Best outdoor lights 2020: brighten your space with the latest garden lighting ideas

Take your pick from the best outdoor lights and illuminate your garden in style

best outdoor lights with pendant lights hanging on a pergola above a dining table
(Image credit: Curiosa & Curiosa)

The best outdoor lights are practical, functional and beautiful. While it’s important that we can see in our gardens after the sun has set, there’s so much more that the best outdoor lights have to offer.

Just like inside our homes, lighting is integral for setting the right mood in the garden. Too bright and it can feel clinical and cold, too dark and it can feel gloomy. Subtle, decorative garden lighting will create a cosy ambience that's perfect for relaxed entertaining after the sun has set. 

From colourful festoon lights and vintage-inspired wall lights to boho pendant lights and even modern floor lamps, we’ve rounded up the most stylish outdoor lights so you can make the most of every hour in your outside space.

Need some ideas before you decide what to buy? Take a look at our creative garden lighting ideas

The best outdoor lights

multi coloured festoon lights above a pretty alfresco dining table set for a party

(Image credit: Lights 4 Fun)

1. Multicoloured LED connectable festoon lights

Best multi-coloured garden lights: perfect for a fun party vibe

Specifications
Power: Plug in
Colour: Multi
Reasons to buy
+Fun vibrant colours+Perfect for parties+High quality
Reasons to avoid
-Could be too bold for some garden schemes

Looking to turn your garden into the go-to party pad? These vibrant lights will bring personality to any outdoor space. 

Easy to use 

Place the lights amongst colourful bunting like this for added wow factor, drape them across bushes or hook them onto patio walls for instant fun. While colourful and vibrant, we love this design in particular as they're not too bright, offering a surprisingly subtle, grown up glow. 

Good investment

While these designs might be pricier than other similar designs available, these lights are great quality, so they’ll be brightening your garden for years to come.

Buy the Multicoloured LED connectable festoon lights

wall lights in a modern garden with an outdoor sofa, decking and panelled fences

(Image credit: Philips)

2. Philips outdoor smart wall lights

Best smart outdoor lighting: a good choice for fans of smart technology

Specifications
Power: LED
Colour: White and coloured
Reasons to buy
+Control lighting from your smart phone+Set lighting schedules for security
Reasons to avoid
-Requires Philips Hue Bridge for smart features

If you’re already a smart lighting convert, you’ll know how great it is to have so much control of your lighting, so these Philips outdoor smart wall lights should be making their way onto your wishlist. One key way to make your garden feel more like an extended living space of your home is to blend your indoor and outdoor lighting scheme. 

Control your lights from anywhere 

With the Philips Hue, you can control both indoor and outdoor lights through your smart phone, or even by asking Alexa or your Google-assistant enabled smart speaker. This means you’ll be able to turn your outdoor lights on just as easily as your living room lights, enhancing that seamless flow between inside and out.

Wide range of styles

These wall lights offer a practical lighting scheme and there's several stylish designs to choose from too. Perfectly balancing traditional glass cages with modern LED and matt black, the designs will sit back in any space, from ultra contemporary to country cottage style.

stake lights with a flickering effect in a flower bed

(Image credit: Argos)

3. Argos Home Solar Dancing Flame Torch

Best solar garden torch: create a realistic flickering glow

Specifications
Power: Solar
Colour: Warm white
Reasons to buy
+Flickering flame for cosiness+Stylish design 
Reasons to avoid
-Not as reliable as hardwired designs

There’s something so relaxing about the light of a flickering flame, and with this Solar Dancing Flame Torch you get that lovely glow without the risk having lit candles in your flowerbeds. 

Cheap to run

The LED bulbs create a calming candle effect, while the solar power means you don’t have to keep buying new batteries or use electricity either.

Multifunctional design

These garden lights come to life when placed amongst flowers in a bed like this, but you can also use them to light up a garden path or add an ambient glow to your patio. 

