The 10 Best Solar Lights for Brightening Your Outdoor Space, According to Lab Testing

Our best overall pick is the AloftSun Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights for their durability, water resistance, and motion-sensing capabilities.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Best Solar Lights for Brightening Your Outdoor Space, 3 solar lights placed in the grass of a yard
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Brightening up your outdoor living area can drastically improve the way your garden or patio looks, and it might even inspire you to spend more time outside when the weather is warm. One great way to illuminate your outdoor space is with solar lights.

"Solar lights, compared to low voltage and line voltage outdoor lights, are safer and more DIY-friendly since there's little to no wiring required at all," says Sarah Jameson, marketing director of Green Building Elements. "In most cases, there is no need to bring in an electrician to install it."

With batteries that charge via solar panels throughout the day, solar lights can effectively help your household lower its carbon footprint. Installation is easy, because there are no wires to contend with and, because the market for solar lights has boomed as clean energy becomes more popular, there are tons of options, ensuring that you can find the lights that are perfect for your home.

We put 27 outdoor solar lights to the test in our testing lab in Des Moines, Iowa. Expert testers evaluated lights based on their quality, brightness levels, dusk-to-dawn sensors, and motion detection abilities, if relevant. We also put the lights through durability tests, placing them in the freezer, sprinkling them with water, and dropping a golf ball on them to see if they held up.

It's important to prioritize your personal needs when shopping, whether that means multiple brightness levels, a particular design to match your home's aesthetic, or something else. In the end, the model that ticked all of our boxes was the AloftSun Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights for their durability, water resistance, and motion-sensing options.

Read on for our list of the best solar lights.

Best Overall

AloftSun Motion Sensor Solar Landscape Spotlights

4.7
Aloft Sun Motion Sensor Solar Lights

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: If you're looking for a durable spotlight that stands up to water and offers motion-sensing options, this is a smart choice.

Keep in Mind: The lights are more functional than stylish.

These solar powered spotlights come in a pack of two and have a water protection rating of IP68, which is one of the highest ratings. In our tests, the lights stood up to pouring water and did not break when we dropped a golf ball on them from about six feet away.

The lights have an automatic on and off mode, meaning they'll shut off when it's light out so they can charge up in the sun and then turn back on in the evening as the sun goes down. Plus, the lights can detect motion within a 33-foot range.

Choose from three lighting modes including a dim, continuous light without motion sensing for 12 hours; a medium-bright, continuous light for six hours; or a bright, motion-sensing light. Testers found switching between modes a bit challenging at first, but it became much easier with time.

Our experts felt the design of the lights was quite basic, noting they're not a very stylish option, but they do get the job done. They also felt the cool white color of the light is a little cooler than some might prefer for home use. However, the lights are expected to last for 40,000 or more hours, providing a good value for the cost and features.

Price at time of publish: $33

Product Details:

Number of lights included: Two | Dimensions (of single light): 5.43 x 4.33 x 11.81 inches | Water protection rating: IP68 | Lighting color: Cold white | Battery type: Lithium ion rechargeable battery | Battery life: 12 hours

AloftSun Motion Sensor Solar Landscape Spotlights, 2 lights placed in the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best String

Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

Brightech Store

Why You Should Get It: For soft, pleasing light and shatterproof bulbs, these string lights are the way to go.

Keep in Mind: Multiple strands of lights cannot be connected together; each requires its own solar panel. But you can hang more than one strand next to each other.

Solar lights come in a variety of styles, including string lights. This string measures in at 27 feet long and features 12 S14-size LED bulbs spaced at 20 inches apart, making for 20 feet of lighting total. The LED bulbs are expected to last 20,000 hours while the solar panel has a life of about two and a half years.

The solar string lights are meant to be durable with their shatterproof material and Brightech's WeatherTite technology. While no official waterproof rating is given, this technology is designed to help the lights handle 50 mile-per-hour winds along with rain and snow. They're also resistant to temperatures as hot as 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The bulbs are made of plastic, but testers said they are "clear, pretty, and don't seem cheap."

