery type in your chosen solar lighting. Lithium-ion (Li-Ion) and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) are the two best options. Inexpensive NiMH batteries last a long time, but Li-Ion batteries are less likely to be affected by extreme temperatures.

    Outdoor solar lights are eco-friendly and help you save money on your electricity bill.

    FAQ

    Q. Where should I position my outdoor solar lights?

    A. Make sure you place your solar lights so they get direct sunlight for at least part of the day. If you place your lights in full shade, the batteries will receive little to no charge during the daylight hours.

    Q. How long do solar batteries last?

    A. Solar lights contain batteries that are charged by exposure to sunlight. This stored energy then powers the lights at night. The batteries don't last forever, however, and usually need to be replaced about once every two years.

    Q. What's the best material for outdoor solar lights?

    A. Generally, the outer casing of solar lights is made of plastic or metal (usually aluminum). Metal is the superior choice because it’s more durable and weather-resistant. If you choose solar lights with lightweight plastic casings, the plastic is liable to crack or degrade after exposure to hot summers and icy winters. That said, some heavy-duty plastic casings are better able to resist the change of seasons.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Lauren
      Lauren
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer

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