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Outdoor lighting adds ambience to your after-dark patio gatherings and also prevents you and your guests from stumbling around in the gloom. Solar lights for the garden mean that you don’t have to worry about constantly plugging in the lights when you need them.
You’re spoiled for choice with the many styles of solar lights available. In our review, we present a selection of the most popular styles of string and ground lights, listing the pros and cons of each model along with their features and our recommendation.
Our Buyer’s Guide highlights questions to consider in choosing the best solar lights for your outdoor spaces.
BEST PICK – String Solar Lights
RUNNER UP – Ground Solar Lights
Best Solar Lights for Gardens Reviews
1. Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Light String
Best Pick – String Lights
The Brightech Ambience Pro Solar light string consists of 12 Edison-style bulbs on an 8m cord (7m lighted portion). These stylishly shaped LED bulbs emit a soft white (3000k) light and last for around 20,000 hours. Each bulb is 5cm in diameter which is comparable to regular light bulbs. Twelve of these put out a useful amount of light as each bulb is 2W.
The bulb cover is made of plastic which the manufacturer states are shatterproof. However, some online reviewers report that the plastic is quite flimsy and you do need to be careful about knocking into the lights. The brand’s WeatherTite technology means you don’t have to take these lights down in bad weather. They can hang on against 80kph winds, rain and snow.
The On/Off switch is on the back of the solar panel. Unlike many other solar lights, this Brightech Ambience set doesn’t seem to have a built-in light sensor for automatically turning itself on and off according to the surrounding light level. This means that you do have to do it manually yourself.
The Brightech Ambience Pro Solar light string is also available in a warm white colour (2700k), which is slightly more yellow than this soft white set.
- Light string of 12 plastic Edison-style light bulbs on a 8m cord.
- Light fittings and cord are made of rubber.
- Bulbs are warm white in colour and are 2W rather than the more usual 1W power.
- Fully charging the battery takes six hours of full sunlight, longer if it’s cloudy.
- Fully charged battery powers the light string for five to six hours.
- Cord with solar panel is 2m long.
- Power switch is on the back of the solar panel.
- Bulbs are shatterproof with a S14 rating, can withstand temperatures up to 50°C and winds up to 80kph with the WeatherTite technology.
- Bulbs connect into a straight string or into a scalloped arrangement.
- Two-year warranty.
- Plastic bulbs reported to be fragile.
- No automatic on/off feature.
Brightech Ambience Pro Solar lights provide a string of full-size light bulbs in the popular Edison style. With twelve light bulbs along an 8m cord, this string adds an old-time feel to your patio or garden décor. The rubber cord and light fittings are fully waterproof and weatherproof so you can enjoy time outside even in winter. There’s no automatic on/off feature so you do have to remember to go out late at night and turn them off.
We’ve chosen the Brightech Ambience Pro Solar lights as our Best Pick – String Solar Garden Lights. Even though there’s no automatic on/off feature, we like the bulb’s shape, size and light output.
2. Iihome Solar Garden Lights
Iihome Solar Garden Lights are an 11m string of bulb-shaped LED lights that provide mood lighting around or along with any structure in your garden. The warm white light of the 60 LED round bulbs adds a cosy glow to your patio, your gazebo, through your bushes or even along a pathway.
And there’s not just a steady radiance of light. You have a choice of eight lighting patterns – steady on, combination, in waves, sequential, slow-glow, chasing, slow fade, twinkle. There’s a separate mode switch on which you make your choice. These lights are great for celebration gatherings or just to liven up a normal Wednesday evening.
The 1800mAh solar batteries charge from the solar panel that converts sunlight to power at a rate of 17% efficiency. The battery takes 8 to 10 hours to charge and then provides 12 to 16 hours of light. Online users report that, in the flash modes, the lights can stay on for up to 18 hours in the winter darkness. Make sure you expose the upgraded 300mAh solar panel fully to the sun, preferably facing it south. The light string comes on automatically at dusk and switches off at dawn, due to the in-built light sensor.
