The Best Solar Lights for Your Yard and Garden
Shopping for the best solar lights for your walkways and your garden can be a mind-boggling process. There is a huge spectrum of products available, many of them look exactly like one another, and it is hard to gauge their quality without having tested them yourself.
If you are lighting a heavily trafficked path or walkway – or just trying to add a glowing accent to your garden – solar lights are a great way to bring warmth and light into your landscape without needing to hire a landscape architect or even an electrician.
The small and flexible lights that are available today are designed as stand-alone units. The solar panel, LED light bulbs, and mounting stakes are all contained together in one small decorative housing. There are some important differences between the various offerings on the market, though, and we are going to take a close look at them below.
**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing Solar Lights
Quality and durability are probably the most important factors you will need to consider. But you also need to consider the area that will be lit by each light, how many individual lights are necessary, and how much you are willing to spend to procure all of the lights you need.
What Challenges Are Presented by Your Local Climate?
Quality and durability are the most important factors you need to consider. After all, these lights are going to be left outside week after week and month after month. They need to be strong enough to stand up to punishing UV sunlight; well-sealed to withstand relentless rainfall; with tough circuitry that will survive freezing temperatures without failing.
You can ensure that you’re picking the best lights for your local climate by examining customer reviews and reading about what successes and failures have been shared by others who live in a similar climate.
If you live in Arizona, snow is obviously not a huge factor for you. But you need to be absolutely sure that the lights you choose will stand up to the intense UV light of direct afternoon sunshine. If you live in Minnesota, intense sunshine is less of a concern, but you will need to choose lights that will survive the occasional unexpected snowfall and light freeze. In Seattle, you may be immune to heavy frost and intense sunshine – but your lights need to be extremely well insulated to protect against the constant humidity and rainfall.
How Many Lights Do You Need?
If you are lighting a path or walkway, you will need to consider the area of illumination provided by each light. Measure the length of your walkway, and divide the total length by the area that is illuminated by the light you are considering. Consider installing extra solar lights around obstacles like steps and footbridges. And also consider installing extra lights around areas of interest like planting beds, fountains, and sitting areas.
If you will be using the lights as aesthetic accents, rather than to functionally light a walkway, the number of solar lights you need is really up to you. Consider the area that is illuminated by each light, and consider the intensity of lighting that will best accentuate the feature that you want to draw attention to. Keep in mind that if you overdo it with these lights, you might accidentally detract attention away from the feature you intended to accent. A little accent goes a long way, and you will find that the soft light emitted by a few of these lights provides a lovely contrast to the ambient darkness in your nighttime landscape.
How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
Pricing solar lights can be tricky. The price given is usually for a pack of multiple lights – and the number of lights included in a pack can vary from 2 to 10 or more. To shop with certainty, break the price down to understand the cost per light – and make your decision accordingly.
As with most things… you get what you pay for. You can choose the cheapest option to make a quick and affordable improvement in your landscape, but cheaper lights will not last as long as more quality products. For a long and reliable lifespan, choose the highest quality solar lights.
The Moonrays brand carries the torch, so to speak, for having the highest quality, most reliable solar lights on the market. Reliable quality is the reason this company has been at the top of the game since 1986. As you would expect, the price of these high-end lights reflects their esteemed quality.
The Moonrays 91754 sits atop a 18.5-inch stake, made of a sturdy metal with a rubbed bronze finish. The lights sit approximately 14 inches above ground after installation. This light uses a warm white .35-watt LED rated for 30 lumens. Each light provides an illuminated area of approximately 48 inches.
Power is stored in 3 AA NiMH batteries (included), and a light sensing diode automatically turns the light on when the sun goes down. When fully charged, the light will operate at full power for several hours. Moonrays provides a 1-Year limited warranty on the 91754 Richmond series.
The most common complaint about these lights involves the mounting stakes and their connection to the light housing at the top of the stake. Many people choose to discard the plastic point at the bottom of the metal stake and instead slide the metal stake sheathing over a piece of rebar or PVC which has been permanently installed in the desired location.
- Bright lighting – up to 20x brighter than standard 1.2 lumen lights
- High quality electronics, built to last
- Optionally upgrade batteries for extended performance
- Easy to customize installation with steel rebar or other methods – to improve mounting
- Excellent water-proofing – safe for rainy and snowy settings
- Bronze construction can withstand intense direct sunlight
- While the light assembly and electronic workings of the Moonray 91754 are the finest available, the stakes are prone to breaking and must be handled carefully
- Plastic connection between light housing and metal stake is a weak point in construction
This offering from Enchanted Spaces provides an affordable alternative to the Moonrays product without sacrificing the attractiveness of the design. These lights also feature an attractive bronze stake and housing, although the lens is made of plastic. The spiral pattern of the lens creates an attractive star-shaped pattern of light on the surrounding ground.
Each light sits atop a fixed 16-inch stake, and when installed the lights will be about 12 inches above the ground. A natural white LED provides 1 lumen of output and illuminates approximately 36 inches of area.
Enchanted Spaces includes one AA Ni-MH rechargeable battery with each light. The standard battery will operate the light for up to 6 hours with a full charge. An on/off switch is built in to each light for battery preservation and storage. The manufacturer recommends allowing the battery to fully charge 10-12 times before maximum battery storage capacity will be reached.
