Best solar path lights

When you have a beautiful outdoor space, whether it be a garden or yard. It is always nice to appreciate it after the sun has gone down.  San Francisco Gate fully agree with this, they highlight some of the best results are from outdoor solar lights. The great thing with solar lights is that they are mains power free so once you put them into position they’re practically maintenance free. 

Solar lights can make a dramatic enhancement to the appearance of your house, emphasising any feature such as a fountain, walkway or your favourite plants. There are many advantages to solar lights, the first and biggest being that they provide you with free electricity as they are completely powered by the sun. The lights turn on automatically at night and switch off around sun rise. A final key benefit to solar lights is the wide range of lighting to choose from, one of the best places to find these lights is on Amazon. Solar lights are a great way to lower electricity bills for any household, all while helping the environment.

During the last couple off years solar lights have improved significantly. Previously when buying these lights they have been susceptible to the plastics becoming brittle and seals deteriorating allowing water into the electrics. Although this still remains an issue the risk of these failures occurring is much lower. The best way to mitigate these risks is buying high quality stainless steel or aluminum lights, although these come at a premium cost. As well as increasing quality, there is now a greater availability of multi coloured lights available, these can add an extra dimension to any feature you’re lighting. An additional added benefit to multi coloured lights is that they last longer than bright white lights.

Key solar light specifications

When buying solar powered lights you want ones which provide enough light and stay on for as long as you require. The lights must also look and perform as you want them to. The most important specification is the rating of the solar panel, for these sized lights ratings will be measured in mAh or watts. A larger rating means more of the suns energy can be transferred to the batteries during the day, so lights can last longer at night. This is especially important during the winter months when less light is available.

The second most important specification is the battery capacity. This is also measured in mAh, once again the higher the better. Typically these lights have around 1,500 – 2,000mAh batteries, lights with significantly lower values won’t light up for long time periods. These lights are usually lower in quality, but if you buy them it may be best to buy higher capacity rechargeable batteries as a replacement.

Another key factor, and probably the most obvious one is how much light is produced. Sometimes you want these lights to be more decorative than powerful. Solar lights usually use LEDs as the lighting element and so brightness is measured in Lumen. Typically, solar post light range between 15 & 150 lumen depending on type, stake and wall lights are usually lower, around 15 Lumen each.

One thing which can help determine build quality is materials used. Lights made from stainless steel and aluminum are usually better than plastic lights but are more expensive. The stainless steel lights usually give a grade of material, 316 stainless steel is higher quality than 304 but comes at a higher price.

Solar light types

There are many times of solar lights each with their own uses. The types of solar lights include:

  • Stake lights
  • Wall lights
  • Post lights
  • Spot lights
  • Deck lights
  • Rock lights
  • Security lights
For lighting a pathway you’d want to buy stake & post lights, if your path is next to a wall, wall light may be the best option

Solar post lights

Solar post lights are among the brightest solar lights available. Often these lights have brightness of 120+ lumen. They are brilliant for lighting driveways, stairs and paths, especially when replacing expensive electric and gas powered lights. Below are my top 4 solar post lights which will impress.

1. Kemeco cast aluminum solar post light

Kemeco have produced an excellent solar post light, and one which I don’t think the competition can rival! Its very sophisticated look comes with a high quality aluminium frame, ripple effect glass with 6 LEDs and a mounting base so the light can be mounted to a pillar instead of a post. The light output of these lights is also a clear bright white color. Kemeco’s lights key specifications are:

  • No solar rating
  • 2300mAh Ni-MH battery 1.2v
  • No light rating
  • No IP rating
  • Approximately 6 hours light per charge
  • 12 month warranty
  • 3″ round post fitting
  • 18.8″ (48cm) height
  • 8.8″ (22cm) wide and deep
  • Mounting base 3.12″ (8cm)
  • Mounting base 5.5″ (14cm)
Even though the solar rating isn’t given, there are 4 large panels on the top face which provide sufficient energy to charge the batteries during the day. The lights have a good battery which can be easily replaced if required. Build quality of these lights is brilliant and they are very robust, paired with the warm light they emit makes for the near perfect solar light. The only reason these lights didn’t receive a 10 rating is down to the lights durability per charge. This could be slightly improved by a larger battery or ensuring they have optimum light exposure during the day where possible. These lights can be purchased from Kemeco as single unit.

