The Best Solar Path Lights of 2022

We tested the most popular solar path lights for quality, luminosity, and durability. Before choosing a set for your own home, find out how the most popular models fared in our hands-on testing.

By Andréana Lefton and Glenda Taylor | Updated Nov 16, 2020 10:53 AM

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The Best Solar Path Lights Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

Path lights help extend outdoor enjoyment well past sunset, and when solar powered, they don’t even add to your electricity bill. Drawing photovoltaic energy directly from the sun, these lights rely on the day’s sunshine to operate, either via rechargeable battery or remote solar panel.

We wanted to know whether these lights lived up to the hype. We installed numerous sets along sidewalks and garden beds and left them in place for a few weeks to see how they fared in the outdoor elements and whether they came on every evening when the sun set. Keep reading for our top tips and recommendations when shopping for the best solar path lights—and don’t miss the results of our hands-on tests. Spoiler—some are super bright, while others emit a softer glow.

  1. BEST OVERALL: BEAU JARDIN 8 Pack Solar Pathway Lights
  2. RUNNER-UP: Plow & Hearth Solar Powered Integrated LED Pathway
  3. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: MAGGIFT 6 Lumen Solar Powered Pathway Lights
  4. BEST REMOTE CONTROL: Sterno Home Solar Powered Pathway Light Pack
  5. BEST LIGHT PATTERN: GIGALUMI 8 Pack Solar Pathway Lights
  6. BEST FOR COLOR: OSORD Solar Pathway Lights, 4-Pack Color Changing
  7. MOST DECORATIVE: CCJK Outdoor Solar Garden Rose Stake Lights
  8. MOST VERSATILE: JSOT Solar Outdoor Lights, IP55 Waterproof Solar Path
  9. BEST FOR LONG PATHS: Azirier Solar Lights Outdoor Waterproof Security
  10. BEST TIKI TORCHES: Aityvert Flickering Flames Solar Torch Lights
The Best Solar Path Lights Options

Photo: Glenda Taylor

What to Consider Before Choosing the Best Solar Path Lights

Solar path lights operate in a straightforward manner, they’re relatively inexpensive, especially considering they don’t draw any electricity, and they provide a measure of security. The biggest differences come in their design, the quality of the materials used to make them, and whether they offer additional functionality, such as remote control operation or a flickering effect. Consider the following factors before choosing a set.

  • 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 or fluorescent bulbs. You can typically find the fully charged run time among the specs provided by the manufacturer.
  • Color: Solar-powered sets typically emit a soft white or amber-colored light, though colored lights in hues like red, green, and blue are another playful option to consider. Of the available options, amber lights tend to use less energy and last longer than their white-light counterparts.
  • Brightness: The average solar path light delivers an effect similar to that of a 40-watt light bulb, although stronger options are also available. Brightness is measured in lumens. Most solar panel lights have a lumens level of 1 to 30; the higher the number, the brighter the bulb.
  • Quality: Perhaps the most significant factor to consider is the quality of the materials used in making the lights, because solar path lights will be exposed to the elements for weeks or months. Over time, plastic light housing is likely to crack, while metal housing typically lasts longer.
  • Design: Solar path lights are available in a wide variety of styles. Whether you prefer classic Craftsman designs, Victorian vibes, or ethereal-looking orbs, there’s a light on the market to suit your taste. For a more high-tech lighting solution, consider opting for motion-activated lights, or ones that glow in a flickering pattern like candles.


Our Top Picks

The solar path lights in our lineup feature various designs, some are more decorative than others, and some come with brighter LED bulbs. In our hands-on testing, we discovered that some solar path lights stayed lit until dawn, while others went dark in a few hours. Some cast pretty light patterns on the ground, while others provided a whimsical touch. Each of the following sets of solar path lights withstood the elements and kept lighting up—night after night.

Best Overall

Photo: amazon.com

The Beau Jardin Solar Pathway Lights earn our top spot in the lineup for long-lasting walkway illumination. Right out of the box, the quality of these solar lights was evident. They’re made from rust-resistant steel and feature thick glass light shades in an attractive diamond pattern.

Assembly was simple—we attached the ground spikes to the steel posts, turned on the On/Off switches beneath the twist-off tops, and then reattached the tops. The batteries were already in place. We then inserted the lights in the ground and waited. It was early, and the day was sunny—the solar chargers would have plenty of time to reach a full charge before nightfall.

