If you want to illuminate your backyard oasis without raising your energy costs, you’ll need the best outdoor solar lights. The good ones are bright, long-lasting LEDs that are weather-resistant, with an IPX4 rating or higher to handle wet conditions such as rain. With solar-powered LEDs, the amount of lumens can vary from 1 to 30 (ideal for mood lighting) or even up to 1,300 depending on the type of outdoor light you’re using. The higher the lumen, the brighter the light will be — but for optimum brightness, it’s essential to place your lights in areas where they’ll receive direct sun exposure during the day so that they can charge fully. Although the LED bulbs themselves can last decades, most outdoor solar light batteries need to be replaced every three to four years, with some options lasting five years or longer.
When you’re shopping for outdoor lighting, you’ll want to choose the type of landscape lighting that suits your needs. For example, spotlight or string lights might be ideal for creating an ambiance or setting the mood for a relaxing evening in your backyard, and color-changing options can be adjusted to set a festive or restful tone. If you’re more concerned with practicality than decoration, outdoor wall lighting like floodlights with motion sensors can be placed above garage doors, siding, and entrances, making it easier for you to navigate around the outside of your home and illuminating any potential intruders. Path or yard lights straddle the line between decorative and utilitarian, highlighting steps or pathways in your yard or garden. Make sure that you pick the type of light that works best for your needs.
To help you find the right energy-saving lighting for your backyard, read on for my roundup of the best outdoor solar lights.
1. Classic Solar Path Lights
If you don't want a flame effect, these 6-lumen solar path lights are a classic option that's ideal for gardens, paths, and driveways. They're made of stainless steel with PVC stakes and watertight diamond-shaped glass light shades that project a beautiful pattern onto your lawn. The lights are rust-proof and weather-resistant with an IP65 rating. They come in a pack of eight to enable you to light up your entire pathway or garden easily. Each light is 16.54 inches in height and 4.72 inches in diameter, and they install easily and without tools — just stick the stake into the ground.
With sufficient sunlight, these lights take six to eight hours to charge using the solar panel located on top of the bulb and can last for eight to 12 hours between charges. The lights come on automatically at night and shut off during the day, conserving power for when you need it. Nab these path lights in a handful of different colors to match your space, including silver, stainless steel, black, brown, white, and a set with multicolored glass.
Positive Amazon review: "Great solar lights! I needed some lights to light up my garden bed, and this was just what I needed. Love the design that it makes."
2. Solar Path Lights With A Flame Effect
These TomCare solar lights are stunning path lights with a flickering flame effect that can illuminate up your garden or yard while adding some serious ambiance. Flip the on/off switch for 35 lumens of warm light. The lights are 43 inches high. The lights take eight hours to charge to full power, with sufficient sunlight which means they can light up for about 10 hours in the summer or five hours in the winter, though they can run for up to 12 hours in the best conditions. With an IP65 rating, the lights are water-resistant, heat resistant, and frost resistant so you can leave them out all year round. They're made of plastic and come in packs of two or four.
Positive Amazon review: “As others have said, these are possibly the best solar lights you can buy for any amount of money. I live in Southern California and have a ton of solar lights, and these are by far the best looking and longest-lasting. They stay on all night, and the flame is beautiful to look at.”
3. Solar Flood Lights With Motion Sensors
For flood lights that offer security, consider Aootek's solar motion sensor lights. These flood lights, which come in a pack of two, feature three different settings: security, permanent on, and smart brightness mode. The security mode uses the built-in motion sensors to turn on the lights whenever movement is detected up to 26 feet away. The permanent on mode keeps your light on all night long, ideal for times when you're away but want it to look like you're home. The smart brightness control stays on all night but increases in brightness when motion is detected.
These flood lights are high-efficient and made with PET laminated solar panels for durability. Each flood light in this two-pack is heat- and weather-resistant, with an IP65 rating. They provide 450 lumens of brightness and illuminate at a wide-angle of 120 degrees downward. According to Amazon reviewers, they're super bright and easy to install with the included screws.
Positive Amazon review: "The lights are great! I have them set to be dim, and when it detects motion, they kick in. Really impressed by how much light these things put out. Recommend buying if you're on the market for solar-powered security lights!"
4. Solar Lights To Illuminate Your Deck
If you're looking to illuminate your deck, fence, or outdoor staircase, the GIGALUMI solar deck lights are a great option. These plastic lights come in a 12-pack to cover a lot of ground. Each light takes four to five hours to charge (if it receives enough sunlight) and turns on automatically when it's dark, providing 3 lumens of warm light. They can be installed horizontally or vertically using screws and mounting tape. The lights are water-resistant with an IP44 rating and can handle some rain, snow, and ice. They’re also budget-friendly and feature a bronze finish.
Positive Amazon review: “The perfect deck light! We installed them on our deck railing (along with our fresh snowfall), and we love these lights. They charged quickly and were easy to install. The bronze finish is perfect.”
5. Solar String Lights With Edison-Style Bulbs
If you’re looking to create an overhead ambiance for dining in your backyard or a party, the Brightech solar powered outdoor string lights are ideal. With vintage Edison-style bulbs, each light provides 100 lumens of soft white illumination. They take about six hours of direct sunlight to reach a full charge, turn on automatically after dark, and can last for five to six hours.
Though they don't have an IPX rating, these string lights are weatherproof, according to the brand, and designed to withstand rain, snow, and winds up to 50 mph. The plastic bulbs are shatterproof, so there's no need to worry about broken glass. Nab them with a 27-foot-long cord that features 12 bulbs, or with a 48-foot cord featuring 15 bulbs. On top of that, they come with a three-year warranty.
Positive Amazon review: “I have had these lights for a little over 2 Years. I live in an area with below freezing temps, snow, ice, high winds, lots of rain, and 90-100 degree summers. These lights have never failed to turn on. I have them attached to the outer edges of the pergola, and they get beaten constantly by the weather.”
6. Solar Spotlights That Change Colors
DBF solar lights are a great option for anyone who wants decorative and colorful outdoor lighting. These spotlights shine at an ultra-bright 600 lumens, with nine light setting modes to create the ambiance you want. This includes seven unique color modes with a rainbow of shades of red, blue, green, purple, and more. The color modes can be set to change automatically, rotate between red, blue, and green, or be locked on a specific shade. There are also two blinking modes, making these spotlights perfect for themed backyard or poolside parties. These lights come in a set of two and can be easily installed by sticking them directly into the ground or mounting them to the wall. They’re also weather resistant with an IP65 rating.
They need four to six hours of direct sunlight to run properly and can light up for about eight hours in the summer and 6 in the winter.
Positive Amazon review: “Best purchase of the year! I put two sets around my pool, and during our end of summer party, we had a huge storm and lost power for hours. Luckily I had just installed these solar lights, and the night was saved ... what a blast! We love the color-changing cycle!”