Outdoor lighting is so much more than the safe illumination of your garden path or a useful glow to help you get your keys in the door. Stylish garden solar lights can create ambience and atmosphere and allow you to continue having fun in the garden long after dusk.
Solar lights are great green lighting, an environmentally friendly solution that also eliminates the need for wires and outdoor power. They’ll save you money on bills and batteries – just put the solar panel in a bright spot and your lights will run for years. Plus, they’re easy to install yourself, so you won’t need an electrician.
While you’re sunning yourself in your best deck chair during the day, their solar panels drink in the sunlight so they’re charged and ready to go as soon as the sun sets. They’re also automatic – you don’t even need to think about switching them on.
Solar lights are also much better for wildlife than mains-powered lighting. Because they tend to be dimmer, they’re less likely to attract insects, confuse bats, or wake birds or sleeping squirrels. Just be sure to turn off your solar lights before you go to bed, so they don’t disorientate or disturb animals, and always ensure you allow some areas of the garden to remain in darkness.
How can I choose the best solar lights?
It’s important to consider what you need the lights for. Atmospheric lighting like solar fairy lights or colour-changing solar lights set a mood and don’t need to be as bright as solar spotlights. However, it’s good to look out for:
Kelvin is a measurement of the ‘temperature’ of your lights – not how hot the bulbs get, but how bright and white the light they produce is. 1000K is about the hue and intensity of candlelight, while 4000K is as bright as fluorescent office lighting. This measure won’t be given with all solar lights on the market, but look out for it, or you could accidentally end up with a harshly lit patio or a dimly-lit shed.
This stands for Ingress Protection and rates how easily dust and water can enter electronics. (You may have seen this if you’ve ever shopped for sports headphones.) If your solar lights are outside permanently, aim for ones with an IP rating of 44 and above, which means they’ll be weather resistant.
This is particularly relevant for solar spotlights, but a motion sensor can extend your lights’ lifetime by only switching them on when there’s activity nearby.
Solar panel size
As a good rule of thumb, the bigger the panel, the longer the lights will stay lit.
Which types of solar lights are available?
Think of the lights on a Christmas tree – these are narrowly-spaced strings of small, dim LEDs, ideal for atmospheric lighting.
Fairy lights’ bigger, brighter cousin these are also on strings, but their bulbs are spaced out much more widely than fairy lights. They’re also much brighter, for practical illumination.
These solar lights are used for brightly lighting up a single area. They’re good for dark spots that could use brief bursts of bright light, like the front of sheds, or alleyways when you’re putting the bins out. This also makes them good for security at night. They’re very bright, so not one for gentle mood lighting.
Small lights that sit on fence posts, for lighting all the way along your boundary.
These tend to be stakes with bulbs at the top, for low-level lighting. These are also fantastic for softly lighting flowerbeds.
These are LED bulbs covered in canvas or glass, to glow like candle-lit lanterns.
There’s a huge range of stylish and practical solar garden lights to choose from so we’ve collated a selection of our favourite styles, so you can ensure your outdoor area is perfectly lit.
10 of the best garden solar lights
Solar Vintage Style Bulb String Lights
We love these mismatched solar bulbs. They mimic turn-of-the-century filament bulbs, and would look fantastic on a modern patio.
Lezonic Multicoloured Solar String Lights
For a burst of colour, try these fairy lights. With eight different flashing patterns, their bright hues will keep your outdoor spaces interesting long after the sun sets.
Solar Lantern Outdoor Light
This metal outdoor lantern has an ornate design that allows light to dance through its filigree patterns. Powered by the sun, the light can last up to 10 hours on a full charge and an automatic sensor within the lamp will trigger the bulb on and off. It’s also weather resistant, so it’s ideal for outdoor use.
Iron Solar Hanging Light
Bring the indoors outside with this rope ceiling light and create stylish ambience over a terrace, balcony or patio. Ideal for outdoor entertaining, the warm white bulb runs up to eight hours and is operated with an on and off switch.
Eva Solo SunLight
Bring atmosphere to your garden entertainment space with the Eva Solo Sunlight. The frosted glass casing creates an ambient glow and the lamp can either be stood on the ground or on a table or suspended from the attached ring. The lamp will run for up to 20 hours after a full sunlight charge but it can also be powered by a rechargeable battery. It comes in a choice of either small or large.
The Solar Centre Lumify Outdoor Line Lights
Get fantastic value for money with these solar fairy lights. This set of 300 LED fairy lights is 32 metres long, so offers more than enough for most gardens.
Litom Solar Fence Lights
This pack of eight fence lights would be great for lighting up the length of your boundary. They have two different light modes, and they’re completely weatherproof thanks to their IP65 rating. Bright light at a fair price.
Lezonic Solar String Lights
Keep it simple with these bright fairy lights. 12 metres long, they’re great for setting the mood on a patio or deck.
iihome Solar Garden Lights
These are the archetype of good string solar lights – 12 metres of simple golden bulbs. They have eight different flashing patterns and an IP65 rating, which means they’re waterproof.
John Lewis & Partners Lettsom LED Outdoor Solar Stake Lights
Give your paths much-needed garden lighting with these solar stakes. Because they come so low to the ground, we think they’d also be great for highlighting small trees and shrubs.
This Product Guide was last updated in August 2021 and we apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.