Overall Rating:

9/10

2. Classy Caps solar post cap

If you want a post cap light for a 4×4″ post these are one of the best on the market. They are made from a white PVC which has great UV resistance. These post cap lights have 4 LEDs in total, one in the centre of each side. When I found this out I didn’t expect bright light and thought they would have large unlit areas. I was extremely surprised by spread of light given off, and the light highlighting the ground below. These lights are suit lighting steps and paths. The key specifications of Classy Caps solar lights are:

  • No solar rating
  • 2000mAh Ni-Mh rechargeable battery 
  • No IP rating
  • Up to 12 hours light per charge
  • 2 year warranty (excluding batteries)
  • 7″ (18 cm) square
  • 3.8″ (9.5 cm) tall
  • fits 4″ (10 cm) square posts, can purchase a 3.5″ (9 cm) square adaptor 
The batteries are not covered by the warranty, but this is standard with solar lights. The manufacturer recommends switching batteries every two years, which is a simple task shown in the instructions. Although the solar rating isn’t shown the durability of the light proves the panel is large enough to be sufficient. Overall the quality is brilliant, the electronics seem fault free and are well protected. These solar post lights are potentially a little expensive but I think they are worth it, that’s why I give them an 8.
 

Overall Rating:

8/10

3. Gama Sonic GS-99F Windsor Solar Lamp

Gama Sonic sell a light which is very similar to Kemeco, but in my opinion isn’t quite as good and is more expensive. One benefit this light has over Kemeco is that it is slightly brighter, rated at 150 lumen. This light comes with 6 small solar panels, which help ensure energy is being absorbed throughout the day. The frame is made from aluminum and coated black to prevent oxidisation. There are 6 clear glass panes, which paired with the built in reflector help enhance the light output. Gama Sonic’s key specifications are:

  • No solar rating
  • 150 Lumen
  • 1,100mAh Li-ion Rechargable battery
  • No IP rating
  • Up to 10 hours light per charge (typically around 6 hours)
  • 2 year warranty (excluding batteries)
  • Hi/Low power setting
  • 11″ (28 cm) wide and deep
  • 20″ (51 cm) high

There are 12 bright LEDs which combined produce 150 lumen on the high setting. When using the high setting the light durability will reduce, at best you’ll get around 5 hours light. Some customer have issue with water getting into the light causing electrical issues, luckily the two year warranty will cover water damage. Gama Sonic recommend replacing the batteries every three years to maintain light durability. Overall the lights are of good quality producing a bright light, but cost and a few issues let them down. 

Overall Rating

7/10

4. Paradise aluminum solar post lights

Paradise have produced some very good looking lights, made from aluminum and patterned a bronze color. The light also has patterned glass which adds to the high class, elegant style. Paradise also boasts very high build quality, as a result the lights are very sturdy and cope well with bad weather.  These lights are also for 4×4″ square posts, although they don’t always fit a 4 inch post, a little bit ridiculous I know. To get these lights to fit you may need to plain down your posts slightly. On the plus side these lights give off a lovely warm white light which is only made better by the patterned glass. The main specifications are as follows:

  • No solar rating
  • No battery rating
  • No IP rating
  • Up to 6 hours per charge
  • 1 year warranty 
  •  5.98″ (15 cm) square 
  •  5.31″ (13.5 cm) high
Although there are no details regarding the solar power and battery rating on a sunny day these lights will last for up to 6 hours depending on light availability. If you’re looking for a light which will last all night then I would avoid these lights. If you want lights which last the evening and look brilliant while doing so, then definitely consider Paradise. Along with a good quality light the standard of customer service is also very good. The lights can be bought in various quantities to suit the customer, the quantities offered are 1, 2, 4, 6,8 and 12. If the solar panel and batteries were slightly improved these lights would rank higher and could rival Kemeco and Classy Caps.

Overall Rating:

6.5/10

Solar stake lights

Solar stake lights are a great way to light up a pathway, flower bed and garden boarders. Once the stake lights are placed into the ground and switched on they can be left to illuminate your path. Every solar light manufacturer will advise you to charge the lights for up to three days prior to first use. Below are what I consider the best 4 solar stake lights on the market today. 

1. Koopower solar dancing flickering flames torches

KooPower are my number on choice, and they are my favourite stake light by quite some distance. You really have to dig deep to find any potential issue with them! This light contains 96 LEDs which light at different times producing a flame like effect. They are the most realistic on the market and aren’t overly expensive. On amazon these lights have an average rating of 5 stars, and this is a genuine rating from actual customers.  One of the many benefits of LED flame torches is the significant increase in safety compared to open flame torches, along with minimal maintenance. The key specifications are also very impressive by the standard of solar stake lights, they are;

  • 0.88 watt solar panel @ 17% efficiency 
  • 2200 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery 
  • IP65 rated
  • Up to 10  hours light per charge
  • 12 month warranty
  • 31″ (78.5 cm) height
  • 3.9″ (10 cm) light diameter
These lights are built to be stylish and are great at creating an atmosphere, and they can be bought as a single or dual unit. The lights aren’t used to produce vast amounts of light, and instead are decorative. To switch the lights on there is a push on off switch at the top of the stake, it is located in a good position and is not an eye sore. Some customers have had issues with this switch coming loose and failing but, this only occurs in a few units. If this happens to you, contact the suppliers and they should replace the unit hassle free. KooPower have a great customer service team and is one of their strongest areas as a company. 
These lights are more expensive than others on the market, but the price difference is definitely worth it for the premium product.

