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Finding the Best Solar Landscape / Garden Lights: 5 Great Options

Updated on July 13, 2015
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Solar Lights for the Garden: Decorative Landscape Illumination

I'm going to admit something to you: I have garden pride. I want to have the most beautiful garden on the block, bar none. I look at your garden, and I think of ways to make my garden even better! Hey, I'm just being honest! One thing I've learned is that an illuminated garden is a lot more attractive. A great way to improve your plot at face value is to find and install a few of the best solar powered landscape & garden lights.

That's not always an easy task. Just about every major home and garden store carries dozens of cheap solar powered garden lights, many from unknown brands. Picking out a winner isn't always a sure bet: cheaply constructed solar panels, for example, can fizzle in short order (more on this in a bit).

I have written this piece in order to share with you a few of the best solar powered garden lights for your landscaping project. I'll be reviewing a handful of my favourites, and I've picked them based on simple criteria: they have to look good, they have to function well, and they have to be relatively inexpensive. I'll also offer a brief rundown on what to avoid. When you're ready, scroll down and we'll get started.

Solar Lights for the Garden: What To Look For

If you're truly after top rated solar powered landscape lights, you're probably seeking something that has some durability to it. Here are some suggestions I have for finding lighting that will last and continue to look great for years.

Beware of Rust:

Rust is an unfortunate inevitability with ferrous metals, and it's particularly prevalent in areas where the metal is exposed to water. Like a garden. If you're considering a set of decorative solar powered garden lights, take a look at the metal being used (if any). If it is made of iron, chrome or steel (even stainless steel), you're at risk of rust.

It's purely cosmetic, but it can be annoying. Don't want rust? Choose painted lights, plastic housings, or just give your lights a periodic clean with rust remover whenever specks pop up.

Not All Solar Panels are the Same:

Solar panels, like most things, come in various qualities. You can have expensive, sealed units, or you can have cheap, flimsy panels that degrade. Cost is always the main factor, but even a fancy solar panel will burn out if its circuitry is exposed to water.

My suggestion? First, don't place your panel in a wet area. Secondly, read up personal reviews (like this one) to find the best set of solar powered landscape lights for resisting the elements.

Frosted Brick: A smart solar light for your garden or green space

I love when a product combines good looks with awesome utility. When it comes to simplicity and user friendliness, these attractive little brick lights are awesome. They're a beautiful, decorative solar landscape light that functions well for many different reasons.

First off, the solar panel: can you see it? Likely not. It is hidden underneath the glass, and that's a handy thing if you're not a fan of the panel being visible. It connects to a rechargeable AAA type battery that can easily be replaced. That's a smart thing, since batteries don't last forever and not all lights allow for replacement.

Secondly, these lights require no additional wiring. You can just set them up and place them wherever you like. They look great just placed in the garden, and they provide a gentle illumination at night when the sensor detects the light level falling. There's an on - off switch underneath, but the sensor will do the work for you once it's switched on.

They are about 4 by 4 inches in size, and they're made of real glass. The light should last through the night because it uses 4 LED bulbs that draw very little in the way of power.

Available in warm and cool white as well as blue, this is a beautiful little solar powered light for your garden that I'd definitely recommend you check out.

Candle Lantern: A 'flickering' solar style landscape light

This candle lantern style garden lamp is a wonderful addition to any green space because it is beautiful, classic and elegant. It provides an excellent, warm glow to your space, and it's fully built to withstand the elements of your backyard.

Looks wise, there is very little to complain about. While it appears to be made from metal, it's actually constructed from a polymer that is weather resistant and won't corrode like iron or steel. The panels are actual glass. You may not notice it, but there are some small fake water droplets on the inside of the glass panels. That's an intentional effect, and it's not to everyone's liking (I think it's great).

There are actually 3 separate LED lights inside this smart solar lantern. There are two in the top hood that shine down, and then one more inside the candle to provide a flickering effect. It's quite realistic, and your friends may not notice it's a fake flame until they get up close.

In terms of brightness and light throw, this is more decorative and less functional, but several of them provide more light than you might expect. The whole thing runs on a rechargeable battery that's located in the top hood section. Again, because it utilizes LED technology, the lights should last all night, depending on how much sun the lamp receives.

