When you need to add lighting to your driveway, pathway, front door, or other outdoor space, solar pathway lights are an eco-friendly and affordable alternative to wired lighting, powering the bulbs with sunlight absorbed through attached solar panels. Some prep work may be required, advises Matt Kunkle, an exterior lighting merchant for The Home Depot, whom we consulted for this roundup. “Before installing solar pathway lights, be sure to edge your walkway if you are planning for pathway lights, or trim back foliage in other areas where you may be planning to add solar landscape lighting,” he advises.
Besides talking with Matt, we researched the best solar pathway lights to recommend this collection based on their design, durability, ease of use, type of lighting, charging and retention capacity, and longevity. We also had the opportunity to test three of the picks in this roundup in The Lab and evaluated these picks based on the same qualities for our research. Our top pick, the Hampton Bay Solar Warm White Solar Landscape Path Lights, are durable and produce 10 lumens—bright enough for hiking and reading—and have an eight-hour run time when fully charged.
Here are the best solar pathway lights to brighten your home.
Best Overall: Hampton Bay Solar Warm White Landscape Path Lights, 10-Pack
Classic lantern design
Durable housing materials
10 lights per pack
Some people may not like the crackle glass
The Hampton Bay Solar Warm White Solar Landscape Path Lights are our best overall pick because they’re reliable, affordable, and classically designed. The durable, weather-resistant metal should withstand the changing seasons, as it easily held up to a large dousing of water, golf balls meant to imitate hail, and being stuck in a freezer for an hour. The light's design is also maintenance-free, with integrated LED bulbs and rechargeable batteries.
Standing 18.1 inches tall, these solar path lights make a statement without being too bold or obstructive. They provide warm white light, ample to navigate your landscaping in the evening, and safely traverse a footpath or steps. An automatic dusk-to-dawn feature turns them on and off each day. Our tester found it easy to read a book directly under the light, but said it was more difficult with added distance from the light.
Our tester's main concern with these lights was the crackle glass appearance. She said she enjoyed the projected light pattern, but expressed concern that it may not be the right aesthetic for everyone. Despite this minor design concern, these lights overall impressed our tester Compared with other light sets, which generally consist of six or eight lamps, the Hampton Bay No Voltage Solar Landscape Path Lights are an affordable option, with 10. The set also comes with a two-year warranty for faulty materials or workmanship to be replaced or repaired.
Best Budget : SUNNEST Solar Lights Outdoor
Sets come in 3 colors
This set from SUNNEST takes the top spot in the budget category for durability and variety, as well as price point. These small but mighty solar lights charge in just six to eight hours and stay lit for eight to 10. Because of their compact, modern design, you could use these in a variety of ways around your yard, garden, and patio. Their durable, rainproof plastic and stainless steel withstand weather elements.
Once you’ve assembled all 12 lights, be sure to turn each light’s switch to “On” before arranging them around your yard. (This ensures that the solar panel charges fully before the first night; if you don’t do this, the light doesn't charge.) You can choose a set for cool white or warm white light or even a set that alternates colors (fewer lamps). However, if you’re looking to light your entire yard, this set may not be the best choice, as they are dimmer than some of our other preferred models.
Best Splurge: Frontgate Pro Series VI Solar Path Light
High-efficiency, 60-lumen lights
Sturdy aluminum stakes
Large solar panel
Only two lights per set
If your budget is flexible, this Frontgate Pro Series VI Path Light set is our pick for the best splurge. A weather-proof, cast-aluminum housing protects the lithium-phosphate battery and lights, and fares better than plastic housing. Aluminum stakes also prevent breakage during installation. Our tester said this light easily passed our “rain” and “hail” tests, however, it did not re-illuminate after being in a freezer for an hour. The tops of these lights measure 7.25 inches in diameter, making the solar panel (larger than other models) better for cloudy days, winter performance, and shaded areas.
These lights only come in a set of two, making them an investment to line a full pathway. Despite the limited quantity, these solar lights are a reliable, quality pick, with 60 lumens per light, enough to light up your yard if spread apart, and have a longer lifetime, with an advanced lithium-phosphate battery. Overall, our tester said these lights are certainly an investment, so she’d recommend trying to snag them while they’re on sale.
