In this buyer's guide, let's check out the best solar string lights for your outdoor entertainment areas. They are a clean, chic embellishment for your home and yard, as well as a high-rated conscious consumer choice.
Solar-powered string lights can be used to light up your porch, deck, garden, or patio. They add a unique ambiance for parties, events, and romantic evenings outdoor
For many reasons, solar lights are considered a responsible consumer choice. For starters, they are cost-effective. You can run them all night, every night without adding a penny to your electric bill.
These lights are the environmentally friendly choice since they run entirely on solar power- green, renewable energy sourced right in your own backyard. This also makes them highly convenient as they do not need to be placed near an electrical outlet and have no extra wires laying around.
Solar string lights are a fantastic option for your outdoor lighting desires. But how do you know which ones you should buy for your home?
Let's check them out...
Best Solar String Lights by Category
The best solar string light option for you may be different than the best option for your neighbor. For that reason, we have separated the best eight solar string lights into categories based on budget, battery life, durability, design, and more.
And we of course wrap it up by giving you our best overall choice!
These lights will instantly add style to any outdoor patio party. Their vintage aesthetic and durability make them our best overall choice.
Brightech Italian style lightbulbs are commercial-grade, shatterproof, and come with a three-year product warranty covering any defects, needed replacement parts, or whole new products.
They have high customer reviews with 4.6 out of 5 stars. They are even reasonably priced at $39.99. Don’t fret if 27 feet isn’t long enough, you can also purchase a 48-foot strand for $64.99.
Vintage Aesthetic: Brightech Ambiance Pro offers vintage Edison-style LED light bulbs that mimic their incandescent ancestors. Like an incandescent bulb, they shine at 3,000 Kelvins. However, their LED technology allows them a 20,000-hour lifespan!
Length: There is 27-48 feet of string with twelve bulbs, each placed every 20 inches. The solar panel is spaced a lengthy six feet from the first bulb, allowing for discreet placement and optimal positioning in relation to the sun.
Weather Resistant: These bulbs are extremely weather resistant. They are weatherproof to rain, humidity, and winds up to 50 mph. The plastic bulbs can take temperatures up to 122°F without increasing the temperature of the actual bulb or causing any damage.
“These lights are great. I researched a lot of reviews before buying and they live up to their stars.” ~Maria (Amazon Customer Review)
Can’t splurge on your outdoor solar lighting? Not a problem. These lights will give you the best glow for your buck.
Lighting: This string light offers 100 warm white, waterproof LED bulbs. This is great for intimate and peaceful settings. This product offers a 360-degree lighting angle, allowing for illumination in every direction.
Length: Amir SL0 Solar String Lights comes with 33 feet of flexible copper wire allowing you to easily brighten even oversized outdoor areas.
Price: This product is a great budget option costing just $11.99 per strand. That means you can cover a 99-foot area for under forty bucks!
Best Battery Life:
These string lights come equipped with the best battery technology available to consumers today. This hefty battery will store enough sunlight today to make up for tomorrow’s cloudy forecast.
Length: This is one of the longer strings in our list, coming in at a whopping 48 feet of flexible rubber tubing.
Durability: Foxlux Solar String Lights comes equipped with 16 shatter proof bulbs, and one spare just to be safe. The string itself is covered in a heavy-duty rubber for increased durability.
Battery Life: This solar string set comes with the largest battery bank we can find on the market. This battery will store up to 3,000 mAh! This is well over double the average storage ability of most solar string lights on the market.
Even still, it only takes six hours to fully recharge the battery on a sunny day. Foxlux hooks you up with a lithium-ion battery- the sleekest, safest, most efficient battery type on the market.
(To learn more about lithium batteries, be sure to read our previous post- Best RV Batteries for Boondocking.)
If rough weather and rowdy backyard rendezvous are in your future, these are the best solar string lights for you.
Dual-Charging Ability: This string light set comes hardwired to an adjustable solar array powering two battery banks. On top of this, it also has the capacity to plug in and charge via USB.
Versatile Lighting Modes: These string lights can be ran on four different lighting modes consisting of quick flash, steady, slow flash, and pulsating.
Exceptional Durability: Equipped with plastic LED bulbs, these string lights are completely waterproof, shatterproof, and heatproof. On top of its quality build and expected longevity, Brightown offers a one-year warranty.
These lights are cute and fashionable. Don’t copy the Jones’s lights. Be different with Smart Solar Gala.
Unique Design: While what is considered the ‘best’ design is obviously objective, Smart Solar’s string lights are unlike any other our team has found during our research. Enclosed in multi-colored, metal cage-style light covers, they add a chic and unique visual to your outdoor setting.
Durability: The metal cage is not only good for its looks! It also helps to prevent any damage to the bulb. Their non-delicate nature is boasted about by consumers.
Customer Satisfaction: Customer reviews are off the charts for this product. While this design may be pricier than some of the others on the list, 100% of respondents would recommend this product to a friend!
