Darkness can hold all sorts of surprises. That sounds ominous, because, it kind of is.
Beyond lighting up the shadows to reveal that horror-movie tropes don’t actually exist, there are some basic things we need light for. For instance, we need to see where we’re going.
Fortunately, nowadays, no matter where you are, you don’t have to accept darkness as an inevitability. With solar-powered technology, you can use outdoor solar lights to illuminate any shrouded corners of your yard or campsite and see what’s actually there instead of imagining the worst.
We’ve made a list of our choices for the best outdoor solar lights. Not only that, we’ve put together a helpful buyer’s guide to help you make the right decision, and we’ve included the answers to outdoor solar light’s most frequently asked questions.
So, let us illuminate you about the best outdoor solar lights… I apologize. I couldn’t resist.
Our Top Picks
Best Home Lights:
BioLite SolarHome 620+ Lights, Charger, and Radio
Best Pathway Lights:
Kaxiida Solar Garden Pathway/Wall Lights
Best String Lights:
Brightech Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights
1. BioLite SolarHome 620+ Lights, Charger, and Radio
The BioLite SolarHome is a genius product. It’s an entire solar-powered system that arrives in a shoebox. It’s designed for people living off-grid but could be used for so much more. The BioLite SolarHome will bring light, music, and power to anywhere that needs it.
Let’s say you have a shed without power or want to illuminate an area of your yard for entertainment purposes; this is the setup for you.
The BioLite SolarHome comes with three hanging lights that have three brightness settings. It can also charge your mobile devices and includes a speaker so you can listen to the radio or play some MP3s.
Personally, I like the retro look of these hanging lights, but as far as outdoor solar lights go, they might not complement your intended aesthetic. However, if you’re looking for something practical or if you live off the grid, then definitely choose this reliable, multifunctional system.
Also, it’s really cool what BioLite is doing with these. Check out The Power of Home, a video they made about distributing this product to off-grid houses in Africa.
- Three hanging lights
- Easy to install
- Wall-mounted switches
- The control box stores the power and has FM radio and can play MP3s
- Two USB charging ports
- One day of full sun exposure provides twenty hours at low brightness, ten hours at medium brightness, and six hours at high brightness
- The entire system can fit in a shoebox
- Great system for off-grid living
- It has a charging station, radio, and speaker
- You may not find it the most decorative
2. Kaxiida Solar Garden Pathway/Wall Lights
One major reason you’d use outdoor solar lights is to illuminate your path so you don’t trip or trample your beautiful garden beds. Don’t worry; the Kaxiida Solar Lights will show you the way.
You don’t have to just use them on your path, though. You can customize these for your specific use. You can mount them on a wall or poke them in the ground on a garden stake.
They have a 90° adjustable angle that allows you to aim the light beam at whatever darkness you’re trying to conquer. They also have three different settings that give you the options of bright, medium, or dim light.
You can use them as outdoor solar lights above your garage, lining a pathway, or providing a soft glow through your garden beds.
Some people have mentioned that they aren’t super bright. The good news is that they are relatively inexpensive and come in a pack of six. You can place them in close proximity to provide extra light if needed.
- Six lights
- IP68 Waterproof
- Three different modes, dim, medium light, and high light
- 90° adjustable angle
- You can stake it in the ground or mount it on the wall
- With the adjustable beam, you can point it anywhere.
- Some people have complained that the light isn’t super bright.
3. Brightech Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights
Outdoor bulbed string lights are all the rage, and for a good reason. They provide a steady flow of light from one area to the next, or they can illuminate a whole patio with a soft, romantic ambiance.
The only problem is that usually, they have to be plugged in somewhere, and if you’re trying to give that romantic feel to an area with no power running to it, well, you’d have to use a big, ugly, expensive extension cord.
Fortunately, Brightech has created a solution.
Brightech’s Solar Powered String Outdoor Solar Lights include a small solar panel that can be placed in any sunny area. It clips onto a wall or a roof, or it can be staked in the ground. Each bulb has that classic Edison design and gives off a soft glow.
Twelve bulbs come on a 27′ string, filling up a pretty sizeable area. Unfortunately, some people have complained that these also aren’t super bright. However, they do look great and will provide a charming glow wherever you place them.
