The best outdoor solar lights of 2023 create a magical glow in the garden and on the patio or verandah. Use them wisely and you can illuminate the key foliage and features of any outdoor space, highlighting the best bits and creating a cosy atmosphere for outdoor entertaining. And since there is no mains electricity involved, you don’t need an electrician to install them.
Some solar-powered lights come with an integrated solar panel while others use a remote panel that you stick in the ground. Simply position the panel in direct sunlight during the day to create a long-lasting glow into the evening once the sun goes down. Even on a cloudy day you’ll still get light, so these really are a nice environment friendly option if you’re looking to add character to your outdoor space.
Any one of the carefully curated products below will add a little sparkle to your al fresco nightlife.
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 hot tubs and best barbecues.
The best outdoor solar lights for gardens and patios in 2023
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These 200-lumen solar-powered spotlights have been our number one choice for three years in a row. For a solar-powered product, they are exceptionally bright and they stay on for hours after sunset.
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 comparison feature.
This plain but elegantly styled multi-coloured table lamp has a solar panel hidden out of sight beneath its white opaque exterior and is the next best thing to an outdoor Hue light. At a snip under £25, it’s a lot cheaper, too.
The Shimmer comes with a remote control and is capable of producing three main RGB colours (red, green and blue) subdivided into five different shades which equals 15 hues in total. You can select any individual colour (yellow is closest to candlelight) or set them to transition smoothly – and I mean smoothly – through all 15 hues, just like a Philips Hue lamp. The remote also provides the wherewithal to brighten or dim the lamp and select from two not terribly useful flash and strobe functions.
The Shimmer comes with a sturdy gunmetal stand and is an ideal solution for both outdoor and indoor use. In fact, it might even save your skin in a power cut, as long as it has been left outdoors to soak up the sun’s rays.
Depending on how sunny it’s been, this lamp should run for about six hours on a single charge – more than enough time for anyone’s summer evening. The AA-style rechargeable batteries, meanwhile, can also be replaced when/if they ever lose their potency.
For the money, this lamp is a steal. In fact I would suggest buying two or more for added outdoor/indoor ambience. A new favourite.
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.
For the low price, this ultra-thin string of 100 bright warm white LEDs is ideal for dressing a fence, attaching to a tree or simply leaving in a bundle in a flowerbed. At 10 metres in length (with an extra 2m of cable leading to its small inconspicuous solar panel), the Elan is more than long enough to create an aesthetically pleasing backdrop that can be set to either twinkle or remain static.
And because this string comes with a light sensor, there’s no need to manually turn them on – they will turn themselves on after sunset and remain on until the panel’s battery runs out after about 10 hours. The next day’s sun will then charge them up again for another evening session.
We should forewarn you to be extra careful when installing these lights because the copper wire is so thin it is easily kinked and could feasibly snap if mishandled. Other than that, we have no hesitation in recommending these lights for a multitude of locations around the garden.
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.