Best Run Time:
If you need an extra bright light with a longer than average run time for your yard or garden, this is the option for you!
Weatherproof: These solar string lights are able to be fully submerged in water! They are resistant to any wet, snowy, or stormy weather.
Varied Aesthetics Available: The bulbs may be tiny, but they have a lot to offer! Their high lumen output gives an exceptionally bright shine. These lights can but bought in multiple color variations including warm white, cool white, and multi-color. There are even eight programmed light settings.
Run Time: LiyuanQ Solar Globe String Lights run for 15 hours per charge cycle. That is double the amount of the average solar string light on the market!
Best Holiday Light:
With tons of fun color options and almost eighty feet of lights per strand, these are a fun and eco-friendly choice for your indoor and outdoor holiday decorations.
Versatile Lighting Modes: There are eight programmed lighting modes and seven color options to choose from.
Memory Function: These solar string lights come equipped with a memory chip, meaning that the string lights will automatically revert to your last used setting every night when they turn on. Since these lights automatically turn on at dusk, you will never have to step out into the cold night to manage them!
Length: With 72 feet of string, you will have no problem lining your house or wrapping up the Christmas tree with Joomer Solar String Lights. There is six feet of spacing between the panel and the first light, making it easy to be discreet and allowing for ideal placement of the solar array.
Best Rope Light:
Rope lights add a festive look to any outdoor space. While they can be hung or draped over fences, trees, or signs, they also work great for outlining pathways. Since the lights are wrapped up inside the rope, there is far less need to worry about damage from being stepped on.
Length: At 78 feet, this solar rope is the longest set of lights on our list. The extra length allows it to hold 200 LED lightbulbs per strand.
Extra Battery: This kit comes with an extra rechargeable battery. This can come in handy for cloudy days when your solar may not be able to produce a full charge for the connected battery.
Large Battery Bank: The use of the rechargeable battery won’t be necessary all that frequently, however. IMAGE has equipped their solar rope light set with a 2,400 mAh battery bank. This can output current for up to ten hours of continuous runtime.
How Do Solar Powered String Lights Work?
Unlike traditional outdoor lights that pull electrical current from the city grid, solar-powered string lights work by using energy produced from natural sunlight. How can they do this?
A small solar panel, battery bank, and inverter are typically wired at the end of the string of lights. (On some bigger bulb configurations, a small panel will be placed on top of each individual light that directly feeds the energy to the bulb.
The solar panels absorb photons during exposure to natural sunlight. These photons are converted to direct current energy through the photovoltaic effect. This newly produced DC energy is then sent out down the line to the inverter.
The inverter converts the energy to the direct electrical current to alternating current, which is the energy type compatible with most lightbulbs.
The lightbulbs are equipped with photoreceptors that activate the lightbulb when they sense it has gotten dark outside. The bulbs can then pull the converted energy that was produced during the day and use it to create their own light.
And since most solar powered string lights are LED bulbs, they won’t even need to pull much energy! LED bulbs are the most efficient, longest lasting lightbulbs on the market today.
This type of lightbulb is water and heat proof. LEDS are also resistant to frost, shock, and other adverse elements. They are even non-toxic and remain cool to the touch. These lightbulbs paired with solar produced energy makes for an efficient, safe, and cost-effective outdoor lighting solution.
What to Look for When Purchasing Solar String Lights
As you can see, there is a lot to consider before purchasing your first set of solar string lights. With so many varieties of string lights out there, it can be hard to know which is best for you!
We are here to help you sort your options by breaking down the lighting units, solar specifications, and other design options and features below.
Solar string lights come in many different designs. They differ in shape, color, size, configuration, and features. Of course, the optimal aesthetic is objective and totally up to you! Luckily, you have tons of possibilities to choose from.
Shape can range anywhere from Edison style bulbs to globes, fairy lights, mini lanterns, tear drops, flowers, and animal shapes.
The configuration of the lights can vary from single lights attached at separate points along the string, to groupings of lights dangling at points along the strand. Other options consist of a rope or wire with a consistent bundle of lights inside.
Features can include automatically enabling the lights to turn on and off at night, dimmer switches, timed modes such as blinking/flashing lights, memory function, and color changing bulbs.
Solar Battery Power Capacity
It is best to have a high capacity battery with a short charging cycle. This will ensure that enough energy is produced and stored to power the lights for the duration of the night. We recommend a battery that can hold 800-1,000 mAh.
While these articles reference preferences for RV and camper trailer use, there is still tons of pertinent information that can be referenced for your home use needs.
To learn more about solar panels and batteries, check out our posted guides:
LED Light Color Quality
The quality of the bulb refers to its lighting aesthetic and will depend on the desired application. There are two main specifications you want to look at to determine what quality bulb you will want for your needs: Kelvin units for color and Lumen units for brightness.
