May 28, 2023

The 6 Best Outdoor Solar Lights of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Including our winner from Urpower

Madison Yauger is commerce writer at PEOPLE.

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PEOPLE / Dera Burreson

With the right lighting, any outdoor space can be bathed in soft light to instantly set you at ease. And with outdoor solar lights, you’ll save money and energy at the same time. Take it from HGTV stars Christina Hall and Jasmine Roth, who are both known to use lights to elevate their outdoor design (and provide a bit of guidance as your maneuver around post-sundown).

To figure out which outdoor solar lights were truly the brightest of the bunch, we tested qualities like setup, features, design, brightness, durability, and value. Starting with 27 light varieties, our team put together each light and considered how user-friendly the setup was, how easily the modes and motion sensors worked, and how bright they were when placed in a completely dark room. They even tried to read a book in said dark room, using only the light (to really give the glow a tough test). To assess the durability of each light, they completed tests simulating cold weather, rain, and impacts. Seven lights came out ahead as our winners.

"When searching for backyard lights, you want to find something that provides a great ambiance," celebrity interior designer Mikel Welch tells PEOPLE. "It's all about sourcing lighting that's either dimmable or has a soft warm glow. Think about that new swanky candle-lit restaurant that you love. Try to bring that same feeling outside."

In terms of solar lights specifically, Welch says, "Solar lights can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I tend to opt for lights that have a modern feel. Lanterns and string lights are the typically go-tos for outdoor entertaining. Now, both of these styles are available as solar lights. This is a great way to add ambiance to your backyard, all while saving money and being eco-friendly."

These were considered the best outdoor solar lights that PEOPLE Tested.

Has 2 LED light units that are durable, versatile, and easy to use

Our tester didn't love the design, which is more industrial and less aesthetic

These outdoor lights from Urpower are the perfect option to keep your yard lit from dusk until dawn. They automatically turn on at night and off in the morning and only need about four to six hours to fully charge with sunlight. Our tester loved how easy they were to set up, coming with three pieces and a screw to aid the tilting effect of each light.

"The light has two brightness settings and an off button," she said, noting that the higher setting proved more effective for reading during the brightness test. She described the design as "more of a spotlight with the solar panel sticking out of the stake" and said it didn't feel like a "classic design" to her. However, the lights are adjustable and can be placed in-ground or mounted on the side of your home.

This light also survived our durability tests with ease — it remained undamaged after water exposure, impacts, and being placed in a freezer to simulate cold weather. These lights also are designed to hold up to extreme heat. Our tester thought this two-pack was "a good deal" and that these lights are "practical for the features they do have."

Given the price, features, and long-term durability of these outdoor solar lights, not to mention the savings in energy and electric bills, we believe the Urpower solar lights are the best option.

Price at time of publish: $29.99

Material: Durable Plastic | Modes: 2 | Motion-Sensor: No | Waterproof: Yes | LED: Yes | Units: 2 | Mount Type: Wall or In-ground

People / Dera Burreson

People / Dera Burreson

People / Dera Burreson

People / Dera Burreson


Features a bright and sophisticated design perfect for any yard

It wasn't durable against impacts

This elegant outdoor lantern is reminiscent of what you’d see in a movie — characters walking past a park lamppost bathed in a soft glow. But instead of at the cinema, you could be treated to this lantern every day in your own backyard. Our tester praised how it uses real frosted glass for a "beautiful and decorative look."

Sold with two pieces, this lantern is fairly easy to set up, you just need a screwdriver to screw in the bottom part. Our tester did note it was somewhat top-heavy and would need to be attached securely to whatever base you choose. It passed our water test and performed well in the dark, providing enough light to read by.

Alas, beauty is delicate, and this stunning light shattered immediately during our impact test — the golf ball (a common hazard if you live near a course) smashed the glass and sent shards flying in the immediate area. The solar panels, however, remained unaffected. Our tester concluded that the "price makes sense if you’re going to take the time to install it [properly]," though we’d caution you to keep it out of the way of potential hazards.

Price at time of publish: $99.98

Material: Ripple glass, aluminum | Modes: 1 | Motion-Sensor: No | Waterproof: Yes | LED: Yes | Units: 1 | Mount Type: Ground or on pole/stand

People / Dera Burreson

People / Dera Burreson

People / Dera Burreson


Features motion sensors

Bright LED lights

Very durable

Some may find the design to be a bit unattractive

LED lights offer a wealth of benefits, including longevity and energy efficiency, and those are just the beginning with these lights from Linkind. There are two modes: one for half light at dusk and one for motion detection. The second mode brightens for 10 minutes after detecting someone (or something, like an animal) and then goes back to the first mode.

