Last Updated: Sep 8, 2020 @ 1:21 pm.

What are the best outdoor solar lights? Whether you are trying to light a path or string lights for a deck, these solar lights charge by day and shine by night. But which are best? We tried out several options here at the mothership, testing for brightness and durability. Here are our favorites!

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home since 1994. To keep our work independent, we don't take money or freebies from the brands we review! Our reviews are 100% reader-supported. So we thank you for reading this article!


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Best Solar Garden Lights

Easy to assemble, install
The best garden path light in our tests—bright, star-shaped light pattern. Runs for about 6-8 hours on a charge. Dusk to dawn sensor. Caveat: plastic spike can break if ground is hard.
$19.49

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Best Solar Garden Lights: Sunnest Solar Lights Outdoor

When we tested outdoor solar lights, we divided lights into two categories: path lights and accent/deck lights.

For solar path lights, we looked for lights that had at least five lumens and evaluated them for overall quality. We also surveyed our readers to find their favorites. After all this research, we decided Sunnest’s Solar Lights are our top pick. This 12-pack of lights performed the best.

Here’s why:

What We Liked

• Easy to assembly. It just a few seconds per light to get this done.

• Nice star shaped light pattern.

• 8-10 hours of light at night. We got about 7 hours in our tests, but it was a bit cloudy during the day. The maker says you need 6-8 hours of sunlight to fully charge the lights.

• Affordable.

• Dusk to dawn sensor. These lights turn off automatically when there is daylight. That is, unless they run out of juice first!

• Steel post.

• Water and heat resistant. 

• Replaceable battery. These lights are powered by rechargeable AAA batteries (one per light)—which you can replace if need be.

What Needs Work

• Plastic stake can easily break if the ground is hard. You have to water the soil before staking these to your garden.

• Metal can easily bend.

• More for ambient lighting. These lights are about 5 lumens—good enough to light up a path, but not very bright. We thought they were just the right amount of light to illuminate a garden path . . . but we can see how some folks wish they were brighter.

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Best Solar String Lights

8 twinkle patterns
We loved the soft, golden glow of these fairy lights—perfect for a deck or accent. We got just under 7 hours of light in our testing, which was more than others we tried. Caveat: can easily tangle!
$12.99

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Best Solar String Lights: Upook Solar String Lights 100LED

Tiny fairy lights are all the rage, so we tried out a few different brands to see who made the best solar string lights. In the end, we thought Upook’s Solar String Lights were the best combination of light (soft warm glow) and value. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Golden, warm glow. Some fairy lights we tried were too blue-ish; these yellow-tinted lights were more pleasing.

• Affordable.

• 33 feet of LED lights. Two strings are included for a total of 66 feet.

• Eight different modes. Yep, there are different twinkle patterns you can set.

• Work for 8 hours after charging. We got less (just under seven hours for the full on setting), but that could be because we didn’t get full sun that day.

• Weather proof. 

What Needs Work

• Easily tangled. These lights are on a flexible copper wire—this can tangle easily if you aren’t careful!

• Twinkle modes reduce battery life. We didn’t see this in our testing, but we see reports from other folks that were disappointed in this.

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Best Solar Spotlights

Last 8 hours on a charge
We just adored these "dancing flames" solar lights—we got 8.5 hours of light during summer—impressive. Love the overall look and design. Easy to assemble.
$22.99

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Best Solar Spotlights: Brightown Solar Landscape Spotlights

Most outdoor solar lights are designed as ambient lighting. But what if you want to spotlight a feature in your garden?

We tried out a few different solar outdoor garden spotlights before picking Brightown’s Solar Landscape Spotlights as the best of the bunch. Here’s why:

What We Liked

• 65 lumens! Most solar path lights are about 5 lumens. These spotlights are 12 times brighter.

• Easy to install.

• Excellent to shine on a flag. Or holiday display.

• Waterproof.

• 2 lights per pack.

• Need about six hours of sunlight to charge.

 • Last 9 hours on one charge. That was longer than others we tried. The maker estimates 8 hours on average. Not sure why ours lasted longer, but we aren’t complaining.

What Needs Work

• Don’t last as long in cold weather. That’s true for most outdoor solar lights, unfortunately (cold temperatures zap the battery strength).

• Could be easier to adjust. These lights can adjust up to 180 degrees, but we they were a bit too stiff.

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Best Solar Torch Lights

Solar tiki touches! Yes, please!
We just adored these "dancing flames" solar lights—we got 8.5 hours of light during summer—impressive. Love the overall look and design. Easy to assemble.
$39.99

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Best Solar Torch Lights: TomCare Solar Lights Upgraded Waterproof Flickering Flames

And now for something different. When we heard of these torch lights from a reader of our books, we were skeptical—lots of outdoor solar lights we tried disappointed in real life. These lights were the exception—TomCare’s “Flickering Flames” solar lights (set of 2) were most impressive. (And the most expensive). Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Yes, they look like real flames!

• Easy assembly.

• Last 10 hours in the summer, five hours in the winter. We didn’t quite get that much time in the summer (8.5 hours), but it was close.

• Waterproof.

• On/off switch. 

What Needs Work

• Plastic stake can break if the ground is hard. One user we noticed had a good idea: buy PVC pipe, bury the pipe and then places the stakes inside. Another bit of advice: soften the ground with water before staking.

• Pricey.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

Photo credit: Steve Halama, Unsplash.

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