When it comes to the best outdoor lights it doesn’t really matter what the weather’s like because you can see the spectacular results just as easily from behind closed doors.
There are numerous categories of outdoor lighting – from wall-mounted feature lights to garden spotlights – and plenty of brands to take a look at, as evidenced in T3's best Philips Hue outdoor lights guide, but today we’re heading up the garden path to take a look at two choice solar-powered stake-light options.
Solar stake lights serve two purposes: they light the way in the darkness of night while leading the eye up the garden and they are also great for highlighting plant pots and individual border flower arrangements.
We’ve called in two completely different types of stake lights – the TrueFlame Mini Solar Powered Garden Torch Lights (opens in new tab) and the 8 Pack Solar Lights Outdoor Garden Stake (opens in new tab) – installed them along the garden path and let them rest in the sun so they could soak up a few hours solar energy.
Are these stake lights damp squibs or do they genuinely add a touch of classy ambience to a garden? Let’s check them out and see which one brings night time fizzle to an otherwise mundane garden.
Remember, we've also got a guide to the best outdoor solar lights, so if you specifically want solar powered lights in your garden then be sure to check it out. As you've hopefully gathered, these are torches in the more decorative sense – for more functional options, head to our general best torch guide.
TrueFlame Mini Solar Powered Garden Torch Lights vs OxyLED 8 Pack Solar Lights: design and features
You may have seen rows of oil-fired Tiki torches while on holiday in some exotic part of the world. They’re usually installed along the driveways and pathways of posh hotels as both ambient lighting and insect deterrents. Well now you can bring that same effect to your own garden and pathways, only without having to use smelly fuel.
There are numerous brands on the market that all look the same but we think the TrueFlame model is a cut above the rest. In fact, for this writer’s money, the TrueFlames are one of the most striking garden lights on the market right now. Sold in pairs, each solar-powered TrueFlame is equipped with a battalion of orange LEDs that flicker independently to simulate a dancing flame. The flaming Tiki effect they produce is so realistic that you might be fooled into thinking that something’s on fire in the garden.
The TrueFlames measure 19cm in length and are equipped with Li-ion batteries that are charged by unobtrusive, top-mounted solar panels during the day. When night falls they automatically switch on and stay on for between eight and 10 hours, depending on the amount sunlight during the day.
The OxyLED 8 Pack Solar Stake model is another worthy contender for atmospheric garden lighting without the need for an electrician. These eight solar-powered box-shaped lights are 31.5cm in height and 15.5cm wide and equipped with a latticed frame around them that throws interesting shadows across pathways and flower beds. They don’t have the immediate wow factor of the TrueFlames but they certainly provide a touch of ambience where normal spiked LED lights simply add bland white light. Furthermore, you get eight of them for less than the price of two TrueFlames.
Like the TrueFlame, the OxyLEDs are IP65 rated so there’s no chance of them ever failing in a rainstorm. Their built-in batteries require about six hours of sunshine to power the LEDs for up to eight to 10 hours. Way past bedtime, in other words.
TrueFlame Mini Solar Powered Garden Torch Lights vs OxyLED 8 Pack Solar Lights: performance
The most surprising thing about the TrueFlame torches is how visible they are, even when positioned at the end of a 30-metre garden. Granted, their level of brightness won’t light up an entire bush but they are certainly bright enough to illuminate a pathway and prevent you from tripping over any plant pots. However, what impresses most about the lights is the realistic way in which they emulate real flames. Really, you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference, even from a foot away.
The OxyLED’s are also an impressive garden feature that will liven up any drab pathway of flower pot arrangement once the sun’s on the other side of the planet. Mind, they only kick out 10 lumens of light so you won’t see the effect so well from a distance. Nevertheless, they do produce a very pretty criss-cross pattern across pathways and can even be used to border the lawn.
TrueFlame Mini Solar Powered Garden Torch Lights vs OxyLED 8 Pack Solar Lights: verdict
If you’re after a set of garden lights that truly bring a slice of exotica to the garden then the TrueFlame Mini Solar Powered Garden Torch Lights are unquestionably your best bet. They are simply mesmerising to look at, even from up close, and bright enough to easily illuminate the pathway ahead. On the downside, they are quite pricey when compared to the OxyLEDs, which come as an eight pack.
At these prices, if I were you, I’d opt for both. That way you can arrange the OxyLEDs along the garden path and the two TrueFlame lamps at the end of the garden. Everyone’s a winner.
- Your garden is lit now, so why not get it heated, too, with one of the best fire pits