- Home Improvement
Outdoor Solar Powered Garden Lights – Reviews and Recommendations
Outdoor Accent Lights
One of the best low-cost ways to improve the visual appeal of your garden and outdoor living areas is to add solar-powered accent lighting. These inexpensive yet attractive lights are an excellent way to give your surroundings an elegant look and feel without adding even a penny to your monthly electric bill.
The concept behind it is quite simple. Each light has a mini cell on the top that collects energy during daylight hours and stores it until the sun goes down. After dark, the energy is slowly released until it can charge again the next day. Solar powered garden lights offer many advantages over traditional outdoor lighting including set up that does not require any wiring.
You simply place the light in the spot where you want it and move on to the next one. If you are new to renewable energy lighting or just looking for some recommendations as to which outdoor and garden lights work best, this article will guide you through some of the different kinds that are available and what each one is used for. I will also provide reviews and product recommendations for the ones I have had the best results with.
Ground Stake Lights – Solar ground lights come in a variety of styles, colors, and finishes. Some of the most popular include traditional brass, copper, or stainless steel typically used to line a driveway or frame the outside edges of a garden or patio area. There are also ground stake lights shaped like flowers with various color choices that can really provide a “wow” effect at night giving your garden a warm and majestic colorful glow.
I have a few favorites here including the Mr. Light Copper plated stainless steel lanterns which have a faux candle effect and look like little hand lit lanterns at night. These are very classy and offer a warm and inviting, flickering soft light to illuminate and add beauty to a path or garden area. I especially like these because they don’t have to cold feeling commonly associated with LED lighting. If you are looking for something to mix in with plants and flowers, the garden stake hummingbird light by Mr. Light is a great choice. The acrylic hummingbird provides a color changing LED back-light that instantly provides a splash of color to your garden.
Hanging Outdoor Lights – Hanging solar lights are an excellent choice for around a deck or to lean out from a fence or retaining wall. A pair at the end of a driveway can also make for a dramatic and well-marked entrance to your property. I've also seen this work quite well to provide soft and romantic lighting around an outdoor spa or sauna.
My favorite hanging lights are the candle pillar lamps which provide an antique finish pillar with a glass enclosure. They provide perfect outdoor mood lighting with a warm and inviting glow that offers an upscale rustic look at a price that can fit nearly any budget.
Solar Deck Lights – These come in a variety of shapes and sizes ranging from corner lighting to spot lights that are very useful for illuminating an outdoor grill or cooking area. There are also larger options to light a seating or dining area. When it comes to choosing the right deck lights, a lot will depend on the color and style of your deck. The good news is you will have a lot of options here!
The best and most impressive presentations I've seen with deck lighting has made use of fence post cap lights and side mount post lights that can illuminate corners or areas near doors and walkways. The deck area is another great place to hang string lighting which is available in everything from frosted glass globes to dragonflies, butterflies, stars, and everything in between. This would also be an ideal place for a motion sensing light that would activate when someone enters or exits the area.
Step Lights – Solar step lights are not only a way to add safety to outdoor steps but they can also quickly transform a patio area from dull and boring to elegant and sophisticated. Here you can choose between top mounted strips or round step lights that mount flush with the surface of a wooden step.
I will refrain from offering a specific brand or style recommendation here as your choice will depend on the material your steps are made of and the type of surface you are dealing with. If you look around a little, you can find reviews for most of the major brands.
Garden Rock Lights – Solar garden rock lights are a great way to blend your outdoor lighting seamlessly within the surrounding landscape.
By day, they appear as carefully placed accent rocks and by night they can be used to shine accents and shadows on favorite features such as trees, shrubs, fountains, and garden flowers.
Here is another category where you will have plenty of choices. The one receiving my best review is the Smart Solar garden rock light with dual amber lights. It provides a gentle light and blends in with its surroundings by looking like a piece of granite.
Pathway Lighting – Sometimes referred to as ground lights, solar pathway lights are a great way to lead visitors along a sequence of pavers or to form defined borders around key features in your garden.
The ones I have had the most success with have been the Moonrays 91225 Verona style solar path lights. They come in a pack of 10 for under $30 and you can use them to illuminate any pathway or perimeter area with direct sunlight exposure. They seem to last forever and do well in just about any weather conditions. I've also been pleased with the Moonrays outdoor spotlights along paths and walkways to add light by illuminating landscaping features along the walkway without shining it directly on the pathway itself.
Pool Lights – If you happen to have a pool, spa, or water feature in your yard or garden area; solar powered pool lights can add visually stunning effects to moving or still water. Here is a great place to experiment with your lighting to set different moods using some variations or color. Try using blues and greens for a cool refreshing look or reds and yellows for a warm inviting feeling.
If you like to make an active and fun color statement, the AquaGlow underwater light show is a good choice offering colorful rays of dancing light that bounces from side to side in your pool. For a more relaxed effect, the Smart Color Chameleon floating globe provides a multi-colored glow and slowly transitions between colors.
Solar Powered String Lights – String lighting are great if you have a covered patio, gazebo, fence, or several large trees to work with. You can string them through a tree for a soft and visually impressive glow or use them along a border fence or overhang to give your outdoor space a European bistro feel.
There are so many unique varieties here, you really can create just about anything to match your own taste and personality. I really like some of the glass globes but I've also seen some beautiful work done using butterflies, mini-lanterns, and decorative flowers mixed in with shrubbery.
Starting Your Project
Whichever option you decide to go with, you will quickly see just how easy it is to get started and create an immediate impact in your outdoor living space. If you are on a tight budget, start with something small and add too it when you get the opportunity.
There are no rules that say you have to do everything at once so have fun and experiment with it until you create the right effect. Even if you don't have any prior experience with outdoor illumination, you can complete a successful project with ease and add immediate value, functionality, and curb appeal to your home.