When dusk fell, the lights flickered to life—emitting a bright white glow and creating an attractive pattern on the ground. The effect was magical. We set the alarm before going to bed to get up and track how long each of the sets of solar lights stayed lit. The Beau Jardin lights were still shining when the sun came up the following day, making them true dusk-to-dawn lights. Over the next few weeks, the lights withstood rain and wind and occasionally served as bird perches. Throughout the entire testing phase, even after cloudy days, the Beau Jardin lights lit up. We found them to be high-quality, beautiful, and durable.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 8
  • Materials: Metal, glass
  • Lumens: 10

Pros

  • High-quality materials
  • Create an attractive light pattern
  • Remain lit until dawn

Cons

  • Spike stuck in ground when light was removed

Runner-Up

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: Plow & Hearth Solar Powered Integrated LED Pathway
Photo: wayfair.com

When the Plow & Hearth solar path lights come on, each one casts a broad circle of light that clearly illuminates the ground in a radius about 8 feet in diameter. When inserted in the ground, these solar lights are taller than many sets we tested—standing almost 2 feet from top to bottom, and the glass shade heads are 6 inches in diameter at the widest part of the shade. The glass is fluted, which gives the lights an elegant appeal, and the metal posts are substantial and strong.

However, what impressed us the most was the brightness of the LED bulbs when the lights came on. At 50 lumens, they were the brightest of all the sets we tested, and the top cap reflects the light downward and outward. The set comes with only four lights, but that’s plenty because they’re so bright.

After four hours, the Plow & Hearth path lights were still shining brightly, and at six hours, they were on but at about half their former illumination. When we checked them at eight hours, they’d gone dark. So, they didn’t make it to sunrise, but that’s probably to be expected since their brightness (50 lumens) would use up battery power more quickly than the fewer lumens produced by some of the other models.

These attractive solar path lights would enhance the look of a formal entryway, and they offer enough illumination to make it easy for visitors to see walkways clearly. They withstood weeks of wind and rain and kept lighting up brightly every evening. When we finally took them down, a quick wipe with a damp rag removed dust, and they looked as good as when we first installed them.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 4
  • Materials: Metal, glass
  • Lumens: 50

Pros

  • Very bright light
  • High-quality materials
  • Elegant design
  • Rust-resistant

Cons

  • Bulbs go dark before dawn

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: MAGGIFT 6 Lumen Solar Powered Pathway Lights
Photo: amazon.com

You don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy the light and security offered by solar path lights. The Maggift Solar Path Lights are an affordable option to higher-priced lights, and they light up just as well.

Rather than metal and glass, the Maggift lights are made from plastic, but their plastic housing is thick and durable, and their see-through plastic shades are as clear as glass. If you didn’t actually handle them, you might not know they were plastic. We took extra caution when inserting them in the ground to make sure the plastic posts didn’t break—the ground was hard when we tested these lights—but none of them cracked.

When dusk fell, the Maggift lights came on, emitting a soft white glow that was enough to illuminate the sidewalk so we could see it clearly. These are not as bright as some of the other sets we tested—just 6 lumens—but they were still lit when the sun came up, and they stood up well to wind and rain.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 6
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Lumens: 6

Pros

  • Attractive price point
  • See-through plastic shades look like glass
  • Stay on all night

Cons

  • Not as bright as some

Best Remote Control

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: Sterno Home Solar Powered Pathway Light Pack
Photo: wayfair.com

At first, we weren’t sure how the remote that comes with the Sterno Home Solar Pathway Lights would be all that beneficial. After all—solar lights typically come on at dusk and then go off at dawn or when their batteries are depleted. After testing all the sets in this lineup, however, it became clear that if we didn’t allow the Sterno lights to come on at dusk, we could preserve battery power. That would enable us to turn them on a few hours later and enjoy them for a longer time throughout the night.

We installed the Sterno lights around the side of some steps, and although their LED lights are only 5 lumens, the reflective top housing seems to increase the light’s effect. The crackled glass shades cast a pretty, mottled glow on the steps. These path lights are constructed of rust-resistant metal and real glass, which gives them a high-quality look and feel.

