Solar umbrella lights can be an amazing addition to almost any patio or deck. A patio umbrella with solar-powered LED lights gives you shade outdoors during the day.
Also, the soft light at night can make it very nice for entertaining guests outdoors. My top pick out of all the options is the Leisure life 9’ Solar Light Patio Umbrella with Black Base.
This is my top pick because it has all the right features at a reasonable price. Plus some added ones that are simply nice to have.
Top Picks Led Outdoor and Patio Lighting
What You Can Do With Patio Umbrella Lights
While you might think that patio umbrellas are only for giving shade more similar to what the best solar shades for blocking heat can do, there is actually a lot you can do with them. However, unlike certain folk tales, one of the few things you should never try with your patio umbrella is skydiving.
Other than that your options are limitless!
Outdoor umbrella lights can sometimes look plain with just one solid color of fabric on them. So why not use your creativity and get to decorating? You can use fabric paints, lace, ribbon, or anything else you have on hand and turn your umbrella into a work of art.
Should you choose to get a solar umbrella that doesn’t have a base, you can always make your own DIY base. Then decorate it to go with your other outdoor furniture.
For those that are really good and have all the right tools and supplies, there is the option of making a DIY patio umbrella from scratch. And then buying some solar fairy lights or solar string lights will do.
While this is possible to do, the end result won’t look as nice or last nearly as long as a well-made patio umbrella.
What You Should Look for in Solar Umbrellas
UV Protection and Waterproof Fabric
Spending too much time in the sun can be bad for you, and not just because you risk getting sunburned. Even being in the shade under an umbrella that does not have UV protection will only block one kind of UV rays, the other kind will still get through to you if your umbrella does not specifically have UV protection (Source).
The waterproof fabric might seem like a no-brainer. Most patio umbrellas do have this feature, but this is an essential thing to have. Even if the umbrella does not let the rain through if it is not specifically waterproof, it will mold over time.
Especially in humid areas or places that get a lot of rain. While you can clean the mold off, it is both unhealthy and unsightly.
A Wind Vent at the Top
Perhaps you have seen those extra folds of fabric at the center of patio umbrellas and wondered what they were for, but they are actually a very good thing to have for two reasons. As their name implies, the wind vent allows wind to pass through.
This helps to keep the umbrella from blowing over because of winds as easily and, in turn, helps to keep it stable. The other thing that these vents help with is the heat. Since heat rises, these vents give the heat a way to keep rising instead of getting trapped in the umbrella, keeping it nice and cool in the shade instead of making an oven (Source).
Repairs for Your Solar Patio Umbrella
If you plan on keeping your patio umbrella for years, then knowing how to fix its more common problems is great. Sometimes it might just look like it needs a good cleaning from the dust and dirt, and this is actually very easy to do.
Strong winds can break one or more of the ribs in an umbrella of any kind. Plus, the impact of them falling over can break the ribs with or without wind being a factor at all. This can be fixed with a little time and a handful of easy to find supplies from the local hardware store.
Sometimes a pole can get bent when it gets hit with something or someone. And can cause it to quite noticeably be leaning. Instead of calling customer service or getting rid of it, you can easily fix it yourself.
Your solar lights themselves can misbehave at times, but there are a few steps you can go through to determine the cause as to why they are not working. Figuring out the problem is the first step to fixing it (Source).
Best Solar LED Outdoor & Patio Lighting
Best Overall Option
Leisurelife 9’ Solar Lighat Patio Umbrella with Black Base
It is made sturdy enough to handle 20 mph winds or more which can be a good thing if you live in windy areas. And it can stay lit for around eight hours, even if it is a cloudy day, which is often more time than what you will need it lit for.
Best Upgrade Option
Seasons Sentry 11’ LED Solar Round Offset Umbrella
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In addition to having LED lights along the ribs, this light-up umbrella also has a larger light in the center which gives off more light and can be useful for times when you want to see details.
Leisurelife 9’ Solar Lighat Patio Umbrella With Black Base
This 9’ wide and nearly 8’ tall lighted patio umbrella has a black 20.5” wide and 5” tall base. It can be filled with water to make it over sixty pounds or emptied to make it light enough to move around easier. The fabric it’s made of provides both UV protection and is waterproof.
