Buyer’s Guide: Solar Path Lights
Using the sun for energy, solar path lights are an attractive way to light up a walkway or garden. Check out these three options, which have impressive energy at a reasonable price point.
Many homeowners like to enjoy the warmer months by entertaining in the backyard, dining on the patio, and playing lawn games. Solar path lights add the extra brightness to your outdoor space that allows these sorts of festivities to continue long after the sun sets. One of the main advantages of choosing solar path lights is that they won’t drive up your utility bill. Drawing photovoltaic energy directly from the sun, the lights run solely off of solar power, either via rechargeable battery or remote solar panel. Additionally, the best solar path lights combine function with form: They enhance a property’s curb appeal, whether lining the driveway or illuminating a winding garden path.
As you might assume, solar path lights are most effective in areas with lots of direct sunlight, where they can soak up the sun’s rays for at least eight hours per day. If the lights are in a relatively shady spot, you can try gathering adequate energy by connecting to a photovoltaic panel on the roof, which draws a charge from direct sunlight and transmits it to the solar lights on the ground. While solar lights may not shine quite as brightly for these homeowners with substantial tree coverage on their properties (or for those who live in rainy climates) as they do in sun-drenched areas, they’ll still offer pleasant subtle brightness at nighttime at no cost to you.
FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS
When shopping at a local hardware store, homeowners should consider a number of factors when selecting the best solar path lights for their property.
• Charge: A majority of options on the market have LED (light emitting diode) lights, which tend to hold a longer and brighter charge than incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Consumers can typically find the fully-charged run time on the manufacturer’s box.
• Color: Most solar path systems emit a soft white or amber-colored light; in fact, amber lights tend to use less energy and last longer than their white-light counterparts. Colored lights in hues like red, green, and blue are another playful option to consider.
• Brightness: In terms of brightness, the average solar path light delivers an effect similar to a 40-watt light bulb, although stronger options are also available for a slightly higher price. The consumer can this information on the manufacture’s box listed in “lumens “—a measure of visible brightness. Most solar panel lights have a lumens level of 1 to 30; the higher the number, the brighter the light bulb.
• Design: As for appearance, solar path lights are available in a wide variety of styles. Whether you prefer classic craftsman designs, Victorian vibes, ethereal-looking orbs, or a quirky custom look, there’s a light on the market to suit your taste. For a more high-tech lighting solution, consider buying motion-activated lights, or ones that glow in a flickering pattern like candles.
BRIGHTEST OF THE BUNCH
We’ve rounded up our top three picks for the best solar path lights on the market, taking into account customer reviews, expert opinions, and the criteria outlined above. Lighting up your outdoor space has never been easier!
Room Essentials Outdoor Path Lights, 6-pk ($15)
Target shoppers love this six-pack of waterproof solar path lights from Room Essentials for its budget-friendly price point (about $2.50 per light) and its simple, classic design. The set is weather-resistant, thanks to its stainless steel construction, and features LED bulbs. Each light stands just under 13 inches tall, rising anywhere from seven to 11 inches above the ground after the one-step installation. Available at Target.
Hampton Bay Bronze Solar Powered Path Lights, 6-pk ($15)
With a smart bronze finish and curved panes, this elegant six-pack of solar path lights by Hampton Bay earns high ratings from Home Depot shoppers, with many giving it four or five stars. Its affordability is another draw, along with its LED bulbs, auto on/off power, and crystalline solar panel. Emitting a warm white light, they stand almost 12 inches high. Available at Home Depot.
SolarGlow Stainless Steel LED Solar Lights, 6-pk ($45)
Considerably more expensive than many of its counterparts, this high-powered set from SolarGlow clocks in just under $8 per light. The hefty price tag can be attributed to its intensity; throwing off 15 times as much light as most standard path lights, this set is ideal for areas that require very illuminated pathway lighting. Made of weather-resistant stainless steel, they come with a lifetime replacement guarantee. The lights, which stand 15 inches tall, earn rave reviews for their brightness and durability. Available on Amazon.