Overall Rating:

9/10

2. Gigalumi solar pathway lights

Gigalumi have second place, with some high quality yet extremely budget friendly solar lights. Coming with a bronze finish with patterned glass, they have unique lighting which projects a beautiful pattern onto the ground below.  The light given off is soft and easy on your eyes, which ads to the elegant design. These lights are designed to highlight the location of a path instead of clearly illuminating it, if you’re looking for clear lighting of a path these aren’t the ones for you. Gigalumi’s lights are much shorter than Koopower, if you want a shorter light these are the right ones. The key specifications of these solar stake lights, they are;

  • 0.8 watt solar panel, 2v system
  • 400 mAh Ni-MH  rechargeable battery
  • IP Rating: not stated
  • Up to 10 hours light per charge
  • 19″ (48.25cm) high
  • 5.3″ (13.5cm) round
 
The battery capacity of these lights is much lower than i’d recommend for any solar light. If they don’t last as long as you want it would be best to buy alternate rechargeable batteries, see which I recommend below. Although these lights haven’t been IP rated they seem to have good weather resistance. If there is any snow or heavy rain forecast it would be best to move them undercover to protect the longevity of your purchase. In my experience the brightness can vary slightly between lights, but is not a significant issue. Some customers have issues with faulty electrics, if you experience this then contact Gigalumi and they should replace the lights. The customer service seems excellent and is a key reason they get a 7.5 rating, that and how stylish they look . A final point to note is that Gigalumi only sell these lights in packs of 6.
 

Overall Rating:

7.5/10

3. Homeimpro moon crackle solar light

This solar light is one of a kind, as they come in a unique moon crescent shape. The light comes in a crackle glass ball which has a stunning appearance and great lighting effect. The moon is made of stainless steel and coloured bronze, there are patterned cut outs in the moons shape to help project distinctive light forms. 

  • 0.8 watt solar panel, 2v system
  • 600 mAh rechargeable battery
  • IP44 rating
  • 6 hours light per charge
  • Lights automatic  switch off  after 6 hours
  • 7.5″ (18cm) Moon length 
  •  3″ (7.5cm) Moon width
  • 30.5″ (77.5cm) height 
These lights have the lowest IP rating of the lights I’ve reviewed, but I think they are rated to low as they seem to be more waterproof than their rating suggest. When looking through other peoples reviews both good and bad, only a small selection had faults develop through water getting into the electric system. Any customers who’s solar lights developed issues seemed to get lights replaced free of charge, and rated the customer service as excellent. If you feel the lights may be damaged by bad weather you may want to protect them with shelter.  The solar cell is well rated and positioned away from the light and moon crescent, so doesn’t affect the beautiful looks of the light, unfortunately the rechargeable battery has a small capacity and you may wish to replace this with the batteries I recommend below. Overall these lights are of good quality and are one of a kind. The lighting effect looks best when positioned near a wall or tree, as the pattern is clearly projected. I’d definitely recommend these lights to anyone who wants an artistic touch to their garden.
 

Overall Rating:

7.5/10

4. Gigalumi solar light lanterns

In last place for stake lights are another set from Gigalumi. These lights are in fourth because the specifications just aren’t as capable as the competition and the build quality is not quite up to scratch. This does come as a real shame as these solar lanterns look brilliant and are very aesthetically pleasing. One main issue with these lights is how robust the ground spike is. I would recommend digging a small hole to locate the light, if only to cut through the hardest ground it will greatly reduce the risk of breaking. A redeeming feature is the lights come with a 180 day warranty, so any issues with the light, Gigaumi will replace them. As previously mentioned their customer service is brilliant and should be hassle free. 

  • 0.8 watt solar panel, 2v system
  • 800mAh Ni-MH battery 1.2V
  • IP Rating: not stated
  • Up to 8 hours light
  • 19.68″ (50cm) hieght
  • 4.92″ (12.5cm) wide and deep

These lights are similar height to the other Gigaumi lights meaning they are shorter than others on the market. Overall these light look lovely during the day and at night, but unfortunately the light emitted is a little weak and build quality is a little lower than the competition, this paired with a relatively small battery leaves these lights in last place.

Overall Rating:

6/10

Rechargeable batteries for solar lights

As I’ve mentioned previously the batteries typically need replacing every 2 or 3 years, or in some cases batteries supplied are worse than desired. To give your lights a fresh lease of life I’ve listed the best rechargeable batteries available on Amazon. All the batteries are AA sized, rated 1.2 volts and are Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH). Ni-MH is a standard chemical reaction in rechargeable batteries due to its high energy density, good recharging capabilities and no memory effect (reduced capacity due to partial charge/discharge).

I hope you’ve found this review helpful, if you have any questions or recommendations please feel free to contact me

Cheers

Product review lad

 

 

Recent reviews