The Best Solar Deck Lights of 2021

Harness the power of the sun to add attractive ambient and functional lighting to your outdoor space.

By Jasmine Harding | Updated Oct 22, 2021 1:03 PM

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The Best Solar Deck Light Options

Photo: amazon.com

High-quality solar deck lights can add a lovely glow to your deck space without adding a penny to your electric bill. These sun-powered fixtures charge throughout the day to provide pleasing light all night. They come in various styles for different areas of the deck, creating attractive background illumination that can let you enjoy your outdoor space into the evening.

Besides looking beautiful, solar deck lights can also increase the safety and security of your outside living area: They lessen the likelihood of stumbles and other accidents that can happen in poorly lit locations, and they may also deter intruders who prefer to operate under the cover of darkness. Read on to learn what features and factors to look for when shopping and to check out our picks for the best solar deck lights.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Hampton Bay Solar Black LED Stair Lights
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: OTHWAY Solar Fence Post Lights
  3. BEST DECK POST LIGHTS: Greluna Solar Wall Lights
  4. BEST POST CAP LIGHTS: Hampton Bay Solar Bronze LED Deck Post Lights
  5. BEST RAIL LIGHTS: Brightown Solar Rope String Lights
  6. BEST STEP LIGHTS: Mr Beams Solar Wedge Motion Sensor Wall Lights
  7. BEST FLUSH-MOUNT LIGHTS: Siedinlar Solar Deck Lights
  8. BEST MOTION-SENSING: TORCHSTAR Polyvalent Low Voltage Solar Step Lights
  9. BEST STRING LIGHTS: Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Outdoor String Lights
  10. ALSO CONSIDER: Hampton Bay Mediterranean Bronze Post Cap Lights

Types of Solar Deck Lights

Solar deck lights are a smart choice for a variety of reasons. The best solar deck lights are easier to install than wired lights, won’t tack on any extra costs to your electric bill, and are also an eco-friendly option. The first step in selecting solar deck lights is deciding where you want to install them. There are several options, and each offers a different look. Choose from post lights, rail lights, step lights, and flush-mounted lights—and keep in mind that a combination of a few types may create the most attractive lighting landscape.

Solar Deck Post Lights

Solar deck post lights are often installed on the side of a deck post, shining downward. Also called side mount lights, this lighting type can be placed on deck posts, fencing, or other flat deck surfaces. Another option is to install a post cap light on the top of the desk post. Post cap lights add a decorative detail to deck posts during the day while also protecting the top of the post from the elements. Either deck post light type can be used to add a subtle ambient lighting or to create dramatic accent lighting.

Solar Deck Rail Lights

The primary function of solar deck rail lights is to make it easy to find the railing in the dark, which is useful for going up and down steps. Rail lighting can create an ambient glow around the perimeter of your deck, lighting up a large area while still remaining subtle. Under-rail lights are discreet and unassuming during the day, making them the best option if you don’t want visible light fixtures on your deck.

Solar Deck Step Lights

Dark deck stairs can be a tripping hazard after the sun sets, but solar deck step lights can show the way to safety. Their main purpose is to light high-traffic areas, so they’re usually installed on the vertical rise of the stair, shining downward to light up each step. This functional lighting makes it safer to walk up and down deck stairs and looks good doing it, creating visual levels in your deck lighting landscape.

Flush-Mount Solar Deck Lights

A flush-mount light fixture typically calls to mind an unobtrusive ceiling light, but there are also solar deck light options designed to mount flush (or near-flush) with the deck surface. These lights are often installed on deck flooring or on stair risers. They create a seamless and polished look, are particularly well suited for modern homes, and can be used to line deck pathways, perimeters, and steps.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Deck Lights

Solar deck lights are a charming and practical way to add illumination to your deck so you can enjoy the space after dark. Similar to choosing lighting in your home, there are various aspects to consider when considering outdoor deck lighting. Consider the features ahead to ensure that you install functional lighting that suits your style.

Brightness and Color

Solar deck lights come in a variety of brightness and color options. Brightness is measured in a unit called lumens—the more lumens, the brighter the lights. For ambient deck lighting, look for lights that have an output in the range of 10 to 200 lumens, and keep in mind that different deck areas may benefit from different brightness levels.

