Best garden solar lights 2022: 6 smart eco-friendly options

We've selected the best garden solar lights when it comes to style and ease of use. They're the only eco-friendly way to illuminate your garden!

best garden solar lights graphic image with cut out of best string light, best wall light and best pathway light
(Image credit: Future)

These are some of the best garden solar lights which offer an easy, fuss-free way to transform your outdoor space into a pretty chill out area you'll enjoy late into the evening. Be it for alfresco dining, garden parties or a catch-up with friends in front of the fire pit, a great set of solar lights make all the difference to late-night, outdoor living.

A firm favourite amongst eco-conscious design lovers, solar lights are a more sustainable alternative to mains and standard battery-powered lights. They work by charging a battery using energy from the sun. Once the sun sets, it’s time for your solar lights to shine. They'll automatically turn on to illuminate your garden, patio or terrace. You’d be glad to know they’ll save on your energy bill too. A worthwhile addition to your outside space, we think.  

There are lots of garden solar lights to choose from, so we’ve sourced the best-selling, and in some cases even reviewed, options when it comes to design. From festoon to string, lantern and even sensor options, you'll find solar lights to cover your budget and criteria. And if you’re keen to consider other lighting options too, our edit of the best outdoor lights can guide you in the right direction. 

Still a little stuck on how to style the lights in your garden? Check out our outdoor lighting ideas for inspiration. 

The best garden solar lights that are practical and pretty

Amazon SOLAR CRYSTAL BALL STRING LIGHTS in yellow glow in cluster

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Solar Crystal Ball String Lights

Our favourite garden solar lights

Specifications

Size : 24ft
Bulb colour: Warm white
Run time when fully charged: 20 hours (at most)
Charge time: 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Decorative and chic 
+
Waterproof
+
Different lighting modes
+
Super affordable 

Reasons to avoid

-
Could be too small for larger spaces

The festoon-style string solar lights are about as fancy as they come. And at a more than reasonable price they’re our best overall garden solar lights. Ideal for garden parties and atmospheric lighting the 24-foot garland will look super chic draped from a pergola or canopy above seating areas. The bulbs are quite small in size, we think they're cute, but they might not be the best if you're wanting to spotlight an area or light up a pathway.

Waterproof and emitting a warm white light, these 30 crystal balls will instead add a magical touch to your garden all year round. Not to mention they come with eight – yes eight – different lighting modes! Twinkle, wave, gradual or flash, amongst others, you’ll be eager to try out each setting and see which you like best. They can run up to 20 hours on selected modes and only take six to eight hours to fully charge. 

As far as ambient lighting goes, these are the top contenders. Ask your guests, they’re sure to be impressed. 

CGC Lighting Non-adjustable Brushed Dark Grey Graphite effect Solar-powered LED Outdoor Modern Contemporary Wall light

(Image credit: B&Q)

2. CGC Solar-powered LED Outdoor Modern Contemporary Wall light

The best garden solar light for a wall or fence

Specifications

Dimensions: H19 x W16.5cm
Bulb colour: Warm white LED
Run time when fully charged: Not specified
Charge time: Not specified

Reasons to buy

+
Added security 
+
Waterproof 
+
Motion sensor 
+
Great for walls, fences or porches 

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive 

If you’re looking for something more practical, this CGC motion sensor light is our best garden solar light for your wall or fence. It's made from heavy-duty aluminium and is splash-proof for stress-free use in any outdoor location. Though its modern box design ensures there’s no compromise on style. 

With a motion sensor, you won’t have any run-ins with the garden hose, or worse a half-filled paddling pool, but more importantly, it will give you peace of mind in regards to intruders and break-ins. 

There is the option of using auto or on mode, meaning the light can either stay on for two minutes after activation or continuously. It is a little more expensive, but for a practical necessity and added security, it's not a bad price. Essentially, this best garden solar wall light is the perfect fit for need-to-see contemporary outdoor spaces. 

Agadir Garden Solar Lantern on path on grass

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

3. Agadir Garden Solar Lantern

The best garden solar lantern

Specifications

Dimensions: H43 x W15.5cm
Bulb colour: Warm White
Working time when charged: 6 hours
Charging time : 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish statement piece 
+
Flickering effect 
+
Great price  
+
Waterproof 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not bright enough for need to see areas

Lanterns are a lighting trend that will always be around. But these solar garden lanterns take intimate dining experiences to the next level. The flickering bulb imitates a real flame, making them a great alternative to candles on an outdoor dining table. 

The pillar style light is housed in a Moroccan print, metal, hand-finished case fit with a handle to hang them up high if you'd prefer. Since they're candle-like, they aren't the brightest, but are perfect for mood lighting as the night draws in. 

Soaking up the Moroccan sun in the day (we wish), these solar lights come on during the evening with an easy on/off switch. In the summer months you can expect a good six hours of light before they need to be recharged. Don’t struggle with matches or messy wax spillages, simply turn it on, lay back and instantly feel as though you’re in Agadir. 

Low Voltage Solar Powered Integrated LED Metal Pathway Light Pack (Set of 8)

(Image credit: Wayfair )

4. PURE GARDEN LOW VOLTAGE SOLAR POWERED INTEGRATED LED METAL PATHWAY LIGHT PACK

The best pathway garden solar lights

Specifications

Dimensions: H146.5 x Dia.45cm
Bulb colour: Cool White
Run time when fully charged: 6 hours
Charge time : 2-6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Practical for lighting up a pathway 
+
Super affordable
+
Waterproof 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as stable in windy conditions

These easy-to-use spike lights are the best garden solar lights to illuminate your landscape, pathway or driveway. Portable for any location, simply plant into the grass or a gap in your pavement depending on where you need to see. Hassle-free with no need to switch on, they will automatically light-up at night and pave the way around your outdoor space.

