Best Outdoor Solar Lights of 2020
If you're in the market for solar-powered motion sensor activated floodlights, it is hard to beat the Aootek New Solar Lights. We were impressed with the reliability of this model — the sensor is remarkably responsive. Although the sensor range is not the widest we've seen, it is still plenty wide enough for most mounting locations. Many outdoor solar light manufacturers claim that their products are waterproof, but Aootek puts their money where their mouth is with an IP65 waterproof rating. IP65 means that the light is 100% dustproof and can withstand jets of water from any direction. In other words, rain and snow will not be a problem.
Although we didn't find much to complain about with the Aootek New Solar Lights, there are a few shortcomings we should mention. First of all, they aren't the most stylish or attractive outdoor solar lights on the market. If you're looking for a decorative model, you may want to consider another brand. Also, it's not ideal that you have to remove the light from the wall to change the settings. These lights may be mounted somewhere that requires a ladder to access so it could turn into quite the pain to make adjustments. Despite the flaws, we still think that the Aootek lights are the best motion sensor activated solar-powered floodlights around.
For those that are looking for a set of stake-style outdoor solar lights that are both stylish and functional, we recommend the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights. We love the high-quality bronze finish on this model — they look great installed along the sides of walkways and driveways. Not only do the devices themselves look good, but they also put out a unique light pattern on the ground earning the Gigalumi set some bonus points. During our assessment, we found that these lights turn on right on time every night.
However, the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights aren't very useful individually because the level of illumination produced by each standalone device is a bit low. They really are best used close to one another. That said, they're still a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a stylish and dependable set of stake lights.
For those that are shopping for motion sensor solar-powered floodlights on a budget, check out the URPOWER Solar Lights. The sensors on these affordable lights have a great range, so you won't be stumbling around in the dark, trying to get your lights to activate. They are also bright, making them ideal for the front of a garage. The URPOWERs are also rated to IP64 waterproofing, meaning that they can withstand most types of nasty weather. The button on the front is not the easiest to push. It requires something like an earring or a thin paperclip to press it, but we appreciate that you do not need to remove the devices from the wall to change the settings.
Although the sensors on the URPOWER Solar Lights have a great range, the actual range of light dispersed from the device is not very wide — the illumination is fairly concentrated to a smaller area than some floodlights. The URPOWERs are not exactly easy on the eyes; the designers of this product clearly value functionality over style. But they are worth the purchase considering the price versus performance ratio.
If you're looking for a large number of solar-powered stake lights and you don't want to drain your bank account buying them, we recommend the Sunnest Solar Lights. The Sunnest set comes with 12 lights — plenty enough to line along walkway or path. We also found that they all come on right about the same time and at the perfect time at dusk. They are also very affordable, especially considering the number of devices included in the package. Despite the low cost, they are still fairly stylish.
The main downside to the Sunnest Solar Lights is that they produce a very small amount of light per device. Although they do a great job of marking a pathway or driveway, they definitely don't do much to illuminate anything. If you need to light up a walkway or obstacles or steps, we'd suggest going with a set that produces more light. The Sunnest Solar Lights are still perfect for decoration and for marking pathways in the dark.
For some people, style is everything. If the main reason you're looking for outdoor solar lights is for decoration, we think the TomCare Solar Flickering Flames Torches are the way to go. These lights resemble the flickering flames of a burning torch, which adds a mellow atmosphere to your yard without having to deal with oil, smoke, or actual open flames. We found the sensors work at the perfect time of dusk to add some illumination to your property, and we love the simple on/off buttons on the body of each device.
With the added degree of feng shui comes a trade-off — the TomCare Torches don't do much as far as illuminating the ground, so they aren't much good for lighting up steps or walkways. If you're looking for outdoor solar lights that will aid in nighttime navigation of your property, we'd suggest a model that produces more light. The TomCares are also on the more expensive side, especially considering there are only four of them in a kit. Still, if you're looking for a stylish set of solar-powered mock-up torches, the TomCare Solar Flickering Flames Torches are the way to go.
