Light Up Your Backyard With These Editor-Approved Solar-Powered Outdoor Lights

solar outdoor lights
The Best Solar-Powered Outdoor Lights Popular Mechanics; Courtesy SOLARBASICS

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To create an inviting backyard space for barbecues and late nights on the patio, outdoor lights are the way to go. On a practical level, they also increase visibility at night, making you feel safe and secure in your home. Using solar-powered outdoor lights can set that glowing backyard ambiance in a more sustainable way, and eliminates the need for long, ugly cords or constant battery replacement. They're powered by solar cells that convert sunlight into electricity, which is then stored in an internal battery. You can use them just about anywhere there is sunlight exposure—no outlet required.

That said, it’s crucial to think about placement for optimal sunlight exposure. While some sunnier regions are going to naturally be better suited than others for solar power, solar-powered outdoor lights work in “most areas of the United States,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Here's our lineup of the best solar-powered outdoor lights we recommend, with some tips on what to look for while you shop to make sure you bring home the right set for your home.

For more great ways to brighten your outdoor space, check out the best garden lights, solar pathway lights and outdoor string lights.

The Best Solar-Powered Outdoor Lights

What to Consider in a Solar-Powered Outdoor Light


Ideally, you should use a mix of outdoor lights around your property, including ground lights, accent lights just above eye level, and fixtures installed on the roof or above your driveway. For walkways, pathway lights on stakes are a popular choice. You can drive them directly into dirt and soil, so you can use them to highlight your outdoor pathways, or the edges of your lawn.

For decks, patios, and fencing, a set of small, wall-mounted fixtures are effective, and outdoor string lights always feel like a festive touch. These function similarly to indoor sconces without the need for interior wiring. Some have mounting mechanisms, while others require screws and hooks in your wall.

There are also motion sensor lights for increased security and decorative lights that accent gardens and landscaping. Motion- sensor lights are best for short-term use, lighting up when you are nearby for easy entrance at your door or keeping away potential burglars. Decorative lights often come with special designs or colored bulbs, more for an accents than brightness.

Almost all solar-powered outdoor lights are LEDs, with either integrated or replaceable bulbs.

Weather Resistance

Because they are designed for outdoor use, most solar-powered lights offer decent water and weather resistance. The level of resistance varies from light to light; pay close attention to each model's weather resistance rating.

Manufacturers indicate their lights' weather resistance based on the Ingress Protection (IP) scale, which measures their ability withstand exposure to both dust and water. An IP rating rating features two numbers: The first rates dust resistance on a scale of 1-6; the second rates water resistance from 1-7. For a long-lasting light you can leave out all year, look for a rating of IP65 or higher.


Outdoor lighting plays a big role in setting the mood of your space, so you buy try the kind of atmosphere you’re trying to create, and buy the lights that will help you bring that idea to life. It's a personal choice, so there's no right answer. If you're looking to cultivate a more modern look, cool white lights with a minimalist design work well. More traditional fixtures with warm lights may be a more complementary fit a rustic home.

Many solar-powered outdoor lights have integrated apps that can change brightness or change the color of the light. For year-round lights, swap out the colors during the holidays for a festive display.

How We Selected The Best Solar-Powered Outdoor Lights

We cast a wide net to find a variety of solar-powered outdoor lights to suit different settings and needs, including lights for pathways, decorative purposes, security, and more. We payed close attention to weather resistance specs, the number of bulbs, bulb brightness, design, and special features, plus the usability of the lights’ apps. We also sought to cover options based on price, number of lights per purchase, and their long-term durability and value.

Solar Pathway Lights (Set of 12)

It's easy to lodge these mini integrated LED lanterns stakes deep into the ground, making them an ideal choice for illuminating everything from driveways to garden beds and pool areas.

The classic pattern has a clean look that fits in with both modern and rustic yards, without drawing too much focus or fading entirely into the background. The four-panel design also ensures even lighting in each direction, plus they offer a high weather-resistant rating and an estimated average battery life of about 8 hours.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Solar Pathway Lights (Set of 12)</p><p></p><p>$29.99</p>

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Solar Pathway Lights (Set of 12)


Solar Motion Sensor Lights

For function above all else, these solar-powered outdoor lights get the job done without a hitch. They offer three modes of operation: always-on, motion-sensor, and a "smart brightness" mode that stays on at a dim setting and gets brighter when someone walks by. Given their versatility, they could work well as pathway lights, installed over a driveway, or to light up an entryway.

