Best solar landscape lighting for your garden or patio

Forgot those crappy dollar store solar lights. Here's two tips on how to find a longer-lasting product.

Example of a solar powered garden light

Those little solar powered landscape lights that you can buy almost anywhere are convenient, and look great too.

The best part is being able to add landscape lighting to your yard without having to run wiring. Just stake them into the ground wherever you want, and you’re done!

Where are often aren’t so great is product quality. I’ve thrown away a lot of cheap solar lights before concluding that I needed to spend a little more money to get something that I wasn’t going to break after only few months. While the price of dollar store lights may seem like a great deal, they might end up costing you more in the long run, not to mention the environmental impact of throwing away so many lights and their batteries.

After doing some research, I’ve concluded that there are two things you need to look for if you want a better solar garden or patio light:

Product criteria 1: waterproof rating of IP64 or better

Solar lights can fail if moisture enters the housing. Even though they seem like simple devices, solar lights have quite a lot of circuitry in them. There’s one or more LED bulbs, a little solar panel, but also electronics that operate the bulbs and signal them to turn on and off, and the wiring that joins them all together. Liquid water getting inside can cause these electrical components to fail, but humidity can cause the same damage.

This is why it’s important to look for a waterproof rating. Look for an IP rating: this is something you may have seen on many different devices, from bluetooth speakers to solar phone chargers.

The IP rating has two digits. The first digit will tell you how well the device is protected against dust and dirt. Look for a 6, which is the highest rating. This means that it’s dust tight: “No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact.”

The second digit is the waterproof rating. Remember that not only will your solar light be subject to rain and snow, but also sometimes getting soaked by a sprinkler. The waterproof rating is the second digit, and ranges from 0 (not waterproof at all) to 8 (can be immersed in water below 1 meter).

Look for an IP rating of at least IP64. This means that the light will withstand “Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.” That’s good enough to protect it from a sprinkler, but not getting blasted with a garden hose. If that’s a concern, look for an IP65 rating or higher.

Product criteria 2: nickel-metal hydride is better than lithium

This one might seem wrong, because lithium-ion batteries are more advanced technology than older nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH). In fact, lithium batteries, which are used in everything from smartphones to electric cars, are better than Ni-MH in nearly every aspect except one: cold temperature charging.

Lithium batteries can’t be charged when the temperature is below freezing, otherwise permanent damage to the battery can result. According to Battery University, metallic lithium will accumulate on the anode, permanently reducing the capacity of the battery. This can happen with a single subzero charging event.

Ni-MH batteries also don’t perform well when charged below freezing, but unlike lithium batteries, they don’t suffer permanent damage.

Why does this even matter? It’s an obvious problem if you live in a cold climate and leave your lights out all winter, but even warmer climates can occasionally experience a freezing cold day. If your solar light is charged at this cold temperature even once, the lithium battery inside could be damaged.

Below are a list of some lights that you can find on Amazon that meet these two criteria: they all have Ni-MH batteries and have an IP64 rating or better. I’m not a designer at all, so I didn’t pick these based on looks! Hopefully some of them will look great in your yard, and let me know if you find good products that I’ve missed.

This article includes links to Amazon, and we may earn a small commission when you purchase one of the products listed on this page.

BEAU JARDIN Solar Pathway Light - 8 Pack

  • Spike-mounted light
  • IP65 waterproof rating
  • Six colors available
  • Stainless steel
  • Automatic on/off
  • 6 lumen brightness

Check pricing on Amazon

In-Ground Solar Landscape Lights - 8 Pack

  • Sits flush with the ground surface
  • IP65 waterproof rating
  • Stainless steel
  • Automatic on/off
  • Warm yellow light

Check pricing on Amazon

Otdair Two-Mode Solar Pathway Lights - 4 Pack

  • Two brightness modes: bright (15 lumen) and low (8 lumen)
  • Spike-mounted light
  • IP65 waterproof rating
  • Stainless steel
  • Automatic on/off
  • Warm white light

Check pricing on Amazon

URPOWER Two-Mode Outdoor Solar Spotlights - 2 Pack

  • Very bright solar spotlight with large adjustable solar panel
  • Two brightness modes: bright (200 lumen) and low
  • Can be spike-mounted or wall-mounted
  • IP64 waterproof rating
  • Automatic on/off
  • Available in warm or cool white light

Check pricing on Amazon

Solar Powered Deck/Patio Pathway Lights - 4 Pack

  • Can be mounted on stairs, deck boards, patios, or wherever you need lighting at your feet
  • 6 lumen brightness
  • Aluminium housing
  • IP65 waterproof rating
  • Automatic on/off
  • Cool white light

Check pricing on Amazon

Solar Lights Outdoor Fence Lights - 4 Pack

  • Can be mounted on a vertical surface: walls, stairs, fences, deck posts
  • Very bright: 350 lumens
  • ABS housing
  • IP65 waterproof rating
  • Automatic on/off
  • Cool white light

Check pricing on Amazon

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