We researched over 50 different types of outdoor solar lights before we bought the 10 best sets available today to test side-by-side. Over the course of a month, we used the lights in various locations and settings to find out which ones worked the best in which locations, and why. We compared each set for reliability, design strengths and weaknesses, and the amount of illumination each light produced. Read below to find out which are the best motion-activated floodlights, which are the best stake-style version, and which ones are the best bargain.If you're looking to liven up your outdoor space, we can help. We've tested everything from patio umbrellas and lawn chairs to bird feeders and charcoal grills so you can get the max enjoyment from your patio or yard.
Our Top Picks
If you're on the hunt for solar-powered, motion sensor-activated floodlights, it's going to be tough to top the Aootek Solar Lights. We were impressed with their reliability — the light sensor was especially sensitive. In comparison to others we have tested, the sensor range isn't as wide, but for the majority of mounting locations, it should do the trick. Many outdoor solar light manufacturers claim that their products are waterproof, but Aootek puts their money where their mouth is with an IP65 waterproof rating. This means that the light can handle water jetting at it from all directions and is 100% dustproof, ensuring neither rain, dust, nor snow will be an issue.
We didn't find a lot to criticize about the Aootek Solar Lights, but we will still discuss a couple of potential setbacks. First, we doubt these lights are going to be topping anyone's list for best looking or most chic outdoor solar lights. If decorative is what you're going for, you will likely want to look at a different model. Second, the light has to be removed from the wall in order to adjust the settings. This means if these are mounted somewhere that you need a ladder to access, it will be a pain any time you need to change the settings. Regardless of these flaws, we are still impressed with the Aootek lights and think they are some of the top overall motion sensor-activated solar-powered floodlights around.
The Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights are an excellent choice for anyone seeking stake-style lights. This stylish and functional model comes in a high-quality bronze finish that we love — they look awesome situated beside a sidewalk or along a driveway. Not only do the devices themselves look good, but they earned some bonus points for the unique light pattern they cast onto the ground. During our assessment, these lights turned on right on time every night.
However, the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights aren't very useful individually because the level of illumination produced by each standalone device is a bit low. They are best used close to one another. That said, they're still a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a stylish and dependable set of stake lights.
If you're looking for motion-sensor solar floodlights on a budget, check out the URPOWER Solar Lights. The sensors on these affordable lights have a great range, so you won't be stumbling around in the dark, trying to get your lights to activate. They are also bright, making them ideal for the front of a garage. The URPOWER lights are rated to IP64 waterproofing, which means that they can withstand most types of nasty weather. We found that the button on the front is not the easiest to push, requiring something like a thin paperclip or an earring to press it. But we appreciate that you don't have to remove the devices from the wall to change the settings.
Although the sensors on the URPOWER Solar Lights have a great range, the actual range of light dispersed from the device is not very wide — the illumination is concentrated to a smaller area than some floodlights. The URPOWER is not exactly easy on the eyes; it was obvious to us that the designers of this product valued functionality over style. But considering the price to performance ratio, we think they're worth the purchase.
If you're looking for a large number of solar-powered stake lights, but you don't want to break the bank either, we recommend the Sunnest Life Solar Lights. This set comes with 12 lights — more than enough to line a walkway or path. We also found that they all come on right about the same time and at the perfect time at dusk. Considering the number of devices included in the package, they are very affordable. Despite the low cost, they are still fairly stylish.
The main downside to the Sunnest Life is that they produce a very small amount of light per device. Although they do a great job of marking a pathway or driveway, they don't do much to actually illuminate anything. If you need to light up a walkway or obstacles or steps, we'd suggest going with a set that produces more light. However, we still think these are perfect for decoration and for marking pathways in the dark.
For some people, style is everything. If the main reason you're looking for outdoor solar lights is for decoration, we think the TomCare Solar Torch lights are the way to go. These lights resemble the flickering flames of a burning torch, which adds a mellow atmosphere to your yard without having to deal with oil, smoke, or actual open flames. We found the sensors are timed to work perfectly at dusk to add some illumination to your property. We loved the simple on/off buttons on the body of each device.