"I like that the light and the solar panel are on the same unit — it's more understated and less obtrusive than previous generations of solar spotlights, [and] the light is definitely a cool tone," said our tester. These lights passed all tests, surviving water, impacts, and extremely cold temperatures in the freezer. She said, "the ambient light is adequate to light a tree or provide landscape lighting, though the bright mode isn't too much brighter than the regular one.

Our tester said they offer a "simple streamlined design," though she admitted they reminded her of a pair of binoculars — not necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps unattractive or odd to some. "This is a little expensive for a single light, but it works as described and feels sturdy. I'd be happy to have this model for both landscape lighting and for lighting pathways/security," she said.

Price at time of publish: $41.99

Material: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene | Modes: 2 | Motion-Sensor: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | LED: Yes | Units: 2 | Mount Type: In-ground or mounted on your home

People / Dera Burreson



Three lighting modes: Dim, No Motion Sensor Mode (12 hrs) / Medium Light, Stay-on Mode (6 hrs) / High Light, Motion Sensor Mode

Highly durable

Somewhat tricky to figure out the various modes

The light was a bit cool-toned for our tester's preference

This light comes with all the bells and whistles — specifically with motion detection and three unique modes — earning it a score of five in most categories. Our tester got off to a rocky start with this one because, with so many modes, the setup proved a little tricky at first. However, she said, "Once I figured out all of the modes, it worked as expected. It was easy to switch modes and use the light."

She felt the design was basic and would have preferred more of a warm light. That being said, this light proved highly durable. "The light was not damaged by the golf ball, [freezer], and rain tests. There was no change in the light after any of the tests," she said. With 30 LED light panels, these lights are extremely bright and heat-resistant for warmer climates.

Overall, she felt "the light is fairly priced for the quality of light and features," adding that if they truly last for several seasons, they are "more than worth their price."

Price at time of publish: $32.99

Material: Monocrystalline silicon solar panel, high-impact ABS plastic | Modes: 3 | Motion-Sensor: Yes | Waterproof: Yes | LED: Yes | Units: 2 | Mount Type: Wall mounted or in-ground

People / Dera Burreson

The string-light design provides a decorative feel

Provides a soft glow

Very durable

These only stay lit for about six hours

These string lights work really well for short-term lighting in your outdoor space. Their design makes them a nice accent to your décor, and the solar panel stake and clip options make these feasible to place in-ground (like along a plant bed) or mounted to hang above you. Our tester said it has a "simple, sleek design."

These lights provide "soft, moody lighting" and enough light to read by when our tester sat near several of the lights. These string lights proved surprisingly durable for being individual units and survived all of our tests, holding up to water, impacts, and frozen temps. The only critique our tester had was that you can't change the brightness and they don't stay lit as long as other models — only about six hours.

"The feature set seemed comparable to other string lights," said our tester. "I really love the look [and] feel of these. The bulbs are plastic but still clear and pretty. They don't seem cheap."

Price at time of publish: $47.99

Material: Rubber, shatterproof S14 bulbs | Modes: 1 | Motion-Sensor: No | Waterproof: Yes | LED: Yes | Units: 1 (12 bulbs) | Mount Type: Hung or in-ground

People / Dera Burreson


Dual brightness settings

Spotlight effect

No cons detected during testing

Our tester loved the user-friendly setup and use of these LED landscape lights. They offer "simple spokes to poke in the ground, but [there are] also screws available if you wish to mount [them]."

She said there are two brightness settings, and "the design is very simple and creates a spotlight effect." These could be a great option for people who get a lot of wild animals in their yards because the spotlight might help scare them away. These lights passed all of our tests with minimal effort and did not sustain any damage after water, freezing, and impacts via the golf ball drop.

Our tester said the spoke felt sturdy, and the light set "provided great light while in the dark room." In addition to being waterproof, these lights are also heat resistant and have a lifetime warranty to account for any other weather conditions and potential damage. "Two lights for [this price] are worth it for how well it worked," said our tester. "And there are multiple ways to use this light."

