It’s long been known that bright light deters would-be thieves and ne’er-do-wells, but until the advent of solar-powered lighting, home dwellers either had to have wiring experience or pay a professional electrician to install outdoor lights. Today’s solar flood lights open up a whole new world of illumination—they’re affordable, powerful, and best of all, they’re a snap to install.
The best solar flood lights for your home will depend on the size of the area you want to illuminate and whether you want the lights to remain on or you prefer that they come on only when motion is detected. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for solar flood lights, and find out why the following picks are good options for most people.
- BEST OVERALL: NACINIC LED Solar Powered Motion Sensor Lights
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Westinghouse Security Light 1000 Lumens Solar Lights
- BEST UPGRADE: Otdair Solar Security Motion Sensor Flood Lights
- BEST MOTION-ACTIVATED: TBI Security Solar Lights Outdoor 216 LED
- BEST DUSK TO DAWN: RuoKid 80W Solar Street Lights Outdoor Lamp
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Flood Lights
Once installed, solar flood lights don’t cost a dime to operate—their built-in solar panels gather energy from the sun and store it in their internal batteries until nighttime. You can install solar flood lights just about anywhere, although they’ll provide the brightest light if they’re located in direct sunshine during the day. Before selecting solar lights for your property, consider the following.
Light Brightness and Coverage
The intensity of lights is measured in lumens, and, generally speaking, the higher the lumens, the brighter the light will be. For comparison, a standard 100-watt incandescent bulb (which is no longer sold) produces about 1,600 lumens, while an indoor night-light produces about 20 lumens. Most solar flood lights will state the lumens in the product’s description. The breadth of the beam also plays a role in the light’s overall brightness: the narrower the beam of light, the brighter it will seem. Flood lights typically cast light over a 50- to 280-degree arc outward from the light itself, so you can select a light to illuminate a narrow walkway or light up an entire backyard.
Dusk to Dawn vs. Motion Detection
Dusk-to-dawn flood lights come on when the sun sets in the evening, and they stay on all night, or until their internal battery charge is depleted. They are an excellent option if you want to illuminate your property with continuous light. The downside of dawn-to-dusk solar lights is if the previous day was overcast or rainy, their batteries may not charge to maximum capacity. If this happens, the flood light may stay on only a few hours before it dims and goes out. Motion-detection flood lights turn on only when they sense motion, and they remain on for a predetermined amount of time, usually 20 to 30 seconds, before turning back off. Because motion-detection lighting uses less battery power, it is more likely to function all night long.
Battery Type and Capacity
Solar flood lights come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that charge during the day and use the stored energy at night to power the lights. The batteries are built in and are rated by their capacity in milliamp-hours (mAh). The higher the rating, the larger the battery’s capacity. Most solar flood lights come with ratings ranging from around 2,000 mAh to 3,600 mAh.
Charging and Run Time
Solar flood lights require ample sunlight to charge, usually six to eight hours for a full charge. Once charged, the battery will power the light for three to eight hours, depending on whether the flood light runs continuously or turns on only when it detects motion. Dusk-to-dawn solar lights require large-capacity batteries. They also usually have oversize solar panels, which enable them to draw and store as much solar energy as possible during the day so they can remain on all night long.
Virtually all of today’s solar flood lights feature bright light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that cast intense light beams without heating up or drawing a lot of power. This is why LEDs are a perfect choice for providing intense security light.
The extent to which an outdoor light resists damage from debris and moisture is known as its ingress protection (IP) rating, which is a two-digit number. The first number represents how well the light resists damage from solid items and ranges from 1 to 6, with 6 being the tightest seal, capable of keeping out even fine dust. The second number, which ranges from 1 to 8, represents how well the light resists water. A rating of 8 means that it’s completely watertight. Most flood lights come with ratings of 65 to 67.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a solar flood light should cast an intense beam of light. Keep in mind that all solar lights will underperform if they’re not placed in a spot where they receive six to eight hours of sunlight, so good performance will depend on where you install the light. The following models are top performers, and you won’t go wrong installing any one of them.
If you’re looking to light up a large area, look no further than the NACINIC LED solar flood light, which turns on when it detects motion within 26 feet of the light’s motion sensor. Users can choose from three lighting modes: a dusk-to-dawn, full-intensity mode; a dimmable dusk-to-dawn mode that intensifies for 20 seconds when the sensor detects motion; or a motion-only mode that lights up when motion is detected and turns off after 20 seconds of inactivity.
The NACINIC flood light features a 2,200 mAh lithium-ion battery. Its 288 LED diodes cast 650 lumens of bright light at a wide, 270-degree angle. The flood light comes in a two-pack, and the light features an IP rating of 65, meaning it is completely dust tight and will resist damage from jets of water, such as being sprayed with a garden hose or being in the path of an impact sprinkler.
- Three lighting modes to choose from
- Compact unit
- Two lights included
- Brightness may fade over time
You don’t have to spend a lot to take advantage of the peace of mind a flood light provides. The Westinghouse solar flood light emits a 1,000-lumen bright light at a 120-degree angle when it detects motion within 26 feet of its sensor. Once triggered by motion, the light stays on for 30 seconds before turning back off. The Westinghouse flood light features a built-in 2,000 mAh lithium-ion battery.