Many people find the spiral star pattern of light to be quite pleasing. While the materials used are lighter-weight and not as sturdy as the Moonray – Enchanted Spaces does provide a 6-month warranty on all parts.
- Pleasant light pattern adds an element of decoration to your garden or pathway
- Relatively high quality construction is safe for wet environments
- Bronze construction can stand up to intense direct sunlight
- Responsive customer service for warranty claims
- Extremely light weight materials require care and patience for installation
- Lights are low to the ground and height is not adjustable
Westinghouse’s Kenbury lights feature stainless steel construction. This unit includes three bulbs – 2 natural white LEDs and a color-changing LED that rotates through various colors for an added aspect of interest in your evening landscape.
The stainless steel stake and housing are available in a few different colors, including basic black. The stake is 15 inches tall, and the light will be about 10 inches above the ground after installation. The lantern lens is made of ribbed plastic. While 3 LEDs are present, these lights are not quite as bright as others on the market, and will illuminate an area of 24 to 36 inches, depending on the strength of the charge.
These lights come standard with 400 mAh rechargeable AA batteries, so it’s not likely that you will ever need to upgrade the batteries. An on/off switch is included for storage and battery-protection, along with a selector to toggle between white light, colored light, or both.
With all three bulbs enabled, these lamps can burn through their stored solar power relatively quickly. With a full charge they will operate for 5 or 6 hours. These are an excellent choice for someone looking for an unusual effect – but there are better choices if your sole objective is bright lighting for safety’s sake.
- Color-changing bulb brings an added element of interest and beauty to the landscape
- High quality construction is safe for wet environments
- Stainless steel construction means no worries about intense direct sunlight
- Responsive customer service department
- Relatively low light intensity means more units may be necessary to thoroughly light your walkway
- Require full sun all day for optimum operation
- Low height at 10 inches is not adjustable
GardenJoy’s outdoor solar garden lights provide unmatched value in this crowded marketplace. When you order a box of 10 lights, you will pay approximately $ per light, which makes them a perfect match for small budgets and temporary installations.
GardenJoy delivers two 4-inch extension stakes for each light housing you purchase. Each light assembly sits atop a 4-inch stake – and you can easily extend it to 8 or 12 inches by adding the included extensions. All of the stakes and extensions are made of hollow plastic. The 2.4 lumen LED bulbs illuminate an area of about 36 inches when fully charged.
These lights use a AA NiMH rechargeable battery. The standard batteries have been reported to fail somewhat often, but are easily replaced with higher-quality AA NiMH batteries – be sure to match the specified voltage of 1.2 volts.
The value of this offering is unmatched. But, as you would expect, the quality is consistent with the pricing. Many people have reported failures after several months of operation, and the electronics are not likely to withstand punishing conditions for very long. To make sure that you get your money’s worth, GardenJoy provides a no-questions-asked money back guarantee for 365 days from the date of purchase.
- Unmatched value – perfect for temporary installations or those requiring many lights on a tight budget
- 365-day no-questions-asked money back guarantee
- Easily adjust height to 4, 8, or 12 inches
- Poor choice for rainy, humid, or snowy climates
- Low quality batteries are commonly problematic
Sogrand’s offering features two LEDs for two colors of lighting – bright white or blue. Each light has a setting to choose the color you want.
The lights sit atop a 13-inch stake made of a thin stainless steel material – available in shiny chrome or black. When installed, each light will be about 8-9 inches above the ground, and will illuminate an area from 24-36 inches in diameter. The stake and top housing are stainless steel. The globe is plastic and features a ribbed texture which creates an intricate pattern of light on the ground.
Each light includes one rechargeable AAA Ni-Cd battery, which requires 24 hours of full sun to reach its maximum charge. When fully charged, the light is capable of operating for up to 8 hours. No on/off switch is included, so the unit relies on its light sensor to switch between on and off states.
The top complaint about this product is that the light is not bright enough. At full charge, the white light can illuminate a 36-inch area, but the blue light is limited to about 24 inches, even at peak charge.
- Good value – solid choice for those on a tight budget
- Stainless steel construction means no worries about harsh UV sunshine
- Blue light is dim only covering about 2 feet of area
- Low quality stainless steel can break or bend during installation – use care
- Low height is not adjustable
- Not a good choice for wet environments
Conclusion – Which are the Best Solar Lights?
The best choice for you will depend on your unique circumstance.
If you are looking for the highest quality product that will last the longest time in harsh conditions, then the Moonrays 91754 are the lights for you. We didn’t find any other lights with an equal reputation for quality and longevity.
If you are looking for the least expensive product for a very long walkway or a special event, then definitely give the GardenJoy lights a try. At only about $ per light, there is no better value on the marketplace today.
For an unusual appeal that helps your landscape to stand out in the neighborhood, check out Westinghouse’s color-changing lights. These will last in challenging wet environments… They won’t last all night long, but they look great while they’re working.
I hope that this guide helps you to find the perfect solar lights for your yard or garden. If you have used these lights (or any others), let us know how they worked for you by sharing your experience in the comments section below. Thanks!