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Are you looking for green, clean, energy-efficient, and reliable lights working even in rains? Solar lights best fulfill all of these requirements. Solar energy is perhaps the future. It is an entirely dependable and renewable medium to harness the unlimited source of energy and use it in your daily life.
Outfitting your lawn, garden, pathway, or yard with solar-powered lights illuminates the outdoors to eliminate its curb appeal while making you save significantly on your monthly power bills.
These lights also eliminate the need to use long extension cords and a turn ON or OFF switch. The former is possible when the solar panels come connected to the light fixtures. The latter comes from their ability to turn ON or OFF on their own based on the sun rays.
The best solar lights for outdoors also do not compromise beauty. They tend to improve the ambiance, are easy to use and maintain, and are environmentally friendly. Many of them are also weatherproof and turn on and off automatically based on sunlight. Once you set these lights, there is no need to bother about them again.
They use solar panels that absorb sunlight and transform it into energy for recharging the integrated batteries. Once the sun sets, the batteries power the lights that then glow all night long.
You only need to ensure that the panels are positioned well to receive maximum sunlight.
Above all, solar energy is free of pollution and releases no greenhouse gases, works even if it is cloudy. It reduces dependence on non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, functions even if there is no electricity, and is installable anywhere in the outdoors.
This guide aims to help you in choosing the most suitable solar lights as per your requirements and budget with reviews of our favorite outdoor solar lights.
Debunking Myths about Solar Lights
While these benefits are enough to choose solar lights, there are some myths to debunk so that you are not misled. These myths are that solar energy cannot work on a cloudy day or at night, and it is not that bright or powerful as battery-operated or electrical lights.
However, these are only myths. Solar lights can be as bright and powerful as you can desire. They can work satisfactorily on any day or night irrespective of the weather and without cords. That said, you need to comprehend that not all solar lights are created equally. However, yet all of them are safer and hassle-free.
Reviews of 5 Best Solar Lights of 2019
BAXIA TECHNOLOGY BX-SL-101 Solar Lights
Designed for gates, fences, gardens, yards, pathway, steps, and garages; the solar lights from Baxia is pretty versatile. The four wall-mounted lights, each with 28 LEDs and 400 Lumens brightness, are sufficient for illuminating any outdoor space.
However, these are no ordinary solar lights. They are nocturnal motion sensors as well to keep security intact. When any kind of motion is detected at night within the range of 3-5 m, the lights automatically turn on. This makes illumination useful not only for decorative but also for protection purposes.
It can now help in knowing about any unexpected movement at night. You can even keep a watch on your pets at night! The powerful LEDs turn ON when motion is detected within the angle of 120 degrees and up to the distance of 10 to 16 ft.
The lights then turn OFF on their own after 30 seconds of no motion detection. For these lights to work, it is essential to charge their 1200mAH Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries during the day time for almost 8 hours. Note that the lights only work when any motion is detected at night.
Unlike many other solar lights, these lights made using high-impact ABS plastic comes with NO DIM mode. It means that they do not dim at all. This itself extends both the lifespan and functional time. Further, with the IP65 rating, these lights are waterproof, water-resistant, and heat-resistant. Moreover, a lampshade covering over the LEDs contribute to better performance and longer life.
- Motion detection for safety
- Heat and frost resistant
- Easy to install
- Highly efficient due to no DIM and motion-sensing modes
- Super bright
- White glow
- Good lithium battery life
- Batteries included
- One of the lights may not work for long as reported by customers although it is rare
LITOM 12 LED Solar Landscape Spotlights
Consider these LITOM lights for illuminating your outdoor landscapes or the front of your house. Available in cold and warm light glow, these spotlights feature a 90-degree adjustable polysilicon solar panel and 12 LEDs with a brightness capacity of 600 Lumens.
This brightness is enough to illuminate the area falling within the model’s 120-degree wide-angle. A notable feature of these lights is their two working modes, although they automatically turn ON at sunset.
