Aug 03, 2023

Best solar lights for the garden: we test out 9 sets for summer

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SOLAR lights have got to be one of the best ways of glitzing up your garden, turning an ordinary humdrum space into whatever you want it to be.

Fairy lights for the grotto effect? Sorted. Festoons for a festival vibe? They’ve got you covered. Flashing colourful strings for a garden rave? Undoubtedly.

As a way to guide you down your garden at dusk or brighten up a shady corner, a well-placed bulb can transform your space, whether it's a balcony, courtyard or sweeping countryside concourse.

And with the wonders of modern technology, not only will they shine late into the night, experts have already come up with some smart lights you can operate with a phone app.

But this isn't all - you can now find unbelievably bright security lights, floodlights and even sunken spotlights - so instead of plugging them into the mains, you can save a huge amount of money in energy costs.

But with literally thousands of lights out there - how will you know which is the best, brightest and will burn longest?

Here at Sun Selects, we’ve spent many months testing a whole host of different types, shapes and sizes.

So fear not, just like the solar lights, you can rely on The Sun to light your way….

I have been buying solar powered bulbs for many many years and this is the first time I’ve come across a string that not only lasts over winter and looks stunning, but also appear as bright as mains powered lights and shine well into the night.

Although on the higher end of the budget, they are worth every single penny. They look fab - a sort of vintage vibe with glass LED bulbs spaced along a strong, black 8m cable - which means you can use them across a pergola or along a fence without worrying too much about having to buy multiples.

You can choose from two brightness levels - obviously the slightly dimmer ones last a bit longer - but there's not much difference between the two. They also have clever hooks on each bulb, so they can be attached to wire if needs be.

The brightness is the main thing going for them, however - they honestly look like they’ve just been plugged in. And I’ve got a set from last summer still going strong. A really pleasing find in the world of solar lights.


These are hands down the best solar-powered sensor security lights I’ve come across. First spotted at my brother-in-law's house, who uses them as proper security lights, it took him a great deal of effort to convince me these didn't have some sort of plug-in back up.

Bright, if not brighter than any standard security light attached to the mains, these are triggered at just the right moment and last for a very long time.

Easy to attach, they look techy and cool and happily, the solar strip is part of the whole light, so carefully placed, these are just as good, if not better, than the mains equivalent and will definitely save you on electricity costs.

I have had these in my garden since last summer and what's mindblowing, is that without fail they have twinkled on every single night.

And, if you know how tricky it is to find long lasting reliable lights, you’ll know what an incredible boast this is. I have two strings of them wrapped around a bay tree trunk, and even in the depths of winter, they still turned on. Even if there hadn't been any sun that day!

They must just have really good energy storage, and soak up the morning sunlight they receive - as where I’ve placed them, they’re in the shade all afternoon. The copper wiring means they can literally be attached to anything, whether you wrap them round a pergola, a tree trunk or along a fence, they’re lightweight, reliable and really bright.

It was only a matter of time before we got solar lights controlled by an app. And these ones boast 16 million different colour combinations. I must confess I haven't managed to work out all of them yet, but I’ve certainly had fun trying.

Depending on the set you select, you get 25 or 50 bulbs and using the Hello Fairy app, or a remote control provided, you can literally whizz through all the different combinations, set different scenes, and even sync them to music; that definitely justifies throwing a garden party!

The solar panel is reassuringly large, but if you’re using the remote control rather than the app, it can't be too hidden away. In our London garden the lights are five metres away from the house, and you can sit at the kitchen table and still control them with the Hello Fairy App. They can also be USB charged if you want to ensure they stay bright for an all-nighter.

They’re an ideal way to shake up your garden lights, and bring a really strong disco vibe to the garden.

You can find a few great ways to glow up your garden here too - including disco balls.

I had to include these as often solar lights can be more functional than pretty. This Moroccan style string of mini-lamps add a real sense of style to the garden and last long into the night. They’re not going to light up an area like some other string lights, but they look great strung from branches or as part of a wider Middle-Eastern look in the garden.

They’re also waterproof - and because of their shape wont ever have that annoying habit of filling with rainwater. And they emit a cosy warm glow. A lovely addition to the garden.

These are just pure fun - and unlike the usual strings, which hang from trees and pergolas etc, these are for sticking in the ground - creating an enchanting fairyland style vibe.

Theres ten of them, they only cost a tenner, and you can bury the wires in the soil between lights, so they really do add a touch of magic around the base of trees or plants.

These are really large bulbs with the clever hooks again, so you can attach them to wire if needs be. And because of the bigger globes - they also look good in the day, which can't be said for all solar string lights.

One of my favourite things about them is that they have eight different functions, including what the website calls a funky flash, chase or static glow. And because they’re perspex, you feel safer handling them and they’re far less likely to break.

They look great on a pergola, or any kind of frame you have in the garden, and emit a really nice warm glow, giving off a more subtle, charming energy to any area.

I was worried that at this price, they would look nothing like they do on the B&M website - and although they don't naturally hang anywhere near as straight as the picture suggests they still look absolutely fab.

It looks like hundreds of lights dangling down - which for just £16 is an absolute bargain. They shine bright and often for the whole night. On occasion as I’ve got ready for work at 5am, they’ve still been glowing away in the garden - turning off as dawn breaks.

They're a real bargain and if you were really obsessed with the straight lines, Im sure you could cleverly weigh them down. Ive got them hanging down our back fence, behind our sofa area, and they really do make the area feel special.

For just £4 you can't really go wrong with these LED solars. I have them wound round a bamboo cane that some honeysuckle is growing up. The end aim is that the lights will peep out from behind the leaves, but even though they’re still exposed at the moment, they’re light, bright, and fun to look at.

Its 50 lights on a 6.9m cable, so again, they could be wrapped around a pergola or along a fence, or around branches and trunks. They have flashing options as well if you really want to draw attention to them. And they turn on even after the dullest day. A real bargain.

Sun Vouchers is your one-stop shop for every deal and discount code currently available from your favourite online retailers. Don't click ‘buy’ until you’ve checked Sun Vouchers for a discount code to apply to your basket.

Best overall: Best security light: Best long-lasting: Best smart lights: Best mid-range: Solar Centre Festoon Lights, £49.49 from Amazon - buy here READ MORE: HETP Solar Lights Outdoor, Upgraded 78 LED solar motion, £23.50 at Amazon - buy here yiyicas 2 Pack Solar String Lights Outdoor, £13.99 at Amazon - buy here SolarCentre Smart Festoon Lights, £65.99 at Amazon - buy here Maroc Lantern string lights, £18 at B&Q - buy here Mushroom string lights, £10 at Dunelm - buy here Carnival Solar Festoon Lights, £21.99 at Lights4Fun - buy here Solar Powered LED Curtain, £16 at B&M - buy here Wilko Solar String Lights, £4 - buy here Sun Vouchers is your one-stop shop for every deal and discount code currently available from your favourite online retailers. Don't click ‘buy’ until you’ve checked Sun Vouchers for a discount code to apply to your basket.