We want to emphasize the size of the light bulbs as quite a few online reviewers report that they were surprised at how small the lights they received were. The bulbs are 2.5cm in diameter. That’s small – and definitely not the size of a regular light bulb no matter large the bulbs look in the sales photo.
- String lights consisting of 60 round, warm white LED bulbs on an 11 meter cord.
- Bulbs are 2.5cm in diameter and spaced 15cm apart.
- Eight lighting modes to choose from, including several flashing options.
- Two switches – one for power and one for mode selection.
- Solar panel is 10cm square.
- Waterproof to IP65, the highest rating.
- 1800mAh solar battery lets you keep the lights on for 12 to 16 hours at a time.
- Batteries fully charged in 8 to 10 hours of daylight.
- Automatically turns on and off according to the surrounding light level.
- Warranty for 12 months.
- Wire sometimes rusts through.
Iihome Solar Garden Lights is an 11m string of small light bulbs that can’t help but look festive and cheery. Whatever colour LED lights you choose, their glow adds ambience to a corner or nook on your patio or deck and in your garden. The significant running time (12-18 hours) lets you have a lighted garden space even in the long winter evenings and nights. Just be aware that these are small (2.54cm) light bulbs, not regular size ones.
3. Brightown Solar Garden String Lights
The (Brightown) Solar Garden String Lights show that not all light strings have to be used to surround a structure. These are fairy lights, that are very small warm white (2700k) LED lights that look best when all scrunched together in a transparent glass vessel. Instead of having light spread across one area, this way of displaying the lights concentrated in one place.
You receive two strands of lights with your purchase. Each strand of copper wire is durable but a little fragile. Although the wire can be bent into any scape or squished into a glass jar, do this carefully so as to not break it.
And it’s not just a steady glow of light that you see. You have a choice of eight lighting patterns – combination, fireflies flashing, waves, fading, chasing/flashing, fading slowly, twinkle/flashing and steady on. Use the lights to set the mood for a party or just sit quietly and unwind watching the almost hypnotic light patterns.
The solar panel for each strand comes with a stake to set it in the ground to capture the sunlight. When fully charged (battery not included), you have around 8 hours of light during the dark hours. These lights have a light sensor that switches them on when it gets dark and turns them off when it’s daylight. They’re also waterproof to the high IP65 standard.
These lights are also available in a pure white light that’s a cooler (less warm) colour.
- Two lengths of super bright LED bulbs, each a 10m length of shapeable copper wire with 100 bulbs.
- Bulbs are a warm white colour.
- Eight lighting modes including flashing and fading options.
- Automatically comes on at dusk and switches off at daylight.
- Everything is waterproof to the highest (IP65) rating.
- Designed to be scrunched up into a glass container or candle lantern for a concentrated glow.
- Switches on the back of the solar panel are for power and for mode selection.
- Solar panels (one for each string) each come with a stake to hold them in place on the ground.
- Battery holds enough charge for 8 to 10 hours of lighting.
- Battery not included.
- Easily tangled.
- Light colour is cool white than warm white.
The Brightown Solar Garden String Lights are a way to add solar lights to your garden in a concentrated radiance. The eight fun light patterns, controlled with a switch on the back of the solar panel, offer you many changes of mood lighting. As long as you’re gentle when twisting these light strands into place or putting them into containers, the copper wire will stand up.
4. Bell Howell 2905 Smart Solar Lights Pathway
Runner-up – Ground Lights
The Bell Howell 2905 Smart Pathway Solar Lights are a set of four individual black solar lights designed that give above ground illumination. Set the lantern part on the (included) stake and put that into the ground for a 60cm tall light, or take the stake off and use the lantern as a table-top light for dining or socialising mood lighting.