Pressing the power button activates the low light mode that illuminates the targeted landscape spot for up to 12 hours. Pressing it twice activates the high mode that keeps the lights ON for 6 hours.
Above all, the most distinct ability of these landscape spotlights is to detect changes automatically in the surrounding brightness. When the brightness is low, they automatically switch to lighting mode without any need to detect motion.
In other words, they turn ON automatically at night and OFF at sunrise. For their functioning, it is required to charge the solar panel for at least 4-5 hours under sunlight.
Designed using high-impact ABS plastic, these solar lights have managed to gain the IP67 waterproof rating. They are also resistant to heat and frost and work well even amidst the temperature ranging from -20 to 60 degrees Celsius. Thus, they can endure any kind of harsh weather.
This is how they are more durable than other less waterproof solar models and more illuminating than other landscape lights with just 6 LEDs. These lights are versatile in how you can install them. You can either mount them onto the wall using the included screws or stick firmly into the ground with the deeper and longer stakes than expected.
Lastly, the 18650 rechargeable lithium battery works for a long time. As per a few customers, the battery works well for almost five years.
- Sleek design
- Easy to install
- Heat and frost resistant
- Two light modes
- Extremely bright
- Cold/warm white glow
- ROSH.MSDS, FCC, CE, UN38.3 certified
- 2-year warranty
- Not lasting throughout the night if on high mode
TomCare 4 Flickering Flames Solar Lights for Gardens and Patio Driveway
Consider these lights if you love having flickering flames or torch lights in your outdoor area. The four TomCare torches stunningly mimic the real dancing flames to act as a safe alternative to the real ones. The 92 LEDs in each torch is set in such a manner that they give this blazing look even if you are at 10’. They cast a soft mood-boosting orange glow.
These torches featuring plastic tubes work just like any other solar lights. The mono-crystalline solar panel absorbs sunlight throughout the day and charges the built-in 2200mAH lithium-ion battery. The panel has recorded 17% operational efficiency.
The battery then automatically turns on the LEDs at dusk. It is worth noticing that they light up only when it is completely dark, not when the sun is going down. After charging for almost 8 hours, the torches flicker for nearly 12 hours during summer.
The upgraded ground stake height makes it extremely easy to install the torches. All you need to do is connect the spike and stake. To make it taller, just add another ground stake. This makes these torches extremely portable.
Lastly, these torches are resistant to weather by being waterproof. They can endure any kind of harsh weather. You can use them along a pathway, deck, driveway, garden, and patio for ambient lighting.
- Very light
- Highly portable despite in-ground installation design
- Real flame look
- Easy to install
- Very bright
- More LEDs than usual in each torch
- 12 hours of light meaning light throughout the night
- Poor support from PVC tubes
OTHWAY 4 Solar Fence Post Lights
Consider these artistically stunning post lights for highlighting steps or garden by putting them on fence posts. You can even add them to the perimeter of your fence to enjoy sufficient light to accentuate the area even with minimal illumination.
The light reflected from below the light plastic cover with honeycomb cut is warm and bright but is enough to find your way to the entry door without disturbing the neighbors. After all, it is an ornamental fence post light and not a spotlight.
The loving part of these lights is that they do not need direct sunlight to run for up to 6-8 hours after being fully charged within 6 hours. While it does not charge as much as expected on a cloudy day, it still gives off light for up to three to six hours, which is good.
Made up of ABS plastic, these lights are capable of withstanding a good amount of snow, rain, and wind. Each post light has 6 LEDs inside along with the brightness capacity of around 12 Lumens. This may not give you the brightest illumination, but it is enough to show you the way in the dark.
Another notable feature of these lights is that they are a day-night sensor rather than motion sensors. It means that the light will turn ON when it is dark and will turn OFF when the sun rises. Unlike other solar lights, these work on 600 mAH Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery that you can easily replace.