Different colored lights are available, but white lights are the most common. White lights range in color temperature from warm to cool. Warm lights have a yellowish hue that makes them appear more glowy and less bright, while cool lights have a bluish hue that creates a brighter look. Some solar deck lights have multiple color temperature options.

Solar Capacity and Quality

Solar power is a remarkable innovation, and solar panels continue to improve, but the truth is they still aren’t all that great at capturing sunlight. In fact, most solar panels only have about 20 percent efficiency or lower, which means only about 20 percent of the energy they collect is converted into usable energy. That’s why it’s best to install solar deck lights in areas that get direct sunlight during the day. Direct sunlight allows solar lights to take full advantage of their charging capacity.

The most common types of consumer solar panels are monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin-film solar panels. Monocrystalline and polycrystalline solar lights tend to be more efficient than thin-film ones, so opt for these types for better solar capacity.

Most deck light packaging doesn’t display information on solar panel type or efficiency details. Instead, look for the charging time and runtime, which can give you a general idea of the solar capacity and efficiency.

Battery

Solar lights store the power they absorb during the day in a battery, ready to use at night. Each solar deck light has a small battery on board to hold an electrical charge. This design means there’s no wiring needed to install solar deck lights, but batteries will eventually need replacing (usually in 1 to 3 years). Luckily, changing the battery in most lights isn’t difficult, and it’s definitely much easier than wiring an entire deck.

For energy savings and user convenience, most solar lights switch on automatically at dusk and switch off at dawn. Also available are motion-sensing deck lights that only switch on when they detect movement, saving even more battery life.

Recharging Time and Runtime

Solar deck lights recharge during the day, capturing sunlight to convert into electricity. Some lights feature a sensor to switch on automatically in low-light conditions, while others need to be turned on manually.

Solar lights charge automatically during the day and need between 4 and 10 hours of recharging time. They’ll charge best in direct sunlight, so keep that in mind when choosing locations.

Most solar deck lights will run for 6 to 12 hours into the evening, which is more than enough to last for most households from dusk until bedtime.

Lighting Angle and Range

Lighting angle plays a role in ambiance and in how well lit the deck will be. Different types of solar deck lights can help brighten your deck from all angles.

For example, step lights tend to point downward to illuminate the stairs, while post cap lights have a diffused outward lighting to brighten nearby areas. Upward lights can also be used to light up deck paths or create dramatic accents. Consider what deck elements you want to illuminate, and figure out the best lighting angles to do so. Keep in mind that most deck lights have about a 120-degree lighting angle, so you’ll likely need multiples to light up a space.

Also consider the lighting range. Brighter lights with a wider angle will illuminate a larger area. A wider lighting range can increase safety and security, since it will brighten more of your deck space.

Design

Deck lights come in a variety of designs and colors, and solar options are no different. Many deck lights come in an understated and modern design, well suited for contemporary decks. They have a simple design in a neutral color to suit the widest range of decor styles possible. More ornate fixtures are also available for those looking for a bit of flair.

Solar deck lights come in a wide range of materials and finishes, including plastic, aluminium, steel, copper, bronze, and painted options. There’s a suitable design for virtually any deck space, whether you want a sleek, recessed step light or an elaborate, flashy post cap fixture.

Weather Resistance

Outdoor deck lighting will be exposed to the elements, so it’s crucial to install a weather-resistant pick. Weather resistance is especially important when it comes to solar-powered lights—since the light should be installed in a spot with direct sunlight, that also means it may face direct moisture.

Outdoor fixtures are often assigned an IP (Ingress Protection) code rating, which is a measure of their dust and water resistance. Look for lights with a rating of IP55 and above, which means the lights are protected from most dust as well as water jets. Lights with an IP44 rating and higher may be appropriate for less rainy climates and for partially or fully covered decks.

Settings

Solar deck lights can include a range of lighting and color settings to customize a lighting setup. Basic lights will have one setting with an on/off switch, while others have the option to adjust brightness, temperature, or cycle through color-changing options. Some also have different lighting pattern settings, such as twinkling to flashing lighting for the holidays.