These lights, in part due to their plastic construction, are waterproof and weatherproof to the IP65 standard. You can keep them outside all year long, even though you may not spend many dark hours in your garden in wintertime. To install these lights, just put the lantern part on the stake and insert it gently into the ground. You may want to dig a small hole first as some online reviewers report that the plastic is a bit flimsy and brittle, and shouldn’t be put under much strain.
You have the choice of bright white light as a safe and illuminating light along with a more yellow and warmer flickering flame light for a more moody atmosphere. Change between these lighting modes with the flick of a switch.
If the 1200mAh battery is exposed to a full 8 hours of sunlight, you receive up to 10 hours of light when the sun goes down. However, online reviewers remark that the light lasts much longer in the flame mode. The automatic light sensor keeps track of the external light levels and switches the light on or off according to those – on at dusk and off at daylight.
- Pack of four solar lamps for use with the (included) stakes or without the stakes as a tabletop lantern.
- Two lighting modes – the decorative flame warm light and the more practical cool white light.
- Constructed of black plastic and weatherproof all year long (IP65 waterproof rating).
- Automatic light sensor turns the lights on and off according to the surrounding light level.
- Lasts up to 10 hours on a fully charged battery.
- Lithium-ion battery(included) takes 8 hours to fully charge.
- One-year limited warranty.
- Dimensions: 60cm (total height with stake) and 18cm (height of lantern).
- Plastic construction is fragile.
The Bell Howell 2905 Smart Solar Lights Pathway Outdoor Garden Path Light is of a style that fits in all garden and patio decors. The choice of a bright white and a warmer white light colour lets you use this light for different purposes at different times. And not having to worry about switching the lights off when you’ve finished outdoors saves you some stress.
We’ve made the Bell Howell 2905 Smart Solar Lights Pathway Outdoor Garden Path Light our Best Pick of Ground Solar Lights for Gardens. In particular, we like its simple and universal style and its choice of light colour.
5. Topmante Upgraded Solar Torch Lights
Topmante Upgraded Solar Torch Lights are a premium model of flickering flame lights. You receive four individual lights in your purchase that you place along the edge of your patio, along a pathway or perhaps use them together to highlight a corner of your garden.
We chose to go with this more expensive model of a flame torch for several reasons. This version has 96 high-bright LED bulbs in each light while cheaper models may only have 30 or so. This effective the amount of light emitted – the more LEDs the brighter the light. The warm white light of these premium torches flickers like a real flame dancing. Use these to even add a campfire feel to your outdoor gatherings or relaxation.
The solar panel has 17% efficiency in converting sunlight to useful energy. This is a good conversion rate. The rechargeable battery is rated 200mAh which supports the long time it lasts. Each bulb lasts for around 30,000 hours which is quite a few years of having a lighted outdoor space.
After charging to the maximum with six to eight hours of sunlight, these solar torch lights produce light for around 12 hours. The in-built light sensor turns the lights on at dusk and off at daylight, or when the surrounding light conditions change.
Another reason for including this more expensive model is the high quality of the construction. The upgraded ABS plastic is durable and strong; it’s not easily broken. Another feature that we like is that you can choose between two heights for this light. The stake for putting it in the ground is in two parts: the lower part is 80cm high and, with the upper part attached, the light is 125cm tall. This is very tall for a solar garden light and is useful if you plan to place the light among bushes or foliage and still want it to be seen.
You can leave the lights out all year and brighten your garden in the dark winter hours. The lights are waterproof and weatherproof in all seasons.
- Pack of four individual lights shaped like a torch.
- LED bulbs in each torch (96 in each) flicker like a real flame for a soft glow.
- Light sensor automatically turns the light on and off according to the surrounding light conditions.
- Charging time of the AAA lithium-ion battery is 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
- Operating time is 8 to 20 hours of light when fully charged.
- Waterproof to the maximum IP65 rating and also dust proof and cold weather proof.
- Comes with two pole sections for each light so you have a choice of height.