- Artistic design
- Easy to install
- Good warm brightness
- Available in white/warm white options
- Super affordable
- 1-year warranty
- Not waterproof; need to mount above ground
Mpow Solar String Lights
Consider these solar string lights from Mpow if you wish to have the right mix of decorative touch and illumination. Along a 33 ft string, 100 LEDs reflect a warm white glow for 8-10 hours after being powered by a solar panel. You receive two such strings to enjoy double brightness from 200 LEDs.
There are two buttons at the rear, one for turning it ON or OFF and the other for setting mode of operation. Auto on/off is a plus, which happens as per the light conditions.
These are designed for lawns, patios, decks, and trees. These lights come with eight working modes. This means you can enjoy continuous, fade, firefly, wave, shift, flicker, and twinkle glow at a time. All thanks to the ultra-thin copper wire string that is extremely flexible to bend for transforming into any shape.
The lights have grabbed the IP64 rating, which means they are waterproof. Further, the weather-sealed buttons remain intact and functional regardless of the weather and sustain the smooth illumination.
- Two string lights
- Bendable to different shapes
- Resistant to heat
- Very bright
- Different working modes
- Easy to install and use
- May not last well in winter
How to Choose the Best Solar Lights
Solar lights are popular, affordable, and comes in a wide array of products. Each of them tends to differ in terms of features, usage, and price. Some lights are meant for security, some purely illuminate, and the rest are for decorative purposes.
The existence of these varieties makes it tough to find out which ones are more capable of fulfilling your requirements, given that the budget is already determined. To make this task easy, you need to know the buying factors that help you decide whether a specific solar lights product will be best for you or not.
These factors also help you to compare different promising solar lights so that you can easily find the best option without confusion. So, let’s explore these factors in the form of answers to the frequently asked questions.
How the purpose or usage helps me in selecting the best solar lights?
For selecting a solar light, it is critical to identify the purpose of usage. In short, you first need to know what you will be using it. Knowing this is required to assess the features.
Broadly, there are three main uses of solar lights for outdoor spaces. They fulfill a few different predominant purposes. Dissimilar features of diverse lights fulfill some purposes better than others. It becomes easy to find the solar light if you’re sure of your needs. Following are the three main uses:
- Illumination: This is a pretty basic use, but some solar lights are just meant for that. These lights are made to serve one or more outdoor spaces such as a deck, patio, lawn, driveway, gate, fence, and yard. While choosing one such solar light, ensure that it is bright and offers a soft glow. Avoid too bright or too dim lights, as they reverse the purpose of illumination, which is visibility. These lights need not last the whole night, as you will be using them in the early hours of dark.
- Security: This is a premium use that you can now fulfill by paying affordably. Solar lights designed mainly for security are larger to encompass more bulbs and larger panels to give more light. These lights should also function consistently throughout the night to ensure reliable security. For this, they usually have a motion sensor that aid in increasing the total operational time while ensuring additional security.
- Aesthetic/Decorative: This is for the most tempting decorative purpose. At times, you need lights that just look good. In such situations, it is wise to choose solar lights, as they are free from the hassle of wires and are designed to cover a small too big area. When it comes to buying solar lights for ornamental purposes, the importance of size exceeds brightness.
What are the different types of solar lights?
Different types of solar lights exist, which can increase the mood of your porch, deck, patio, and garden. Following are these types to consider:
- Garden: Are ideal for adorning a garden and boosting its ambiance, regardless of whether you want to relax or entertain the guests. These lights are typically not bright but release a warm glow for lighting plant beds and grass rims at night.