When we tested the lights with water and a dropped golf ball, the lights showed no damage. The removable solar panel did move, but it lacked visible evidence of damage. The lights also still worked after stowing them in the freezer, making testers confident that these lights can withstand winter conditions.

Testers found the lights give off a soft, clear, pleasing light. The design is sleek and simple and quite similar to non-solar string lights. However, the strands of lights can't be connected to one another since each needs its own solar panel to charge. You can hang up multiple strings next to each other to give the appearance of them being connected, though.

Price at time of publish: $30

Product Details:

Number of lights included: 12 bulbs | Dimensions (of single light): 1.75 x 1 x 3.25 inches | Water protection rating: No rating given | Lighting color: Soft white | Battery type: Lithium ion rechargeable battery | Battery life: Five to six hours

Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights, string of lights hanging on a house
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best Motion-Sensing

Linkind StarRay LED Solar Motion Sensor Landscape Spotlights

4.6
Linkind StarRay LED Solar Motion Sensor Landscape Spotlights

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: If you'd like a sturdy motion-sensing solar light, our testers found this to be one of the best solar lights in this category.

Keep in Mind: The two "eye-shaped" lights resemble binoculars, which some may not love.

This set of two lights comes with an IP67 rating, meaning it's waterproof and will even keep dust particles out. Its 90 degree beam angle creates a more focused spotlight, and the spotlight head rotates 90 degrees vertically and 180 degrees horizontally, giving you more control over what the light shines on.

The lights have two modes. The first is a non-motion-sensing, lower brightness (about half power) that switches to a brighter light for 10 seconds when motion is detected. Once motion stops, the light dims itself. The second mode keeps the light off when there's no motion then switches to a bright light for 25 seconds when motion is detected. Testers didn't notice a big difference between dim light and bright light modes, however.

Setup involves assembling three pieces, including screwing the light into the base. Once assembled, testers found the light to be simple and streamlined. However, it did remind us of a pair of binoculars, which we didn't love. The lights are sturdy though and are a good option for a security light or for illuminating sidewalks.

Our testers appreciated that the light and the solar panel are located on one unit. The solar panel is less obvious. The light stood up quite well to our water and golf ball tests but flashed three times before turning off after we placed it in the freezer. With this in mind, we'd recommend bringing these lights indoors in winter if your location experiences freezing temperatures.

Price at time of publish: $26

Product Details:

Number of lights included: Two | Dimensions (of single light): 6.26 x 3.94 x 11.4 inches | Water protection rating: IP67 | Lighting color: Cool white | Battery type: Lithium ion rechargeable battery | Battery life: Six to 12 hours

Related: The 8 Best Home Security Systems to Keep Your House and Family Safe

Linkind StarRay LED Solar Motion Sensor Landscape Spotlights, 2 lights placed in the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best Path Lights

Hampton Bay LED Warm White Landscape Path Lights (10-Pack)

4.6
Hampton Bay Jefferson Solar Lumens Landscape Path Light (Pack of 10)

HomeDepot

Why You Should Get It: These cracked glass solar lights add a stylish sparkle to sidewalks and garden paths.

Keep in Mind: They only have one setting, so you can't adjust the brightness.

These path lights come in three pieces that are easy to assemble. They come on automatically as it begins to get dark, running for up to eight hours once they're fully charged. We found these LED lights to be bright enough to read a book by when we were close to them but not when farther away. Since there is only one setting, you can't adjust the brightness of the lights.

Made with glass, they have a cracked look for a stylish appearance. Some may not find this appealing, as it looks a bit like the glass is broken. When the lights are on, the cracked glass lends a sparkling quality to the light. Though they're decorative and made with glass, we found that they stood up well to our water and golf ball impact tests. Plus, they still worked after a stint in the freezer, assuring testers that they'll be fine in cold winter climates.

