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Our Top Picks for Outdoor Solar Light Illumination

Garden lights are the perfect complimentary finishing touch to a beautiful yard. Not only are they functional and can help you find your way in the dark, they also add a touch of softness to your yard come dusk, help highlight the features you want to show off, and even lend a bit of mystery and romance to your space.

A quick search yields a plethora to choose from however, and it can become difficult to decide what, exactly is the best solar garden lights for you. In the past I have been drawn to the inexpensive choices found on the shelves of my local garden center, but have grown frustrated with the poor lifespan they seem to have. In my search for the best solar garden light reviews, I discovered just how limited I’ve been in not exploring my many varied choices.

Best Solar Lights Comparisons

ModelWeatherproofFunctionalityAuto on/offPlacementBulb TypeLight TimeWarranty
Our Rating

Plow and Hearth Solar Lights
yesPathlight, spotlightyesStake50 Lumen LED8+ hours fully charged90 day return, 1 year replacement4.5 Stars

URPOWER Solar Lights
yesPathlight, spotlightyesStake or mountLED6-9 hours fully chargedn/a4.5 Stars

Garden Supply Solar Path Lights
yesPathlightyesStakeLED10 hours fully chargedna4.5 Stars

Enchanted Spaces Solar Light
yesPathlightyes, but also has an on/off switchStakeLED6 - 8 hoursHassle Free Warranty (will replace rechargeable battery)4.6 Stars

SolarGlow Garden Lights
All-weather resistantPathlightyesStake LED6-9 hours fully charged100% lifetime replacement guarantee4.3 Stars

Litom Solar Outdoor Lights
yesDecorative accentyes, but also has an on/off switchMount (can stake the solar panel)
LED6 - 8 hoursWarranty on defective products4.4 Stars

Mayfair Solar Lights
yesPathlightyesStake Estate Quality Solar Path LightsUp to 8 hours fully charged90 day return, 1 year replacement4.3 Stars

URPOWER Solar Lights
yesSpotlight or PathlightMotion detection auto on/offMountLEDUp to 12 hours continuousNA4.6 Stars

Why Solar?

Solar lights have come a long way from the short loved, dim lighting they once put out. LED bulbs are now more commonly seen, which put out more light, and less heat, and therefore require less energy to operate. Plus, by using solar, you are no longer trapped by the location of light placement. Solar panels are generally card-sized mounts that can be placed almost anywhere you can imagine to add lighting to even the furthest recesses of your yard.

Improvements in solar cells over the years have also resulted in better energy charges that can store and use emitted daylight even in shady areas, or cloudy, winter weather. This means that your lights will still come on in the dark winter nights, although they may not last as long as they did in the summer.

Solar lighting can be used for motion detection for pathway lighting, for nighttime hazard detection, to light a pathway, or to simply add ambiance to your peaceful backyard escape.

Types of Bulbs

ANY type of outdoor light can be used with a solar panel to create solar lighting, but solar lights created specifically for garden lighting have increasingly replaced all bulbs with LED lights which should last the life of the product.

LED stands for light emitting diode, and are directional, meaning they emit light in a specific direction, unlike traditional incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, which emit light in all directions. They also put out very little heat, unlike their predecessors, which makes them much more affordable to run, and a good choice for all night lighting from a solar charge.

Because of how LEDs work, there are many more options for their punctuality. Obviously they are becoming increasingly popular in the house as well as for outdoor use due to their cost effectiveness, but they also come in a variety of colors! Gone are the days of coloring a lightbulb for color effects as these bulbs can put out their own mix of hues, but even more impressive is that some are even wifi connectable and can work through your smartphone as part of a smart house (or garden) system.

Solar Light Choices

As mentioned, there are a LARGE variety of choices to choose from when considering solar garden lighting, and it’s important to first choose what you want based on the categories available.

Garden Light Accents

Garden Light Accents

Accent lighting is just that, pretty soft lighting placed in areas you want to draw attention to: such as around an arbor, wound in your trees, or as colorful details in your garden itself. Fun shaped lighting brightens up your areas by night, and are colorful additions in the shapes of butterflies, birds, and even flowers by day.