This light comes with an IXP-4 moisture rating—a rating usually reserved for flashlights to indicate that they will withstand an occasional splash of water without suffering damage. This means the flood light will stand up to some rain and snow but would benefit from the extra protection offered by installing it under a roof eave. A wire attaches the light’s solar panel, and the panel should be in full sunlight. The Westinghouse flood light offers the security of bright illumination at an attractive price point.
- Very bright light
- Simple to install
- Long range motion detector
- Requires added rain protection
- Low battery capacity
You won’t be in the dark with the Otdair solar flood light, which bathes property at a 120-degree angle with 550 lumens of bright light. It is motion activated and can detect movement up to 33 feet away from its sensor. When triggered, the light stays on while motion is present and remains on for 30 seconds after the action stops. It features a powerful 2,200 mAh, lithium-ion battery and is rated IP65, so it will completely block dust. The Otdair solar flood light will also resist damage from occasional jets of water, such as the streams of water created by an impact sprinkler. Two flood lights are included in the package.
- Multiple lighting angles
- Dust and splash resistant
- Reliable motion sensor
With 216 LED diodes on a front panel and two side panels, the TBI security solar lights will illuminate up to a 355-degree angle by rotating and tilting its three light heads to suit your specific lighting needs. Its motion sensor comes with one of the longest detection ranges on the market, picking up movement up to 40 feet away. It has a powerful 2,200 mAh, lithium-ion battery and features 2,200 lumens of high-intensity light to ensure you’ll have light when you need it most. It’s rated IP65 to lock out dust and to withstand the occasional harsh spray of water. Once triggered by motion, the TBI flood light remains on for 30 seconds after activity ceases.
- Very long motion detection range
- High-intensity light
- Center light is not adjustable
- Can suffer from moisture buildup
The RuoKid solar flood light comes with a large solar panel to catch and store as much solar energy as possible in its lithium-ion phosphate battery. It’s designed to be mounted on either a wall or a tall pole, and it comes with a metal pole and bracket. With four to six hours of sunlight, the RuoKid will automatically turn on and will stay lit for more than eight hours.
The flood light emits a 1,500 lumens of light, so it’s an ideal choice to illuminate large areas such as entire driveways or home basketball courts. A remote control allows the user to turn off the light or configure it to go off after two or five hours. The light is rated IP67, making it the most watertight of our top picks—it is impervious to dust and will withstand powerful jets of water.
- Huge battery capacity
- Highly water resistant
- Remote control included
- No motion detection
For an adjustable solar flood light that comes in a compact and easy-to-install unit, consider the NACINIC LED Solar Powered Motion Sensor Lights. For shoppers looking for maximum brightness, TBI Security Solar Lights is a top choice.
How We Chose the Best Solar Flood Lights
When gathering our best picks in this list of recommendations, we considered the most important factors that shoppers take into account when looking for solar flood lights. Our top products all provide adequate levels of brightness, and we have made sure to include options with added features such as dimmable lights and motion sensors.
A vital component of solar power is the unit’s capacity and charging time. As such, our recommendations all stand out in terms of battery life and capacity—able to charge fully during the day and provide bright, long-lasting light at night.
Lastly, no one wants an outdoor light that can’t stand up to adverse weather conditions, so in our research we focused on high-quality products that boast a range of certifications to stand up against dust and moisture. While some picks may not be fully waterproof, they should still be able to withstand occasional splashes of water.
Solar flood lights are still relatively new to the outdoor lighting market. Still, with constant advances in LED technology, they offer a convenient alternative to hardwired flood lights, and you can install them virtually anywhere the sun shines. If this is your first time shopping for a solar flood light, you likely have some questions.
Q. What is the brightest solar flood light?
In this lineup, the brightest solar flood light is the TBI Security Solar Lights Outdoor 216 LED which emits 2,200 lumens of bright light.
Q. How long do solar flood lights last?
A solar flood light’s useful life will vary based on the quality of its construction and the conditions it’s exposed to, but on average you should be able to get 50,000 hours of light out of it.
Q. How can I make my solar flood lights last longer?
Install the light where it still receives direct sun rays but where it’s protected from the harshest weather, such as in a sheltered spot under a roof eave. You’re better off investing in a high-quality light rather than trying to prolong the life of a cheaply built version.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila editorial team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Glenda Taylor is a freelance writer for the residential remodeling, homebuilding, and commercial roofing industries. She and her husband have been general contractors for over 20 years, and Ms. Taylor has written for leading media outlets, including the Houston Chronicle, SFGate, and the eHow Now Live Handyman Channel (a division of eHow.com) as well as National Association of Homebuilders. In addition to her construction experience, Ms. Taylor is a Master Gardener, a former real estate professional, a universal design enthusiast, and an advocate for green building practices. The recipient of Journalism and Marketing degrees from the University of Kansas and Bauder College respectively, she enjoys life on a farm in the Midwest with her husband and their “children”—five Saint Bernards!