Best Solar Lights (Consumer Reports, 2022)

The best solar lights provide the right lighting. They’ll illuminate your backyard exceedingly well and they’ll give their surroundings a bright ambiance.

They are also easy to install, convenient to use, are cost-effective, and economic friendly. They will provide a good balance of brightness and tone that will be perfect for your outdoor space. And they’ll also withstand any type of weather.

best solar lights consumer reports

Solar lights come in different designs, shapes, and styles and so it could be hard to pick the best one suitable for your needs. For instance, you may prefer white or warm illumination for soft lighting. Or you may want to hang solar-powered string lights to create that cozy ambiance for outdoor gatherings.

And know this: If you want them to light up your house from dusk to dawn, you need to charge them through the day with a solar panel. So, it’s important to consider the orientation of the panel before you buy a solar light. This will help you save a lot on energy bills.

Best Solar Lights — Consumer Reports

Considering the several options on the market by different brands, you can find it quite daunting to choose the right solar lights. But our research team has made things much easier! We scoured the market and compared the bestselling solar lights in terms of brightness, battery life, ease of use, features, durability, brand trust, and consumer opinions. And we cut down our initial long list until we were left with these solid options that you won’t go wrong with.

1. Signature Garden Solar Garden Lights

 

The Signature Garden Solar Lights is your best option if you want to light up your garden.  It will brighten up the spaces between your hostas and your phlox. It will also add radiance to your walkway.

The lights last very long and the way they blend into your gardens makes it look more attractive. They are resistant to rain, snow, frost, and sleet. However, there’s a lifetime warranty on the lights in case you run into any issues with them.

Each light has a 15 lumens brightness rating. This may not be as bright as other lights but it will be bright enough for you to see where you stand. When fully charged, its rechargeable battery can provide light for up to 8 hours. The lights will come on automatically when it’s dusk. They’ll also go off automatically at dawn. The kit comes with 6 lights and goes for about $40. This isn’t cheap, but at the same time, it’s not the most expensive option.

You can get the Signature Garden lights in silver or black colors.

2. URPOWER 2-in-1 Waterproof 4 LED Solar Spotlight

 

With the URPower’s 2-in-1 solar spotlight, you can easily brighten outdoor features at night. It comes with four LEDs and two brightness settings, the higher of which outputs 200 lumens. This will be more than enough to spotlight that Christmas wreath from last year you’re yet to take down.

Each light comes with a 2200mAh battery that provides up to 10 hours of power at the low setting, and 6 hours at the high setting.  That’s if it gets charged for about 4-5 hours. The light turns on at dusk automatically. It can stand on the ground with the spike, or be mounted on a wall. Generally, the URPower solar light gives you good value for your money.

3. Aootek Solar Outdoor Flood Lights

 

The Aootek Solar Outdoor Floodlights have motion sensors that turn on their 128 LEDs once it detects movement. These sensors can detect objects that are up to 26 feet away in a 120-degree arc. On test, it was discovered that the lights captured everything it came across. It’s recommended that you install the lights at least 5.5 feet high for best results.

The floodlights have an arc of 270 degrees that can be set to one of three modes. When in the Security mode, the sensor turns on the light for 15 seconds. When in the On mode, the floodlights come alive from dusk to dawn. In the Smart Brightness mode, the lights turn on softly at dusk and then brighten up once there’s movement. The lights have a 2200 mAh rechargeable battery which is better than what its competitors have.

The lights are also long-lasting. They hold up when in rain and freezing temperatures.

4. Ring Solar Pathlight

 

If you have other ring products like ring video doorbell, then the Ring Solar Pathlight is the best for you. They provide downward-facing illumination for your walkway, and the brightness settings can be adjusted easily. It also works well with Alexa, and you can set it up such that it sends you notifications once it detects movement.

We especially admire its motion sensors, which come on once they detect a presence. This prolongs the light’s battery life. You can also configure the light such that your Ring camera or video doorbell starts recording when it detects movement.

However, the solar Pathlight doesn’t come cheap.