It comes in beige, brown, green, and red which can help make sure that you can have a color that goes with your lawn furniture. It is made sturdy enough to handle 20 mph winds or more which can be a good thing if you live in windy areas.
And it can stay lit for around eight hours, even if it is a cloudy day, which is often more time than what you will need it lit for.
- The base enables it to be a stand-alone that needs no support, meaning that you can use it anywhere you want to.
- The 45-degree tilt that it has helps you stay shaded in the early morning and late evening when the sun is shining at an angle.
- The umbrella is so wide that when cranked closed the crank is hidden in the fabric, which means that to crank it back open you have to find the crank.
- The on/off button, located on the ribs right underneath the top, can be hard to reach unless you are tall.
Seasons Sentry 11’ LED Solar Round Offset Umbrella
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This 11’ solar LED umbrella is quite large, yet it folds up nicely into a small area when not in use. The base is a square 40”x40” and is 6” high and the bottom of the base has grooved edges to help it not slide even on slippery surfaces.
In addition to having LED lights along the ribs, this light-up umbrella also has a larger light in the center which gives off more light and can be useful for times when you want to see details. The lights can last eight hours or more which is plenty of light for most people.
- The offset design can allow you to use it for tables that have no hole in the center for an umbrella. The structure of the offset allows it to tilt up to a 70 degree angle – almost vertical – which can be wonderful to block out evening and morning light as well as a neighbors annoying lights if needed.
- It comes with the base which can be filled with sand or water. These kinds of bases can be easier to move around by simply emptying them.
- The canopy can rotate either clockwise or counterclockwise around the base which can be a really good thing sometimes to avoid knocking things over.
- Sand can be rather difficult to get out of the base should you choose to you that option to fill it.
- It is expensive.
Ainfox 9ft Solar Patio Umbrella
This solar umbrella lighting option comes in brown, beige, red, or green and has the needed UV protection and waterproof fabric that is also fade resistant. The colors are deep and vivid and the umbrella has a small amount of tilting that it can do.
It can run for six or seven hours if it has had enough light during the day to charge for seven to eight hours, so it is not the most efficient but it should still provide an adequate amount of light.
- It is a cheap option that has all the necessary features for a solar umbrella light.
- Without any base parts you need to assemble, it is a really quick and easy set up.
- It does not come with a base or support of any kind so the only way to use it is in the center hole of a table, to buy a complete base that is compatible with it, or to make a base for it. A lack of a base also makes this option less sturdy in windy conditions.
- At nearly eight feet in height, the on and off switch can be hard to reach without a stepper or standing in a chair unless you happen to be tall.
Sunlitec Solar String Hanging Umbrella Lights
If you already have an umbrella and want to make it into a solar umbrella with lights then this is a great option. It can attach to any umbrella and only needs 5-8 hours of sunlight to charge and lasts up to eight hours at night.
The lights are spaced 10” apart and automatically come on when it gets dark, though this also means that they won’t work in the daytime.
- It can be charged with its solar panel or through its USB charging port which means that it can be used indoors, outdoors, and for anything you wish to use it for. USB charging takes only four hours and can be handy to make sure that the lights are bright even after really cloudy days.
- It has four different lighting modes to choose from and also has the added feature of letting you extend the length by simply buying more lights and attaching them at the end; each solar panel being able to sustain two strings of lights.
- You need to already have an umbrella or buy one separately if you want to use this for solar umbrella lighting.
- The glass bulbs that protect the lights from getting wet can shatter fairly easily, so handle them with care.
While all the items I went over are great, my favorite is the one made by Leisurelife. Their outdoor umbrella with solar lights has UV protection and waterproof fabric as well as the wind vent on the top that is so nice to have.
It also has a nice base so I can place it wherever I want and some tilting ability to help it give more shading options. Plus, it can stay lit for me even after cloudy days for as long as I need it. It is nice when I plan a get-together since it is one less thing I have to worry about as I prepare for my guests.