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Outdoor lights using solar energy are the perfect landscape lighting solutions. They're budget-friendly and easy to install, and you can place them anywhere since they don't require plug-in power sources.
We researched dozens of outdoor solar lights from the most popular home and garden brands, evaluating brightness, functionality, durability, and aesthetics. Our top pick is the Sunforce Solar LED Area Light, which has a triple-head lamp, two-way adjustable design, and motion sensor activation.
Here are the best outdoor solar lights to install around your home.
Best Overall: Sunforce Solar Motion-Activated Outdoor Triple Head LED Area Light
Remote solar panel
Adjustable side lamps
Built-in motion detector
Slim motion detection range
What do buyers say? 84% of 1,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The Sunforce Triple-Head LED Area Light should be a top choice for your porch, garage, or yard. This versatile unit comes with a separate solar panel that charges the three preinstalled batteries in all daylight conditions (not just direct sun), and it’s attached to the light via a 15-foot wire, allowing you to place it in the best possible position to maximize sun exposure.
This area light gives off an impressive 1,000 lumens of illumination, and you can adjust its two side-lamp heads up, down, and horizontally to focus on different areas. The built-in motion detector identifies movement in a 180-degree range and within 30 feet, and you can adjust its detection distance and light duration.
Best Budget: Aootek Solar Lights, 4 Pack
Three operation modes
Inaccessible control buttons
This four-pack of wall-mounted solar lights is an unbeatable value, working out to less than $10 per light. Each of the fixtures has 120 small LED bulbs surrounded by reflective material, helping to increase the brightness. Bulbs on the side create a wider angle of illumination.
These lights offer three operation modes: You can have the light stay on all night, turn on for 15 seconds when it detects motion, or stay on with a lower brightness and become brighter when motion is sensed. The unit’s motion sensor can see movement within 26 feet and an angle of 120 degrees. The only major downside is the controls are on the back of the unit, which renders them inaccessible once the light is mounted.
Best String Lights: Brightech Ambience Pro
Shatterproof plastic bulbs
Remote solar panel
Dim on cloudy days
You can dress up your porch, patio, or yard with this set of solar-powered outdoor stringed lights, which come with replaceable vintage-style Edison bulbs for a quaint, cafe-inspired appearance. Each strand of 12 LED bulbs is 27 feet long, connected to the solar panel by a 6-foot wire. The panel comes with a stake, and a clip attachment that offers multiple mounting options, and it powers the lights up to six hours on a full charge.
These outdoor stringed lights are made from shatterproof plastic—ideal if they ever fall or get banged around in the wind. The solar panel has a 1,000-charge lifespan, which the brand claims last around 2.5 years. They offer a two-year warranty.
Best Floodlight: Ring Smart Lighting Solar Floodlight
Adjustable light heads
Remote solar panel
Requires Ring bridge (included in starter kit)
Not only does the Ring Smart Solar Floodlight offer an impressive 1,200 lumens of brightness, but it also boasts smart functionality, allowing you to control and adjust the light from your phone. The floodlight, in black or white finish, has two adjustable heads you can angle toward the appropriate focus. You can mount the separate-piece solar panel in a prime spot for maximum sun exposure.
This light doesn’t have a constant-on setting—instead, it turns on for 15 minutes at a time when it senses movement within 45 feet. When paired with the Nest Bridge (sold separately), it also offers a variety of smart features. You’ll be able to set schedules, turn the light on and off, customize its brightness and sensitivity settings, and much more.
Best Spotlight: Frontgate Pro Series VI Solar Spotlight
Up to 10 hours of battery life
Remote solar panel
You can easily light up the front of your house with these solar-powered spotlights from Frontgate. They come in a set of two, each with its own solar panel, and the panels have a 20-foot cord, allowing you to find the perfect sunny spot, even if it’s away from the light.
These outdoor spotlights are crafted from corrosion-resistant cast aluminum for unmatched durability. Their high-efficiency, 60-lumen LED lights can run up to 10 hours on a full charge. They turn on automatically when it gets dark, making it effortless to light up your yard.
Best Wall-Mounted: Winston Porter Krimhilde Solar-Powered Glass Outdoor Wall Lantern
Two brightness settings
Not the brightest option
Mount this outdoor lantern, with a powder-coated cast aluminum body and glass shade, to an exterior wall, shed, or other structure. Its large yet discrete top-mounted solar panel lets it shine for hours each night, thanks to an E14 LED bulb. The lantern isn’t the brightest, giving off a maximum of 60 lumens—but it’s a great option to flank your door or add ambiance to a patio. Plus, it offers two brightness settings for more versatility.
Best Path Lights: Hampton Bay Solar Warm White Landscape Path Lights, 10-Pack
Large packs only
You can light up the walkway to your home with these warm white solar path lights, which come in packs of 10. Each stake, just over 18 inches tall, is aluminum with a crackled glass shade. The materials resist weather, rust, and water, and the integrated LED produce 10 lumens each.
Featuring automatic dusk-to-dawn operation, these lights install extremely quickly and easily. The caged shades create a pretty pattern on the ground, and they can run for up to eight hours if they receive a full eight hours of direct sunlight.
Best for Trees: BesLowe Extra-Long Solar Fairy String Lights, 4-Pack
Several color options
Eight lighting modes
Short solar panel life span
Dress up the trees in your yard with this pack of solar-powered string lights. It comes with four 72-foot strands, each with its own solar panel and 200 fairy-style LED lights. You can choose from eight lighting modes, including steady, twinkling, chasing, and more. The small LED lights are durable and weatherproof, making them ideal for wrapping around trees, and you can mount the solar panels via a stake or wall mount.