Price at time of publish: $40

Material: Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene | Modes: 2 | Motion-Sensor: No | Waterproof: Yes | LED: Yes | Units: 2

People / Dera Burreson

The function you’re looking for will help answer the question of what kind of light is the right light. For instance, if you want some decorative outdoor lighting that also provides brightness at night, a set of string lights like the Brightech string lights or an elegant post lantern like the Kemco solar post would be a solid choice. If you’re looking for lights to help navigate a walkway or path, then lights that stake into the ground, such as the Better Homes & Gardens path lights. When looking for general landscape lighting to place around your yard, durable options like Urpower, Linkind, Vont, and AloftSun are all great choices.

The benefit of LED lights — like all the ones on our list — are their longevity and energy efficiency, but these lights can also have different levels of brightness. If you’re looking at the box (or description) of a light bulb, the brightness is quantified by lumens. The more lumens in a bulb, the higher the brightness, and vice versa. In terms of color, since some people prefer warmer or cooler tones, "soft white" and "warm white" are going to be more yellow/warm tones, "bright white" will be a more pure cool white tone, and "daylight" bulbs have a bright and blue hue to them.

The last consideration should be what kind of features you’re looking for in a solar light. If you tend to get wild animals in your yard, you may consider motion-sensor technology or a single spotlight to ward them off. For an outdoor space where you want different brightness levels at different times of the night, a light with multiple modes (like the AloftSun offering) can provide options for your various needs. Other features that might guide your decision are the mount type, the resistance to rain, heat, and cold (depending on your climate), as well as the materials the light is made of.

Durability is another factor you should consider. "Whether you live in sunny Florida or brave the cold winters of Chicago, solar lights can stand the test of time," says Welch. "These lights are extremely durable and can withstand extreme temps all year long."

"Solar lights are the perfect solution for those looking to help the environment and decrease their carbon footprint," says Welch. Generally, these lights’ batteries last three to four years before needing to be replaced, but it depends on the light. The lights on our list have warranties between one and two years, but the LED bulbs in each could last 10 years or more. "Most LED solar lights have a lifespan of at least 10-15 years, so you won't have to replace or throw them out as frequently," Welch adds.

The short answer is yes. Even though solar-powered lights prefer direct sunlight (and usually need between six and eight hours of exposure to charge), they can also charge on cloudy days. That's because the sun's rays are still transmitted to the earth. Basically, the sunlight is diffused around the clouds. (Similarly to how we can still get sunburned on cloudy days!)

"Solar lights are more cost-effective than standard bulbs because they are recharged via the sun and don't require you to dig around your property," says Welch. Since outdoor solar lights rely on the sun to charge (meaning there is no "on/off" button), they are designed to stop charging once they’re full. This happens via a charge controller which stops the batteries from suffering damage past a certain charge point.

With some creativity and a really dark room, we rounded up 27 outdoor solar lights and tested them in our lab. Our team considered elements like setup, features, design, brightness, and durability and then compared their insights with the price to determine the overall value. Each light received a score of 1 to 5 in every category.

To start, our testers unboxed the lights and put them together to see how easy or difficult assembly was. Then, in a very dark room, our team tested the brightness and effectiveness of the lights. They even attempted to read a page from a book to see if the light was bright enough. The testers staged scenarios to test any motion sensors and cycled through each mode for the lights that had more than one.

For durability, the team sprinkled each light with water to simulate rain and then checked for any change in light function. The most physical test included dropping a golf ball from heights of four and six feet to see if it damaged the light or solar panel. Then, they froze the lights for an hour to simulate cold weather using a freezer onsite. The lights were also planted into the ground outside to see how well the stake could be placed and stand on its own. Finally, to test the light settings, we set each up with a GoPro to see when the automatic feature shut them off.

Madison Yauger is an experienced product reviewer with a diverse repertoire. She has written for many outlets, including Food & Wine, Real Simple, and Health. To bring you these reviews, she considered our testers' impressions of features of dozens of outdoor solar lights, such as evaluations of design, brightness, and durability, and spoke with celebrity interior designer Mikel Welch.

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Price at time of publish: $29.99 Material: Modes: Motion-Sensor: Waterproof: LED: Units: Mount Type: Price at time of publish: $99.98 Material: Modes: Motion-Sensor: Waterproof: LED: Units: Mount Type: Price at time of publish: $41.99 Material: Modes: Motion-Sensor: Waterproof: LED: Units: Mount Type: Price at time of publish: $32.99 Material: Modes: Motion-Sensor: Waterproof: LED: Units: Mount Type: Price at time of publish: $47.99 Material: Modes: Motion-Sensor: Waterproof: LED: Units: Mount Type: Price at time of publish: $40 Material: Modes: Motion-Sensor: Waterproof: LED: Units: