String lights bring vibrancy to backyards during summer nights, but outlets and extension cords make setting up the ambiance a logistical nightmare. Choose a set of the best solar string lights to avoid clunky wirings and bring a pop of natural light wherever you need it. String lights are having a moment, and I always love the aesthetic it brings to evening parties!
The Sunlitec lights are some of the brightest solar string lights on the market, ready to snap balconies and patios to attention. A gorgeous, twinkling, modern warm light compliments backyards that have green and gray color schemes--and most of our backyards have green and gray! Glass bulbs make the neighbors proud, and a flashing feature makes your kids proud.
For only a few more bucks than the Sunlitec, the Brightech lights give you old-fashioned warm edison bulbs. These solar string garden lights have the nicest aesthetic of any of them on this list, but you also pay a little extra for it. Also, “ambience” is the keyword in this product--they light up a space, but you won’t want to read under it. 12 bulbs about 3” long, and a strand over 27 feet create a perfect glow for the backyard.
Plastic bulbs prevent breakage without looking cheap! The bright white light is dimmed a bit by frosted glass, which has a bit of a snowy vibe to it. The aesthetic is perfect for backyards that have modern furniture and foliage designs. These outdoor solar string lights are the cheapest of the bunch, you can grab almost a hundred feet of lights for less than a hundred dollars.
While the other three options are bulb-based solar light strands, the Magictec brand offers solar rope lights. Instead of hanging bulbs, it’s a long rope lit up with warm LEDs. For under $20 you get two strands of 36-foot lights. They’re the alternative option because it is a light up LED rope and not traditional bulbs. Great for outlining pathways and decking to highlight places in your backyard!
The string light fad is the year-round version of the Christmas light craze, which started in 1882 (source). The #stringlights has over 130,000 posts on Instagram, from backyard parties to bedrooms with photo clips (source). Solar LED string lights are the perfect way to tap into the trend without burning your electricity bill.
When considering solar powered outdoor string lights, there are a few things you might want to consider:
No matter how cheap they are, it isn’t worth it to buy solar light strings that you don’t like. You’re buying string lights to set a mood. Remember that every professional product photo uses the perfect angles and filters to make the lights have a nice glow, so read the reviews (like this one!) to get a sense for how it actually looks.
In general, you’ll want lights that have a good amount of space between them and give off a warm, yellowish light. Sunlitec Solar String Lights and Brightech Ambience Pro have a great classic feel to them, while the Solar String Crystal Globes will look a bit harsher. But then again, you know your backyard! A harsher light might not be so bad if it’s at a distance. For patios and sitting areas, you’ll probably want to go for the warmer yellow.
Installing professional looking solar panel string lights will also go a long way to getting that young and fresh look--check out this video for some tips (source). It doesn’t matter how great your string lights looked in the box, you will want string lights that look good under the stars.
There are so many string lights on the market, and you’ll probably tolerate a little price fluctuation to get the ones that really look great. Both the Sunlitec Solar String Lights and Brightech Ambience Pro give you about 25 feet of light strand for around 50 bucks a pop. The Solar String Crystal Globes are significantly cheaper, running for almost a hundred feet for less than 100 bucks. While not quite the bulbed string lights, the Magictec Solar String Lights run 72 feet for only around $20. The huge price discrepancies here should remind you that the quality and aesthetics of string lights can vary greatly. I think that the Sunlitec and Brightech lights are gorgeous in a way that the other 2 brands, while nice, can’t really compete with. Investing a bit more to get the string lights that last for 5 years and look the best might well be worth your money.
Outdoor LED string lights can have durability and safety problems, depending on where they are placed. The Solar String Crystal Globes don’t provide you a warranty, and the plastic is harder to clean, but safer than the glass alternatives.
The Magictec Solar String Lights and Sunlitec Solar String Lights both give you a one-year warranty for their strands, which is encouraging. But the Brightech Ambience Pro is the real winner here. It’s my upgrade pick because it offers the peace of mind that comes with a full three-year warranty. The company believes in its product! When I’m looking for lighting electronics, warranty is key. Companies can’t make profits if they’re constantly fulfilling warranty claims, and so a three-year warranty means that most people don’t use it. Most people have a positive, durable, three-year experience with the Brightech Ambience Pro.
Most solar power string lights outdoors cannot be linked to each other like indoor string lights. A single panel powers a single strand, and there’s no connector on the end of it. When you’re mapping out your ideal string light scenario, consider the length of the string lights and the runway you get from panel to light. Some strands offer only a foot, others give you 5 feet.
The panel position is essential to gather sunlight. Because the lights are solar paneled and need a good 5-8 hours of peak sun, you’ll have to position the panel in the sun while running the lights to where you want them. This can get tricky if you’re running lights under shaded pool areas or patio spaces. Measure before you invest!
The Sunlitec are the brightest bulbs on the list, heping you see your guests faces at night while sitting around the patio! Warm and natural light complements the backyard without casting spotlights. On cloudy days I’ve found that the USB charger works great! It charges in just a few hours.
Having an extra power source is super helpful because you aren’t relying exclusively on solar on cloudy days. Your lights won’t be dim at a party ever again! Only drawbacks are a poor warranty and high price tag.
This strand is easier on the eyes than the other three! The Brightech has my favorite natural lighting, with beautiful edison bulbs that impress guests with their ambience. The high price means you’ll pay for quality.
These string lights are gorgeous but will definitely put a gash in your wallet on the way to perfect summer night aesthetics. On the other hand, the great warranty ensures that you get the quality.
The Solar String Crystal Globes are simply the most cost effective way to deliver strings of solar bulbs to your backyard in high quantities. The frosted plastic and complete lack of warranty isn’t exactly encouraging, but they will certainly light up your backyard without destroying your bank account.
The charge time is great as well! Another drawback is that the solar panel is a bit finicky, and sometimes the lights don’t come on until it’s well dark (you can place a cover over the panel to force them to come on as the sun is setting though!).
The safest, cheapest, longest strand of lights is the Magictec. Mostly suited for outlining and not entertaining, the Magictec lights are a strand of 100 tiny bulbs that glow without really illuminating.
They’re easy to tack up, and cheap enough to cover a lot of ground. You might want to consider these if you’re looking to line planters or make a gazebo really pop.
The Brightech Ambience Pro is my clear frontrunner. They look beautiful in the backyard and come with a great warranty. The Edison bulbs are the perfect retro chic vibe, and the warm light compliments the warm light coming from the house. Yes, they are the most expensive selection per foot, but if you want quality string lights you’ll probably have to pay for them. Investing in quality string lights that you LOVE is ultimately cheaper than replacing mediocre string lights every couple years and buying a new set when you move.
Alternatively, I also love the Magictec Solar String Lights, because the bulbs are nicely aligned in a single strand and easy to tack up as an outline. The price can’t be beat, and the warm light matches the Brightech Ambience Pro with great style!