Their weather-resistant aluminum material is to thank for the sturdiness of these lights. They were given a rating of IPX4, meaning they'll withstand some sprays or splashes of water from all directions. The lights come with heavy duty plastic spikes for easy installation along a pathway or sidewalk, making them one of the best solar lights for pathways.

Price at time of publish: $114

Product Details:

Number of lights included: 10 | Dimensions (of single light): 4.92 x 18.1 inches | Water protection rating: IPX4 | Lighting color: Warm white | Battery type: Rechargeable battery | Battery life: Eight hours

Hampton Bay LED Warm White Landscape Path Lights, 2 lights placed in the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best Spotlight

Urpower Outdoor Solar Spotlights

4.6
URPOWER Outdoor Solar Spotlights

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: If you simply want a no-frills spotlight, this solar light set provides great value for its features.

Keep in Mind: The solar panel sticks up from this light, a look which some may not like.

For a simple spotlight, consider this set of two. Its three pieces are easy to assemble and can either be staked into the ground or mounted on a wall with the included screws.

You can choose from either high or low light mode, making this a simple solar light to operate. Testers found the low light mode quite dim, meaning they weren't able to read with just that light setting alone. The high setting, on the other hand, provided plenty of light for reading, making testers confident that this setting would adequately illuminate your yard.

The light is easy to use, but it doesn't offer much in the way of aesthetics. The solar panel sticks up and away from the light. The solar panel is adjustable by 150 degrees though, and the spotlight itself is adjustable by up to 90 degrees, providing more flexibility.

Its IP65 rating means it is a water resistant solar light option. We observed no damage to either the light or the solar panel when testers subjected them to water and golf ball tests. Post-freezer, the lights still worked as well. Ultimately, we found these to be a good deal for their price and practicality.

Price at time of publish: $26

Product Details:

Number of lights included: Two | Dimensions (of single light): 6.1 x 4.76 x 10.55 inches | Water protection rating: IP65 | Lighting color: Cool white | Battery type: Lithium ion rechargeable battery | Battery life: Eight to 10 hours

Urpower Outdoor Solar Spotlights, 2 solar lights stuck into the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best Wall-Mount

Home Zone Solar Wall Lanterns, 2-Pack

4.6
Home Zone Solar Wall Lanterns

Courtesy of Amazon

Why You Should Get It: The lanterns have a soft orange glow and include mounting hardware.

Keep in Mind: The lights don't have a manual on and off switch.

Our choice for the best solar light that can be wall mounted, these lantern-style solar lights come fully assembled, making for a convenient start to installing them on a wall or fence. However, installation isn't even required for these lights if you choose to simply set them on a patio table or deck railing.

They do come with a wall mounting option so you can install them for a hanging lantern if you prefer. Of course, that requires some basic household tools like a hammer.

Made of aluminum and glass, these lantern solar lights are an attractive option for adding light to your backyard. They have LED lights as well as an automatic on and off sensor. Though convenient, there's no switch or button to manually turn the lamp on and off, making this solar light a fairly basic one without lots of features or customization options.

Our testers found the light to be a warm, orange hue that's not bright enough for reading, but they do give off plenty of light to illuminate a walkway. Plus, the lights held up to our golf ball, water, and freezer tests, making us confident that they'll thrive in a variety of weather conditions.

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

Number of lights included: Two | Dimensions (of single light): 8.66 x 6.3 x 10.04 inches | Water protection rating: IP67 | Lighting color: Warm | Battery type: AA rechargeable battery | Battery life: Four hours

Home Zone Solar Wall Lanterns, one lantern on a hook stuck into the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best Lamppost Light

Kemeco Solar Post Light

4.8
Kemeco LED Cast Aluminum Solar Post Light

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: The panels are made with frosted glass for an elevated look.

Keep in Mind: The glass shattered when testers dropped a golf ball on it from a height of six feet, so you'll want to protect the light if there's a threat of hail.

