Should I get solar garden lights?
By this point, you’re probably aware of solar garden lighting. It’s only becoming a more popular option as homemakers look for sustainable and affordable ways to illuminate their outside spaces.
But like any trend that’s wriggled its way into your consciousness, you’re probably unsure of the finer details. Could they be dangerous? Are they cost-effective? Do they even work?
In short, are garden solar lights worth it?
In this article, we're going to give you some context for solar garden lights and explain their advantages and disadvantages. Once you’re done reading, you’ll be able to make an informed choice for your own garden.
If you’re a busy person who wants to skip the detail and nuance, don’t worry. We won’t keep you waiting.
In short, we think that they’re great for gardens that get a decent amount of sunlight – particularly during summer. On top of being environmentally friendly, solar garden lighting is cost-effective, easy to install and maintain, and doesn’t require unsightly cables or generators.
The big caveat here is ‘for gardens that get a decent amount of sunlight’. If your garden is a little low on natural light during the day, it might be best to go for standard electric lights.
Also, solar lights don’t perform as well in the winter as there’s less sun. So, if you want to be outside and enjoying your lights in the winter a lot, again, it may be worth considering electric options. We've written another article about plug and play electric garden lights that you may find useful.
There you have it, busy people. Those are the headlines. For those that want the full picture, read on.
If you have something in particular you need answering, click the question relevant to you below and you’ll be taken straight to the corresponding section.
- What are solar garden lights and how do they work?
- What types of solar garden lights are there?
- What conditions do solar garden lights need to charge?
- Are solar garden lights good for the environment?
- Are solar garden lights easy to install and maintain?
- Are solar garden lights cost-effective?
- Are solar garden lights dangerous?
Have a specific question? If it's listed above, click it to be taken to the relevant section of the article. Pictured above are our Solar Bee String Lights.
What are solar garden lights and how do they work?
Solar garden lights do exactly what they say on the tin: they use solar energy to produce light for your garden.
These lights can be used to create a nice ambience in your outside space or have more practical usages, such as lighting pathways and providing security lighting.
You may see different names used when browsing online or the aisles of your local garden centre. For example, ‘solar lanterns’, ‘solar lamps’, or even something like ‘solar path lights’ might be used.
Whichever name’s used, ‘solar’ is the important aspect. Specifically, they use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, which is stored in a rechargeable battery.
Solar Garden Lights are designed to use their charged batteries to emit light at night. This works as the units’ photoresistors register the lack of light and automatically turn on. For this reason, the lights will sometimes turn on during the day if it’s particularly overcast or foggy.
There is a panoply of options when it comes to what type of solar garden lights you can buy. Which type of solar garden light you choose depends on how and where you want to use it.
What types of solar garden lights are there?
Although you can get bogged down in minutiae, there are three main types of solar garden lights:
1. String solar lights
These are the older, bigger, and brighter siblings of fairy lights.
They come in a variety of cable lengths and styles, including lanterns and classic lightbulbs.
Amazing for creating a welcoming ambience for you and your guests, these lights can be suspended from various structures, including decking, fences, pergolas, garden arches, gazebos – even trees!
String solar lights are the elder siblings of fairy lights. Pictured above are our Solar Lantern String Lights.
2. Stake lights
These are stakes with lights on top that emit low-level illumination perfect for flowerbeds, paths, and borders.
They are great for hard-to-reach places where it might be difficult to install an electrical sockets or wiring.
Stake lights are perfect for paths, borders, and flowerbeds. Pictured above is our Aluminium Solar Light.
3. Solar lanterns
These are LED bulbs housed in lanterns that are designed to be hung from a tall pole or sit freestanding on a table or patio.
Given this flexibility, they are great for creating an inviting ambience when entertaining guests.
If you want flexibility, solar lanterns are the way to go. Pictured above is our Caged Bulb Light.
What conditions do garden solar lights need to charge?
These lights will not charge well in shady areas, so you'll want to try and place them where they get direct sunlight.
When placed in direct sunlight, it takes about eight hours for a garden solar light to charge fully. This is usually enough to stay on for around 10 hours.
A cloudy day or shade that moves over the light can limit lighting time at night. It may also be difficult to get a full charge during the winter months.
In short, the battery will store more energy on brighter days, so the light will stay on longer at night.
It's simple; more sun during the days means more light at night. Pictured above are our Solar 8 Bulb String Lights.
Are solar garden lights good for the environment?
Solar garden lights are perfect for people who want to be environmentally friendly but don't want to give up their love of garden lighting.
They are environmentally friendly because they don't use electricity. Instead, they use the power of the sun to recharge a rechargeable battery. So when you turn them on at night, you're not only saving energy – you're also saving money!
Solar lighting is the environmentally friendly choice for illuminating your garden. Pictured above is our LED Border Light.
Are solar garden lights cost-effective?
Solar garden lights are the perfect way to light up your garden without having to pay for electricity.
You only have one cost upfront: the actual light.
Then you don't have to worry about paying to power them – there are no cables or battery replacements needed.
Once you've bought your solar lights, you don't have to worry about the cost of powering them! Pictured above is our Aluminium Solar Light.
Are solar garden lights easy to install and maintain?
Solar garden lights are definitely easy to install and maintain – particularly compared to mains power based lights.
To begin with, you don’t have to worry about running wires from your home, or maybe even hiring an electrician.
All you have to do is plan ahead a little and find spots for them that are sunny and not obstructed by shadows. Then, you can stake or hang the light in place.
In terms of maintenance, all you have to do is keep the solar panel clear of debris, such as dirt, snow, and foliage.
Nothing could be easier than installing and maintaing your solar lights. Pictured above are our Solar Lantern String Lights.
Are solar garden lights dangerous?
Being a responsible homemaker, you may be concerned about the safety of solar garden lights. But that’s not the case. As long as you treat them with proper care, solar lights are not dangerous.
You might think that solar lights are dangerous because they have batteries in them. But that's not true! Solar garden lights don't have batteries like the ones you have in your phone – they have photovoltaic cells, which turn sunlight into electricity. They aren't dangerous with proper care.
Having said this, the first thing you should do is make sure that your solar garden lights are out of the reach of children and pets. While they might look like toys, they're still functional electrical devices that could be harmful if ingested or tampered with by curious little ones.
Also, solar lighting is not as powerful as wired lighting. So, if you need lights for safety or security purposes, go for wired ahead of solar.
Unless you’re doing something that shows a particular lack of common sense, your solar lights won't explode, electrocute you, or start a fire. They're just simple, safe little lights that help you see your garden at night without having to worry about hiring an electrician.
Don't worry, you're in no danger! Pictured above are our Solar Bottle String Lights.
Solar garden lights will be great for your garden if it gets a lot of sunlight. They are environmentally friendly, have no running costs, couldn’t be more simple to install or maintain, and don’t require mains power to be run from your home.
However, if your garden doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, or you specifically need lights for security or safety, you’d be best going for standard electric lights. Also, if you want to enjoy the lights in your garden a lot during winter, electric lights might also be the best shout.