5. Ring Solar Step Light

 

The Ring Solar Step Light will illuminate your stairs so that you and your guests don’t stumble when climbing them. The lights come in small shapes. They’re about 4 *3.4 inches but they beam enough light for you to see each step clearly.

The motion sensor built in each of the ring solar step lights makes them distinct. This makes them multifunctional. They can brighten up once they detect movement. And if connected to Ring’s other products they can be used to trigger other lights or to activate security cameras or video doorbells.

The motion sensor wasn’t very intuitive when we tested it, but it was reliable. It comes on whenever it detects movements. In low temperatures, the lights were slow to come on but they were fine in the rain.

We also observed that they struggled to charge well on cloudy days so they need lots of sunlight to charge fully. But if you want the latest tech in step lights, they’re the go-to option.

6. Brightech Ambience Pro LED Outdoor String Lights

 

Looking for a way to make your patio look like an outdoor bistro or Italian café? Brightech solar-powered string lights will suffice. The LED string bulbs are designed to look like retro Edison-style lights. They will make your deck gleam and glow gently in the evening.

The bulbs are made out of shatterproof plastics and can withstand winds of up to 50 miles per hour. They’ll also stand strong in rain, snow, and temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. When we tested it, these lights performed solidly. They endured two severe rainstorms, one tropical storm, heavy rainfall in a shower, and four hours in the freezer without getting damaged.

The 12 lights are connected to a 27-foot cord with 20 inches between each light. ( A 48-foot version with 15 bulbs is also available). There’s a solar panel at the edge that can be clipped to a railing or other platform, or stuck into the ground. The light lasts up to six hours on a full charge and also comes with a 3-year warranty. It has no ambient light sensor.

7. AMIR Upgraded Solar String Lights

 

AMIR upgraded solar lights are sophisticated powered string lights that add class to your pergola, fence, or wall. It lightens and makes an outdoor evening homey. They are 72 feet long with the 200 LEDs spaced 3.5 inches apart. The lights are combined with a thin copper wire that’s invisible so all you are able to see are the twinkling lights. You can also warp or twist the copper wire into several shapes.

AMIR’s string lights can be set to eight modes. There are fireflies, waves, fading, chasing/flashing, fading slowly, twinkle/flashing, and steady on.  They can also be set to automatically turn on at dusk and off at sunup. The lights are available in warm white, cool white, and blue options. There’s also a shorter 33 foot/100 LED length option.

Setting them up is easy. They’re strong and they last long. They withstand unfavorable weather conditions like heavy rains and freezing temperatures. They just need a good dose of sunlight to perform well.

8. Aityvert Solar Lights Solar Flickering Flame Torch

 

This high-tech tiki flame torchhigh-tech tiki flame torch prevents you from getting soot all over your hand. At the same time, it gives you that Survivor tribal-council look. When you put them on, they’ll give you a flickering 35-lumen glow, just like it was in Survival.

These lights are designed to last for at most 12 hours. You can place them as low as 12.6 inches off the ground or as high as 42.9 inches on a wall. Either way, their performance will be top-notch. However, there are complaints that they aren’t as tall as traditional tiki torches. Maybe you should factor that into your decision process.

You can also set the Aityvert Solar Flame Torch to come on automatically at dusk when it’s dark. Or on at dawn. You also have flexible buying options. You can either get them individually or in packs of two or four.

9. Agoist Solar Ground Lights

 

Last on the list, but not least, is the Agoist Solar Ground Lights. These small flat disks are perfect for brightening up your garden beds and walkways. Each light (there’s 8 in a pack) has a small 600 mAh battery that will work for about 8 hours.

When we were testing this product, one of the lights didn’t work out of the box. This could be a quality control issue but the other lights were okay.

These ground lights have a premium appearance because they sport a nice, stainless steel cap on top. However, the plastic spikes on their underside feel flimsy and are easily broken. Setting it up is easier too. Just turn on the light and insert it in the ground.

