Outdoor solar lights are bright ideas for exterior
illumination. Find out how these energy-saving lights work and the many
types that can make your nights shine.
Outdoor solar lights were some of the first alternative-energy
products to gain a mass-market foothold. Today, sunlight-powered
fixtures are flooding the landscape and garden lighting market.
How solar lights work
Solar lights have three main components:
- Solar panels: Gather sunlight and convert it to electrical power.
- Batteries: Store electrical power generated by the panel. Expect
6-10 hours of illumination from a fully-charged solar light battery.
- LED bulbs: LED (light emitting diodes) are super-efficient, shine very brightly, and are long-lasting.
The upside of outdoor solar lights
- You donâ€™t have to worry about plugging in your lights or running wires to your outdoor solar fixtures.
- You donâ€™t have to change bulbs on solar lights, thanks to super-long-lasting LEDs.
- Your utility company doesnâ€™t get a dime from you when you get your nighttime shine from stored sun-power.
Outdoor solar lights donâ€™t really have a lot of downsides. However,
if you live in a cloudy climate, or if youâ€™ve just experienced a long
haul of rainy and overcast weather, the brightness and longevity of the
lighting may be affected.
Also, solar lights cost more at the outset because theyâ€™re complex and have expensive components.
Types of outdoor solar lighting
come in various lengths, such as 25 and 50 feet, and usually have 2-6
bulbs per foot, depending on the manufacturer. There are many styles,
colors, and sizes of bulbs to choose. Theyâ€™ve become popular as Christmas lights, but you can use them to light up your outdoor living spaces all year round.
You should know: Solar string lights donâ€™t need regular household electrical current, but theyâ€™re attached by wire to a small solar panel â€” make sure the panel has access to as much sunlight as possible.
Cost:$20-$40 for a 25-foot strand.
Border and driveway lights illuminate walkways and the edges of driveways for safety and convenience.
- Stake lights are self-contained â€” the solar panel is built into the
fixture. Theyâ€™re easy to install: You simply push the stake into the
ground. Youâ€™ll find a big variety of styles, from modern to traditional;
some even change colors as they glow. Cost: Color-changing stake
lights: $40 for a light thatâ€™s 20 inches tall and 6 inches wide.
- Stepping stone lights glow from within and are rugged enough for regular foot traffic. Cost: $25-50 each.
- Paver lights can be installed in your driveway paving material.
Theyâ€™re made of glass or acrylic, and theyâ€™re tough enough that you can
drive right over them. Cost: $32 for a 6-by-6-inch light.
are spherical sun-powered lamps that make chic architectural additions
to your landscape lighting scheme. Stake them in your yard, float them
in your pool
or make them border beacons â€” no matter, youâ€™ll enjoy the glowing-orb goodness.
You should know: Color-changing globe lights have three
modes: off, â€œcolor modeâ€ (which cycles through the spectrum), and â€œwhite
modeâ€ for simply glowing light.
Cost:Glowing globes, $29-$49; half-globe path lights, $7.99 each
Safety and security lights are ready to shine when the sun goes down.
- Motion-detector lights
switch on when the sensor detects movement; the range and direction of
the sensor is adjustable. Because they donâ€™t shine all the time, the
battery for a solar-powered motion-detector should have a charge that
lasts all night.
- Solar-lit house numbers
come in many shapes and styles. A sunlit address isnâ€™t just
aesthetically smart â€” if you ever need emergency services to find you
after dark, your street number will be plainly visible.
You should know: A spate of sunless days could leave your motion-detecting security light off-line â€” a chance you take any time you go solar.
Cost: Security lights, $79.99 to $120; house numbers, $15 and up, depending on design.
light up your evening outdoor activities with style, and you wonâ€™t have to drape an extension cord over your deck
- Table lamps bring a bit of indoor functionality to your outside living spaces. Put them anywhere for a dash of living room panache.
- Lamp posts are permanent installations for pathways, garden benches, and the bottom of deck stairways.
You should know: Some solar table lamps do include an electrical plug-in option as well as a solar panel.
Cost: Solar table lamps are $20 and up, depending on size and materials; $600-$1,000 for 9-foot high multi-fixture lamp post.