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Best Solar Path Lights

Lighting creates an inviting ambiance in landscaping, opening up your yard. Some of my favorite summer memories involve the smell of barbecued burgers and the slow fade of the sunlight into landscape lighting. Solar powered path lighting is an economic, easy way to keep the party going into the evening. The best solar path lights are durable, economical, and provide natural lighting which compliments yard design.

The TomCare solar lights are more gorgeous in person than they are in the pictures. They feature natural lighting which won’t clash with the rest of your backyard. The solar charge lasts a full 12 hours, all through the night. These top class solar power pathway lights flicker like little flames, great for creating a soft ambient nighttime vibe. The TomCare is the top recommendation because it balances price with durability, overall aesthetic, and natural lighting.

The lantern design has a fun flair, which makes the lights enticing without causing them to lose their class. I absolutely love the natural effects that these lights bring to a backyard. No need to light the fire pit. Yinuo Mirror solar lanterns bring a camping aesthetic which lights the backyard. They’re durable, great for spaces filled with rowdy pets and kids! With a charge of 15 hours, these solar walkway lights can take a party from dusk to dawn. If money weren’t an option, you could invest in a stack of these path lights to change your entire backyard.

Solar lighting for walkways can get expensive quickly, but these solar garden path lights are a great way to light a backyard without lighting up a bank account. At $20 for a dozen, you can light a backyard even if you have a lot of space. My only negatives are that the light is a little less natural than the more expensive varieties, they aren’t as bright, and they don’t hold a charge as well. But the price might be unbeatable. The SUNNEST make the list as my favorite low-budget option for pathway lighting.

Flower lights are about one garden gnome and broken pottery piece from being too tacky for me, but these solar sidewalk lights won me over.  But hippy-bohemian yards are back in style, and if you need solar pathway lights with a bit more flare then these solar flower lights might be perfect. The petals are made of fabric! They’re a bit more fragile than the other lights, but they look like real flowers during the day and are easy to pose. The lilies cycle around seven different colors, which could be perfect for a yard that needs a bit of pop. If the other lights are too vanilla, these flowers might be what you need.

Value and Overview

Solar pathway lights are a low-cost way to illuminate your yards without increasing your energy bill, but you should consider the amount of sunlight that your yard is working with. Operating times for solar path lights can vary as much as 30-50% during winter months, when sunlight is less than optimal (source). LED pathway lights help solve this, using up to 85% less energy than a regular bulb (source). When considering pathway lighting, look for aesthetics and lighting potential.

Aesthetics

Remember that Outdoor solar path lights spend half their time in sunlight! You don’t want to have lights that look good at night but are an eyesore during the day. Get creative with your landscape path lighting, or do some DIY fixes, like this video. The TomCare solar lights and Yinuo Mirror Solar Lantern might be the better daytime options here. The XJEXPRO flower lights look a little tacky during the day with their flower petals, unless well disguised into existing landscaping. If you need a little inspiration, check out this video on installation and placement.

But the real run for any solar light is the nighttime. The SUNNEST lights are a sleek silver color but give off a more artificial aesthetic than I like to see. Once again, TomCare and the lanterns look like you’ve lit tiny fires in little torches, which brings together your backyard in lovely colors. The XJEXPRO flower lights do have a lovely color rotation at night, but it will really depend on the backyard you have. If there’s a fun cabana space or a tropical pool, you might need the flowers!

Durability and Safety

Solar lighting for pathways can be expensive, so it’s important to find durable lights. LED pathway light kits can break, which is a bummer for your wallet, but also broken lights can be a safety hazard! If you have pets or children running around, you will probably want to avoid lights that break easier. Glass or plastic in a foot or paw is not a good look.

Durability prevents your lights from breaking, but “long lasting” means that your lights won’t give out midway through summer. If you’ve ever driven by a fast food restaurant with a couple neon letters burned out, you’ll know you don’t want that in your backyard. It’s not a good look. Invest in products that will last, and that don’t leave you with mismatching landscaping path lights.

Solar and Brightness

Winter months can take a toll on brightness. A summer in Arizona will provide different lighting than a winter in Philadelphia! When looking at solar lights, it’s tempting to think that 6 to 8 hours of light is enough. The Yinuo Mirror Solar Lantern promises 15 hours, and after all, isn’t that too many? What we tend to forget is that the amount of exposed sunlight per day varies, so lights that have longer charge times and lower charge holding can actually give out even before the night begins. Low voltage path lights need to last!

Price

Price isn’t just the cost of the light, it’s the cost and the durability. In fact, it’s cost, durability, and peace of mind. Ticket price is one thing, but make sure to factor in durability and the time lights will last.

Dealbreakers

There are certain things that any good path lights should have. These things don’t set a product apart from the others in the field, but they are the standard features that are the price of admission. If you’re considering a product that lacks one of these features, move on.

