Written By
Published Mar. 14, 2022

Outdoor solar lights are one of the easiest ways to light landscaping and architectural features around the home without having to worry about complicated wiring. They consist of LED bulbs powered by batteries that are recharged during the day via a small solar panel either mounted on the light fixture or attached to it with a wire. 

Solar lights come in a variety of types, including pathway lights for illuminating walks and small garden beds, floodlights that provide visibility and security around the home, spotlights for highlighting landscaping and architectural features, and even string lights that provide festive lighting for an outdoor living space. 

Below, learn about the different types of outdoor solar lights and find out what features are important to consider when shopping for this type of outdoor lighting and our top picks.

How We Selected The Best Outdoor Solar Lights

Methodology 

I used the first-hand experience of installing outdoor solar lighting around my home coupled with additional research to give me insight into what criteria is vital to consider when shopping for this type of outdoor lighting. 

Brightness is crucial when it comes to any type of outdoor lighting. While a battery-powered light won’t offer the brightness of hardwired light fixtures, it should still produce enough adequate illumination to do its job. With that in mind, we chose models that put out ample lumens for their light fixture type. For example, a set of pathway lights should produce between 10 and 15 lumens while a floodlight should produce 600 to 800 lumens. 

An outdoor light fixture should also last well into the night if not the entire night, so we went with models that offer at least six hours of run time on a full charge. With battery life in mind, we selected models with solar panels large enough to fully charge the fixture from empty to full with about six hours of direct sunlight. 

Any outdoor lighting should be able to endure wind, rain, snow, and ice, so we selected outdoor lighting sets and fixtures with at least an IP65 weather-resistance rating, which means the light is impervious to water jets from any angle. 

The Best Outdoor Solar Lights: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Beau Jardin Bright Pathway Solar Lights

BEAU JARDIN

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: We gave this set of eight pathway lights high marks for its attractive look, durable stainless steel construction, and long 12-hour runtime. 

Specs:

  • Type: Pathway lights
  • Lumens: 10
  • Battery life: 8-12 hours

Pros: 

  • Includes eight lights 
  • Long battery life
  • Durable and attractive stainless steel and glass construction. 

Cons: 

  • Not as bright as some solar pathway lights

With their use of quality materials that include stainless steel and patterned glass, these pathway lights set themselves apart from the plastic models that crowd the market. When lit, the glass casts an attractive rosette pattern around it, adding visual interest as well as visibility to a walk or garden bed. With finish options that include silver, brown or black, this set is versatile enough to fit most landscaping designs. 

While these lights are dimmer than other solar pathway lights at 10 lumens, you don’t have to worry about them quitting when the clock strikes midnight, thanks to a battery that lasts several hours longer than most solar pathway lights. Each fixture comes equipped with a small solar panel mounted to its top. Each light uses a rechargeable AA battery that you can easily replace when it can no longer hold a charge. Installation is also easy, as each light sits on a stake that you drive into the ground. 

Best Budget: Signature Garden 8 Pack Solar Garden Lights

Signature Garden

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: This set of pathway lights is one of the most affordable ways to add solar lights to one’s landscaping. 

Specs:

  • Type: Pathway lights
  • Lumens: 15
  • Battery life: 8 hours

Pros: 

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

Cons:  

  • Plastic construction 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.

Best Spotlight: InnoGear Solar Spotlights

InnoGear

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: These are one of the brightest and longest-lasting solar-powered spotlight outdoor lights we could find, and the adjustable brightness adds versatility. 

Specs:

  • Type: Spotlight
  • Lumens: 200
  • Battery life: 6-12 hours

Pros:

  • Two brightness settings
  • Bright 200-lumen output
  • Large adjustable solar panel makes it easier to find the sun

Cons:  

  • Large panel makes for a less streamlined look. 

Each of the four spotlights in this set comes equipped with four 50-lumen LEDs for a total output of 200 lumens. That’s enough brightness to provide uplighting for a tree, the front of a house, or other features around a home’s exterior. 

Innogear’s spotlights are also more versatile than most outdoor solar lights thanks to two brightness options — a dimmer low mode for casting subtle washes and a bright high mode for illuminating an object or tree. A 90-degree range of adjustment on the lights makes it easy to aim them. The spotlight batteries will power the high mode for up to six hours or the low mode for up to 12 hours. 

While the large solar panels mounted to the top of each spotlight give the lights a less streamlined look than other spotlights, they do a more efficient job of catching rays. The panels are larger than most and you can adjust the angle of the panel up to 180 degrees to maximize sun exposure. The panels are also equipped with newer monocrystalline construction, which allows it to charge the batteries up to 30 percent faster than older solar panel technology. Each light mounts into the ground via a stake. 

Best String Lights: Brightech Ambience Pro

Brightech

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: Durable shatterproof construction and a versatile solar panel make this set of string lights worthy of backyard living spaces. 

Specs:

  • Type: String lights
  • Lumens: N/A
  • Battery life: 5-6 hours

Pros: 

  • Solar panel features a long extension and multiple mounting options 
  • Durable shatterproof construction.
  • Adequate battery life of 5 to 6 hours

Cons:  

  • Relatively short lifespan of 2.5 years. 

By ditching a standard power cord for a solar panel, this set of solar string lights makes it easy to add cafe ambiance to a backyard living space. It consists of a 27-foot long strand with 12 LED bulbs. The lights connect to a solar panel that provides enough juice to keep the lights on for up to six hours, plenty of time to light up a soiree that runs late into the evening. A 6-foot cable that connects the solar panel to the light strand provides ample length for positioning the panel to receive maximum daytime sun exposure. Two mounting options allow you to either clip the panel to an elevated tree limb or structure or stake it to the ground. 

With its shatterproof bulbs, this set is also one of the more durable sets of string lights on the market. The set of string lights does have a lifespan that’s notably shorter than other solar lights. The panel will last for about 1,000 charges, which equates to about two-and-a-half years. 

Best Floodlights: AmeriTop LED Solar Motion Sensor Lights

AmeriTop

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: Of the floodlights we reviewed, this set offers the most coverage and brightest output. 

Specs:

  • Type: Floodlights
  • Lumens: 800
  • Battery life: N/A

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

This set of motion-activated solar-powered floodlights eliminates the need for a wired power source, making them well-suited for homes that lack the 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 that sits 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. 

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Outdoor Solar Lights

Brightness: 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. 

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. 

FAQs

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, while the AmeriTop LED Solar Motion Sensor Lights are among the brightest outdoor lights you can buy at 800 lumens. 

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 adequately light the area. Finally, determine where you can place the light so that its solar panel will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. 

Q: Do solar lights need direct sunlight?

While a solar light can collect energy from indirect sunlight or through clouds, a solar light can best recharge its batteries when it receives at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day. The best-case scenario is for the light’s solar panel to receive six to eight hours of direct sun each day. 

Q: How long do outdoor solar lights last?

A good solar light will usually last three to four years before it needs to be replaced. To get the most out of an outdoor solar light, choose a model that uses batteries that you can easily replace with new ones, such as rechargeable AA NiMH batteries. 

Final Thoughts

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. 

MORE TO READ