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The Best Garden Solar Lights for Outdoor Ambience

Best garden solar lights guide
(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

The best garden solar lights might get the most direct use over the summer months, but garden lighting ideas are important for winter too. 

Not only does your garden spend more time in darkness as the nights draw in, but you need to ensure you keep your outdoor space well-lit for traversing it when the sun goes down, or when there's potentially slippery conditions outside.

At the very least, owning one of the best solar garden lights can help improve the view from your kitchen window over the winter months, highlighting key features so that you can enjoy your garden design all year round.  

Plus, garden solar lights don't require the hassle and expense of an electrician to install, meaning once they arrive, you can set them charging and use them right away — perfect if you need a quick solution for your outdoor space.

Here are 6 of the best available now across different styles and functions to help you buy right now. 

The Best Garden Solar Lights to Buy

this outdoor lantern is one of the best garden solar lights

(Image credit: B&Q)

B&Q Black Solar-Powered LED Outdoor Lantern

A decorative, solar-powered lantern for your garden

Specifications

Battery run time: 8 hours
Dimensions: (H)29.5 x (W)13.5 x (D)13.5cm

Reasons to buy

+
Warm ambient lighting
+
Portable

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't provide much usable lighting

One of the brilliant things about garden solar lights is that they're often portable, meaning you can use lamps and lanterns to illuminate an outdoor gathering, whether that's evenings spent relaxing in the garden or dining alfresco. 

Getting the light colour and tone right is essential for creating the right ambience, and this B&Q lantern, filled with solar powered copper lights, is a great example of how light colour can add to the atmosphere of a space. 

It has the additional benefit of looking great in the daytime too and won't be out of place with your other garden accessories. 

However, while this lantern will look very pretty when night time falls, it's more decorative than providing usable lighting that will illuminate the space enough. Think of it like candlelight, rather than task lighting in terms of its brightness. 

Buy the B&Q Black Solar-Powered LED Outdoor Lantern


is this outdoor stake lamp the best garden solar light?

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Eva Solo SunLight Solar LED Outdoor Stake Lamp

A contemporary design that proves solar lights can be stylish

Specifications

Power supply: 500 mAh lithium battery
Dimensions: (H)38 x (D)13.5cm

Reasons to buy

+
Contemporary, stylish design
+
Automatic and manual options
+
No visible solar panel

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive 

One problem you'll find when searching for garden solar lights is that beautiful design and solar panels don't always go hand in hand. Visible solar panels are often a compromise, so a design like this Eva Solo SunLight stake lamp is a great find. 

Instead of the tell-tale solar panel that outs your lighting as solar powered, this design incorporates solar cells within the frosted glass lamp. Once in the ground, this will be indistinguishable from a wired-in garden light, but with all the benefits of solar power. The glass is frost-resistant too, so it can be left out in summer. 

At 50 lumens it's not the brightest, and its price makes it a premium buy, but if you've got the budget, this light offers a beautiful way to bring a solar glow to your outdoor space. 

Buy Eva Solo Outdoor Stake Lamp


are these spotlights the best garden solar lights?

(Image credit: Amazon)

Atlas Solar Powered Outdoor Spotlights

Powerful solar spotlights for directional lighting

Specifications

Power supply: 2.5W solar panel
Dimensions: H 17 x W 19 x D 3cm
Brightness: 100 Lumens

Reasons to buy

+
Bright, powerful spotlight 
+
Multiple mounting options
+
Automatic and manual operation

Reasons to avoid

-
Large, indiscrete solar panel 

There's an expectation that solar power lights can offer a dim glow at the most, but the best garden solar lights pack more of a punch than you'd expect. 

These 100-lumen Atlas solar powered outdoor spotlights, for example, are surprisingly bright, even giving wired garden spotlights a run for their money (with the added benefit of not requiring additional and expensive electrician work to install). 

They come in sets of twos and fours, each set with a separate solar panel; however, the trade off for power and long-lasting lighting from these spotlights is that this solar panel is quite large. 

The lights can be placed in a more discreet setting if needed — there's 4.5m of cable between the solar panel and each light, but bear in mind you'll want it in a sunny spot to get the most from your lights. 

But the Atlas Solar Powered Outdoor Spotlights


are the orbs the best garden solar lights?