  • Wireless: It’s 2019 and solar path lights shouldn’t have wires running anywhere for any reason.
  • Weatherproof: They should survive rain, heatwaves, and even snow (if applicable).
  • Easy assembly: The company shouldn’t be delivering parts that require an engineering degree. Find lights that require only a couple of moving pieces to set up. This isn’t on this list because you won’t be able to set up your lights, it’s a recommendation because I know from experience that the more assembly that we have to do at home the more room for error which diminishes the longevity of your lights.
  • Sensor-activated on and off switch: You shouldn’t have to wander out to turn on your lights when the sun goes down.

Best Solar Path Lights Reviews

TomCare Solar Lights Upgraded, Waterproof Flickering Flames Torches Lights Outdoor Solar Spotlights Landscape Decoration Lighting Dusk to Dawn Auto On/Off Security Torch Light for Patio Driveway (4)

Pros
  • Beautiful natural flickering flame won’t make your yard feel tacky. Great for walkways and patio areas.
  • Super durable. They’ll weather severe rainstorms and
  • At three feet tall, they’re significantly bigger than many solar lights and the other lights on this list.
  • Last for years.
Cons
  • The plastic stakes aren’t great for hard ground. You may have to buy some PVC pipe and insert that into the ground, then insert stakes into those.
  • Difficult to tell if the light switch is in the on or off position… because it’s a single button. You may accidentally not charge a light by forgetting whether it’s on or off.
  • Not super bright beyond the surrounding few inches. The backdrop determines how much light you’ll get. Put them by a dark bush, and they’ll be kind of dull. Put them by a lighter rock face or by cement, and they’ll reflect more light.
  • On a cloudy day you only get a few hours out of them. This brand really does need direct sunlight.
  • More expensive than similar solar lights.

Solar Lantern Lights Dancing Flame Waterproof Outdoor Hanging Lantern Solar Powered Umbrella LED Night Lights Dusk to Dawn Auto On/Off Landscape Decorative for Garden Patio Deck Yard Path 2 Pack

Pros
  • The natural light attracts far less bugs than more artificial variants.
  • Bright enough to be visible down the street.
  • Great charge that lasts until the early morning.
  • Can be easily taken camping! The hook and ring allow you to hang it up.
  • I love the realistic dancing flame. It isn’t the steady brightness of a security light. It has some play to it.
  • Lanterns are made of durable plastic which prevents rusting.
Cons
  • Very expensive. You’ll pay a lot for only 2 lanterns.
  • You should upgrade the batteries that they come with. The lanterns run on rechargeable double-A’s, but the batteries included are a bit cheap. You’ll increase the brightness and charge time by purchasing higher quality batteries. Of course, this just adds to the cost!
  • Not always the path light aesthetic you might be going for. Just like the flower lights, they can look a bit tacky in the wrong backyard. Make sure you have some rocks (like mine) or a cabin feel.

Pros
  • By far the most economical option on this list. $20 for a dozen means you can easily cover a whole yard for less than $100.
  • Easy assembly and set up, only one moving piece to attach.
  • Generally long lasting in good climates. Will last for about a year without serious weather problems.
Cons
  • Plastic stakes are easier to break when assembling, hurting their durability and longevity scores.
  • Rain can cause damage.
  • The light emitted is a white artificial light, as opposed to the more natural glow of the other options. The artificial light doesn’t play as well with the more yellow light of your house, creating a contrast.
  • You definitely get what you pay for--these lights are smaller than the other ones on this list.
  • The light emitted is a bit dim and won’t light up your pathways as well as the other options. They work well if they have brighter backgrounds (white wall, cement) to illuminate. Put one next to a bush and it won’t be very bright.

XJEXPO Solar Flower Lights,Solar Garden Stake Lights Outdoor with 8 Lily Flowers,Multi-Color Changing LED Solar Decorative Lights Garden,Patio,Backyard(Purple & White) 2 Pack

Pros
  • Unique design brings more fun and more pop to your yard than the other lights.
  • Flowers are fairly realistic and posable. They look lovely at night, and mix really well into foliage and flowers.
  • The design is really bright, and LEDs in the stakes bring the whole fixture to life.
  • The lights are bright enough to light up a walkway.
Cons
  • Requires more cleaning than the other lights. The fabric and shape of the lights will collect dust and leaves.
  • They tend to look cheap in the day. They really do need the nighttime to bring out their full colors.
  • Some assembly issues up front. It is difficult to get the stakes into the light.
  • Color changing lights rotate between 7 colors, but there’s no way to set the rotation or get them to stay one color. This feature makes the lights a bit quirkier than you might like.

Conclusion

The SUNNEST Solar Garden Lights are my personal favorite, which might not be obvious from the number of cons. If money weren’t an option, then the TomCare Lights have a better aesthetic. The Sunnest lights aren’t an eyesore during the day, they have a nice low light, and the cost is effective for whole-yard lighting. Also, any durability issues are overcome by the price. $20 for a dozen is really hard to beat, and if you over buy you’ll have extras.

All four of these lights are good options though! You might want the flower LEDs if it fits your vibe, or the lanterns if you only need a couple pathway lights.