The wide-angle, wall-mounted design gives the lights a large detection range, picking up movement from 26 feet away within an angle of 120 degrees. They also have a crucial IP65 weather-resistance rating.

Like many motion sensor lights, our biggest gripe with these lights is that you can't adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensor. Ultimately, though, these are perfect if safety and security are your top priorities.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Solar Motion Sensor Lights</p><p></p><p>$21.06</p>

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Solar Motion Sensor Lights


Solar-Powered Edison Bulb Lights

With a vintage Edison bulb design, these string lights deliver form and function. Each string spreads 12 LED bulbs over 27 feet of weatherproof wire. They feature an on-off button, so you can power them down when you’re ready to turn in for the night.

The LED bulbs are said to last for 20,000 hours and the solar panel is rated at about 1,000 charges. (In other words, this set of lights should last about 2.5 years.) Direct sunlight for at least six hours is recommended for a full charge. The bulbs are also weather-resistant and shatterproof, and come with a two-year warranty.

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Solar-Powered Edison Bulb Lights


Luna Flame Bulb Solar Accent Light

This stylish and versatile fixture has three mounting options: You can set it up as an outdoor wall light, place it on a flat surface such as a pillar or column, or attach a stake and set it up at ground-level.

The 50-lumen simulated flame light gives off a gentle but steady glow. Large and bright, You’ll only need to buy one or two of these to light up your whole yard. We also love that it has a power switch, so you can manually shut it off to save power and extend its lifespan.

Best of all, it's very low-maintenance. Many lanterns this size require electrical wiring, but this one just needs an occasional wipe-down.

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Luna Flame Bulb Solar Accent Light


Solar String Lights

This 33-foot string features 100 bright LEDs with eight different lighting modes, including combination, fading, and steady on, so you can match your outdoor lighting atmosphere to the event or your mood.

The string lights and the flexible copper wire they’re on are water-resistant and easy to shape, so you can wrap them around trees, gazebos, fences, or anything else.

If they get at least six hours of direct sunlight, these lights should run for eight or more hours each night.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Solar String Lights</p><p></p><p>$8.99</p>

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Solar String Lights


Solar Garden Pathway Lights

These solar-powered outdoor lights from Kaxiida are some of the most durable on our list. Capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -20 degrees celsius and as high as 50 degrees celsius, they're perfect for lighting up your pathways in the most extreme conditions.

They've earned the highest possible weather resistance rating, IP68, so they can withstand pouring rain and heavy winds without a problem.

These lights feature three different lighting modes, with an estimated battery life of 6-10 hours. They offer multiple setup options as well, with small stakes that double as wall brackets so you can plant them in the ground, or place them up high.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Solar Garden Pathway Lights</p><p></p><p>$49.99</p>

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Solar Garden Pathway Lights


Glass Outdoor Solar Lights

Light your pathways with a bit of panache. These solar-powered outdoor lights illuminate the ground in a decorative pattern that resembles the sun. Placed strategically, they can turn your entire yard into an elegant light show. We also appreciate their ultra-bright bulbs, measuring up to 10 lumens when fully charged.

These lights are made of diamond glass and stainless steel instead of plastic, which elevates their overall look. Of course, glass lights are more likely to break if they tip over, so make sure they're secure when you set them up.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Glass Outdoor Solar Lights</p><p></p><p>$56.99</p>

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Glass Outdoor Solar Lights


Solar Deck Lights Outdoor

For a minimalist look, these small solar-powered outdoor lights from Solpex are designed to run along a deck railing or at the edge of steps. Like many of our picks, they charge during the day and automatically turn on at night without a timer.

When fully charged, the lights reportedly cast their dim glow for up to 10 hours. They excel in illuminating railings, steps, and balconies for safety, and they make for great accent lights. Just don’t expect them to light up your entire porch.

This set comes with 16 individual lights which, when properly spaced, should cover the border of wide porches and patios easily. Keep in mind that screws are required for installation.

<p><a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Solar Deck Lights Outdoor</p><p></p><p>$33.99</p>

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Solar Deck Lights Outdoor


Decorative Calla Flower Outdoor Solar Lights

Both practical and whimsical, these weather-resistant solar-powered lights feature seven colorful built-in LED flower light bulbs on bendable wire stems, allowing you to shape them into different configurations.

After soaking up the sun during the day, they automatically turn on when the sun goes down. With a full charge, they'll run for an estimated 8-12 hours.

Installation is a snap: Simply insert the landscape solar lights into the ground and you’re done. These fun flower lights are a great choice for parties, adding a pop of light and color to your outdoor space after dark.

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