Best Decorative: UMICKOO Solar Outdoor Lights
Multicolor light settings
Long illumination time
For a multicolored set of solar lights, check out UMICKOO Solar Outdoor Lights. Made of weather-resistant materials, this set lights up the darkest night with a colorful display. Choose between two settings on each light: warm, white light, and multicolored lights that gently transition among seven colors. These lights operate after six to eight hours of charging and last eight to 10 hours. But let them sit out in direct sunlight for at least five hours before their first use. When installing them, gently press the stake into the ground with the pole rather than pressing your hand on the solar panel.
One drawback: The settings and operating instructions can be confusing. For example, the “On” switch turns on the warm white light, while the “Fade” switch gently blinks the multicolored lights.
Best for Winter: Urpower Solar Lights Outdoor
Adjustable solar panel
Two brightness settings
This URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor set was designed with wet weather and water exposure in mind. A durable plastic casing protects these solar pathway lights from all weather conditions—water, golf balls, and freezing were no match for this light’s performance—and the adjustable solar panel allows you to switch the panel’s angle on overcast days. Keep in mind that these lights have a screw that supports the solar panel, but it can be difficult to maneuver to change the angle of the panel. During testing, they stayed illuminated for a full eight-hour period overnight.
These lights have a power switch and two different brightness settings. Our tester noted it was not possible to read a book under the lower setting, but said she could easily read a book with the higher light setting. These lights can also be mounted on a wall, rather than a pathway, which makes them a great option for a variety of outdoor lighting needs. Overall, our tester said she appreciated the price point of these lights, even if their spotlight design may not be suited for everyone.
Best for Shade: T-SUNNUS Solar-Powered LED Spotlight
Two brightness settings
Solar panel separate from spotlight
Adjustable solar panel & light head
Only two lights
Short cord to solar panels
Each of the two T-SUNNUS Solar-Powered LED Spotlights in the set comes with a separate, corded solar panel, so you can easily install them in a shaded area and guarantee a full charge every day. You can adjust the angle of the solar panels and the light heads to aim them in the desired directions. Two brightness settings offer up to 200 lumens each, enough brightness to see the details of your yard. You can switch between a bright spotlight and a dimmer pathway light.
Avoid placing the solar panels under any porch or security lights that come on at night because the solar lights don't turn on if light is detected. The cords between each light and solar panel are three meters long (about 10 feet), which can limit your placement options, especially when covering a particularly large pathway. Despite their traditional spotlight design, these solar lights’ brightness and separate solar panels still make them our pick in the best-for-shade category.
Best Large: GIGALUMI Solar Pathway Lights 6 Pack
19 inches tall
Larger solar panels
Large solar pathway lights can be especially helpful if you have a long footpath and want each light to cover more area. The GIGALUMI Solar Pathway Lights aren’t as bright as other models, but their height and larger structure make them a strong pick for anyone hoping to brighten a large area with fewer lights.
The pack includes six 19-inch-tall lights (including the stakes). Their traditional lantern design casts a crystalline pattern that beautifully lines any walkway or garden area. The large solar panels allow for a fast charge.
As with some other solar light models, be careful when pressing these lights into the ground to ensure their stakes don’t break.
Best Small: Rayolon Solar Ground Lights
8 bulbs in each unit
Can be covered by dirt and snow
3-day-long charging time
A low-profile light option fits a minimalist aesthetic in your yard or avoids lantern-style lights obstructing your path. The Rayolon Solar Ground Lights are a modern, minimally designed set that can line a pathway, driveway, or pool deck. They provide warm white light, with eight LED bulbs in each of the 12 units. Despite their low-profile design, they’re waterproof and can withstand harsh winter temperatures.
One drawback is their long initial charging time: To ensure they reach their maximum brightness, allow three days of charging before installing them in the ground. When installing each light, dig a shallow hole for the stake to prevent breakage.
Their low profile also has significant drawbacks: Avoid stepping on them once installed! Also, dirt and debris can easily cover them, preventing the solar panels from charging. Check them occasionally, and clean the solar panels if they become covered.
Best Set: BeauJardin 8 Pack Solar Pathway Lights
Floral light pattern
These BeauJardin Solar Pathway Lights provide 10 lumens each in a durable, weather-resistant design. A rustproof stainless steel pole and glass light shade protect the solar battery and lightbulb, and the solar panel charges during the day for eight to 12 hours of illumination. The light shade also creates a pretty floral pattern.