- 27′ string lights, twelve bulbs
- Waterproof and shatterproof bulbs
- Elegant Edison bulb design
- Two-year warranty
- String lights that you can place anywhere
- Two-year warranty
- Not very bright
4. SEZAC Motion Sensor Security Outdoor Solar Lights
Who knows what lurks out there in the shadows? Well, now you do.
The SEZAC Motion Sensor Solar Security Lights are the lights you need if you want to feel safe, or you just don’t want to flip a switch to turn on your outdoor solar lights.
Motion sensor lights are very helpful. They alert you when someone or something is coming, and they illuminate your space without you having to think about it. Plus, they’re more energy efficient than regular lights because they turn off automatically.
These easy-to-install fixtures can be used in a multitude of ways. You can set them to respond to motion, or you can just have them give off a low constant glow. It’s the perfect solar light to hang above your garage or outside your back door. They can also be used to keep predators from harming your farm animals or keep deer from eating your vegetables.
They have a wide-angle light that covers more area. The only issue is that when you place these high up on a wall, the light weakens considerably before it hits the ground.
- Six lights
- Three working modes: bright motion sensor, regular motion sensor, and long low light
- IP65 Waterproof
- 150° wide-angle lighting
- Easy to install
- Motion sensor security mode
- Wide-angle lighting lights up a wide area
- Not super bright if placed high on a wall
5. TomCare Outdoor Solar Lights Torches
It seems that most of the time, outdoor solar lights aren’t designed to be attractive; they’re meant to be efficient and useful. The people at TomCare are challenging that stereotype with their Solar Torches, making outdoor lights efficient, useful, and darn pretty.
These rustic-designed fixtures alight your outdoor space with the warm, flickering glow of firelight. Place them in the ground and illuminate your garden or pathways with an enchanting flow.
Once you push the button on, they will automatically turn off during the day and come on at night. TomCare has promised that with sufficient sun exposure, they will stay on for a long while, depending on the season.
Unfortunately, some customers have complained that the battery life doesn’t last long, so their torches stopped working after a few months. This seems to be a problem with a lot of solar-powered technology. Though the batteries are meant to last two to five years, sometimes they just peter out.
These TomCare torches are some of the best-reviewed outdoor solar lights out there because they give you what you want with that extra aesthetic flare.
- Four lights
- IP65 Waterproof
- With eight hours of sun exposure, they will light up for ten hours in summer and five hours in winter
- Easy to install with optional stake heights
- Unique warm lighting for an outdoor pathway
- Flickering flame effect
- Lights up a pathway, not much more
- Some people have complained that the solar battery doesn’t last very long
6. JMMXG Outdoor Hanging Solar Lantern
Like the TomCare Torches, the JMMXG Solar Lanterns are designed to be beautiful outdoor solar lights.
The crackled jar design sends out shards of light and shadow, providing a decorative atmosphere wherever you place them. And while most outdoor solar lights give off a soft white light, these hanging lanterns shine with a gentle, amber radiance.
You can also adjust these lanterns to a color-changing setting. They will then automatically run through a series of fun, decorative colors. Imagine a magical fairy garden with these lights illuminating the flowers.
There’s not much to say about these solar lights, other than they’re gorgeous. They aren’t very bright, however, so if you’re looking for more illumination, these will complement other lights rather than replace them.
- Two lights
- IP65 Waterproof
- Two lighting modes: warm amber light or auto color changing
- Hang anywhere
- Pretty cracked glass adds a lovely ambiance to any space
- Hang anywhere, on a tree or a hook
- Soft light and not very bright
7. LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 Power Lantern
The LuminAID Packlite is a little different from the rest on this list, but we’ve decided to include it anyway because, simply put, it’s cool.
This LuminAID Packlite is a well-reviewed handheld, solar-powered lantern. It’s a necessary addition to your camping gear or your emergency kit. It collapses to be more compact and expands to give off 50 hours of light when fully charged. It comes with an adjustable strap so you can hang it from a tree or sling it around your arm.
It also includes a USB port to charge your mobile devices. However, some people have complained that it doesn’t charge them very well, but the fact that a handheld, solar-powered lamp can charge anything, no matter how efficiently, is still pretty incredible.