For the most part, solar deck lights are fairly simple. Models with different modes are typically easy to control with the press of a button or the flip of a switch.

The Best Solar Deck Lights

Photo: amazon.com

Our Top Picks

Solar deck lighting helps you take advantage of outdoor spaces well into the evening. It’s easy to install, simple to use, and eco-friendly. Read on for the best solar deck lights for illuminating outdoor spaces.

Best Overall

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Hampton Bay Solar Black LED Stair Light
Photo: homedepot.com

Line steps, fences, walkways, and/or deck posts with these sleek lights from Hampton Bay. These small step lights feature an all-black design to blend into just about any style decor. A warm white, 10-lumen LED washes decks and steps in a soft glow. This pack includes four lights and mounting hardware for an economical price. The design hides the mounting screws within the light, which offers a neat look once set up.

Although designed for illuminating steps, these lights can also be installed onto deck posts or fence surfaces, making them a versatile choice for your outdoor space. Once installed, the lights are simple to use; an automatic on/off dusk-to-dawn feature turns them on at night and switches them off at sunrise.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Warm white
  • Lumens: 10
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Small and sleek construction
  • All-black housing
  • Hidden mounting hardware

Cons

  • Plastic housing is less durable than metal options

Best Bang For The Buck

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option:OTHWAY Solar Fence Post Lights
Photo: amazon.com

Installing new deck lighting is affordable with this four-pack of lights from Othway. Each light comes with mounting hardware and features a basic white housing with a dimpled plastic cover. When the light turns on, the dimpled cover creates a light pattern against any nearby flat surface, like a wall, fence, or deck post.

The small size makes these lights ideal for steps and deck posts. Each solar deck light offers 12 lumens of warm white light. After 6 hours of charging, the lights automatically switch on for 4 to 8 hours once they detect low-light conditions. Come sunrise, the lights switch off to recharge.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Warm white
  • Lumens: 12
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Dimpled cover creates a lighting pattern
  • Automatic on/off feature
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Branding on front of light detracts from appearance

Best Deck Post Lights

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Greluna Solar Wall Lights
Photo: amazon.com

Illuminating deck posts can outline a deck perimeter while adding functional lighting. Deck post lighting is typically visible by day, so it’s best to find attractive fixtures, like this stylish LED option from Greluna.

This set includes eight lights, each with an antique-style decorative design on the front that adds a lovely accent to deck posts during the day. When night falls, these versatile lights truly shine, letting users choose from a functional warm white mode and a color-changing mode to set an ambient mood.

This light set comes with screws for mounting, but Greluna also suggests using sticky adhesives (not included) for those who prefer not to put a hole in their deck posts. A fast 6-hour charging time provides up to 8 hours of lighting with automatic on/off operation.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Warm white or color-changing
  • Lumens: Unknown
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Decorative design looks nice during the day
  • Warm white or color-changing modes
  • 6-hour charge time

Cons

  • Greluna does not share lumen output

Best Post Cap Lights

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Hampton Bay Solar Bronze LED Deck Post Light
Photo: homedepot.com

These LED post cap lights from Hampton Bay are a high-quality upgrade for plain deck posts. Plus, post cap lights have an outward, diffused light beam that acts like a lamp. This set includes two post cap lights and an adapter to fit either 4- by 4-inch or 6- by 6-inch deck posts.

The fixtures are made from durable metal with a bronze finish and have a transitional design that will suit both traditional or contemporary decks. Each warm white LED light emits 10 lumens for a soft glow.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Warm white
  • Lumens: 10
  • Materials: Metal and plastic

Pros

  • Made from durable metal
  • Stylish bronze finish
  • Fits 4- by 4-inch or 6- by 6-inch deck posts

Cons

  • Not very bright

Best Rail Lights

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Brightown Solar Rope String Lights
Photo: amazon.com

With a flexible and waterproof construction, these rope lights from Brightown are a super choice for wrapping around deck railings or installing as under-rail lighting. This rope light is made of a copper wire light strand that’s encased inside an ultra-thin waterproof PVC membrane. This design gives it an IP65 rating and makes it suitable for wet areas. The slim strand measures 72 feet to wrap deck railings or fencing. To add more interest, choose from eight lighting modes.