Netting, light strings, and staked designs are all readily available in a multiple hues and color changing choices to place in any area of your garden. They are also very affordable, but may not be all-season weather proof and need to be stored in the winter. Occasionally these also do not have a very long lifespan and may only last a few seasons.

Solar Path Lights

Solar Path Lights

Path lighting is typically staked into the areas you want to light up your walkway, whether it be to mark driveways, sidewalks, garden paths, or garden bed hedging. Since LED lighting is directional, fun star shaped, and spiral designs are commonly focused on the paths they light up.

Path lighting is probably the most popular consumerist lighting choice as there are a variety of designs one can choose from using many different materials: plastics, metals, glass, and wire are commonly found in these products, making them stand alone artistic statements for your garden addition as well. Typically very affordable, higher priced path lighting also come with a longer life and weatherproofed materials to last as long as you need them.

Solar Task Lights and Spotlights

Solar Task Lights and Spotlights

Task lights and spotlights are generally your more expensive choices due to their versatility and brightness for specific needs. Although these can be used for path lighting, you will most likely choose them for focused lighting on statuary, house front lighting, water features. They also usually have a separate solar panel for increased usability- meaning you can mount the panel separate from the lights so you can take advantage of your best available lighting.

Because of where they are generally mounted, they are more durably built as well, and have both weather proofing, and UV protection for long-life.

How to Choose the Best Solar Lights for Your Yard

If you are considering starting your search for the best outdoor solar garden lights, be sure to assess your needs in advance in order to get what you want based on high quality products. A quick online search will yield hundreds of choices, and it’s easy to become distracted by the incredible array of design, light and color choices available.

What function do you need your lights for?

Are you interested in lighting a pathway, spotlights, or a light that can serve as both added security and landscape interest? There is something for every need out there, and narrowing your choices down to specific needs will help you find your top rated products that much easier…

Are you needing year-round lighting?

Not all solar powered lights are all-weather and usable year round. A fantastic price on a set of lights may be a determining factor in your purchases, but be sure to read the specifications before finalizing what’s in your shopping cart, as that lower price may belay an issue with freezing temperatures.

Where do you plan on placing your solar lights?

Although many lights are versatile in their placement for both solar panels and lighting effects, be sure to look your space over well to determine where your panel will get maximum sunlight, and if the power cords are the lengths you need. Some lighting may only have mounting or staked choices, whereas other can be directly focused where you need light for the brightest effects.

What sort of sunlight do you get?

Although high quality panels can change in shady areas and on cloudy days, the best charges are still determined by the amount of daylight received. If you have only shady areas, look for those products that are rated for low light charging. There are many items on the market that can connect remotely if needed, but there is usually a high cost associated with this, so it pays off to know your area and placement in advance.

5 Top Rated Solar Lights to Consider

URPower Adjustable Solar Spotlight

Quick Info

  • Weatherproof: yes
  • Functionality: Pathlight, spotlight
  • Auto on/off: yes
  • Placement: Stake or mount
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Light Time: 6-9 hours fully charged
  • Warranty: n/a

Our Rating:4.3 Stars

The perks of these lights are their overall versatility. Not only can the be both staked and mounted, the solar panels and lights are adjustable as well to maximize sunlight and spotlight capabilities. Although the lights are to be used as an auto on/off light, it does have an off switch for storage (to prevent inadvertent charging), as well as on, bright, and dim setting.

These lights can also be used as a spotlight or pathlight as long as you aren’t trying to light something up 30 feet in the air. Their brightest setting can light things up for about 15 feet, although the highest setting may not last a full night of use even on a full charge.

These lights seem to be a great choice for those looking for a task light to brighten up certain features on a home, or in a garden. They also do provide a bright pathway surface, although they may be too bright for subtle garden lighting, even when set on low.