(Image credit: Robert Dyas)

Smart Garden Solar Lunieres Orb Light

These contemporary glowing orbs also have colour changing setting

Specifications

Power supply: Internal battery charged by solar (6 hours) or USB (20 hours)
Dimensions: H 17.5 x W 20 x D 20cm

Reasons to buy

+
Can be charged by USB cable 
+
Soft, diffused light 
+
Easy to operate 

Reasons to avoid

-
Dim in comparison to some solar lights

Some solar lighting is more decorative and ambient than functional, and these solar orb lights definitely fall into this camp. 

Not only can these orbs be set up to offer a beautiful, diffused glow that will look just as good from the kitchen window as when you're out enjoying your garden in the evening, but they can also be programmed in a range of colours too — a fun feature to change up the atmosphere of your outdoor space. 

Super easy to operate, the Smart Solar Lunieres Orb Light also comes with a USB charging cable, perfect for when you've forgotten to make use of its solar capabilities, but still want to use it to illuminate your evening. 

Buy the Smart Garden Solar Lunieres Orb Light


Are these decking lights the best garden solar lights?

(Image credit: B&Q)

B&Q Blooma Glend Brushed Silver Effect Decking Light

Easy to fit decking lights with no need to call an electrician

Specifications

Power supply: Solar panel (6 - 8 hours)
Dimensions: H 119 x D 33mm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to install 
+
No electrician required

Reasons to avoid

-
No manual control option

These Blooma Glend lights from B&Q are a brilliant way to use solar power lights to improve your garden.

While not the brightest at 36 lumens, they can they be placed in flower beds to add light to your borders, and they can be easily retrofitted into existing timber decking, meaning you don't have to pull up your boards to install lights. 

They're fitted by drilling a hole of the right size, around 95mm, using a holesaw, which you can also buy a set of from B&Q

The only issue? They're twice the price of the basic offering of mains-connected decking lights, and while £15 for a set of two isn't extortionate, this can add up over a larger decked space. 

Buy the B&Q Blooma Glend Brushed Silver Effect Decking Light


is this floodlight the best garden solar light?

(Image credit: Amazon)

HETP Solar Motion Sensor Security Lights

A popular, powerful floodlight powered by solar

Specifications

Power supply: 2000 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Dimensions: W ‎18.4 x H 12.1 x D 9.7cm

Reasons to buy

+
Super bright, with adjustable brightness modes
+
Discreet solar panel

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires direct sunlight to charge 

Many solar powered floodlights have a separate solar panel in order to generate enough power for a suitably bright output — however, this can be bulky and unattractive. This solar floodlight, a top buy on Amazon, has an integrated panel which still manages to achieve a brilliantly bright light (2,600 lumens) that will ward off intruders. 

Using a PIR motion sensor, the HETP Solar Motion Sensor Security Light has several modes it can be set to: continuous on; sensor on then dim; and sensor on then off. This means it can be used to provide continuous light when needed. 

However, where some solar lights manage to charge well on overcast days and under cover, reviews of this floodlight suggest it works best when placed in direct sunlight. Though eight hours of charging will provide 12 hours of continuous light, it's much more likely a security light will be used with the motion detector, so even in UK weather, charging shouldn't prove too much of an issue. 

Buy the HETP Solar Motion Sensor Security Light

How do I Choose the Best Garden Solar Lights?

Here's some things to consider when choosing one of the best garden solar lights: 

Which type of light?

Task lighting can help to provide a strong and direct illumination, ambience lighting can illuminate a section of the garden (for dinner parties, for example), while accent lighting can be used to highlight a specific feature of your garden. 

Battery

Some batteries need full sunlight to charge, while others require only partial sun and can still charge under trees or in cloudy areas. This is handy to know if your garden is hidden by large trees. 

Operating time

Many solar lights will perform for days before needing to recharge, but some will only have a run time of a few hours. 

Mounting options

Some solar lights will have multiple mounting options: you can mount them to your house, a patio rail or even hang it from trees. But be sure to know the available options before buying. 

Weather-proof?

When investing in solar lights for use outside over the winter months, be sure to check that they're suitable for use in more inclement weather. Some manufacturers won't suggest their products are for use in extreme weather, whether that be rain or frost. 

More Best Buys for Your Garden Lighting

Hugh is Digital Editor of homebuilding.co.uk and has worked on a range of home, design and property magazines, including Grand Designs, Essential Kitchens, Bathrooms, Bedrooms and Good Homes. Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture and green homes, and moonlights as an interior designer, having designed and managed projects ranging from single rooms to whole house renovations and large extensions. He's currently renovating a Victorian terrace in Essex, DIYing as much of the work as possible. His current project is a kitchen renovation which involves knocking through walls and landscaping a courtyard garden.