The solar panel can be attached to the side of the deck or installed into the yard using the included ground stake. Once installed, this light needs only 4 to 6 hours of charging to provide up to 10 hours of light.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Warm white
  • Lumens: Unknown
  • Materials: Copper wire strand and PVC plastic membrane

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Waterproof
  • Eight light modes
  • Up to 10 hours of light on a 4- to 6-hour charge

Cons

  • No automatic on/off mode
  • Brightown does not share lumen output

Best Step Lights

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Mr Beams Solar Wedge Motion Sensor Wall Light
Photo: amazon.com

In the cover of night, deck steps can become a tripping hazard, especially in rainy weather. These LED step lights from Mr Beams are a bright solution to light the way. This pack includes four motion-sensing lights, and each light has three setting options. The glow setting provides continuous dim dusk-to-dawn light and bumps up the brightness when triggered by motion. Or choose the steady-on option, where the light remains on, or a motion-only option that switches on when motion is detected.

The motion sensor has a 26-foot range, and the lights stay on for 20 seconds once triggered, allowing ample time to cross deck paths and steps. This solar lighting for steps is rated IP65, so these lights can be installed in uncovered deck areas to offer better lighting and security.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Bright white
  • Lumens: 5 to 100 lumens
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Three lighting modes
  • Motion sensing
  • Automatic on/off

Cons

  • Utilitarian look may not suit some designs

Best Flush-Mount Lights

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Siedinlar Solar Deck Lights
Photo: amazon.com

This set of four solar LED deck lights from Siedinlar can add subtle accent lighting to a deck while standing up to the elements. They feature a durable and weatherproof aluminum alloy housing that can take up to 20 tons of pressure, so users can install them just about anywhere without worry of breakage.

The set comes with screws to mount the lights to a deck floor, post, or steps. The lights feature an automatic on/off operation. After 6 to 8 hours of charging, they offer 12 hours of bright white lighting. Rated IP68, they can also handle wet conditions.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Bright white
  • Lumens: 15
  • Materials: Aluminum

Pros

  • 12-hour runtime
  • Durable aluminum build

Cons

  • Semi-flush mount—light has a height of 0.8 inches when installed

Best Motion Sensing

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: TORCHSTAR Polyvalent Low Voltage Solar Step Light
Photo: wayfair.com

Motion-sensing lights can add safety and security to a deck, lighting up when needed and to notify users of intruders. These LED solar lights from Torchstar are designed for steps, but they can be installed on pretty much any flat surface to offer better security, including deck posts, walls, and fences.

This pack includes two motion-sensing lights with an IP65 waterproof rating. They can detect motion from 26 to 33 feet away. When they do, they light up with 15 seconds of bright white 320-lumen lighting for a safer passage. These lights don’t have a steady-on mode, so they’re best suited for security lighting.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Bright white
  • Lumens: 320 lumens
  • Materials: Plastic

Pros

  • Bright lighting for safety and security
  • IP65 waterproof
  • Motion activated

Cons

  • No steady-on mode

Best String Lights

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Outdoor String Lights
Photo: amazon.com

These solar-powered Brightech string lights are a classic addition to create a cozy ambiance on the deck. String them along a deck railing or over the deck for a warm, welcoming glow. Weatherproof and shatterproof, these lights can be installed just about anywhere on your deck.

The 48-foot strand features vintage-style LED bulbs that are attached to a solar panel. The solar panel can be installed in the ground via the stake attachment or hung somewhere out of the way using the included clip. The string lights take 6 hours to charge and provide 5 to 6 hours of warm white lighting.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Warm white
  • Lumens: Unknown
  • Materials: Plastic LED bulbs

Pros

  • Warm white ambient lighting
  • Shatterproof
  • Classic vintage look

Cons

  • Relatively short runtime
  • Brightech does not reveal lumens

Also Consider

The Best Solar Deck Lights Option: Hampton Bay Mediterranean Bronze Post Cap Light
Photo: homedepot.com

With a bronze finish and hammered-glass panes, this post cap light from Hampton Bay adds a classy touch to deck posts. This decorative pick looks as lovely by day as it does into the night. The hammered-glass panes lend an elegant look and put out a distinctive lighting pattern.