The biggest complaints surround the life of the product in some cases, however this may be due to poor rechargeable battery life which can be replaced. It is also noted in solar garden light reviews the high quality of customer service this particular product has.

Pros

  • Both panel and lights are adjustable
  • Water and weatherproof (brush snow off panels in winter)
  • Charges in indirect sunlight
  • Has dimmer options
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • May fade after a couple of months
  • Confusion over how the settings work (not consistent)
  • Complaints of only 2-3 hours of lighting total
  • Batteries may go bad, but rechargable ones are replaceable.

Recommended for

Great choice for those looking for a task light to brighten up certain features on a home, or in a garden.

SolarGlow Garden Lights

Quick Info

  • Weatherproof: All-weather resistant
  • Functionality: pathlight
  • Auto on/off: yes
  • Placement: Stake
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Light Time: 6-9 hours fully charged
  • Warranty: 100% lifetime replacement guarantee

Our Rating:4.1 Stars

A popular product for pathlight lighting, these stainless steel solar lights send out a downwards, cool white light for footing purposes. Due to the ribbing of the housing, the lights are cast as a patterned wave rather than an interrupted glow. These lights can only be staked into the ground and do not come with any functionality for mounting of any sort.

There are no switches to deal with, and the lights are completely automated in response to daylight. Although they do seem to charge reasonably well in the shade, their overall on time may be affected by less than full sunlight. This can be problematic on darker, overcast days, or in seasonal weather as they may not charge as fully, and be triggered by later afternoon shadows.

Overall this is reviewed as a durable design that puts out a bright pathlight that is functional along driveways, sidewalks, and in the garden. Plus they are a bit taller than many other brands, so lighting is more widely dispersed. This is a good choice for anyone looking for a basic, no-frills path lighting design that is a bit more durable than plastic solar housing found in many garden centers.

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Excellent customer service
  • Very durable stainless steel material
  • Very good ground lighting width
  • Charges in indirect lighting

Cons

  • Does not charge well without direct sunlight
  • May crack (covered by warranty)
  • LED housing not a super snug fit

Recommended For

This is a good choice for anyone looking for a basic, no-frills path lighting design.

Litom Bright Path Garden Lighting

Quick Info

  • Weatherproof: yes
  • Functionality: Spotlight or Pathlight
  • Auto on/off: Motion detection auto on/off
  • Placement: Mount
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Light Time: Stays on for 15 seconds after no motion is detected. Detects motion from 26 feet away
  • Warranty: Defect warranty for replacement or refund

Our Rating:4.6 Stars

With three modes to either say on constantly in a bright or dim mode (and brightens with motion) or one only with motion, this is a good choice for both pathway and spotlight lighting within your yard. Solar panels that top the light itself charge well in indirect light to provide you with the light you need all night in a motion only setting, which turns off after 15 seconds of no motion.

Motion detectors have a very wide range (approximately 26 feet to the front and in a 180 degree radius) which also works well for security issues, and power outages.

Complaints include issues with mounting off anything that is not wooden or easily drilled. They also have some defective complaints concerning how long they last overall (issues seem to arise around 4 to 5 months, although covered by warranty).

These are a great choice for anyone looking for either a downward focused spotlight, or pathlight, for use in both the garden and around housing foundations. Because you can mount t as high as you want this is helpful for additional security lighting.

Pros

  • Three modes
  • Holds up to both wet weather and freezing temperatures
  • Very bright
  • Compact size for easy mounting

Cons

  • Cannot mount to brick or rock
  • Issues with longevity after about 4 to 5 months on some products (covered under warranty)
  • Can get stuck in a mode

Great choice for anyone looking for either a downward focused spotlight, or pathlight, for use in both the garden and around housing foundations.