Easy to install

Made from sturdy plastic, all you need to do to set these up is push them into the ground in a sunny spot and allow the sunlight to reach them all day. It couldn’t be simpler.

Buy the Argos Home Solar Dancing Flame Torch

modern outdoor floor lamp placed next to an outdoor sofa in a garden

(Image credit: Cox & Cox )

4. Cox & Cox Solar Floor Lamp

Best outdoor floor lamp: ideal for creating an outdoor living room effect

Specifications
Power: Solar
Colour: White
Reasons to buy
+Practical floor standing design+Statement feature
Reasons to avoid
-Not as stable in windy conditions

Floor lamps might not be your first thought when you think of planning a garden lighting scheme, but we love this Solar Floor Lamp for the way it creates a touch of indoor living outdoors.  

Classic looks 

The white opaque shade ensures there's a subtle glow from the light, while the matt grey stand gives this design a contemporary edge. Position next to an outdoor sofa as shown here, or allow it to brighten a dark corner and create a cosy evening reading space.

Solar powered

At the top of the shade is a discreet solar panel. Once it’s been charged by the sun for six hours, you’ll have enough light to last for five hours in the evening. This can be switched on and off using the pull chord, just as you would an indoor floor lamp.

Buy the Cox & Cox Solar Floor Lamp

faux candles and fairy lights in an outdoor seating area with cushions and an aztec wooden bench

(Image credit: Lights 4 Fun )

5. Truglow Waterproof Outdoor Candle Trio

Best realistic outdoor candelight: create a romantic atmosphere

Specifications
Power: Battery
Colour: Flickering warm white
Reasons to buy
+Decorative effect+Creates romantic ambience 
Reasons to avoid
-Limited light created-

Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening in this stylish garden? With this TruGlow Waterproof Outdoor Candle Trio we're picturing cocktails aplenty and snuggles in peace once the kids have gone to bed. 

Realistic effect

These are by far the most realistic faux candles we’ve seen – it’s only by getting up close that you realise it’s not a real flame as the clever flicker is really that effective.

Comes in a handy set

These candles come in a pack of three, with each candle varying in height so they look perfect clustered together. Requiring two C batteries, they couldn’t be easier to use and they’ll last much longer than regular candles, too.

Buy the Truglow Waterproof Outdoor Candle Trio

vintage style galvanised steel wall light on a wooden fence

(Image credit: Cox & Cox )

6. Cox & Cox Galvanised Swan Neck Light

Best outdoor wall light: unique vintage inspired design

Specifications
Power: Mains electricity
Colour: White
Reasons to buy
+Vintage design+Elegant swan neck
Reasons to avoid
-Electrician recommended for installation

This Cox & Cox Galvanised Swan Neck Wall Light light ticks both the practical and beautiful box. Ideal for installation on the exterior walls of your house or on a garden wall, it looks just as good when it's switched off as it does illuminated after dark. 

Durable materials

Made from hardwearing galvanised steel, this is a design that's built to last. Its matt finish brings a rustic look, while its swan neck adds a sense of elegance.

Needs to be wired to the mains

This light will need to be wired into your mains, so it's best to hire an electrician to fit this for you. Not only will a professional ensure your fitting is safe and working correctly, but they’ll ensure there's a nice neat finish, too.

Buy the Cox & Cox Galvanised Swan Neck Light  

modern smart lighting fixed into the ground

(Image credit: Philips)

7. Philips Hue sensored outdoor lights

Best front garden light: light the pathway to your front door

Specifications
Power: LED
Colour: warn white
Reasons to buy
+Illuminates on approach+Optional smart features
Reasons to avoid
-Style may be too contemporary for some

These outdoor lanterns are ideal for lighting up your driveway. The contemporary design comes in a cool anthracite, perfect for modern homes.

Sensor operated

With motion sensors, these lights can detect movement and will illuminate as you arrive to create a warm welcome home. Not only is this essential for unpacking the car at night, but it will also help to keep you and your home safe.