With the added degree of feng shui comes a trade-off — the TomCare Torches don't do much as far as illuminating the ground, so they aren't much good for lighting up steps or walkways. We'd suggest a model that produces more light if you're searching for outdoor solar lights that will aid in nighttime navigation of your property. Considering there are only four of them in a kit, these are also on the more expensive side. Still, if you're looking for a stylish set of solar-powered mock torches, the TomCare Solar Torch lights are the way to go.
It's hard to beat the LITOM Original Solar Light when it comes to lighting up a driveway. This model emits an outright intense amount of light — it's plenty bright enough to light up a parking spot. We love that the motion sensor on the LITOM Original has such a wide range. It's nice that the light turns on as you pull into your driveway, well before you turn off your headlights. This model is another device that offers IP65 waterproofing, so it should withstand just about anything Mother Nature can throw at it.
We aren't thrilled that the LITOM Original Solar Lights are sold individually. You can order more than one at a time, but there is not much of a price break. We also found it to be inconvenient to change the settings with this model. To make any changes, you'll have to physically remove the device from wherever it's mounted. This can be quite the task — especially if you're using it somewhere that requires a ladder to access. However, once it's adjusted to the proper settings and installed in the right spot, it's perfect for a driveway.
If you plan on lighting up the landscaping on your property or your house itself, the LITOM 12 LED Solar Landscape Spotlights are the way to go. These lights can either be staked into the ground or mounted to a wall with screws. The light on the device adjusts up and down by 90°, so you can get the perfect angle to illuminate the object you desire. The LITOM Landscape Spotlights have a waterproof rating of an industry-leading IP67, which means that they can be completely submerged in up to a meter of water for half an hour. We appreciate that these devices have two brightness settings, giving you the choice to sacrifice battery life for more illumination or keep the lights a bit dimmer for a longer period.
While the LITOM 12 LED Solar Landscape Spotlights can score you some serious style points at night, during the day, they aren't much to look at and are far from any sort of yard decoration. In our assessment, we noticed that one of our lights would only turn on occasionally or when you touched it, which suggested there might have been a faulty battery connection. Even with these flaws in mind, the LITOM 12 LEDs are ideal for dramatic lighting.
The Luposwiten Solar Motion Sensor Lights are another solid choice for a motion sensor floodlight. The on/off button is located in a tiny hole that requires a paperclip or earring to press, but we found it much easier to push than other models with a similar design. The Luposwiten boasts a waterproof rating of IP65, so you can rest easy knowing that foul weather won't destroy your investment. Our favorite feature of these devices is their 400 lumen and 120-degree lighting range.
We were not overly impressed with the reactivity of the motion sensor on the Luposwiten. Other models seemed to be much more sensitive to movement at a greater distance from the device. The look of this model is also quite unappealing. If you're looking for a stylish model, it will make sense to go with lights with a classier appearance.
The ZOOKKI Solar Lights aren't very effective when used individually, but if you install all four of them in one place, they do an okay job of lighting up a driveway. They would be better suited for a small patio or on the wall going up a stairway. We also didn't find the motion sensor range to be that solid.
The ZOOKKI lights aren't exactly easy on the eyes. The bland look of this model isn't going to add much curb appeal to your property. The button on these devices is located in a tiny hole that needs to be pushed with a paperclip or earring. We found that the button is hard to press correctly and that the tool you are using can easily slide off before you reach your desired setting.
The Maggift 26 Inch Hanging Solar Lights are ideal for lighting up pathways and stair sets. It's hard to beat them in the style department with their charming lantern look. Unlike many of the gaudy outdoor solar lights on the market, the Maggift will add a decorative element to your yard in addition to a degree of illumination at night. Their price point also won't put too much of a dent in your bank account.
If you're looking for lights that will truly brighten up a walkway at night, you should look elsewhere. They're pretty, but they aren't very lucent. Sadly, we also found that one of the Maggift lights came with a poor battery connection right out of the box. We would only recommend purchasing these devices strictly for the looks.
Why You Should Trust Us
This project was spearheaded by Senior Research Analyst Michelle Powell and Review Editor Ross Patton. Michelle has tested hundreds of products ranging from espresso machines to drones to all kinds of home & garden appliances. Ross brings more than a decade of experience in the field of professional product reviews coupled with a formal education in Environmental Science. With this team, you can trust that they have put outdoor solar lights under the utmost amount of scrutiny and have hunted down the tiniest nuances and details that set these devices apart from one another.