Litom Solar Outdoor String Lights

Quick Info

  • Weatherproof: yes
  • Functionality: Decorative accent
  • Auto on/off: yes, but also has an on/off switch
  • Placement: Mount (can stake the solar panel)
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Light Time: 6 – 8 hours
  • Warranty: Warranty on defective products

Our Rating:4.3 Stars

This 72 foot long wire houses 200 LED lights that can cycle through 8 different modes. They are a great decorative accent for wrapping around trees, decks, or placing within your gardenscape for a low nighttime glow. Although they aren’t suggested for pathway lighting, or holiday roof trimming due to their dimmer glow than lights made specifically for those purposes, they do light up a decent area and are useful as an added light addition in your yard and garden. They also come in your choice of colors: warm white, cool white, and colored bulbs.

The biggest complaint about these particular lights is that after they turn off each night, they reset themselves so you have to cycle back through the modes to have it set to your preferred choice, although this was not a complaint made by the majority of buyers. Defective strings are covered by warranty so they can be replaced.

These are a great choice for anyone looking for stringed accent lights that are waterproof, and can be used year round as a nighttime decoration.

Pros

  • Eight different light modes
  • Long lasting
  • Warm, cool white, or color choices
  • Can charge solar cell separate from lights
  • Will charge in indirect lighting

Cons

  • Cycles back to first mode after each day
  • Not very bright
  • May stop after a few months (replaced by warranty)

Recommended For

These are a great choice for anyone looking for stringed accent lights that are waterproof, and can be used year round as a nighttime decoration.

Enchanted Spaces Solar Light Path

Quick Info

  • Weatherproof: yes
  • Functionality: Pathlight
  • Auto on/off: yes, but also has an on/off switch
  • Placement: Stake
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Light Time: 6 – 8 hours
  • Warranty: Hassle Free Warranty (will replace rechargeable battery)

Our Rating:5.0 Stars

As staked pathway light go, these are a durable, and fashionable choice that seem to hold up well in weather. They also have replaceable rechargeable batteries covered by warranty so as to not have to purchase a whole new housing. Each light covers approximately a four by four foot space, meaning this 6 pack will cover close to 100 square feet altogether.

Issues with the product itself are focused upon defective products upon purchase, which is completely covered by warranty, as well as issues with dimming and not charging at all within a few months of initial use. This is most likely a rechargeable battery issue, that comes on when purchased, and is replaceable under warranty as well.

This is a good choice for solar pathlight seekers as no the hassle warranty makes it fairly risk free in its purchase. Consistent auto on and off with daylight, and decent charging in indirect sunlight provides illumination through the majority of your night with a full charge.

Pros

  • Color choices to match decor
  • Light pathway clearly
  • Excellent customer service
  • Rechargeable batteries are replaceable if fail over time
  • Weatherproof

Cons

  • Dim light, although consistent
  • Lights dim and may go out (battery replacement issue possible, covered by warranty)
  • Plastic stakes fragile

Recommended For

This is a good choice for solar pathlight seekers as no the hassle warranty makes it fairly risk free in its purchase.

Conclusion

Since I have a lot of dark recesses around my property, I am constantly on the lookout of a durable, and affordable option for garden lighting. I also have very few electrical outlets, so solar options are very appealing to me. Since I can put to use almost any sort of lighting, making a choice out of one of garden light categories I described is difficult, but my main concern is pathway lighting.

My favorite of the choices I’ve listed is the Enchanted Spaces Solar Light Path as I can currently put to use path lighting, although string accent lights are high on my list of wants as well. In choosing functionality over decoration, I personally find this to be a long lasting, and durable choice, with a no hassle warranty I don’t mind taking advantage of if problems arise.

Although there are a LOT of choices out there for additional solar lighting, you need to make your choices based on the needs of your space, and the effects you desire. Have solar lighting you can’t live without, or searching for a particular type of product? Comment and question below, and as always, share!

About The Author

Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod cuts a tragic figure in the High School English classroom teaching literature by day, and moonlighting as a writer and graphic artist by night. Published in a variety of travel magazines, and now a blog, Danielle enjoys coming up with home and garden projects to complete with her two young boys. A native of Michigan, she resides in Southeastern New Mexico with her variety of horses, poultry, and variable mix of rescue dogs (there’s a cat or two in there as well). In her free time she enjoys travel, art, photography, and a good book!

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