Best With Motion Sensor: Ring Smart Lighting Solar Wall Light
Customizable motion sensitivity
Shows battery charge level
USB battery charging
Requires Ring bridge or Echo
Many outdoor solar lights have basic motion detection abilities, but the Ring Smart Solar Wall Light takes it a step further, with its smart functionality. With a Ring bridge (sold separately) and the Ring app, you can customize the motion detector’s sensitivity, monitor the battery level, and get smartphone alerts when the motion sensor is triggered. A detected motion turns on the up-to-800-lumen light for a set duration. The motion-detection range is 30 feet, with a 140-degree field of view.
You can sync the smart light with other Ring smart products, such as security cameras and video doorbells, and also control it using an Alexa-enabled device. Need a charge on a rainy days? Plug in a USB cable.
Best Security: LEPOWER LED Solar Security Light
Adjustable motion detection distance
Remote solar panel
Two operation modes
Hit-or-miss motion detection
Solar lights often aren’t as bright as hardwired options, but the LEPOWER Solar Security Lights give off a whopping 1,600 lumens, making them ideal for security purposes. These solar-powered lights feature three adjustable heads, as well as a motion detector that can sense movement up to 72 feet. (You can shorten this, if needed.)
The security lights have two operation modes—in "auto" mode, the light comes on when it detects motion and stays on for between 10 and 120 seconds, or in "on" mode, the light stays on continuously for around 50 minutes. The solar panel has a cable that allows it to be mounted up to 15 feet away from the light, and the light has a lifespan of 50,000 hours, so you won’t need to replace it any time soon.
Best Hanging: Home Zone Solar Wall Lanterns, 2-Pack
Discrete solar panels
Bugs can get inside
Not the brightest
If you’re looking for a pair of decorative hanging lanterns for your home, this set of two from Home Zone is stylish and cozy. They’re made from aluminum with a caged glass shade, and each lantern comes with an easy-to-mount metal hook. The solar panel is discretely incorporated into the top of the lantern, and the lights give off a warm, homey glow. However, keep in mind that these lights are fairly dim, giving off just 10 lumens each, so they’re best suited for ambiance.
The Sunforce Triple-Head LED Area Light offers a wide range of useful features, including adjustable side lights, a motion detector, and ultrabright LED lights, making it a top choice for any location. Plus, you can position its solar panel up to 15 feet away, allowing you to optimize sunlight exposure. To get the most bang for your buck, pick up a four-pack of the Aootek Solar Lights which have three different operation modes.
What to Look for in Outdoor Solar Lights
Outdoor solar lights fall into three general types, based on their light output: motion-activated, dusk-to-dawn, and timer-controlled. Because stored solar energy is a limited resource, it’s important to consider when you want the lights to shine and for how long. Timer-controlled solar lights give you the most control since you can specify the time they turn on and for how long.
Dusk-to-dawn solar lights use a sensor to automatically illuminate when daylight dwindles, and remain on until sunrise. In winter regions with more limited sun, dusk-to-dawn lights may have trouble storing enough solar energy to stay bright for an extended period each night.
Motion-activated lights activate when triggered by movement and conserve solar energy reserves. This style is often used for floodlights or for specific lighting needs, such as outside your back door.
Where you want to use solar lights determines type of installation. Some outdoor solar lights mount like traditional light fixtures, using screws. However, adhesive-mounted lights offer a quicker alternative or for more temporary installation. For path lighting, solar lights with a stake are quick and easy to install—just push them into the ground and you’re ready to go.
Lumens determine brightness: from 5 lumens for landscaping ambiance to 350 lumens or more for a strong spotlight or floodlight. Your needs depend on your desired location and application.
How do outdoor solar lights work?
Outdoor solar lights typically contain several key components, including a solar cell, rechargeable battery, photoresistor, and lightbulb. During the day, the solar cell converts the sun’s rays into electricity, which the battery stores. At night, the photoresistor detects the absence of ambient light and switches the unit on. The light stays on until the battery runs out or the photoresistor detects light in the morning.
Do outdoor solar lights need direct sunlight?
Solar lights placed in bright, direct light collect more energy in their batteries, which means your light stays on longer. For best results, place your solar light in a location that gets several hours of direct sunlight. However, solar lights still work in indirect light or on cloudy days—they just won’t collect as much energy and may not stay on as long.
How do you install outdoor solar lights?
To install solar lights, follow the product instructions. Some lights are designed to be mounted to a wall, using screws, while others you stick in the ground, on stakes. For the best results, arrange the solar panel in a way that it gets several hours of sunlight throughout the day.
Where’s the best place to install outdoor solar lights?
To get the best results from your outdoor solar lights, place them where they get six to eight hours of direct sunlight. If they’re designed to be wall-mounted, consider placing them up high, where they’re closer to the sun. Ensure that your lights aren’t in an inconvenient location such as in the path of your lawn mower or blocking a window.
How long do outdoor solar lights last?
In general, batteries in outdoor solar lights typically last three to four years before needing replacing. Some brands sell replacement batteries, while others require you to buy an entirely new fixture. You can help increase your solar lights' life span by cleaning the panels regularly and protecting them from harsh winter weather.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer for The Spruce, who incorporates solar lights in her home landscaping, She currently has a set of Home Zone Solar Wall Lantern Lights, our pick for best hanging lights, to illuminate her chicken coop. To make this list, Camryn considered each solar light's brightness and design, as well as features such as motion detection, lighting modes, battery life, and more.