- One-year warranty and money-back guarantee for 45 days.
- Dimensions: 80cm or 125cm (total height).
- On/Off switch sometimes malfunctions.
Topmante Upgraded Solar Torch Lights are four individual lights that add a distinctive style to your garden. Their design is of a modern torch but the flickering flame warm light reminds you of a campfire. The choice of two heights for these lights lets you place a solar light in places other lights can’t go – in bushes or behind a low structure for example. This is a high quality flame torch with a substantial operating time.
6. OSORD Outdoor Solar Pathway Lights
Sometimes you want a solar garden light to be there for safety reasons. The OSORD Outdoor Solar Pathway Lights come in a pack of four lights that shine downwards to light a pathway. Each light has 12 high-bright LED bulbs inside and is weatherproof in all conditions.
The light structure looks like an upside-down golf club. However, unlike the club, you can adjust the head of the light vertically 180°. This means that the light can shine downwards at various angles and illuminate the path and whatever is beside it, depending on how far back you pace the light post.
And using this light on a pathway isn’t your only option. Instead of putting the light head onto the stake and then into the ground, you can take it off the stake and screw it to a wall or fence. This is where the adjustable head angle really is useful, to throw light at a distance from the wall.
You’re also not limited to using this OSORD solar light as a safety light. Instead of the bright cool white light (6500k) mode, switch to the warm white light (3200k) for a more cosy ambient light. As long as you charge the Lithium-ion battery for up to 8 hours in the daytime, you have about 8 hours of light in the darker hours.
- Four pack of downward lighting pathway solar lights made of plastic.
- Each lamp has 12 high-bright LED lamps inside.
- Choice of warm white or cool white light by briefly pressing the power button.
- Adjustable light head -180° vertically.
- Automatically turns on and dusk and off and dawn with the built-in light sensor.
- Solar panel produces 0.8W of power.
- Install in the ground with the (included) stake or use screws (also included) to mount on a wall or fence.
- Lithium ion batteries (included) take 6 to 8 hours to charge.
- Fully charged battery gives up to 8 hours of light.
- Weatherproof in all weathers.
- Dimensions: 65cm (total height if use stake).
- Plastic pole is not very strong.
OSORD Outdoor Solar Pathway Lights are full of options. You can use the bright cool white light as a safety light or switch to the warmer, yellower light for mood lighting. These lights can be staked along a pathway or screwed into a wall to illuminate a patio or garden area. And then, placing the lights in either of these positions, you can adjust where the light falls vertically through 180°.
OSORD Outdoor Solar Pathway Lights are a good choice if you need to illuminate paths and structures and want your solar lights to match.
7. Opard Solar Ground Lights
Not all solar garden lights have to be above the ground. These Opard Solar Ground Lights fit into your garden at ground level. They throw warm white light directly into the air above them, giving a gentle glow. These lights are generally used for illuminating a pathway or structure, such as a pool, your lawn or the outline of your deck.
You receive eight solar lights in your purchase. Each light consists of eight LED bulbs in a circle around the efficient solar panel. These lights are waterproof to the highest degree (IP65) so can handle wet environments and rain and snow. They’re constructed on anodises aluminium alloy that itself is rustproof.
After 6 to 8 hours of charging the Lithium-ion battery, the lights glow for between 8 and 12 hours. That should cover even the longest summer-night party. You can also leave the power switch in the On position, as the light sensor turns the lights on at dusk and off in daylight.
Installation is easy. Just turn the light on, attach the stakes to the bottom, dig a hole in the ground and put the stakes in. Some online reviewers discuss how to place these lights on a solid surface such as a stone patio or a wooden deck but there isn’t any consensus about the best way to do this (nor advice from the manufacturer). You just need to figure out what works best in your circumstances.
- Pack of eight within-ground solar garden lights.
- Each light has 8 high bright, warm white LED bulbs in a circle around the solar panel.