When it comes to lighting up a driveway, it's hard to beat the LITOM Original Solar Light. This model emits an outright intense amount of light — it's plenty bright enough to light up a parking spot. We love that the motion sensor on the LITOM Original has such a wide range. It's nice that the light turns on as you pull into your driveway, well before you turn off your headlights. This model is another device that offers IP65 waterproofing, meaning that it can withstand just about anything Mother Nature can throw at it.
We aren't thrilled that the LITOM Original Solar Lights are sold individually. You can order more than one at a time, but there is not much of a price break. We also found it to be inconvenient to change the settings with this model. You have to physically remove the device from wherever it's mounted to make any changes. This can be quite the ordeal — especially if you're using it somewhere that requires a ladder to access. But once it's adjusted to the proper settings and installed in the right spot, it's perfect for a driveway.
If you plan on lighting up the landscaping on your property or your house itself, the LITOM 12 LED Solar Landscape Spotlights are the way to go. These lights can either be staked into the ground or mounted to a wall with screws. The light on the device adjusts up and down by 90°, so you can get the perfect angle to illuminate the object you desire. The LITOM Landscape Spotlights have a waterproof rating of an industry-leading IP67, meaning that they can be completely submerged in up to a meter of water for half an hour. It's great that these devices have two brightness settings so that you can decide whether you'd like to sacrifice battery life for more illumination or if you'd rather have the lights be a bit dimmer for a longer period.
While the LITOM 12 LED Solar Landscape Spotlights can score you some serious style points at night, during the day, they aren't much to look at and are far from any sort of yard decoration. During our assessment, we noticed that one of our lights would only turn on occasionally or when you touched it, suggesting a potentially faulty battery connection. Despite the flaws, the LITOM 12 LEDs are ideal for dramatic lighting.
The Luposwiten Solar Motion Sensor Lights are another solid choice for a motion sensor floodlight. The on/off button is located in a tiny hole that requires a paperclip or earring to press, but we found it much easier to push than other models with a similar design. The Luposwiten boasts a waterproof rating of IP65 so you can rest easy knowing that foul weather won't destroy your investment. Our favorite feature of these devices is their 400 lumen and 120-degree lighting range.
We were not overly impressed with the reactivity of the motion sensor on the Luposwiten. We found other models to be much more sensitive to movement at a greater distance from the device. This model has an unappealing look. If you're looking for a stylish model, it will make sense to go with lights that have a classier appearance.
The ZOOKKI Solar Lights Outdoor aren't very effective when used individually, but if you install all four of them in one place they do an OK job of lighting up a driveway. They would be better suited for a small patio or on the wall going up a stairway. We did find that they have a solid motion sensor range.
The ZOOKKI lights aren't exactly easy on the eyes. This model is pretty bland and isn't going to add much curb appeal to your property. The button on these devices is located in a tiny hole that needs to be pushed with a paperclip or earring. We found that the button is hard to press correctly and that the tool you are using can easily slide off before you reach your desired setting.
The Maggift 26 Inch Hanging Solar Lights are ideal for lighting up pathways and stair sets. In the style department, it's hard to beat the charming lantern look of these devices. Unlike many of the gaudy outdoor solar lights on the market, the Maggift will add a decorative element to your yard in addition to a degree of illumination at night. They are also at a price point that won't put much of a dent in your bank account.
If you're looking for lights that will truly brighten up a walkway at night, these are not the model you want to go with. They look pretty, but they are not very lucent. Sadly, we also found that one of the Maggift lights came with a poor battery connection right out of the box. We would only recommend purchasing these devices strictly for the looks.
Why You Should Trust Us
This project was spearheaded by Senior Research Analyst Michelle Powell and Review Editor Ross Patton. Michelle has tested hundreds of products ranging from espresso machines to drones to all kinds of home & garden appliances. Ross brings more than a decade of experience in the field of professional product reviews coupled with a formal education in Environmental Science. With this team, you can trust that they have put outdoor solar lights under the utmost amount of scrutiny and have hunted down the tiniest nuances and details that set these devices apart from one another.