- Path: Are similar to garden lights but are a bit brighter. Both are installed onto the designated areas, but the latter ones are less likely to be weatherproof due to which they may not work during winter. However, path lights are weatherproof and usually last longer than garden lights. Path lights using solar energy are likely to have a patterned design like a star, honeycomb, spiral, or a torch. Such shapes look neat while emphasizing the path. Solar path lights usually feature a small solar panel that is at their top. You can quickly put them at a distance instead of putting them close by. This is quickly done with solar string path lights. With each light-reflecting good power, a well-lit path is ensured. They are the accent lights with more brightness lasting for 10 hours on the sidewalks and pathways and are more effective in areas of ample, direct sunlight. It is easy to set them: just stake them in the ground or hang them on the fences. Many path lights come with an ON or OFF button on each stake. Consider path lights for illuminating far-reaching walkways and walkways carved in your garden.
- Landscape: Are lights designed for adding more graceful accents to your stunning landscape, which can be around the backyard, in the front yard, or your garden. They do not offer bright white light, are not as bright as you may desire, and provide a cozy glow. You can use solar landscape lights for a pond area, rock garden, or exotic foliage to have that typical amber glow.
- Spotlights/Flood Are more powerful lights for accentuating something in your landscape, garden, and a busy walkway. Through these lights, each spot has its small photovoltaic panel and battery. You can expect brilliant light from these models with the illumination being directional. This means that a beam of light illuminates a specific object or a spot. Many of them can have motion sensors to sense nearby movement and get switched on to illuminate the area where motion took place. You can use them on pathways, driveways, and entry gates for security.
- Motion-sensing: Are off-putting the intruders, as they illuminate any area where unexpected movements in the dark are expected. These lights illuminate if motion is detected. Consider using them in the driveway or near doors.
- Post Caps Are efficient ambient lights to shine up patios, stairs, and decks throughout the night by setting them over a fence or post. Consider bright LEDs if you need a soft glow.
- Fence Are weatherproof lights with frosted or white covers on the sides and in the front from below which the light is diffused. You can consider adding them to your fence, deck, porch, and even the garden for an even glow. Unlike other solar lights, solar fence lights operate just for 6-8 hours after being charged fully.
- Ambient/Decorative: Include colorful blown glass, string, and ornate lanterns lights and are less bright than the solar path lights. They offer a warm ambient glow and are utilized in multiples or with spot and path lights.
There are a few subcategories of solar lights, such as hanging, wall-mounted, lamp posts, string, and flagpole lights. So, how to find out which is best for you. Well, it depends on the path or area that you wish to light up and whether there is sufficient wall or ground space available. While ground stakes are easy to rearrange and move, the wall mounting ones are somewhat more permanent.
Should I choose LEDs for my solar lights?
Yes! LEDs are gaining more popularity, as they are more efficient than incandescent and fluorescent counterparts. They also ensure better lighting in terms of even and bright illumination that lasts up to 10 times more than other options. This is appreciable during winter. LEDs also consume less solar energy.
It is a greater number of diodes that make LED better than other types of bulbs. The more the diodes, the brighter is the illumination. Thus, to make solar lights more efficient as well as eco-friendly, many makers use LED bulbs. LEDs are pretty bright to illuminate even the dark corners of any outdoor space.
While any kind of outdoor light can work well with a solar panel, solar garden lights are increasingly replacing all options with LEDs. These efficient sources are directional, which means they release light in one direction, unlike the fluorescent and incandescent ones reflecting light in all directions.
LEDs also do not release much heat, unlike their ancestors. Thus, they are more affordable to use. Further, they are available in a myriad of colors. Now, there is no need to color lightbulbs, as LED bulbs have their blend of hues. Even more impressive is the fact that some can connect with your Wi-Fi and can operate via your smartphone.
How many LEDs should I choose?
The solar lights for outdoors come with varying numbers of LEDs. For instance, you will find a solar light with just 4 LEDs or with even 50 LEDs. You should choose the one that can illuminate the entire designated area. The more the LEDs, the higher shall be the intensity of light.
How do I choose the brightest solar lights?
Most solar lights use LEDs whose brightness is gauged in terms of lumens, a unit indicating the amount of power produced by the light source. This measure of power output tends to differ significantly from one solar light to another. A few models produce around 15 to 35 lumens to give a soft light and a warm amber glow.
