The best solar landscape lights of 2023

The best solar landscape lights of 2023

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Published Sep 15, 2023 4:00 PM

Solar landscaping lights can illuminate your favorite outdoor spaces without increasing your energy bill. Their designs range from practical to whimsical to enhance different types of outdoor spaces. Some come in strings, and others are lantern-like with shepherd’s hooks to brighten walkways. What they all have in common is their ability to harness solar energy to light the night. When making your choice, you’ll need to consider what you want the lights to accomplish, whether that’s lighting for safety or accentuating decor. And keep in mind the number of lights and the design that will best complement your landscaping. We’ve rounded up seven of the best solar landscaping lights on the market from the dozens we researched, with an eye for different types to fit the landscaping of various modern homes.

How we chose the best solar landscape lights

The right solar landscaping lights for you come down to your specific personal needs. However, when we looked at creating our list, we thought about factors that improve the chances of the lights meeting those needs.

We started with light quality. While solar lights aren’t known for longevity, we looked for models with materials and construction to last several years. Next, we considered brightness levels, and our list includes models with adjustable brightness and a few without. If you’re looking for lights that enhance safety, there are models on the list that shine bright enough for that. However, we also considered that lights that set a mood don’t need to rival a spotlight, so we included solar landscaping lights with a gentler glow, too. 

Our methods also included the lights’ control methods, from remote control to light sensors. Finally, we looked for extra features that enhance the light’s practical use, such as adjustable solar panels and multiple installation methods.

The best solar landscape lights: Reviews & Recommendations

Whether you’re looking to illuminate the front path to your home or create a festive atmosphere with string lights, we’ve rounded up the best solar landscape lights to serve your needs.

Best overall: InnoGear Solar Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: Warm white, white
  • Water-Resistance: IP65
  • Control: Touch

Pros

  • Easy ground or wall-mount installation
  • Low and high modes
  • Automatic turns on and off
  • Comes in warm or bright white

Cons

  • Some units may dim prematurely

The InnoGear Solar Lights offer practical lighting with easy installation. We like that they come in warm or bright white to fit the mood you’re creating in your yard. They can wall-mount on a deck or fence but also come with stakes for fast ground installation. 

Once the lights are installed, you can adjust the lighting angle up to 90 degrees and the solar panels by up to 180 degrees. That adjustability lets you get the right angle for your landscaping, like highlighting a tree or other features. The adjustable solar panels ensure you get the best angle for the panels to gather solar energy. 

A light sensor detects light and controls the on/off feature so the lights can energize once the sun is up. The InnoGear lights are IP65 waterproof so that they can withstand inclement weather, though reviewers suggest angling the solar panels to shed water. The manufacturer promises 12 hours of light on low, but reviewers find that number a bit exaggerated. According to customers, the lights last for several hours but not all night long.  Additionally, some units may dim within a few months.

Best string lights: Brightown Solar String Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: Warm white
  • Water-Resistance: IP44
  • Control: Remote 

Pros

  • Three lighting modes
  • Solar-powered or electric charging using a USB cord
  • Remote control
  • 180-degree adjustable solar panel

Cons

  • Automatic on/off only turns on when very dark
  • Only comes with one replacement bulb

The Brightown Solar String Lights have classic good looks, and with 54 feet of string and 25 bulbs, you can cover a decent amount of space. They made our list because of their versatile lighting, control, and charging options. Four lighting modes let you choose the mood of your outdoor space, and a remote control makes it easy to adjust the lighting or set a timer if you don’t want to rely on the light sensor for control. 

The solar panel adjusts up to 180 degrees to get the best charging angle. However, if the sun’s hiding, you can charge the battery or run the lights using a USB cord. You can set an automatic on/off, but some users report that they only turn on when it’s extremely dark. The Brightown lights also have an IP44 rating, which protects them in all but the wettest of weather. Our biggest complaint is that they only include one replacement bulb.

Best path light: Rayolon Solar Ground Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: Warm light, white light
  • Water-Resistance: IP65
  • Control: Foot mount switch

Pros

  • Line walkways for better definition
  • Sit flush with the ground
  • Eight LED lights per unit enhance brightness

Cons

  • Ground stakes break easily

The Rayolon Solar Ground Lights come in packs of four, eight, 12, and 16 to line paths and walkways of different lengths. Each unit features eight LED lights, creating a ring of illumination. Each light also has its own solar panel and rechargeable battery. While you have to keep the solar panels clean, these lights charge well and offer several hours of illumination per charge. 

With an IP65 waterproof rating, they can withstand heavy rain and snow without water damage. The lights charge well in full sunlight, but it could take longer to reach a full charge in winter when there’s a lot of cloud cover. Installation isn’t difficult. However, users reported that the ground stakes break easily, with the manufacturer suggesting breaking up or digging a partial hole before installing to protect the stake.

