This stylish set of four lights sit on stakes so you can position them wherever there’s soft ground. If you’re looking for lighting to illuminate a pathway, they’re an excellent choice.
The light here comes from a strip of LED filament positioned in a lantern of transparent glass. The result is a warm white glow that will shine through 360 degrees.
You can even adjust the brightness level. Just turn the knob on the switch panel. It will go from 10 lumens all the way up to 40.
The energy is harvested from two 2.4-inch solar panels that sit on top of each lantern. They will take between 5 and 7 hours to charge the lights. The manufacturers claim that a full charge will give you between 6 and 10 hours of illumination. That will be enough to last the night in most locations.
Just bear in mind that if you have the lights on their highest setting, the battery won’t last as long. And we’ve heard of a number of cases of lights going out sooner than the manufacturers suggest they should.
Fortunately, you won’t have to worry about the battery running down when light isn’t needed. A clever sensor detects light levels in the surrounding area and automatically turns the lanterns on and off.
The lights are very durable too. The top and base of the lantern are made from stainless steel with an attractive copper finish, so they won’t rust. And the glass is Plexiglass, so it’s good and strong. Each lantern is entirely waterproof, so you won’t have to worry about moisture damaging the LED strip.
Finally, the stakes are made of aluminum and have pointed ends. That means these are far easier to push into the ground than lights sitting on plastic poles.
2. TomCare Waterproof Flickering Torches Outdoor Solar Lights
If you dream of creating a jungle vibe in your garden, these solar lights from TomCare could be for you! Styled as tiki torches, they have a fantastic flickering effect, just like a real flame. You’ll get a set of four in a pack. They’ll look fantastic picking out a curving path or at the entrance to a summer house.
You can choose from two different heights. The standard torch measures 32.6 inches. Add the optional extra stake, and this extends to 43 inches for even greater visual impact.
One thing to watch out for with this one is that the stakes and ground spikes are made of plastic. If you have hard ground, you may struggle to get them in place.
One option is to purchase some lengths of metal tubing a little wider than the spikes to make the holes. We’ve heard of some cases where people have actually left these in the ground, with the spikes inside. It will certainly make it easier to remove the lights if you want to mow surrounding grass.
The light comes courtesy of a 0.88 watt solar panel on each torch. This powers an LED with a warm, flickering glow. Charging time is 8 hours, and they offer exceptional runtime – up to a maximum of 12 hours.
In practice, results will depend on the heat of the sun where you live. In sunny climes expect up to 10 hours of light. If you’re in a cooler location, you’ll be more likely to get around 5 hours.
Battery life may decline over time. It is, though, possible to give it a boost by switching off the light for a couple of days. And the lights will automatically switch themselves off as the sun comes up, so you won’t waste energy.
3. ALOVECO 2 in 1 Wall Sconce Outdoor Solar Lights
ALOVECO’s solar wall sconce is a great choice for anyone looking for a traditionally styled wall-mounted light. Designed as a classic Victorian lantern with a cast iron appearance, it’s actually made of plastic so it won’t corrode. Once it’s on your wall, though, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Three solar panels on the top of each lantern charge a 3.7 volt lithium ion battery. A full charge will give you around 10 hours of light. Each pack contains two lanterns.
The lights are activated by motion, so they’re great for security rather than anywhere you need constant bright light. And cleverly, they offer two different kinds of lighting.
When someone comes within three meters of the sensor, a bright white light is activated. This stays on for 30 seconds before changing to a flickering golden flame. (The flame is dim, so it’s more for decoration than to light the way.) The flame will stay lit until the sensor turns it off when it gets light.
And if you want to turn off the lights altogether for any reason, you can. Just use the enclosed pin key to do it.
As this is solar lighting, you won’t have to worry about having wiring in the right place. Installation is simple. Just drill a couple of small holes, insert rawl plugs, and screw the mounting plates in place. Slots in the back of the light will slide down over the screws, keeping it securely in place.
4. Aootek 120 LED Outdoor Solar Lights (Our Top Pick)
These simply designed lights are an excellent choice for anyone looking for bright lights to enhance security.
You’ll get two in each pack, and they’re designed to be mounted on the wall. At first glance they don’t look like anything to get excited over. The design is utilitarian, with a rectangular lighting area and a simple black surround. But it’s the technical specifications that make these lights something special.
First up, there are the large, highly efficient solar panels. They offers a conversion rate of over 20% – significantly higher than other lights on our list. The panels are made of monocrystalline silicon, which will stand up to the elements without deteriorating.
120 LEDs provide a bright, white wide-angle light. Light reflectors bounce the beams around, enhancing brightness.
There are three different modes to choose from. The security light mode switches on the light for 15 seconds whenever motion is detected. And an all-night mode keeps the light on constantly throughout the dark hours.
The smart brightness control mode cleverly combines both settings. The light stays on throughout the night, but becomes brighter when motion is detected. Again, the period of enhanced brightness lasts for 15 seconds.
The motion detector is best-in-class. It will pick up movement up to 26 feet away at an angle of up to 120 degrees.
The only real downside here is that the switch to select the modes is located on the back of the light. That means that once it’s mounted on the wall, you’re unlikely to want the hassle of changing modes.
GIGALUMI’s solar lights are another great option for anyone looking for lighting for a pathway or to highlight garden features. There are six in a pack, and they simply push into the ground, with the lantern held atop a pole.
The bronze casing and arched pattern on the lanterns give these a distinctly medieval appearance. They’re attractive enough to look good in daytime, as well as when they’re lit. But our favorite feature is the beautiful rippled glass, which creates a wonderful, wave-like pattern of light.
Each lantern measures 19 inches from the top to the very bottom of the pointed ground spike. So if you’re looking for something to tower above your flowerbeds, these won’t be the right choice. The lower height does, though, mean the wavy light patterns are crisp and clear on the ground.
The lantern is made of coated aluminum to resist corrosion. The stake and spike, however, are plastic with a metal cap. Take care not to damage them as you’re putting them in place, especially if the ground is hard.
A 2 volt, 0.8 watt solar panel is positioned on the top of each lantern. It will give up to 10 hours of lights from the 10 lumen LED. But this level of performance will depend on it getting direct sunshine all day.
If you’re looking for solar lights to create a bistro feel in your garden, check out these ones from Foxlux. They come on a long string, perfect for draping over a pergola to illuminate an outdoor dining area. They can also be clipped to walls, or attached to stakes in the ground.
You’ll get 48 feet of string here, together with 15 light sockets threaded around three feet apart along its length. The “string” is actually heavy-duty rubber, so it’s robust enough to cope with rough surfaces and bad weather.
You’ll also get 16 bulbs – one spare in case of any accidents. They’re constructed to be both shatterproof and waterproof.
The power is harvested by a 3,000 mAh solar panel. You’ll need about six hours of direct sunlight to get a full charge. That will be enough to power the lights for six hours – sufficient for the most spectacular banquet!
Turn on the switch behind the solar panel before the first use. A light sensor will then turn the lights on automatically at dusk. And if you want to use your lights but haven’t had much sunshine to charge the battery, you can. AA batteries provide a standby power source.
Despite looking like traditional bulbs, the light here comes from LEDs. These have a lifetime of up to 25,000 hours of use, making them far longer lasting than tungsten filaments.
One tiny niggle is that there’s more cable from the solar panel to the first light than there is at the other end. That means a completely symmetrical lighting design can be difficult to achieve.
7. LITOM Wireless Security Wall Outdoor Solar Lights
LITOM’s wall-mounted security lights offer plenty of cold white light – and you’ll get two per pack.
They’re a great option for lighting up entrances, driveways and garage doors. Anywhere, in fact, that you’re looking for bright, rather than atmospheric lighting.
They’re built to withstand seriously horrible weather too. They achieve the IR67 standard for waterproofing, meaning they can be completely immersed in water for over half an hour without damage. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, that will be reassuring.
Each wall light has 30 LEDs, with a wide lighting arc of 270 degrees. That means it will effectively light up a yard of up to 172 square feet.
The solar panel is made of monocrystalline silicon. This is both more resilient than other types of panels and offers an energy conversion rate of around 20%.
Like the Aootek security lights reviewed earlier, these have an excellent motion sensor. It will detect movement from up to 26 feet away, and with the same 120 degree angle.
But when movement is detected the lights will come on and stay on for 30 seconds. That’s twice as long as the Aootek lights. If you prefer a longer period of bright light, these will be the better bet. But if you’re somewhere the lights may disturb your sleep, you may prefer a different option.
Nekteck’s solar spotlights offer plenty of versatility. They can either be stuck in the ground or mounted on the wall. If placing in the ground, though, you’ll want to wait for a day when the earth is soft. The spike is made of plastic, and it won’t cope with being forced into a hard surface.
Each light is powered by a 2,200 mAh rechargeable battery, which is in turn fed by a solar panel. That panel is made of high quality monocrystalline silicon, so it’s both durable and efficient. The angle can be adjusted through 90 degrees, helping it to catch the rays.
The dusk to dawn sensor switches the lights on and off automatically when they’re needed. Alternatively, you can select the “always on” mode.