Some solar lights can produce 750 lumens that give you a brighter but harsher light. A brighter light is a necessity for security. The cheaper security lights have approximately 200 lumens but may go up to 1400 lumens to charge you lavishly more.
Higher lumens indicate a costly light, but low lumens are not always poor. String or accent lights typically have low lumens to make the atmosphere pleasant. Indeed, a few path lights just have 6 lumens, and their costly versions provide around 10 to 30 lumens.
The fact is that the light’s brightness is reliant on the LED bulb size, brightness of the sun, its quantity of rays to which it is exposed, and the efficiency of photovoltaic cells.
However, you may decide the brightness as per your purposes of lighting. For instance, walkways, driveways, and pathways require a high level of brightness. On the other hand, gardens and other landscapes are fine with gentle radiance and ambient light.
For illuminating a yard area, look for solar lights having 200 lumens. Bright solar lights usually have 200-400 lumens. Dimmer lights are okay for highlighting garden features. Following are the approximate lumen ranges for different types of solar lights:
- 90-180 for path
- 10-80 for steps
- 500-1400 for flood/spotlights
- 280-800 for motion-sensors
- 150-350 for pools
- 60-150 lumens for wall-mounted and landscapes
How do I know how much area the given solar light product will illuminate?
While the lumens indicate the power output, the lighting range indicates the area or distance that the given solar lights will illuminate. The range is the distance from the bulbs or lamp, which the product shall illuminate. This distance can be just a few feet in case of accent lights or 50 feet or more in case of floodlights or spotlights.
By checking the lighting range specification, you can ensure that the chosen light is big enough to shine the desired area. Before that, you need to measure the distance across which you want illumination. Without this, you will be unable to choose the right solar light.
The average human tread is within 2.5 feet. Thus, it is wise to take a quick stroll outside to gauge the distance of the target area. While this consumes a few seconds, it prevents you from experiencing disappointment later.
Then, map this measured distance with the lighting range of a solar light, which should be equal or approximate. If the lighting range is not mentioned in the specifications or product description, it becomes essential to check the product reviews and customer reviews.
For solar lights, the lighting range is usually from 1 to 26 feet, and it varies as per the type and design. Most garden lights are likely to illuminate up to a few feet. Now, if security and illumination both are top priorities for you, consider placing a couple of solar lights tactically or close together.
What kind of lighting effect is ideal for my outside space?
While going through different descriptions and reviews of different solar lights, you will find that many of them provide a cozy, amber glow. Such a light effect is ideal for accentuating the landscaping. Similarly, most LED solar lights emit a brighter and lasting illumination, which is perfect for security.
Further, you also need to focus on the lighting hue. This is perhaps because the modern solar lights use LEDs and emit a bright white shade. If you are searching for incandescent bulbs, consider those that come with tinted covers. These also have a label of a soft white or amber glow.
Is it necessary to choose a solar light with different light modes?
Well, this depends on your requirements. It is wise to choose a solar light having more than one mode. Such lights are more flexible, as they allow changing the brightness or the duration for which the lights are lit.
Many solar lights come with three modes, namely, ON, OFF, and dim. While the first two may be automatic, the latter one is something that you can manage. You may dim the lights in the winter, as panels tend to get less sunlight and consequently contain less charge. Thus, you may change mode as per the amount of sunlight received.
At the same time, they need to light longer, as the night is longer. Dimming is fine, as people remain less outside in the winter than in the summer.
Not all solar lights come with multiple modes. You may choose a light with just one or two modes if a simple operation is just fine for you.
How to ensure that my solar lights are durable?
Durability is an essential factor while choosing solar lights, as you would want them to last for years. Durability is an umbrella term that covers the build material and weatherproof ability.
The solar lights for outdoors must have a lasting and robust construction using a protective material that acts as a reliable barrier to any kind of risk of damage. Usually, the outer casing is of aluminum metal or plastic. Of the two, metal is better as it is resistant to weather and is more durable.