Best post light: SOLPEX Solar Outdoor Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: Warm white
  • Water-Resistance: IP44
  • Control: Sensor

Pros

  • Decorative design adds character
  • Offers excellent accent light
  • Holds charge well

Cons

  • Loses ability to hold charge over time
  • Requires assembly

The SOLPEX Solar Outdoor Lights bring style and character to the garden with illumination that goes beyond practical into decorative. These lights give off a gentle light that’s not designed to overpower a walkway. Instead, they emit an accentuating glow to highlight a garden or other landscaping features. They charge in a relatively short six to eight hours and offer several hours of illumination. 

These SOLPEX lights have an IP44 waterproof rating, which means they can withstand rainstorms, though regular deluges might be a bit much. Control is a no-brainer with an automatic on/off switch controlled by a light sensor. There’s some assembly involved, and you may need to break up hard ground before installation. 

Best lantern: MAGGIFT Hanging Solar Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: cool white, warm white
  • Water-Resistance: IP44
  • Control: Sensor

Pros

  • Includes shepherd hooks for hanging
  • Easy assembly and installation
  • Attractive, decorative design

Cons

  • May lean

The MAGGIFT Hanging Solar Lights bring a touch of elegance to the outdoors. They come with the shepherd’s hooks that hold the lights high enough to disperse light but not so high that they obstruct a view or fight with the rest of the landscaping. We like how their hanging design can integrate with different types of outdoor decor. For example, you can use them to line a walkway or use separately sold hooks to hang them from eaves or outdoor structures. 

These lights come in a bright or warm white, so you can match them to the rest of your outdoor lighting. The solar panels blend into the overall design. As long as the lights are placed where they can get full sun for most of the day, they emit a gentle glow for several hours into the night. Control comes from a standard light sensor that turns the lights on as it gets dark. The downside with these lights is that the stakes on the shepherd’s hooks aren’t super stable, so they can lean if bumped.

Best step lights: JACKYLED Solar Step Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: cool light, warm light
  • Water-Resistance: IP65
  • Control: Automatic

Pros

  • Adhesive or screws for installation
  • Installs on a wide range of surfaces
  • Light casts in three directions for better illumination

Cons

  • Adhesive strips can fail

The JACKYLED Solar Step Lights have a three-sided design that casts 270 degrees of light. They come with two installation methods: screws and adhesive strips. The screw installation may be the more complicated method, but it’s the most secure between the two. Adhesive strips are easy, but some reviewers report that they fail after a short time. However, we do like the variety of surfaces these lights can be used on, from wood fencing and concrete to siding and various decking materials

These lights cast light in three directions, which provides extra light on stairs, and better visibility means better safety. Like other solar lights, these lights run using a light sensor, so you don’t need to worry about turning them on or off. The JACKYLED lights are also IP65-rated, which means they can withstand heavy rain, snow, and sleet.

Best value: LIANGLOME Solar Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: Cold white, multi-color, warm white
  • Water-Resistance: IP65
  • Control: Automatic

Pros

  • Fun lamp head design that disperses light in patterns
  • Powerful illumination for their size
  • Excellent instructions make them easy to assemble and install

Cons

  • Packages occasionally arrive with a faulty light

The LIANGLOME Solar Lights save a few dollars without sacrificing style or illumination. The unique head design directs light for a more concentrated beam, which makes them seem brighter than they are. The manufacturer includes almost overly helpful instructions that walk you through every part of the assembly and installation. Consequently, there’s rarely an issue with getting them installed. 

The lights are controlled with a light sensor and are IP65-rated, which means they can withstand rain, sleet, and snow. They take a relatively short four to six hours to charge. While they don’t typically live up to the manufacturer’s promised eight to twelve hours of illumination, according to reviews, they can easily last four or five on a single charge. However, every now and then, a package will arrive with a light that’s dim or doesn’t work.

Best floodlights: AmeriTop LED Solar Motion Sensor Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: One
  • Water-Resistance: IP65 Waterproof
  • Control: Remote

Pros

  • Broad coverage area of up to 270 degrees wide
  • Bright output of 800 lumens
  • Motion detection up to 26 feet

Cons

  • Panel must receive 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight to fully charge

These motion-activated solar-powered floodlights eliminate the need for a wired power source, making them well-suited for homes without outdoor wiring for standard floodlights. Each light in this set consists of 128 tiny LED bulbs divided into three adjustable heads. The LEDs put out 800 lumens, ample brightness to light up a driveway or back patio.

In addition to being among the brightest outdoor solar lights on the market, this set is also one of the most adjustable. You can set the motion sensor to detect movement up to a range of 16 to 26 feet and aim each fixture’s two side heads to cover an area as broad as 270 degrees. When the lights’ sensors detect motion, they turn on for about 30 seconds, illuminating the area while conserving battery life.

The solar panel on top of each light uses polycrystalline silicon technology, which offers a higher level of charging efficiency than older solar panel technology. Mounting brackets for the lights are included.