Create smart lighting

You can choose to connect these lights to the Hue Bridge, meaning you’ll be able to switch the lights on and off as you please from your smart phone. Jetting off on holiday? Create the appearance that someone’s home by lighting up your space, providing extra peace of mind while you’re away.

fairy lights with faux ivy

(Image credit: Argos)

8. Argos Home Ivy Solar String Fairy Lights

Best budget update: an inexpensive way to light a balcony

Specifications
Power: Solar
Colour: Warm white
Reasons to buy
+Great for balconies+Foliage and lighting combined
Reasons to avoid
-Won't stand out amongst bushes

If you’re looking to revamp a bland balcony or small patio, these Argos Home Ivy Solar Strong Lights are just the ticket. Extremely easy to use as well, try weaving them around balcony railings or along a garden wall for maximum impact. 

Solar powered

These lights are easy to use anywhere as they're solar powered so don't require mains power. Intertwined with 20 LED lights, the decorative faux ivy garland will bring a touch of nature-inspired greenery to your space. 

Perfect for pergolas 

Alternatively, a few of these strings of lights would work particularly well intertwined around the roof of a pergola, creating a ceiling of foliage and lights that would be a pleasure to dine beneath. 

Buy the Argos Home Ivy Solar String Fairy Lights

decking lighting with a bistro set and stone walls

(Image credit: Wayfair)

9. Sol 72 Outdoor Storm 3 Light LED Deck Light

Best floor light: ideal for a simple and fuss-free lighting scheme

Specifications
Power: plug in
colour: warm white
Reasons to buy
+Upward facing lighting+Great for small spaces
Reasons to avoid
-Needs to be inset in paving or decking

If you’re planning a garden transformation, you should consider lighting right from the start of the planning process, and this Sol 72 Outdoor Storm 3 Light LED Deck Light is a simple yet effective way to illuminate a patio or decked area. 

Highlight key garden features

Upward facing lighting is a clever way to draw attention to certain areas in your garden, such as attractive stone walls like this, greenery or water features.

Easy to control

These lights come as a pack of three, including a supply cable and transformer. A handy controller allows you to switch the lights on and off, and also gives you the option to dim the lights to set the right mood.

Buy the Sol 72 Outdoor Storm 3 Light LED Deck Light

Filament bulb lights hanging in a garden

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

10. Waitrose Garden 10 Edison Style Bulb Light String

Best industrial style light: add instant charm with these battery operated lights

Specifications
Power: Batteries
Light: Warm amber
Reasons to buy
+On-trend industrial style 
Reasons to avoid
-Batteries will need replacing every few weeks

Drape this Waitrose Garden 10 Edison Style Bulb Light String above your outdoor dining table and your garden will be the envy of your guests. Industrial style is still as popular as ever for interiors, so we're loving the idea of bringing the trend outside, too.

Warm glow 

We love the unusual amber colour of these lights, which will give a warm glow long after the temperature drops. 

Battery operated 

The lights require three AA batteries, which are included with the lights. The batteries will need replacing around every 60 days, although this will depend on how often you use the lights. 

Set lighting schedules

These lights come with a six-hour timer, ensuring the best ambience throughout the evening, but it means they will will also turn themselves off if you forget at the end of the evening.

Buy the Waitrose Garden 10 Edison Style Bulb Light String

How to buy the best outdoor lights 

IP ratings

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 blasts of water from a pressure washer.

Power

One of the most important considerations when choosing outdoor lights is the power source. At a time when we’re all trying to make more eco-friendly choices, it’s no surprise that solar lights are becoming increasing popular. Leaving the panel outside in direct sunlight provides enough energy to illuminate your space at nighttime.

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.

Many wall lights needs 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.

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 smart phone 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, so smart lighting really is the way forward.

Looking for more garden lighting ideas?