The best solar lights for the garden can create a cozy atmosphere and once you’ve bought them, they’re free to run.
In our handy guide, we’ve got string, deck and path lights from leading companies including Brightright lights, Wilson & Fisher, and Luminabright solar lights. We’ve also rounded up reviews and ratings
Solar lights are a great way to quite literally brighten up your garden without spending too much or using any energy. Positioned correctly and with enough sunlight, solar lights should be able to provide a gentle glow to your garden throughout the year.
Whether it’s solar lights for your deck, lights to line down your garden path, or string lights to festoon your backyard, we’ve got them all in this round up.
Solar garden lights don’t require any wiring so they’re super easy to install. Many models simply press into the ground, or for string lights, all there is to do is position them where you’d like them. The best solar lights should be water-resistant and provide a bright light even when the sun isn’t its brightest.
If you’re looking for even bigger ways to use solar energy around your home, check out our guide to the best solar companies around.
1. Brightech Ambience Pro solar lights: Best string solar lights
The light bulbs are both weatherproof and shatterproof and can withstand rain, snow and winds of up to 50mph. Brightech Ambience Pro solar lights also come in two different length sizes but due to the lights being solar-powered, you can’t connect one set with an additional set.
If you’re looking for solar lights to shine huge amounts of light down on to your garden, then these are not the ones, because the string lights are designed to provide a soft, ambient look. Each hanging light bulb has a hook above it so that you can neatly attach these lights to gazebos. The Brightech Ambience Pro lights also come with a three-year warranty - the longest we’ve seen during our research.
2. Wilson & Fisher LED solar lights: Best pathway solar lights
The Wilson & Fisher solar lights are ideal for edging a walkway or creating a pretty pathway in your backyard. The lights are complete with stakes so that you can easily push them into the ground. The lights have an attractive bronze effect finish and also come with a battery so that they will light up on days when the sun isn’t shining so brightly.
Most user reviews are pretty positive when it comes to the Wilson & Fisher solar lights, however, some user reviews did state that the lights aren’t that weatherproof. As well as that, each of the individual solar lights requires a backup battery for cloudy days which would need recharging or replacing during the winter months.
3. Lumina Bright Solar Lights: Best value solar lights
The Lumina solar-powered lights are made with durable materials to withstand the weather and are finished to give a stylish look to your backyard. Designed to be based in the ground, the light bulbs are LED.
Some user reviews do criticize the dullness of the bulbs in each solar light but many noted that the lights lit their yard paths well and gave a similar amount of lighting as a torch.
4. Sunforce 82156: Best mountable solar light
The Sunforce 81256 is a good solar light that you can mount on your garage, shed or fence. It has the brightest LEDs among the solar lights we looked at, 850 lumens.
This is many times brighter than the competition and helps it illuminate objects in a 30-foot radius. The motion sensor helps save battery for when the light is needed. The 15-foot wire that connects the light to the solar panel gives you a lot of flexibility to get the best exposure to sunlight during the day. This is an affordable light, costing around $35 on Amazon.
This solar light has three dials that let you adjust the sensitivity of the motion detector, how long the light stays on when triggered and how much daylight will turn it off.
5. Bright Right solar lights: Best in-ground solar lights
The Bright Right solar lights use LED bulbs and can either be placed into the ground or attached to the included stake to raise up off the floor. These lights are water-resistant and because they are solar powered, there’s no wiring or tricky installation to worry about.
Bright Right solar lights do cost more than many similar models though and some user reviews have criticized the brightness of each of the lights. If you want something simple to install, then the Bright Right solar lights will look great in your garden.
How to find the right solar lights for your backyard
Type of Light
The type of solar lights you buy depends on their intended use. Standalone solar lights work best for small areas that don't need much light. Strings of lights work best for walkways, though some can be mounted higher near patios. Post- or wall-mounted solar floodlights are excellent options to install near doors and on patios.
The level of brightness can vary considerably in solar lights. In general, solar lights won't produce as much light as ones connected to the electrical grid, but they can be effective in places where you want more ambiance, security and safety. If your focus is ambiance and illuminating walkways, then you don't need solar lights with high light output, as measured in lumens. However, if you plan to use the lights for security and illuminating walkways, it's best to choose brighter lights with high lumen ratings, preferably with motion sensors to save on battery power.
Quantity & Range
The number of lights to buy depends on the range of each light and the size of the area you want to illuminate. Depending on their intended use, solar lights can cast light from a range of two feet up to 38 feet. Lights with shorter ranges usually come in multi-packs, making them ideal for pathways and near landscaping features. In this setup, you want the light footprint from each unit to extend as far as that of nearby units; whether or not the light patterns overlap comes down to your personal preferences. If you want lights for outdoor parties or security, they should illuminate a larger area, but you won't need to buy as many.
Some solar lights let you change the batteries when needed to extend the life of the lights indefinitely, though this also means you need to buy replacement batteries occasionally. There are also solar lights with permanent batteries that you can't replace, instead you must replace the whole unit when it no longer works. Lights without replaceable batteries often cost less than the other type, but may be more wasteful.