- Charging time of the 800mAh built-in Lithium-ion batteries (included) is 6 to 8 hours.
- Runtime is 8 to 12 hours on a fully charged battery.
- Integrated light sensor automatically turns the lights on and off depending on the surrounding amount of light.
- Made of aluminum alloy that’s been anodised.
- Waterproof to the highest standard, IP65, and withstands any wet weather.
- Install by pushing the two plastic stakes into the ground.
- Dimensions: 11.5cm (width).
Opard Solar Ground Lights give you the ability to place your solar lights so that they’re flush with the ground. Placing them in soil or lawn is easy – you just dig a hole to put the plastic spike in – but you need to figure out how to install them on hard surfaces. These are useful lights to subtly illuminate a pathway or the way to avoid a structure.
Buying the best types of solar lights for your garden involves thinking through where and why you need them. Our Buyer’s Guide covers some of the main questions to consider.
Where do you need the light?
You probably need evening lighting in more than one place in your garden and on your patio/gazebo/deck. Don’t expect one style of solar lighting to meet all your lighting needs. Think about where you need to have light and then look back at this review for the different styles of light and what each is best for.
What do you want the light to do?
To use lighting design terms, do you want ambient/mood lighting or task lighting? Do you want to illuminate your flowers (mood) or highlight the edges of the garden path (task)?
Perhaps you want to set the atmosphere for an outdoor dinner party (mood) or have enough light to play a game in your gazebo (task).
Some of the garden solar lights in our review offer you a choice between these two lighting modes in the same light.
Warm light is best for mood lighting and cool white light is good for safety issues or tasks. The colour temperature of light is given in degrees Kelvin. The lower the number, the more yellow or warmer the light; the higher the number the more blue or cool the light is.
How much sun do you get there in each season?
Most solar lights need between 6 and 10 hours of sunlight to reach their fully charged level. Anything less means that they can’t operate for the maximum length of time.
String lights have an attached solar panel on a cord that you can move away from the lights – to the length of the cord. You can also turn the solar panel to face the sun for maximum exposure.
Ground lights have the solar panel on the top of the lantern part. The light and the panel are fixed and convert the sunlight that falls directly down on the panel.
If your solar lights seem to only emit light for a few hours, monitor how much sunlight is actually getting to the solar panel. Perhaps the light or panel is in the shade or maybe the shadow of a garden building or a wall.
Are there any other lights nearby?
Some solar garden lights have a light sensor that automatically turns the light on and off depending on the surrounding light level. Any strong light nearby at night time will cause the solar light to turn off – including street lights. Just bear this in mind, a quick check you can do is to cover the solar panel as this usually triggers the light to turn on.
Whether you use solar garden lights for mood lighting or for practical reasons (or both), having lighting in your garden lets you stay outside after dusk and actually see the people you’re socializing with. Our review includes different types of outdoor solar lights, from string lighting to pathways lights to in-ground. You don’t have to stick to just one style of lighting. Choosing the best solar light for each outdoor space and activity (as with interior design) may involve buying more than one type.
Our Best Pick of the string lights we review is the Brightech Ambience Pro Solar. This string of 12 Edison-shaped lights is strongly weatherproof and is available in warm white or soft white colour.
Our selection of Best Ground Light is the Bell Howell 2905 Smart Solar Lights Pathway Outdoor Garden Path Lights. This is a set of four minimally styled black lights that give a choice of a warm flicker flame light or a brighter cooler white.
Now you have light in your outdoor spaces, how about heat? Keeping warm on chilly nights is easy as there’s a variety of heaters and fire pits on the market. We review outdoor heaters in general in our Best Patio Heater – 10 Great models to consider from freestanding gas to hanging electric patio heaters and then focus on specific types in the Top 6 Best Table Top Patio Heaters, Top 5 Best Electric Patio Heaters and Top 5 Best Gas Patio Heaters articles.
Last update on 2021-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API