The sensor detects dusk and turns on the light automatically. The darker it gets, the brighter the light will shine. And when it’s dawn, the light will turn itself off. They also perform well in hot, humid, wet, windy, and freezing weather. To increase its longevity, it’s recommended that you replace the battery after a couple of years at most.

10. LITOM 12 LEDs Solar Landscape Spotlights

 

If you’re looking for the best solar spotlight with a high luminosity, the LITOM solar landscape spotlight is your best bet. It has an impressive rating of 600 lumens along with 12 LED arrays. Interestingly, its solar panels are built into the head of the light which makes it a compact unit. But, this design gives you limited options when adjusting the light and solar panel for optimal charging.

These lights come in several varieties. You can get the Warm White (3000k) option, the Cold White (6500k) option, or the multicolored option. There’s another option that lets you switch between cold and warm white. Each light comes with a 18650mAh rechargeable battery that lasts for 12 hours in low light mode and 6 hours in high light mode.

At dusk, the lights come on automatically and they go off at dawn.  You can set them up on the ground using the included stakes, or on a wall with screws. These lights are resilient and have no problem in tough weather conditions.

Choosing the best solar light

There are things you need to put into consideration before selecting your favorite solar lights. For instance, you can take a stroll around your property at night and check out the best places suited for lighting up and what type of solar lights will be convenient.

You may want to light up your driveway or the side doors or maybe the pathway. Take note of the lights and how dazzling you want them to be.

If you’re not sure about how much brightness you want, go for solar lights with adjustable brightness. Also, consider how much sunlight the area gets.

Strings lights or Edison bulbs are worth trying if you’d like to make your deck more attractive. The light may not be as intense as you want but you’ll get a soft radiance to your background. Notwithstanding, the main function of solar steps light is to help you see the steps clearly.

Easy installation and battery capacity are also important features, especially if you want the battery to last overnight. If battery life is your primary concern, solar lights with motion sensors are the best bet. They save power and provide light when you need it.

Also, check how the light will look during the day. You don’t want your place to look clunky and untidy. The light’s casing plays a huge role in this instance. Some come in stainless steel that gives them a premium appeal while others have glass lampshades. Also, some can be easily concealed, making them less of a tripping hazard.

Types of solar lights

Path lights: These lights are specially built to light up paths. They are often positioned high above the ground. In most cases, they look like stakes stuck into the ground with the solar panel on top of it. Go for path lights if you like this design.

String Lights: These are long cables that have numerous bulbs connected to them. They can be dainty like fairy lights or full-size bulbs. They look especially good on patios and flowerbeds. They are designed with aesthetics in mind, so they don’t really illuminate well.

Floodlights: Floodlights are bright and intense. They properly illuminate the desired area. For best coverage, mount them high up on a wall. They are great for security purposes.

Spot lights: These lights emit a narrow beam angled to illuminate a given area. They’re a great option if you don’t want to populate the place with too many lights. Similar to path lights, they always come with stakes to hold them in place on the ground.

Wall lights: Just as the name implies, solar walls lights are mounted on the fence or outside the walls of your property. They brighten up surrounding areas. They offer guidance at night and are good for security purposes.

Keep this in mind when buying solar lights…

Your solar lights will not be very efficient during the winter months or if you live in a cloudy area. They last longer when they get more sun. So, if you live in a place like Phoenix, solar lights are a great option for you. If you’re based in Seattle, not so much.

Don’t get carried away with online images where the light bulbs appear brighter and bigger than they actually are. Check the specs in the product description to get accurate information. Also, confirm the exact number of bulbs that will come with the unit, and if the cable is long enough for the areas you want to cover.

It’s also important to consider what tone of light you prefer in the garden. White lights are common but it isn’t the best option if you want to entertain guests. If you crave warm and soft tones, invest in solar lights with tinted covers.

Author

  • Keith Rowland is a seasoned electrician who enjoys fixing faults in home appliances and electronics. Being someone who loves writing, he shares on this blog, DIY tips on how to fix various devices within a few minutes. When he's not fixing stuff or writing a new blog post, he's playing with his two cute girls and their mom.