Although each pole is stainless steel, the ground stake is plastic, making it a weak portion of the design. To prevent breakage, be sure to dig a shallow hole in the ground before installing each light. With careful installation, they should last for several seasons.
Best Single: Hampton Bay 14 Lumens Solar Black Landscape Pathway Light
Seeded glass design
1-year limited warranty
Low battery life
If you want to customize the number of lights for your pathway, purchasing each-sold-separately pathway lights may be your best approach. Hampton Bay’s solar pathway light has a high-luminosity, durable design, and reasonable price. The seeded-glass light shade offers a gentle yet bright white light and protects the interior battery from the weather. A 1-year warranty ensures they last through every season.
You can easily assemble each unit by screwing the light housing to the metal pole and inserting the ground stake at the opposite end. Keep in mind that these don’t produce light if placed under other porch lights. (If light shines on the solar panel, it doesn't turn the solar light on.) Also, it doesn't charge under heavily shaded areas.
Our top pick for solar pathway lights is the Hampton Bay Warm White Solar Landscape Path Lights set. They provide high brightness and a lasting charge and withstand water and weather. Plus, the classic lantern design easily blends with any yard. If you’re looking to spend less, SUNNEST Solar Lights are made with weather-resistant stainless steel and are available in sets of three light color variations.
What to Look for in a Solar Pathway Light
Solar pathway lights are available in a variety of styles, but the most common are in-ground, low-profile lights, and lantern lights. The former is a minimalist option for areas you may not want to obstruct, such as a pool deck or the outline of a patio. While these lights maintain a certain aesthetic, they have design drawbacks because dirt, leaves, snow, and ice can easily cover their solar panels. They can also be broken if stepped on. Lantern-style lights stick out of the ground on a pole and blend into a more traditional aesthetic. Typically, they have larger solar panels for better charging capabilities and don’t need cleaning as often as low-profile lights. Our best overall pick, the Hampton Bay Warm White Solar Landscape Path Lights, is an example of the classic lantern design that not only performs well but also emits an attractive crystalline light at night.
Most solar light product descriptions note brightness in lumens, from 5 to 200; the greater the number, the brighter the light. A lower brightness, such as 5 lumens, is enough to make out your landscaping. To see more details and colors in the evening, select a higher-lumen product. Some solar lights will feature adjustable light settings including a power switch and low- or high-brightness levels. During testing, our best for winter pick, the URPOWER Solar Lights Outdoor, stood out for their adjustable solar panel and dual-level light options, which automatically turn on and also feature a power switch to save battery power when you’re out of town.
Some solar lights don't require constant bright sun exposure, advises Kunkle, but all require a location where they can receive six to eight hours of sun per day. Also, a longer initial exposure may be required. “Expose the solar lights to full sun for 12 to 14 hours before starting installation,” Kunkle says. “This will allow the battery to fully charge and uncover any lights that may be defective before you install them.” Afterward, you can expect around six hours as a low charge time and from eight to 12 hours for higher-luminosity products. If solar lights show signs of low brightness or a short run time, you may need to relocate them or clean off the panels.
How do solar pathway lights work?
Solar lights absorb sunlight through solar panels that store electricity, which powers the bulbs. Some solar lights operate on rechargeable batteries. Others have batteries that can last as long as four years before needing to be replaced.
How do you install solar pathway lights?
While each style of our recommended solar pathway light has different assembly instructions, all install in the ground via stakes. If your purchased lights’ stakes seem fragile, we recommend digging shallow holes before pressing them into the ground to prevent breakage. Be sure to install solar pathway lights in an area that enjoys direct sunlight and isn’t covered by other lights in the evening; panels don’t activate if they’re exposed to other light.
How do you clean and maintain solar pathway lights?
Solar lights don’t absorb sunlight if the solar panel is dirty or covered with ice or snow. “Prior to cleaning your solar pathway lights, review your manufacturer’s instructions,” Kunkle says. “However, most solar pathway lights can be cleaned with a soft dry cloth without any cleaners that have chemicals, solvents or harsh abrasives.” Keep in mind that low-profile lights need more frequent checking.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was written by Emma Phelps, an updates writer for The Spruce, who covers multiple home beats across our domain. She specializes in home organization, home improvement, and cleaning reviews. For this roundup, Emma also reached out to Matt Kunkle, an exterior lighting merchant for The Home Depot, to learn more about how solar pathway lights function and how to maintain them.
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