In addition to turning them on and off, we could also change the color the LED bulb emitted. We discovered if we held the remote about 6 inches away from each bulb, we could change the color of that bulb without altering the colors of other bulbs. The bulbs came on every evening, even after wind and rain, and they stayed on for about six hours.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 8
  • Materials: Metal, glass
  • Lumens: 5

Pros

  • Remote control
  • Casts an attractive mottled light design
  • Durable construction

Cons

  • Didn’t stay on as long as some of the others

Best Light Pattern

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: GIGALUMI 8 Pack Solar Pathway Lights
Photo: amazon.com

We found the deep bronze metal color of the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights to be the perfect complement to their clear glass shades, and we liked the way they looked during the day as well as at night. The multifaceted design of the glass shades illuminates the ground in a starburst pattern, with dozens of tiny points of light radiating outward in a circle.

The Gigalumi solar lights are made well, but two of them did succumb during a wind storm that tore off a section of downspout and tossed it right on the lights. The force broke the glass shades right off the metal posts, but we feel that any of the other solar path lights would have suffered the same fate had they been struck by the downspout. The remainder of the Gigalumi lights held up well and continued to shine, night after night.

As true dusk-to-dawn lights, they were still shining when the sun came up in the mornings. These lights are well made, but their strongest point is the spectacular light show they create on the ground.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 8
  • Materials: Metal, glass
  • Lumens: 10

Pros

  • Striking bronze color
  • Attractive light pattern
  • Dusk-to-dawn illumination

Cons

  • Would be nice to have higher lumens for greater light spread

Best for Color

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: OSORD Solar Pathway Lights, 4-Pack Color Changing
Photo: amazon.com

With their bright colored lights, the Osord Solar Pathway Lights are showstoppers. They offer 15 lumens of brightness, so they’re capable of illuminating a relatively large area—we found that they cast the widest glow when the bulbs were turned to white, which was bright enough to see clearly about 3 feet away from the front of the light. Unlike some of the lights that shone in a circular pattern, the Osord lights are made to shine in a fanned-out design.

The posts and light shades are made from heavy-duty plastic, but the material is substantial, and they seem quite durable. We changed the color of the lights by pressing a button on the back underside of the head, which allowed us to scroll through seven shades: white, red, blue, green, purple, cyan, and yellow. Cyan and blue were nearly identical, however.

The Osord lights were one of the first to run out of battery power—they’d all gone dark before the six-hour check, and on subsequent nights, they behaved the same way. Still, they’re a colorful option for someone who wants to extend outdoor entertaining a few hours after dark.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 4
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Lumens: 15

Pros

  • Bright, clear colors
  • Large illumination area
  • Push-button color selection

Cons

  • Relatively short illumination (under 6 hours)

Most Decorative

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: CCJK Outdoor Solar Garden Rose Stake Lights
Photo: amazon.com

While the rest of the flowers in the garden take on shades of gray when night falls, CCJK’s Solar Garden Rose Pathway lights remain bright and colorful. This set of floral lights was different from any other set we tested, and we thought they’d make an excellent accent for an outdoor wedding reception or other celebration.

During the day, these flower lights look a lot like other artificial flowers—they feature silk-type petals and leaves coated to make them water and dust resistant. The stems are plastic. A little digging through the petals revealed a tiny LED light in the center of each bud. The lights are white, but when they shine through the colored silk petals, the light takes on the color of the petals.

Narrow stakes attach to the bottoms of the stems and make it easy to insert them into the ground. In all, there are six stakes, each with two flower lights, and each order includes three yellow stakes and three pink stakes. Both colors are wonderfully bright at night, and the rose designs look realistic. The lights stayed illuminated for more than seven hours per night. While they withstood wind and rain, after a few weeks, the petals looked duller, primarily due to dust settling on them but also because they’d faded slightly.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 12 (6 stakes with 2 flowers each)
  • Materials: Metal, plastic, coated fabric
  • Lumens: Not stated

Pros

  • Realistic-looking roses
  • Striking pink and yellow colors
  • Stay lit more than 7 hours

Cons

  • It’d be nice to have a solar panel for each flower rather than one for a set of three flower stakes.
  • Petal color will fade (slightly) if the lights are left in the sun.

Most Versatile

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: JSOT Solar Outdoor Lights, IP55 Waterproof Solar Path
Photo: amazon.com

With these solar path lights, we were able to change from cool white to warm white light using a button located on the backside of the post. The JSOT Solar Path Lights are made from heavy-duty plastic and feature white plastic light shades. They offer a bright 15-lumen intensity, which was enough to light up about 6 feet in front of them. While we didn’t mount them on a wall, they can also be installed that way.

