The best outdoor solar lights can transform your garden as the sun goes down. They can be used as decoration and for ambience, or simply to provide more light after dark. But the best part about solar outdoor lights is they don’t require any mains power or battery power, which also means fewer cables and wires – so they can be more easily placed around your garden.
Most come with a small solar panel attached, which simply needs to be in direct sunlight during the day to then create a long-lasting glow into the evening once the sun goes down. You’ll still get light, even on a cloudy day, so these really are a nice environmentally friendly option if you’re looking to add character to your outdoor space.
If you do however, need something with mains power, we also have a guide to the best outdoor lights and best Philips Hue outdoor lights for a more technical set up. And if you’re currently renovating or transforming your outdoor space, we also recommend these guides to give you the best upgrade possible: best patio heaters, best cordless lawn mowers and best barbecues.
The best outdoor solar lights for gardens in 2023
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For a solar-powered product, these four spots are exceptionally bright. This writer expected a feeble glow that illuminated a few leaves before dying out after an hour or so. Instead, they bathed the foliage in about 200 lumens of warm white light that is easily bright enough to illuminate most medium-sized trees and shrubs. The blurb says they have a reach of up to 25 metres which is possibly true in the complete blackness of Mongolia. However, in practice, it’s more like five metres which is more than enough for most garden shrubbery.
The Atlas spots (also available in pairs) are equipped with tough, sealed metal bodies and waterproof cabling that simply screws together. All you have to do is mount the 24cm x 20cm solar panel either to some patio decking or in the ground using the provided spike. Then unfurl the 4.5 metres of cable between each light and the panel and stake the spots into the ground.
The solar panel’s battery absorbs the sun’s energy during the day (even in winter) and as soon as its light sensor detects dusk, they switch on and stay on till well past bedtime. One of the most effective solar products we've ever come across. To see how this top-rated pick compares to a fierce rival, then be sure to read our Atlas Solar Spotlights vs Chiron Solar Colour Spotlight (opens in new tab) comparison feature.
Stake-style solar lights are an efficient and fuss-free way to gently illuminate a garden path or add ambience to a flower border and, for our money, this pair is one of the best we’ve ever come across. Unlike the popular static, single LED variety, each solar-powered TrueFlame is equipped with a battalion of LEDs that flicker independently to simulate a dancing flame. The result is remarkably realistic, even from up close.
Each TrueFlames unit is equipped with a Li-ion battery that is charged by an unobtrusive, top-mounted solar panel during the day. When dusk falls they automatically switch on and stay on for up to 10 hours during the summer months and about five hours during the winter. The TrueFlames measure 19cm in length and are ideal for illuminating pathways or adding a touch of exotica to your flowerbeds. The plastic housings, too, are sturdy, well designed and look swish even when off.
However, if you require something bigger and brighter, consider the single 30cm TrueFlame USB model, which has a bigger solar receptor and battery, a USB charging port for adding extra juice and three different levels of brightness. Invest in either of these models and you’ll have the best-lit garden in the neighbourhood.
Our TrueFlame Mini Solar Powered Garden Torch Lights vs OxyLED 8 Pack Solar Lights comparison feature shows how this product compares against another strong rival.
This pretty garland of 60 waterproof micro LED bulbs is 8m in length and can be slung from a tree, strung along the patio wall or hung from a garden fence.
Each pinky fingernail-sized bulb contains a single LED that emits a gentle warm white glow as soon as natural light begins to fade. According to the blurb, you get eight lighting modes with this set, including ‘combination, fireflies flashing, fading, waves, chasing/flashing, fading slowly, twinkle/flashing and steady on’.
As long as you’re prepared to spend half an hour or so assembling the system, you’ll soon be enjoying your own mini Blackpool illuminations.
Powerbee produces a wide range of great quality outdoor solar lights but we’re especially smitten with this string of 100 white fairy lights. Where so many solar-powered lights fade during the late evening and most of winter, this package has been designed with cloudy UK weather in mind. Hence, they come with an effective solar panel that soaks up more light than others, ensuring reliable light sensor-controlled illumination every night of every day.
Simply find a clear spot to site the solar panel – it spikes into the ground – and string up your tree, fence or shed, or whatever you like. It also comes with a control box offering a range of different lighting functions, from static to flashing to chase. Don’t panic if your garden’s north-facing or you just don’t have enough natural light because it also comes with a USB charging port to boost the internal battery.
These four solar panel lights aren’t pretty to look at and the light they emit is harsh white but they work brilliantly well at illuminating the path ahead. The clever thing about them is that they use sensors to detect motion and don’t stay on for more than about 30 seconds at a time unless you remain within sensor distance. This saves battery power so they can work all night if necessary – and even in areas that don’t get much sunlight to charge the internal batteries during the day. Each module is equipped with 128 tiny LEDs that illuminate the immediate area at a maximum angle of 270°.
Position them around the shed, by the pool or hot tub, or screw them to your garden fence or down the side passage and you’ll never step on a dog turd or stumble headfirst into the wheelbarrow again. These lights are an invaluable addition to any outdoor area, are a doddle to fit and are amazingly cheap too.
If you're thinking about solar lighting as part of a larger garden upgrade, we also have guides to the best patio heaters (opens in new tab), best cordless lawn mowers (opens in new tab), best barbecues (opens in new tab) and best hot tubs (opens in new tab).