Where your bulb falls on the lumen scale will not only tell you how bright your selected LED bulb will be, but it also can give you an idea of the longevity of the bulb as well. A selected number on the lumen scale represents the brightness of a specific bulb.
The higher the number, the brighter the bulb. To give you a reference point, the average household kitchen light is rated between 3,000 and 4,000 lumens.
We can even predict longevity from a bulb’s placement on the lumen scale. The number of lumens corresponds with the necessary wattage.
For example, an LED bulb with an output of 0-200 lumens requires 2-3 watts, whereas an LED bulb with an output of 700-1,250 lumens will require a 14-18-watt bulb. The higher the wattage, the more often the bulb will need to be replaced.
So your 1,000-lumen lightbulb will have a shorter lifespan than your 100-lumen lightbulb. However, keep in mind that even though this bulb will have a shorter life, it will shine much brighter.
Kelvin units refer to the color temperature of a light bulb. As the number of kelvin units goes up, the scale moves from warm to cool. There are warm colors that look similar to an incandescent yellow bulb, and cool colors that are a brighter blue hue. The ‘kitchen white’ color lands in the middle of the kelvin scale, typically between 2,700 and 3,500 kelvins.
What color temperature bulb you will want depends on the desired use and effect of the string lights. A warm light is ideal for places of relaxation such as a backyard patio, and cool lights are better for areas where visibility is important, such as lining the pathway in your garden.
If the solar panel is getting optimal sun exposure, the string lights should have no problem running for the duration of the night. Most brands advertise that their lights get from 8-10 hours of run-time per charge. The highest run time in our list is set at 15 hours of constant light output.
Of course, if the panel is not in ideal conditions because of placement or weather, this time frame may be shortened. You will want to be sure to check each brand's specifications to find out their specified average run time.
Length varies greatly among solar string light products. In our list alone we range from 27-72 feet of string. You will want to be sure to measure the area you intend to decorate with your string lights to make sure that the product you purchase will fill the area without too much string left over.
Some lights are able to be cut to length or ran in series, but be sure to only try this if it is specified by the producer.
Do you still have solar string light concerns we haven’t addressed? No worries!
We have answered some of our most commonly asked questions below.
Does Weather Effect Solar String Lights?
Solar powered LED string lights are mostly weather resistant. The solar array is able to produce energy in a wide temperature range and in almost all weather conditions including rain and snow.
LED bulbs are temperature, water, and weather-resistant as well. There are two caveats to this, however. The first is that solar panels require adequate sunlight in order to produce enough electrical current to power the string lights for the duration of the night.
Solar reliant systems may present some difficulties for you if it is primarily cloudy and overcast weather in your area or if your yard is mostly covered in shade.
The second caveat is the battery. While the battery will function in a wide temperature range just like the solar array, frigid temperatures will cause the battery to drain energy faster.
Can a Dimmer Controller Work With Solar String Lights?
You can use a dimmer controller with your solar string lights for added effect. Keep in mind, however, the dimmer controller will only work with compatible bulbs. Make sure to replace the bulbs in your string lights with dimming bulbs of the same wattage as the originals.
Outdoor Vs Indoor Rated, Which Is Better?
It is important to make sure that your solar string lights are rated for outdoor use if you intend to expose them to the elements. These lights will be waterproof, temperature resistant, and typically more durable than an indoor rated alternative.
Where to Place the Solar Panel to Capture the Most Sunlight During the Day?
It is best to place the panel in an open exposure area- meaning somewhere with little to no shade and facing the direction of the sun for as many hours of daylight as possible.
For best results, you can even adjust the panel positions at periods throughout the day to ensure it is absorbing the highest number of photons possible. While this is not an ideal daily task, it may be something to consider the day of a big party or gathering where you will be dependent on the lights!
For best results without tending to your panel throughout the day, the panel should be placed at an optimal orientation and tilt based on the common zenith and azimuth angles for your area. These can be found on plotted sun charts on the internet.
However, you can cheat this by facing your panel due south (in the northern hemisphere) at an angle that places the array as close to a perpendicular angle to the sun’s rays as possible.
Will My Solar String Light Setup Require Any Maintenance?
Your solar string light setup will require minimum maintenance. Occasionally dusting the bulb and the solar array will optimize brightness and energy production. Every few years you may need to replace some of the bulbs, but as LEDs are long-lasting lightbulbs, the need to replace bulbs should be few and far between.
Bonus Tip: Solar String Light Décor Ideas!
There are tons of ways to decorate with your solar string lights. We encourage you to get creative! Here is a list of ideas our team came up with:
Pathway illumination around yards, the side of the house, and gardens
- Brightening covered porches, decks, and terraces
- Draping them along a fence or pool edge
- Tucking the lights into trees and bushes- perfect for the holidays!
- Draping the lights over signs and other décor to light them up at night and add extra ambiance
- Bundling lights into wine bottles for a center piece or in hanging mason jars
- Outlining a grass dancefloor in your backyard
- Providing light over outdoor dining areas