Featuring high-capacity, built-in LEDs for a long-lasting performance of up to 6 hours of cool white light, they may not be an ambiance-inducing set, but they will do their job of lasting through the night. 

Waterproof too, you can keep these outside when it rains, but do be aware that they aren't the most sturdy when it comes to strong winds. At a super-affordable price though, these Pure Garden solar spike lights are an all-round practical solution for seeing in the dark. 

SOLAR VINTAGE STYLE BULB STRING LIGHTS hanging in tree in daylight

(Image credit: Cox&Cox)

5. Solar Vintage Style Bulb String Lights

The best decorative garden solar lights

Specifications

Size : 3m length
Bulb colour: Warm, yellowy glow
Run time when fully charged: 6 hours
Charge time : 4 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Five different bulb styles for a decorative touch 
+
Good price 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only seven bulbs on the chain
-
Not waterproof 

When it comes to lighting with a touch of luxe, these are just the ticket. By draping these across your trees, you can enhance the atmosphere in your outdoor space. Plus, thanks to the quirky design, you can show off your unique taste to those who come to visit. 

There's a mix-and-match selection of five different bulb designs, from round to fluted and teardrop designs, in this string set, which measures a solid three metres in length. Oh, and if your tree's a little beyond reach, the two-metre lead cable has you covered.

While these are weather tough, it is still a smart move to bring them indoors during winter months and periods of rain. Ultimately, this will increase their life. But don't break a bulb, as they cannot be replaced. At a slightly higher price than more affordable options on this list, they do need to be handled with care. 

Habitat Solar 20 Festoon Warm White Lights in tree not on

(Image credit: Argos )

6. Habitat Solar String Festoon Lights

The best small garden solar lights

Specifications

Size : 6m length
Bulb colour: Warm White light
Run time when fully charged: Not specified
Charge time : Not specified

Reasons to buy

+
Perfect size for a small garden space 
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not bright enough for need to see areas
-
Not waterproof 

The simple but classic and industrial style of the best small festoon-style garden solar lights will complement all kinds of garden settings, whether you're decking out your outside living room or trying to inject character to your tiny balcony. With bulbs that are small in size, they are faff-free to easily create a cool atmosphere to relax in. 

Automatically emitting a warm white light when the sun goes down, they don't require separate batteries or wires, relying solely on the light caught during the day. 

In terms of using them, we'd suggest taking them down in colder months since they're not weatherproof. Nor would we recommend their dim, diffused light as suitable for areas that need bright lighting. Overall, these are ideal if you want all the Fifties fair-ground feel and to do your bit for Mother Nature. Plus, at an affordable cost from Argos, it's a no-brainer for a simple garden upgrade. 


What to look for when buying the best solar lights

Whilst solar lighting is a must-have for all gardens, which type and style you choose depends on what you’re wanting to use your lighting for and how much you want to spend. For security reasons, to illuminate a seating area or for alfresco soirees? Since they’re low maintenance, requiring little to no installation, the options are endless. 

To help narrow down your search for the best garden solar lights for you, we’ve pinpointed some factors to think about and answered some frequently asked questions.   

Style 
How's it hanging? No, literally, how do you want to hang your garden solar lights? Depending on where you wish to place your solar lights and what they are being used to light up, certain styles may be suited to the job more than others. If you’re looking to hang them along a fence or from a pergola, for example, string or festoon solar lights would drape best. On the other hand you might want a light that sits beside your best garden furniture. If so, then opt for a garden solar lantern that stands on the ground. And if you’re keen to shine a light whenever someone comes near, then a sensor wall light will do the job best.

Size
Also consider how much space you have and the area you want to illuminate. There are bulbs on string lights available in various sizes and lanterns of all shapes. Our best small sensor lights work perfectly for decorating small garden spaces, for instance.

Brightness 
What kind of glow would you like? Some solar lights with white light or LEDs can be bright and intense, and may prove a little stark for casual use. If you're entertaining guests in the garden, warm ambient lighting often found in string or festoon option will be a more relaxing choice.

How long do solar garden lights last? 

The best solar-powered lights should remain in fine working order for at least two years, with LEDs standing the best chance of a longer lifespan. To extend the longevity of your garden solar lights, you can replace their batteries on or before this time. Almost all use low capacity rechargeable batteries you can pick up online or in your local supermarket. Nonetheless, solar lights are quite low maintenance and not very expensive. So replacing a whole new set shouldn't be too much of a hassle. 

Can garden solar lights stay out in winter? And will they work? 

Most solar lights can be kept outside during the colder months since they are weather-resistant and made with garden use in mind. Whether they work during the winter period is a good question. Technically speaking - yes, at least sometimes, provided the solar panel receives sufficient sunlight during daylight hours to charge the battery. Still, some retailers advise against using, or relying on solar lights during the winter as they won’t be as bright and the condition could reduce the product’s lifespan. 

How we chose these solar garden lights 

The best garden solar lights on this list haven't been tested or used first hand by our team (yet). Nonetheless, they have been selected for their top-rated reviews and specs that make them shine brighter than the rest. Because there are so many garden solar lights to choose from, we've made sure there's a solar light for every budget and style. Whether you're needing affordable string lights or investment security sensor lights, there's an option for you and your outdoors. 

Louise is the Ecommerce Writer for Gardeningetc, sourcing the best buys to spruce up your outside space. When she’s not on the lookout for the latest outdoor design inspiration, you’ll find her in the winter garden of her East London flat; soaking up the sun on her outdoor patio set or tending to her ever-growing collection of balcony plants.