This light has the look of a traditional lamp post with the energy-efficient benefits of solar power. It comes in black or white, giving you style options to match your home or outdoor patio area.

The light is weather resistant, standing up well to our water tests, though exact level of water resistance isn't given by the manufacturer. The frame is made from aluminum and frosted glass, which gives it its attractive appearance. However, the glass did not stand up to our golf ball test, with the glass shattering after impact. The solar panels on the light did not shatter. With this in mind, we recommend covering and protecting the light if hail is in your local weather forecast.

We found the lights to give off a pleasing, beautiful glow, which was bright enough for our testers to read by. Keep in mind that this lamp doesn't include any additional features, making it a stylish yet very basic option.

Our testers found the lantern to be top heavy, so it's worth noting that you'll need to properly secure the lantern to a post. It may take a bit more work, but the style, lighting, and functionality will be worth it.

Price at time of publish: $100

Product Details:

Number of lights included: One | Dimensions (of single light): 8.8 x 8.8 x 18.1 inches | Water protection rating: Not listed | Lighting color: Gentle warm white | Battery type: Three Ni-MH rechargeable batteries | Battery life: Eight hours

Kemeco Solar Post Light, one light placed on the corner of a deck
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best Landscape

Vont 16 LEDs Solar Waterproof Landscape Spotlights

4.6
Vont LED Outdoor Solar Lights

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: Their IPX7 rating means they can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, making them very water resistant.

Keep in Mind: These are more functional than stylish.

This outdoor solar light pack is an excellent fit for anyone wanting bright lights to illuminate landscaping. Overall, their design is quite simple and has two brightness settings. Low mode provides up to 12 hours of illumination while high mode lasts up to six hours. During testing, we found the LED illumination creates a spotlight effect.

Installing these lights is quite simple, with one option being to simply connect the light to a spoke and drive the spoke into the ground. Screws come with the light if you'd rather mount it, providing a bit of flexibility in how you're able to put the lights to use.

Our testers observed that the lights worked well, even after a stay in the freezer. They withstood the impact of a golf ball and resisted water damage. With a rating of IPX7, these have an impressive ability to resist water. This rating is generally given to lights that are waterproof and can even be submerged in water for a short time.

These sturdy lights make for an excellent landscape lighting choice at a decent price for a set of two, even if they're not designed to be overly stylish. They even come with a lifetime warranty that covers thefts as well as flaws in the material. When ordering, you'll have the option of selecting either cool white light or warm white light.

Price at time of publish: $26

Product Details:

Number of lights included: Two | Dimensions (of single light): 5.5 x 4.2 x 12.2 inches | Water protection rating: IPX7 | Lighting color: Warm or cool white | Battery type: Lithium ion rechargeable battery | Battery life: Six to 12 hours

Vont 16 LEDs Solar Waterproof Landscape Spotlights, 2 solar lights place in the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best for Patios

Brightown Outdoor Solar String Lights

4.2
 Brightown Outdoor Solar String Lights

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: These solar lights are perfect for those looking for a soft, ambient outdoor lighting option. They're also available in seven colors.

Keep in Mind: These don't give off bright light, so you won't get high visibility with them.

Adding ambient lighting to a patio or deck is simple with these solar string lights. Coming in a pack of two, each string of lights is 33 feet long and has 100 LED bulbs. The bulbs light up in all directions and give off a pure white glow. While the lights aren't bright enough for reading—they only illuminated an area within one foot during testing—they're a great choice for accent lighting.

No installation is required for the lights themselves, other than hanging them up or placing them around a centerpiece table arrangement. Testers said it was simple to install the solar panel onto the stake provided, so the lights can charge during the day.

The lights have eight different modes (combination, waves, sequential, slow glow, chasing/flash, slow fade, twinkle, and steady), providing plenty of ambient lighting options to choose from. While we tested the pure white lights, the set is also available in blue, warm white, green, purple, orange, and multicolor. They can stay illuminated for up to 10 hours, and you can set them to turn on and off automatically or use the manual power switch.