For this review, we spent weeks using the lights at our own homes. We used the floodlight versions above a garage door to see how well they could illuminate a driveway and then mounted them on a wall above a staircase to see how they worked in a variety of settings. The stake versions were placed in yards and along walkways to check how well they could light up pathways at night. We took detailed notes on each model's various designs and styles, and we paid close attention to how well the controls worked and how difficult they were to access.
Analysis and Test Results
Outdoor solar lights come in an array of types and designs for many different purposes. Our testing has divvied up the specific strengths and weaknesses of each device and will help you choose the model that is best for your individual needs.
Reliability was the primary factor we studied during our assessment. If the lights don't work, they're nothing more than a decoration, or in some cases, an eyesore. To test reliability for the motion sensor/floodlight models, we left the devices in direct sunlight all day. After nightfall, we then approached each light to gauge the range of the motion sensor and its reactivity to movement. For the stake versions, we again left each model in direct sunlight from sunup until sundown, then patiently watched to see when they came on at dusk and how close the timing was among the devices in each set.
As far as motion sensor/floodlight models, we found that the Aootek, URPOWER, and LITOM Original all had very reliable sensors during our tests. All three of these models activated from movement at a further than average distance.
When it comes to stake versions, we were impressed with the reliability of the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights, the Sunnest Life Solar Lights, and the TomCare Solar Torch. Each of these versions nearly came on in unison at dusk every night, and we had no issues with battery connectivity or faulty sensors.
The amount of light produced by these devices may be a very important purchasing factor for some people and might not matter at all for others, depending on the purpose and application intended for the lights. You're going to want a much brighter light if you're looking to illuminate a driveway than if you're trying to line a pathway or stair set. Even then, you may not care how much light they provide if you're just looking for yard decorations. We subjectively judged the amount of light produced by the various models — the results are broken down in the paragraphs below.
When it comes to maximum luminosity, it's hard to top the LITOM Original Solar Light. We found that just one of these easily lights up a parking spot. Close behind was the Aootek model. We found that these devices lit up a small driveway, especially when using more than one of them in one location. The Aooteks also emit a quality of light that is easier on the eyes than many floodlight style versions that we've reviewed. The URPOWER Solar Lights are also fairly bright, but the light produced is a bit harsh on the eyes.
If you are less concerned with brightness and more concerned with marking a pathway or driveway, several options are great for the job. The Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights make a pretty pattern on the ground that is also useful for seeing where you're stepping at night. The TomCare Solar Torch lights won't light up obstacles, but they do give off the appearance of being actual flames. The Sunnest Life Solar Lights hardly put off any amount of luminosity, but they work perfectly as markers.
Next, we carefully inspected each version of outdoor solar lights for differences in design and functionality. Some are simplistic and are up and running in a matter of seconds, and others require tools to mount to a wall or adjust the settings. Finally, we considered the style and appearance of each model.
When it comes to stake versions, we found the most stylish model to be the Gigalumi Solar Pathway Lights. With a bronze metal finish and the on/off switch hidden below the cap, this model scored extra points for its elegant look.
We recommend the Sunnest Life Solar Lights if you're seeking the most basic, straightforward look out of a stake light. They are very plain looking, but for some people, that may be the desired look. The on/off switch is conveniently located on the underside of the light to keep it out of sight and out of the elements.
It's hard not to like the look of the TomCare Solar Torch lights. These devices give off the appearance of real flames, but with none of the hassle of a real fire. They have a simple on/off button on the shaft near the base of the light.
The motion sensor floodlight versions that we liked best have two different types of on/off switches. The URPOWER has a small hole containing the button that needs to be pushed with a narrow object such as a paperclip or earring.
The Aootek and LITOM Orginal both need to be removed from the wall to reach the switch, which can be a bit inconvenient.
Whether you're looking to fully illuminate your driveway, light up the side of your house, mark out a pathway, or simply want to add some decorations to your yard, we've set out to provide you with the best analysis possible. We hope our research and testing leads you to the perfect purchase for your needs.
— Ross Patton and Michelle Powell
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