Best outdoor lights: 6 types to illuminate in style

These are the best outdoor lights to brighten up your outdoor living space. From practical outdoor wall and pathway lighting to stylish festoon and solar buys

best outdoor lights graphic with cut out images of three outdoor light types
(Image credit: Amazon)

With a flick of a switch (or button), and armed with the best outdoor lights on the market, you can transform your garden from a drab outside area to a stylish entertaining space. Trust us: you’ll want to show off your new garden to family and friends. A set of garden lights will have you spending more time outside, whether during outdoor dinner parties or for post-dinner cocktails under the stars. To put it simply: outdoor lights are a great way to create ambience, no matter the occasion. 

As well as adding style and charm to your garden, patio or balcony, outdoor lighting is a practicality every homeowner needs. From sensor lights that brighten up your driveway, to wall lights to illuminate the front door. 

When it comes to finding the right lighting for your needs, there are a few key considerations. Do you require battery-powered lighting, a plug-in option or an environmentally – and electricity bill friendly – solar-powered set? Perhaps you need a motion-sensor light to light your way as you walk, or lights you can switch on from your phone? 

Either way, there are plenty of outdoor lighting options to browse. We're here to ensure you don't get bombarded with lights from a quick online search. Read on to find the Gardeningetc team's top picks for the best outdoor lights to brighten up your outside space. 

Oh, and if you’re wondering how to decorate with outdoor lights for a stylish outside setting, you may want to check out our outdoor lighting ideas.

The best outdoor lights to buy for your garden

Lights4fun Core Connect Festoon Lights hung up above a table

(Image credit: Lights4fun)

1. Lights4fun Core Connect Festoon Lights

Best overall outdoor lights

Specifications

Power: Mains
Colour: Warm White
IP Value : Not available

Reasons to buy

+
Automatic timer included
+
Easy installation
+
Bulbs feature hooks for hanging

Reasons to avoid

-
Only suitable for occasional use

Tried, tested and loved by our Editor, these are rated our best outdoor lights for good reason. Here's what our she has say about them:

Headshot of Beth Murton
Beth Murton

'These festoon lights are super easy to use and will give any patio space a lovely warm glow after dark. One of the best things about them is that if you want to light a larger area you can simply connect multiple sets together so that you only need to use one power source. I have two sets of the 10m Warm White lights in my own garden, and they easily stretch around the edge of my patio. The rubber cable is really durable, and the lights are hard-wearing too - I even accidentally dropped one of the sets on the paving slabs and the bulbs didn't break. I've used them for a few summers now (and even over winter) and they are still going strong.'

Timeless and classy, there's no surprise, these festoon lights offer all the magic of a 1950s American fairground and then some. They're a surefire way to light up your entertaining space and ideal for patios, decking and pergolas they make great party decorations your guests will be impressed with. And with twenty bulbs to decorate with, you can illuminate enough space for a garden soirée.

Thanks to an ingenious timer feature, these lights switch on and off automatically every night. However, we wouldn't recommend them for long-term use. Easy to set up too, draping them around the garden on special occasions is a relatively low-maintenance affair. With nostalgic style and modern design, the retro bulb is fitted with LED technology for the best of both worlds.  

Like the look of the festoon style? Check out our guide to the best festoon lights available right now. 

Industrial outdoor wall lamp black IP44 with glass - Rotterdam lit up on wall

(Image credit: Lampandlight.co.uk)

2. Industrial outdoor wall lamp black IP44 with glass - Rotterdam

Best outdoor wall light

Specifications

Power: Mains
Colour: Yellow
IP Value: IP44

Reasons to buy

+
Practical use for any setting 
+
Modern lantern design

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulb sold separately 

This Rotterdam wall light in an industrial lantern style is a practical choice for any exterior wall of your house. It would make a stylish addition to your front porch or back door, a useful light source for your garage or alleyway, or a great feature for the front of your summerhouse. Made from stainless steel, with an IP value of IP44, there’s no worry about this light being left out in the rain. Keep outside and illuminate your way to shelter. 

This wall light doesn't come with the bulb included. But the beauty of this means you can choose a fitting in a style that you like since it’ll be visible inside the box fixture. Another add-on is the dimmable option. Attach an external dimmer to adjust your level of lighting needs. Since it's meant for long-term use, you will need to connect it to the mains, as with the case of the majority of the best outdoor wall lights. But don't let that put you off, it's a less tricky job than you may think. 

Philips due pedestal light in ground with plants around

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Philips Hue Tuar Pedestal

Best outdoor sensor light

Specifications

Power: Smartphone
Colour: Warm white
IP Value : LED

Reasons to buy

+
Illuminates on approach
+
Optional smart features

Reasons to avoid

-
Style may be too contemporary for some
-
Requires Philips Hue Bridge for smart features 

This outdoor pedestal light is ideal for lighting up your pathway, at the touch of a button, or detection of movement. As our best outdoor sensor light, this Philips hue light will illuminate as you arrive for a warm welcome home. Not only essential for unpacking the car at night, but it will also help to keep you and your home safe. 

Used by larger companies, big estates and smaller modern homes, many love this light for its contemporary design and smart technology. Think Alexa for the outdoors, you can choose to connect these lights to the Hue Bridge (available at an extra cost), allowing you to switch the lights on and off from your smartphone. Provide extra peace of mind while you're away by creating the appearance that someone’s home by lighting up your driveway.  