Best budget: Signature Garden 8-Pack Solar Garden Lights

Specs

  • Color Options: Black, bronze, silver
  • Water-Resistance: Yes
  • Control: App

Pros

  • Includes eight lights
  • Install easily with no tools required
  • Rust and corrosion-proof

Cons

  • Plastic construction is not as attractive as a metal finish

At a cost of about $5 per light, one would be hard-pressed to find a better deal than this set of solar-powered garden lights from Signature Garden. With its eight lights, the set can cover a walkway or illuminate several garden beds. The lights are black and have a simple no-frills look that suits many home exteriors. Though they lack the durability of metal, they are constructed of ABS rigid plastic, which won’t rust or corrode in wet weather and is tough enough to endure the occasional bump.

Despite their affordable price, they’re brighter than most pathway lights at 15 lumens. Small solar panels that sit on top of the light charge a rechargeable battery that keeps the light on at night for up to eight hours. Like other pathway lights, each light in this set sits on a stake. To install, simply insert the pointed end of the post into the soil and attach the lamp.

You have a few things to consider when choosing the best solar landscaping lights. Everything from the size and shape of your yard to how you want to use the lights will factor into your final decision. 

Type

Outdoor solar lights come in a variety of types. Pathway lights are commonly sold in groups of six or eight to light walkways. This type of landscaping light sits on top of a spike that you drive into the ground.

String lights are ideal for lighting outdoor living and dining areas. You can run string lights between trees or a set of poles, or weave them through a pergola.

Floodlights provide task and security lighting for driveways. Floodlights typically mount to the eaves of the home or garage via a simple-to-install mounting kit.

Spotlights are another popular form of outdoor lighting and are typically used to highlight architectural features on a home or landscaping features, such as trees, fountains, or statues. Similar to pathway lights, the spotlight typically sits on stakes that you drive into the ground.

Color and brightness

Next, think about the light color. Light color is measured in kelvins, with anything below 3000K falling on the warm side. Warm light gives off a yellowish glow. Lights that are 4000K and above are considered cool or bright white, giving off a bluish cast. Bright white lights may seem brighter, while warm lights offer more ambiance and mood. 

Although outdoor solar lights won’t be as bright as hardwired lights, they should still shine bright enough to do the job. A pathway light should produce around 10 to 15 lumens, while a spotlight should generate around 200 lumens. Floodlights designed to provide visibility and security will produce around 800 lumens.

Battery life

Outdoor solar lights are powered via a rechargeable battery that will provide a varying amount of runtime before requiring a recharge. Expect to get around eight hours for a walkway light and around six hours for a brighter spotlight. Floodlights, which can use more than 100 LEDs, will get significantly less run time due to their high-lumen output. As such, this style of light is only designed to come on for a short period when the light senses motion.

Keep in mind that solar lights need around six hours of direct sunlight each day to sufficiently recharge the batteries. Since rechargeable batteries eventually wear out and no longer hold a charge, look for solar outdoor lights with replaceable batteries.

Budget

Finally, don’t forget to consider your budget. You might be able to get two dozen lights for $20, but half of those lights may not work right out of the package. The other half may go out within a few weeks. While more expensive doesn’t always mean better, for solar landscaping lights, additional durability and quality can go a long way to help your investment. 

FAQs

Q: How do you pick outdoor solar lights?

 First, determine where you need lighting and choose a light fixture that meets that need. Choose a light that will provide the brightness and runtime you need to light the area adequately. Finally, determine where you can place the light so that its solar panel receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. 

Q: How long do solar landscape lights last?

The durability and lifespan of solar landscape lights vary by brand and model. Inexpensive lights may only last a year or two. Models with a sturdier build that fall into the $40 to $60 range can often last several years with proper care. Care includes cleaning off the solar panels, replacing the batteries, and protecting the lights from damage from pets and lawnmowers.

Q: Do you leave solar landscaping lights on all the time?

Yes, you generally leave solar landscaping lights on all the time. Most solar landscaping lights have light sensors that turn the lights as the sun goes down. However, some have remote controls with timers and different lighting schemes.

Q: How do you position outdoor solar lights?

Outdoor solar lights require maximum access to the sun. Direct sunlight charges the batteries so the lights can illuminate after dark. Any shade will limit the amount of power the solar panels can absorb. To maximize the light, avoid installing solar lights under trees, bushes, or in the shade of a house or other outdoor structure.

Q: Which solar lights are the brightest?

With their 15-lumen output, the Signature Garden 8-Pack Solar Garden Lights are the brightest pathway-style solar lights on the market. InnoGear Solar Spotlights put out 200 lumens each, making them the brightest solar spotlight. At the same time, the AmeriTop LED Solar Motion Sensor Lights are among the brightest outdoor lights you can buy at 800 lumens.

Final thoughts on the best solar landscape lights

The best solar landscaping lights improve safety, add character, and fit within your outdoor design plans. Whether that’s a string of lights strung through an arbor or post lights lining a walkway, these outdoor lights illuminate where you need them without gobbling up energy (and money).

Selecting a solar outdoor light is about choosing the right type of outdoor fixture for the job. Floodlights are the best option for providing visibility and security for driveways and areas around the home, while pathway lights are ideal for illuminating walkways. Once you know what type of light to choose, make sure to purchase one that provides adequate brightness to do the job with a solar cell that can capably recharge the batteries during the day.

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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.

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