For this review, we spent weeks using the lights at our own homes. We used the floodlight versions above a garage door to see how well they could illuminate a driveway and then mounted them on a wall above a staircase to see how they worked in a variety of settings. The stake versions were placed in yards and along walkways to check how well they could light up pathways at night. We took detailed notes on the various designs and styles of each model, and we paid close attention to how well the controls worked and how difficult they were to access.
Analysis and Test Results
Outdoor solar lights come in an array of types and designs for many different purposes. Our testing has divvied up the specific strengths and weaknesses of each device and will help you choose the model that is best for your individual needs.
Reliability was the primary factor we studied during our assessment. If the lights don't work, they're nothing more than a decoration, or in some cases, an eyesore. To test reliability for the motion sensor/floodlight models we left the devices in direct sunlight all day. After nightfall, we then approached each light to gauge the range of the motion sensor and its reactivity to movement. For the stake versions we, again, left each model in direct sunlight from sunup until sundown, then patiently watched to see when they came on at dusk, and how close the timing was among the devices in each set.
As far as motion sensor/floodlight models, we found that the Aootek New Solar Lights, URPOWER Solar Lights, and LITOM Original Solar Light all had very reliable sensors during our tests. All three of these models activated from movement at a further than average distance.
When it comes to stake versions, we were impressed with the reliability of the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights, the Sunnest Solar Lights, and the TomCare Solar Flickering Flames Torches. Each of these versions nearly came on in unison at dusk every night, and we had no issues with battery connectivity or faulty sensors.
The amount of light produced by these devices may be a very important purchasing factor for some people and not matter at all for others, depending on the purpose and application intended for the lights. If you're looking to illuminate a driveway, you're going to want a much brighter light than if you're trying to line a pathway or stair set. Even then, you may not care if they help you see at all if you're just looking for yard decorations. We subjectively judged the amount of light produced by the various models — the results are broken down in the paragraphs below.
When it comes to maximum luminosity, it's hard to top the LITOM Original Solar Light. We found that this model can easily light up a parking spot with just one light. Close behind was the Aootek New Solar Lights. We found that these devices lit up a small driveway, especially when using more than one of them in one location. The Aooteks also emit a quality of light that is easier on the eyes than many floodlight style versions that we've reviewed. The URPOWER Solar Lights are also fairly bright, but the light produced is a bit harsh on the eyes.
If you are less concerned with brightness and more concerned with marking a pathway or driveway, there are several options that are great for the job. The Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights make a pretty pattern on the ground that is also useful for seeing where you're stepping at night. The TomCare Solar Flickering Flames won't really light up obstacles, but they do give off the appearance of being actual flames. The Sunnest Solar Lights hardly put off any amount of luminosity, but they work perfectly as markers.
Next, we carefully inspected each version of outdoor solar lights for differences in design and functionality. Some are simplistic and are up and running in a matter of seconds, and others require tools to mount to a wall or adjust the settings. Finally, we considered the style and appearance of each model.
When it comes to stake versions, we found the most stylish model to be the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights. With a bronze metal finish and the on/off switch hidden below the cap, this model scored extra points for its elegant look.
If you're looking for the most basic, straightforward look out of a stake light, we recommend the Sunnest Solar Lights. They are very plain looking, but for some people, that may be the desired look. The on/off switch is conveniently located on the underside of the light to keep it out of sight and out of the elements.
It's hard not to like the look of the TomCare Solar Flickering Flames Torches. These devices give off the appearance of real flames, but with none of the hassle of a real fire. They have a simple on/off button on the shaft near the base of the light.
The motion sensor floodlight versions that we are fans of have two different types of on/off switch. The URPOWER has a small hole containing the button that needs to be pushed with a slender object such as a paperclip or earring.
The Aootek and LITOM Orginal Solar Light both need to be removed from the wall to reach the switch — this can be a bit inconvenient at times.
Whether you're looking to fully illuminate your driveway, light up the side of your house, looking to mark out a pathway, or if you just want to add some decorations to your yard it is our goal at GearLab to provide you with the best analysis possible so that you can make the perfect purchase for your needs.
— Ross Patton and Michelle Powell