During testing, we subjected the lights to our water, freezer, and golf ball tests—and they passed all three. They turned on upon impact with the golf ball but turned off afterward and worked as usual. Overall, these are the best solar lights if you're looking for ambient patio lighting.

Price at time of publish: $12

Product Details:

Number of lights included: Two strings | Dimensions (of single light): 33-foot string | Water protection rating: IP65 | Lighting color: Pure white (six other colors also available) | Battery type: Ni-MH AA rechargeable battery | Battery life: Eight to 10 hours

Brightown Outdoor Solar String Lights, one string of lights placed on the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

Best In-Ground

Rayolon Solar Ground Lights (Pack of 4)

Rayolon Solar Ground Lights, Waterproof Solar Garden Lights

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: These in-ground lights sit flush with your terrain for a minimalist look that is barely noticeable during daytime.

Keep in Mind: The lights aren't very bright, so you may need to purchase more than one set of lights if you want more illumination.

For simple lights that sit flush with the ground, consider this set of four solar lights. Their warm lighting is perfect for lighting walkways with basic illumination at night, and the lights virtually disappear during the day thanks to their minimalist design.

The lights are meant to sit flush with the ground, though you may notice the silver rim around the light if you place them in the grass. These are rated as IP65, or deemed water resistant to splashes. We tested these lights by dropping a golf ball onto them and getting them wet. Testers said they held up well, although the light wouldn't stay on as long after we stored it in the freezer for a bit, so you may want to bring these inside during winter.

These lights provide a nice ambient look, but you may need to purchase more than four to provide enough lighting for a longer path or sidewalk. There are also sets of eight and 12 available, giving you some options to choose from. You'll just need to assemble three pieces for these lights, including a base, and testers said it was easy and quick to get the lights up and running.

Price at time of publish: $18

Product Details:

Number of lights included: Four | Dimensions (of single light): 1.86 x 1.94 x 2.05 inches | Water protection rating: IP65 | Lighting color: Warm | Battery type: Ni-MH rechargeable battery | Battery life: Six to 10 hours

Rayolon Solar Ground Lights, one light placed on the grass
BETTER HOMES & GARDENS / DERA BURRESON

The Bottom Line

We chose the AloftSun Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights as the overall best outdoor solar lights for their durability, water resistance, and motion-sensing capabilities. If you're looking for a set of string lights, testers loved the Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights, because they held up to water and freezing temperatures. And, while the bulbs are made of plastic, testers said they were clear and didn't look inexpensive.

Our Testing Process

Our team of experts at our testing lab in Des Moines, Iowa, put 27 outdoor solar lights to the test. We assembled them, sprinkled them with water, dropped a golf ball on them (from six feet away on the light and from four feet on the solar panel), and even stashed them in the freezer for an hour to see how well they held up to cold temperatures. We also timed how long the lights stayed on from dusk to dawn.

We carefully evaluated each light on its setup process, features, overall design, brightness, durability, and overall value. We ranked each light in each of these categories on a scale of one to five and used these insights to compile this list of the best outdoor solar lights.

What to Know About Solar Lights Before Shopping

Type

When choosing the best outdoor solar lights for your space, consider your goals for the lights. Do you want something that lights up brightly only when motion is detected? Or do you prefer ambient lighting that provides ambient lighting?

There are a few different types of solar lights, and they all vary in how they're installed. For example, pathway lights are designed with stakes that you can stick into the dirt next to your driveway or sidewalk. There are also solar lights that can be mounted up high on a wooden fence or deck. If you're looking for something more decorative, you can find string lights and Mason jar lanterns powered by solar energy. Others use solar lighting as a portable lighting option. Jameson says, "A lot of people who enjoy camping outdoors typically opt for solar-powered lanterns and bulbs as they are portable and self-sustaining for their power."

Battery

The best outdoor solar lights have a battery that can eventually be replaced if it stops working. "Technically, solar lights require rechargeable batteries to act as storage for the electrical energy collected from the sun," Jameson says. Rechargeable batteries don't last forever, so there's a good chance you might need to replace them at some point. Many of the solar lights on this list use rechargeable AA or AAA batteries, which are easily available for purchase online. Since the batteries can simply be swapped out down the line, you won't need to replace the entire light fixture.

Solar Panel Location

Some of the solar lights on this list have small solar panels on each individual light, while others have a single external solar panel that powers the entire set of lights. You might prefer the latter if you want to use solar lights under a porch or covered patio; you'll be able to give the solar panel direct sunlight while keeping the lights where you want them. Testers also found that lights with larger solar panels can sometimes have a less aesthetically pleasing look, so make sure you feel good about the size and location of the panel before purchasing.

Water Protection

Most of the solar lights on this list are water-resistant, which means they repel water to some extent. (This is different from waterproof, which means a product doesn't allow any water to pass through.) These lights will be fine in normal rain and snow showers, but you may want to bring them inside during heavy downpours combined with wind. You'll often see the water protection listed as an IP rating, an international standard that looks like "IP45." The first number indicates how well the item is protected against solid objects like dust, and the second number indicates how well it's protected against liquids. The latter ranges from zero to nine, and the higher the number, the more protected it is from water.

Other Outdoor Solar Lights We Tested

Sunnest Solar Lights (Pack of 12)

These lights have a minimalist design and are relatively easy to assemble. However, we found the Sunnest Solar Lights to be fairly dim and not very sturdy. They also don't have any features other than an on/off switch.

Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights (Pack of Four)

The Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights stood up to our golf ball and water tests and are appealing to the eye. But testers found that the lights weren't very bright and that the spokes felt loose when inserted into the ground. The lights also don't have an on/off switch.

Ring Solar Pathlight

The Ring Solar Pathlights provided incredibly bright light, and the system as a whole was quite durable. However, a Ring Bridge and a smartphone app are required to connect it to Alexa. We weren't able to get the app working properly during testing, which is why we didn't include it on our list of the best outdoor solar lights. If you have the time and patience to devote to setup—and you already own other Ring accessories—this could still be a great fit for your home.

Your Questions, Answered

Will solar lights still work in indirect sunlight?

Outdoor lights work best when they have access to direct sunlight to charge for multiple hours during the day, which is how the manufacturers calculate battery life and runtime. They'll still work on cloudy days or in areas with indirect light, but you might notice that they aren't quite as bright or long-lasting. "It is a fact that energy storage is much better if it's under direct sunlight, but solar lights can still work with rain or even snow," Jameson says.

Do solar lights work in every part of the country?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar lights work well in most parts of the United States. As long as the solar panels have access to enough sunlight, the lights will work well. Pay attention to how much sunlight your yard gets during the day, and use that to manage your expectations for how bright the lights will be and how long they'll last into the evening. You'll also want to pay attention to the manufacturer's guidelines for water exposure and use in freezing temperatures; you may need to bring the lights inside during inclement weather for protection.

Are solar lights eco-friendly?

In addition to giving you a sense of security and better visibility come nighttime, solar lights use renewable energy and don't create emissions that harm the planet. "Given that solar lights do not require electricity and are not connected to the power grid, it is very sustainable and is even a cost-effective way of lighting your home without bringing up the electricity bill," Jameson says.

Who We Are

This article was written by Brittany VanDerBill, a freelance lifestyle and travel writer whose work has been published with several Dotdash Meredith brands. To find the best solar lights, she researched a variety of options like style, installation, lighting type, and more. She also consulted Sarah Jameson of Green Building Elements.

What is BHG Recommends?

Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products.

Looking for more products that have earned our BHG Recommends seal of approval? Check out our picks for everything from picnic blankets to humidifiers.

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