It can even be hung on a hook, or it sits nicely on a flat surface. Whether you hang it up or have it nestled in the greenery, this attractive lamp is one of the best solar lights for the garden and has lots of favourable reviews.

Light Strings: One of the best solar landscape lighting ideas

When you think of solar powered decorative lighting for your garden or back yard, you probably visualize the typical stake style lights that line driveways or stick out of the soil. Those are great, but they aren't the only option. Since you're getting the energy for free from the sun, why not make use of multiple lighting arrangements?

A string of solar lights is a great way to make your garden look magical. An LED string is durable and low maintenance, and there are many sets that come paired with a small solar panel stake that you can place in an inconspicuous area. At night, it will look like your shrubs and bushes have come alive with fireflies!

The displayed string of star shaped decorative solar garden lights is a prime example. It's about 20 feet in length and each of the bulbs is covered by a small, star shaped casing. The LEDs inside will last for years since they have no filament or moving parts.

The solar panel itself is separate from the lights, which lets you display them in shaded areas while still taking advantage of the free sunlight. They should last for most of the night, and they come on automatically.

String lights in combination with other illumination will make your outdoor space warm, inviting and magical at night. These are some of the best solar string lights for the garden, but there are many other shapes sizes and options out there too.

Stake Lights: Solar garden illumination just about anywhere

If you're hunting for the more traditional stake style garden light, but you don't want to wire anything up, I'd highly recommend something similar to the following.

These lights by Moonrays are great for a number of reasons. First off, they're among the most inexpensive solar powered stake landscape lights you can find. Secondly, they're made out of a plastic housing, so you don't have to worry about rust or metal degradation. (Though the black plastic may fade in the sun over time).

As with most lights of this type, this set of Moonrays lamps utilizes LED bulbs, so they're bright, clear and long lasting. The whole housing is built to withstand the elements, and you can place them anywhere. They should last pretty well in rain or shine.

The actual solar panel is mounted on the top of the unit, which you can see. It's not ugly, and there are no wires to trip over. Just place them wherever they'll get a good amount of sun during the day, and you're set!

They produce 2.5 lumens of light. Not enough to read by, but it's certainly enough to make a path much less treacherous, or to allow you to admire your outdoor space and garden once the sun goes down. As solar powered landscape lighting goes, this is a good choice to consider.

Solar powered LED Garden spotlight for brighter illumination

You may have an area of your back yard, garden or landscape that you want to shine a little more light on at night. There are some great solar powered garden spot lights out there, but I'd caution you a bit first.

Solar power can only produce as much electricity (and thus light) as your panel is able to absorb during the day. So that means that a shoddy panel will produce a small amount of light. With accent and mood lighting that's not a big deal, but with a spotlight you definitely need it to be bright enough. I'd be sure to invest in a lamp that has a decent battery, panel and fixture, or you'll be disappointed.

This is one of the best solar landscape lights, and as such it's a bit more expensive. It's made by MicroSolar, and it comes with the fixture and the panel separated, so you can place the light in a less sunny spot. There's a 16 foot extension cable. I'd caution against placing this cable anywhere that a lawnmower could destroy it.

The lamp itself has 12 powerful LED bulbs inside it, providing you with substantial brightness (50 Lumen). The battery is lithium based, and it can absorb a lot of juice. Once the sun sets, you should get about 8 to 10 hours of use out of this spotlight.

The housing is water and dust resistant, and the housing is a matte plastic that won't rust or decay. Customer opinion seems to be very positive, and it's one of my top picks for solar lights for the garden.

Poll Time!

What are you planning to illuminate?

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Landscape Lighting: Finding a Solar Gem

Because the market is flooded with many very inexpensive options, I'd caution you to not use that as your primary criteria for what to buy. It's tempting to save a few bucks, but that money is wasted if the solar panel gets fried by water contact, or if the battery fizzles out after a few months.

Do your research and read what actual customers have to say in the reviews section.

I'd also caution you about panel placement. Often a perfectly good set of solar lights for the garden gets returned for no other reason than the panel wasn't placed properly in order to collect enough sunlight. If you're not getting the brightness or the longevity you require, look to that first.

Thanks for read, and good luck!

Thoughts, Questions? Leave them here.

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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      4 months ago from The High Seas

      Thanks for the advice. This helps with our planning.

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