Plastics are also durable only if they are of heavy-duty nature or are high-impact ABS type. Such plastics can withstand any seasonal change or harsh environmental factors. The lighter ones are more susceptible to degradation or cracks after cold winter or hot summer.
Next, you need to ensure that the lights are weatherproof. For this, do look for the Ingress Protection (IP) rating. It informs how weatherproof the lights are. Such a rating begins with ‘IP’ and is suffixed by two digits, such as IP64.
The first digit indicates the level of protection from dirt, dust, and other solids and is not that critical for solar lights. The second one shows the level of protection from water and confirms whether the lights are waterproof or not.
For solar lights, the second digit is essential. It should be a minimum of four that indicates protection from water squirted from all directions. This protection or resistance is vital for safety reasons and preventing the lights from damage due to wet weather. Regardless of the first or second digit, the higher the IP rating is, the higher is the protection level.
You should even look for outdoor-rated lights. Outdoor-rated indicates that Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has successfully conducted all safety and reliability tests to confirm usage in outdoor spaces. It means that the lights can perform well in the wind, rain, and other outdoor elements.
After all, using non-outdoor rated lights will reduce the light’s lifespan and give rise to safety issues.
How do I choose the right batteries for my solar lights?
It is wise to consider the batteries at the time of selecting solar lights. A battery’s strength indicates its performance and lifespan. A few solar-powered batteries need full exposure to the sun for being fully charged, while the remaining ones charge even in case of partial such exposure.
There are two ideal batteries for solar lights, namely, NiMH and Li-Ion. The former ones are cheap and last a long time, while the latter ones tend to sustain well in extreme temperatures.
Lithium-ion batteries are ideal for those who utilize solar lights daily, as they are rechargeable as and when needed. For the best battery life, it is essential to recharge your batteries fully.
Just as with any batteries, batteries for solar lights tend to wear out with time. Thus, it is wise to check whether the battery is replaceable or not. If you want the light to last all night, replacing would be a frequent task.
How long does the battery for solar lights last?
The batteries used in solar lights tend to last for 3 to 12 hours. The battery life indicates the number of hours the lights will stay lit after receiving sunlight. Those lights that claim a battery life of around 8 to 12 hours assume that the solar panel will be kept in direct full sunlight the whole day.
The precise number of hours depends on the solar light you choose and sun exposure. Is it for the light to remain lit throughout the night? Or is it only for a few initial hours of the dark?
Security lights have a higher battery life than the decorative ones featuring shorter battery lives. This is because most users will not be using the latter all night.
Which kind of solar panel should I choose for my solar lights?
It is vital to consider the solar panel along with the lights while selecting solar lights. Solar panels are made up of polycrystalline and mono-crystalline materials. The latter ones are better than the former panels for transforming sunlight into energy. It works even if the destined place does not get much sunshine.
You should also consider changing the panel’s angle for the best results. The optimal angles are 15 degrees in summer, 60 degrees in winter, and 45 degrees in fall.
Are solar lights still functional if there is no direct sunlight?
In case of a shaded outdoor yard or no direct sunlight reaching the solar panels, it is not going to be easy to keep the solar lights functional. However, it is possible to keep these lights functional even in an area of dense shade.
You can locate the solar panels on the roof that is a bit distant from the lighting site and then wire them to the lights kept in the shaded place. Even if there is less sunlight on the roof, the solar lights will still illuminate but not as brightly or for long as expected.
There is no doubt that solar lights are affordable, safe, and environment-friendly options to consider for illuminating the outdoors. However, you should choose the one that will illuminate up to the expected area and will last for the expected night hours without being affected by any weather.
We recommend getting started with the Baxia solar lights for illuminating up to 16 feet of area upon detecting motion or the TomCare flickering flame torches for illuminating gardens, patios, driveways, and sidewalks throughout the night.