This light emits 15 lumens of warm white light, complementing the bronzed look by adding a subtle glow to the deck. The easy-to-install LED light can fit 4- by 4-inch or 6- by 6-inch deck posts. The automatic on/off feature switches on the light at dusk to provide up to 8 hours of runtime when fully charged.

Product Specs

  • Light color: Warm white
  • Lumens: 15
  • Materials: Plastic and glass

Pros

  • Attractive decorative look
  • Hammered-glass panes
  • Fits 4- by 4-inch or 6- by 6-inch deck posts

Cons

  • Plastic build less durable than metal options

Our Verdict

The Hampton Bay Solar Black LED Stair Light is a versatile choice with a clean, contemporary look to match virtually any deck. For a budget-friendly alternative, consider the OTHWAY Solar Fence Post Lights, which feature a similar brightness level and easy-to-install design for an economical price.

How We Chose the Best Solar Deck Lights

Lighting can transform a space, and deck lighting is no exception. Since preferred lighting styles differ from person to person, however, these picks suit a range of decks and decoration styles. Many homeowners use a combination of deck lighting forms to create ambiance, and there are options from each deck lighting category here.

We researched product specifications and consumer reviews, comparing dozens of solar deck lights to narrow down this list. Across each lighting type, we made sure our picks had the proper  specifications for outdoor use, including good weatherproofing and durability. We also looked for efficient options, examining charge time and runtime (when that information was available) to ensure the products described could provide adequate lighting.

We looked at illumination quality, choosing different light colors, temperatures, and brightness levels to match different lighting goals. Attractive design was also a consideration to ensure that lights enhance rather than detract for deck decor.

The Advantages of Owning the Best Solar Deck Lights 

Solar deck lights are a solid choice for those who want to add low-maintenance outdoor illumination. High-quality solar lights are much easier to install than wired deck lights and, once installed, there’s no extra monthly cost to your electric bill.

For most homes, the best solar deck lights are set-it-and-forget-it models that needn’t be fussed with at all until the battery needs replacing (after 1 to 3 years). Many come with automatic on/off settings to make them extra convenient and simple to use. Lastly, the best solar deck lights are eco-friendly, running on the power of the sun rather than nonrenewable energy sources.

  • Easy to install
  • No monthly cost
  • Simple to maintain and use
  • Eco-friendly

FAQs

Solar deck lights are a great addition to your outdoor space to outline deck perimeters, lend visual interest, and illuminate entertaining areas—all without the energy bill of wired lights. Still need a bit more info to decide on the best solar deck lights for your home? Consider the answers to these frequently asked questions.

Q. How do I install solar deck lights?

Always follow the manufacturer’s  installation directions, which typically are fairly simple. Many solar deck lights come with installation hardware, which can include screws or adhesive mounts. With no wiring required, solar deck lights are easy to install.

Q. How long do solar deck lights last?

Most solar deck lights have energy-efficient and long-lasting LEDs, so they can last for upwards of a decade. Keep in mind that the batteries may need changing every few years.

Q. How many lumens do I need for solar lights?

It depends on how bright you want your lights to look; the higher the lumens, the brighter the light. Look for lighting within the range of 10 to 200 lumens for solar deck lighting.

Q. Do I leave my solar lights on all the time?

It depends on the light. If the solar lights have a manual switch, they should be switched off when you head in for the evening. If they have automatic on/off settings (also known as dawn-to-dusk operation), you can leave them “on” all the time—they have sensors that will turn off the light automatically during the day.

Q. Will solar deck lights charge in overcast conditions?

Yes. They may not charge as efficiently, but solar deck lights will still charge in overcast weather.

Q. What are the brightest solar lights for the garden?

The TORCHSTAR Solar Powered Integrated LED Step Lights are motion-sensing step lights with a 320-lumen beam, making them an ideal pick for deck safety and security lighting.

Q. Will solar deck lights function in the snow?

Yes, weatherproof solar deck lights can still function in the snow. Just wipe the snow off the solar panel during the day so it can efficiently charge.