Low Voltage Solar Powered Integrated LED Metal Pathway Light Pack (Set of 8) planted along a pathway, lighting up the way

(Image credit: Wayfair )

4. Pure Garden Low Voltage Solar Powered Integrated LED Metal Pathway Light Pack

Best solar-powered outdoor lights

Specifications

Power: Solar
Colour: Cool White
IP Value : LED

Reasons to buy

+
Solar powered 
+
Built in LED
+
Easy installation
+
Suitable for year-long use 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as sturdy 

Soaking up the sun's energy during the day and automatically turning on at dusk, these best solar-powered outdoor lights are great for hassle-free illumination. In a spike outdoor light design that's portable for any location, choose where to plant them depending on your need-to-see needs. Perfect to pave the way up your pathway or to decorate around your yard, this set of lights is a popular choice for any outdoor set-up. 

They feature high capacity, rechargeable built-in LEDs for bright, long-lasting performance, providing up to 6 hours of cool white light. Durable and weather-resistant too you can keep these spike lights outside every night, not just during the summer season. At an affordable price that won't contribute to your electric bill, there's no doubt these make a practical, stylish solution to seeing where you're going.  

Alvares Bottle Solar-powered Warm white 10 LED Outdoor String lights

(Image credit: B&Q)

5. B&Q Alvares Bottle Solar-powered Warm white 10 LED Outdoor String lights

Best outdoor string lights

Specifications

Power: Solar
Colour: White
IP Rating: IP44

Reasons to buy

+
Modern design
+
Solar powered 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only suitable for occasional use

Instantly create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in your garden, or on your balcony or patio with these string lights. A great alternative to a more classic rounded bulb festoon light, the elongated bulb with small fairy lights will make a stylish addition to your outside space. Put up by layering along the top of your pergola or terrace, with the option to drape to avoid difficulty taking down or clip for a more secure attachment. And with 3 meters to work with, you'll cover ground no matter the size of your garden.

The best bit about these string lights? You won't have to be replacing batteries more often than you'd like, as is usual with cheaper fairy light alternatives. The solar panel included means you can install your string lights by leaving them to soak up sun rays during the day. Perfect for outdoor spaces where an electrical supply isn't available. Have fun decorating, without the electrical work, for garden parties, alfresco dining and late-night social events.

Modern Outdoor Waterproof LED Strip Wall Light Wall Scone

(Image credit: The Lightzey)

6. Modern Outdoor Waterproof LED Strip Wall Light Wall Scone

Best LED outdoor light

Specifications

Power: Mains
Colour: Warm White or Cool White
IP Rating: LED

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish look
+
Dimmable 
+
Suitable for year-long use

Reasons to avoid

-
Style may be too contemporary for some

Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening in this stylish garden? With this modern LED wall strip light, we're picturing cocktails aplenty and late-night relaxation after the kids have gone to bed. And no need to take them down once they wake up as this sleek wall light is waterproof and made to last. 

Trendy and contemporary, this LED outdoor light will instantly update your space from uninteresting to well-designed. With different lengths and light colours to choose from too, easily coordinate to your interior aesthetic. Without forgetting that the dimmable LED light glows for added ambience, of course. Impressed is what customers feel after buying this garden LED light. Easy to install, durable and at an affordable price, this is a simple style upgrade we won't hesitate to recommend. 


What to consider when choosing outdoor lights

So, you've had a lightbulb moment and are set on getting lights for your garden? Smart. Before going to google, it's worth taking a moment to consider some of the features and functions you're after - and answer any questions you might have about outdoor lighting design.

Power
One of the most important considerations when choosing outdoor lights is the power source. This will impact where you can illuminate.

Most outdoor wall lights need to be connected to your mains electricity. This means you’ll be able to switch them on and off from inside. They also allow for a quality bright light without having to keep buying and paying for batteries. This is where it’s important to do your planning – hiring an electrician to fit your lights into walls, fences and floors will be a whole lot easier to do while your garden is being redesigned, rather than after it’s completed.

At a time when we’re all trying to make more eco-friendly choices, it’s no surprise that solar lights are becoming increasingly popular. Leaving the panel outside in direct sunlight provides enough energy to illuminate your space at nighttime. For more energy-saving options see our full guide to the best solar lights

Battery-powered lights are great as they are completely portable and you can use them anywhere without unsightly wires. But these will need replacing often, and chances are the light will never be as bright as that created from plug-in designs.

Colour 
Considering the colour temperature of your lights should depend on what kind of area you want to light up. For example, warm light hues that have yellow or orange undertones are particularly atmosphere-enhancing, making them great for cosy, romantic settings.  White light, on the other hand, is known for its inviting character that's bright and open. We'd suggest selecting white light for places such as driveways and porches.

IP rating
It’s important to check that your lights have the correct IP rating for outdoor use. We’d recommend a minimum IP rating of IP44 for wall and ceiling lights, and IP65 for decking lights, which may be subjected to splashes.

Can I light my backyard without electricity? 

The short answer: yes. If you opt for one of the solar or battery-powered options, you'll be set for mains-free lighting.

Do I need smart lighting?

Just like indoors, smart lighting is available for outside too, giving you optimum control of your surroundings. Smart tech such as the Philips Hue allows you to control your lights from your smartphone and even set a ‘holiday mode’ where lights come on at the same time each day. Anything we can do to keep our homes safe and secure is a good idea. If you agree, then smart lighting is really the way forward. 

How we chose these outdoor lights 

Whilst only one of these outdoor lights have been tested and used first-hand, the rest have been chosen for their great reviews and useful specs. With many different types of lights out there to illuminate your space, we've made sure to balance our selection with options from each section. Whether it be festoon, solar or sensor, rest assured, these are the best outdoor lights to brighten up your outdoor living area. 

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. 

With contributions from