This is a particularly good choice for uplighting your home or garden features. The light angle can be adjusted through 180 degrees, allowing you to highlight your chosen feature perfectly. And, depending on the level of charge in the battery, you can get up to 200 lumens.
If you’re looking for lights to be a feature themselves, though, these won’t be the best option. The black plastic design favors substance over style.
They are designed to resist rain, snow, sleet or frost. And if you do run into any problems, we’ve heard excellent reports about Neckteck’s responsive customer service.
If you’re looking for something a little different, these quirky stake lights from WOHOME are definitely worth checking out. They’re styled as lilies, with the light glowing through the center of each flower.
This is actually an upgrade on an earlier design from WOHOME. They’ve responded to feedback by making the lilies larger and more realistic. The solar panel is bigger too, providing more power for your lights.
The flowers and stems are edged with wire. That means that you have infinite choice in how to position them, allowing you to create the perfect outdoor bouquet. They’ll look best in the midst of real flowers – place them alone in space, and you’ll see they’re artificial.
They’re 29 inches tall overall, with about half that height accounted for by the planting spike. That’s made of metal with a plastic tip, so it’s easy to get it into the ground. The solar panel sits at the base. That means you’ll need to position your lily so that it doesn’t cast a shadow over it.
Each package includes three “plants”, each with four stems of flowers. That gives you a total of twelve blooms in all. You’ll need to do a little assembly, but it’s very easy and takes only a few minutes.
A particularly nice touch is that the lights change color, gradually transitioning from one shade to the next. They won’t give you light to eat or work by – but as a pretty talking point, they’re hard to beat.
10. Sunlitec String Outdoor Solar Lights with 25 Bulbs
If you’re looking for a string of lights with plenty of bulbs, check out this offering from Sunlitec. It will give you no fewer than 25 LEDs along 27 feet of cable. The length is perfect for threading through a patio parasol, providing plenty of illumination for al fresco dining.
The bulbs are designed to have a life of 50,000 hours – so you’re unlikely to ever need to replace them. You’ll also have a choice of four different lighting modes. Choose between quick and slow flash, steady light and pulsating light.
There’s a 3 watt, 5 volt solar panel. Expect to take about 8 hours of continuous sunlight to fully charge the lights this way. But if you want the lights but don’t have the sunshine, there’s also a USB charger. Plug it in and your lights will be fully charged in just four hours.
They’ll turn on automatically when it gets dark, but can’t be turned on otherwise. Bear this in mind if testing them in a lit room! Cover up the solar panel and they should switch themselves on.
The light bulbs are very pretty, but they are made of glass – so handle them with care. Fortunately, there are some spares included with the set in case of any accidents.
You’ve read all the reviews – now check out the buying guide! Here, we’ll help you identify the features to meet your needs.
Atmosphere or security?
Broadly speaking, outdoor solar lights fall into two categories. Some are there to look attractive and create a romantic atmosphere. Others are designed to enhance security, switching on whenever there’s movement in the vicinity.
Start by deciding which of these is most important to you, and you’ll immediately narrow down your search.
If you’re looking for a security light, there are a number of features to look out for. Firstly, check how bright the light is. Will it cover the area you need it to? Bear in mind that you might need to buy a number of lights to effectively cover the necessary space.
Check the distance the motion sensor will cover. Remember: a bigger distance isn’t always better. If you live near a busy road, you may find your lights being triggered every time a car or pedestrian passes by.
And check how long the lights will stay on for when they’re triggered. Do you want a quick flash of light to cause minimal disturbance? Or do you prefer a longer period of illumination to check what’s out there?
And for atmosphere, check the color, height and adjustability of your lighting. Will you be able to position it in the way you want to? Is the light too warm or too cold? This will make a big difference to the atmosphere created by your lighting design.
If you’re using solar lights, it stands to reason that you’ll need enough sunshine to make them work! But how much is enough? The answer can vary between different lights.
Look at charging times and the length of time the lanterns will stay lit on a full charge. Remember that on a cloudy day, charging times will be much longer.
Some lights have back-up power sources, like traditional batteries or a USB charger. That’s a good option if you’re in an area with unreliable weather, or if you want to use your lights in winter.
Check out the materials
Outdoor lights need to be able to stand up to the elements, so look for options that are waterproof.
There are different standards to help with this. Lights that meet the IR67 standard will cope with being immersed for water for half an hour without damage! But for most climates, lights that meet the IR65 standard will work just as well.
Solar panels made from monocrystalline silicon will be long-lasting and efficient. And if you’re looking to stake your lights in the ground, metal spikes – not plastic – will make the job easier.