We instead attached the included ground stakes to the posts and installed them inside a patio bed where their light shone outward on the concrete. The JSOT lights also cast a bit of a pattern on the ground that resembles a honeycomb, but it’s not a distinct pattern.

Interestingly, selecting the cool white light seemed to shorten the battery life. On cool white, the lights stayed on just under five hours, while they remained on over six hours when warm white light was selected.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 4
  • Materials: Heavy-duty plastic
  • Lumens: 15

Pros

  • Switch from cool white to warm white light
  • Can be inserted in ground or wall-mounted
  • Strong illumination

Cons

  • Battery life shortened with cool white setting

Best for Long Paths

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: Azirier Solar Lights Outdoor Waterproof Security
Photo: amazon.com

There was no shortage of soft, warm light with the Azirier Solar Path Lights that offered 12 points of illumination! While the Azirier lights feature only 2.4 lumens—so they create a gentle glow rather than a blazing beam—they provided enough illumination for us to see where we were walking, and they cast a pretty starburst pattern on the ground.

The inside top cap of the lights is reflective, making the lights look brighter, and the plastic light shades are crystal clear and resemble real glass. The Azirier are not as powerful as some of the other sets we tested, but they lasted almost five hours. They withstood wind and rain and kept lighting up every night.

This set creates the most impact when the lights are relatively close together—we found that 4 feet apart was about right to create enough illumination to see the walkway clearly.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 12
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Lumens: 2.4

Pros

  • Large set of lights
  • Crystal clear light shades
  • Soft, warm hue

Cons

  • Not super bright

Best Tiki Torches

The Best Solar Path Lights Option: Aityvert Flickering Flames Solar Torch Lights
Photo: amazon.com

Add the look of real flames with the Aityvert Flickering Flame Solar Torches. We’d seen this type of flickering solar light advertised before but didn’t hold out much hope that they’d closely mimic the real thing. We were wrong.

These tiki-type solar lights look very much like flames, and they add ambience without the need to burn oil or kerosene, so no smoke or fumes. Each light features several small LEDs that generate 35 lumens of flickering intensity. The lights are constructed from heavy-duty plastic, but they’re well made and designed to last.

As soon as the sun went down, the Aityvert torches sprang to life, flickering and illuminating the ground around them. With as much light as they generate, we figured they’d be the first to go out, but they hung in there with the other long-lasting lights and didn’t extinguish until dawn. These lights are top-heavy, so all four toppled in high winds. But the rain didn’t phase them.

Product Specs

  • Number of lights in set: 4
  • Materials: Heavy-duty plastic
  • Lumens: 35

Pros

  • Realistic looking flames
  • Bright
  • Good for parties

Cons

  • Will topple in high winds

Our Verdict

All of the solar path lights in this lineup are well suited to outdoor use, but the Beau Jardin set of eight lights is an excellent option for high-quality lights made from metal and glass. The Plow & Hearth solar path lights are made exceptionally well and designed to add a touch of elegance to a sidewalk or planting area.

How We Chose the Best Solar Path Lights

Solar lights don’t come with many functions, but consumers want to know that they’re getting well-made lights that won’t rust or die after a rain shower. We tested each set of lights and noted their intensity, how long their batteries lasted, and whether they were made from durable materials.

We awarded points for real glass and metal components, but we also included well-made plastic models because they’re more affordable and offer similar illumination. We noticed that the more lumens the light produced, typically the shorter they remained alight at night. The exception to this rule was the Aityvert torches that stayed on until the sun rose.

The solar lights were also awarded points for providing something extra, such as creating exciting light patterns on the ground or featuring color-changing LED bulbs.

FAQs

Solar lights are getting more popular all the time, and it’s no wonder—their solar cells and batteries are getting stronger, so they generate more intensity for a longer time. Those shopping for their first set of solar path lights will likely have some questions.

Q. What are the brightest solar path lights?

The brightest solar path lights in this lineup are the Plow & Hearth set that offer 50 bright lumens of intensity.

Q. How many lumens should solar lights produce?

It all depends on the look you’re going for. In our lineup, we have solar lights with as few as 2.4 lumens all the way up to 50 lumens. For a soft look, go for a low number. For intense brightness, look for a higher number of lumens.

Q. Will solar path lights provide enough illumination to light my walkway?

In most cases, yes. If the lights are relatively dim, putting them closer together will cast more light on the walkway. Bright solar path lights can be located farther apart.