The Packlite is LuminAID’s most popular product for a reason. It makes a great gift for your outdoorsy friends, and it’s a helpful thing to have in a crisis. Plus, it’s just cool.
- Five brightness settings
- It can be charged by the sun or by a USB power cord
- Collapsible lightbox
- Adjustable strap so you can easily hang from trees
- Small, sleek design perfect for camping or emergencies
- Lasts on low brightness for 50 hours when fully charged
- It offers the ability to charge a mobile device, but many customers have said that it doesn’t do this very well
Outdoor Solar Lights Buyer’s Guide
When buying outdoor solar lights, there are a few matters of business you should address before you make a final decision.
People use outdoor solar lights for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe you live off-grid and want a multifunctional solar system to light up your living areas. Or perhaps you just want to add some interest to your garden and show off your flowers at night.
Whatever the reason you’re using the lights, make sure you know where you’re placing them before you buy. This may seem obvious, but solar lights need the sun. If they aren’t in direct sunlight, they might not last as long or shine as bright, which can ruin their intended purpose.
Some solar lights, like the BioLite SolarHome or the Brightech String Lights, come with a solar panel that you can place in the sunniest area. Most others have solar panels on top of the actual lighting fixtures. These solar panel-topped lights must be placed in sunny areas during the day.
Many buy a six-pack of solar panel-topped lights, and only three or four work efficiently. This is most likely because some aren’t getting enough direct sunlight.
Like a decorative annual flower, it’s essential to place your lights where you want them and where they can get the most sun. So make sure to map out where your outdoor solar lights will go before hitting the checkout button.
If you’re going for aesthetics over practicality, you might not care so much about the brightness of your outdoor solar lights. However, if you’re buying these to illuminate an area for practical or safety reasons, you need to look at the technical specs before buying.
There are a lot of numbers listed under the technical specs section of solar lights. For brightness, though, you want to look for the lumens—the more lumens, the brighter the light.
For a basis of comparison, you’re standard 60-watt lightbulb gives off about 800 lumens. Most of these solar lights, even in their brightest settings, can’t compare. But in the darkness of night, they certainly do their job.
If lumens aren’t listed, you can estimate how bright a light is by the number of watts–loower watts mean less bright.
Most outdoor solar lights last about two to five years. However, sometimes you might not get so lucky.
Just to be sure, it’s nice to look at reviews and read whether other customers had a problem with their light’s lifespan. Also, if you don’t want to replace your lights in the next few years, you can read through the descriptions of each light and see if the batteries are replaceable. If so, you’ll most likely only have to replace the batteries.
Outdoor Solar Light FAQs
Solar lights are a relatively new technology, so it’s totally understandable that we have a bunch of questions. Here are some answers to the most common ones about outdoor solar lights.
Is it OK to leave outdoor solar lights out in the winter?
Yes. Almost every outdoor solar light system is weatherproof, and they should still work as long as they get enough sun.
However, a long winter can tax the battery, and you may have to change the batteries every year. For decorative solar lights, I would recommend turning them off in the winter and storing them somewhere warm and dry.
Is it OK to leave outdoor solar lights out in the rain?
Yes. Because they are made for the outdoors, they are generally built to be waterproof. It’s always smart to check the product’s description, though.
Do outdoor solar lights work when there is no sun?
Yes. However, outdoor solar light panels prefer direct sunlight. Therefore, they might not charge as well on a cloudy day.
Do you need to replace batteries in outdoor solar lights?
Yes. Outdoor solar light batteries should last about two to five years. I would recommend changing them every couple of years to ensure a strong, bright light.
Light Up Your Life with the Power of the Sun
How cool is it that we live in an era where we can capture the sun’s energy and use it to power our lives? Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Whether you’re living in a field in the middle of nowhere or you want to keep working in your garden after the sun has fallen beyond the horizon, you should get the best outdoor solar lights for you. The BioLite SolarHome Lights, Charger, and Radio is the best system out there right now, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Don’t let those shrouded dark corners scare you anymore. Just shine the sun’s light on them and reveal their secrets, even on the darkest nights.
If you want to go the more natural route to lighting up your outdoor space, check out How to Light a Fire: Everything You Need to Know about Fire Lighting.