Solar Path Lights
If you’ve never delved into the world of solar pathway lighting before, then it’s now time to learn everything you could ever need to know about how and why this impressive lighting technology could be the missing link between you and the perfect backyard setup.
There are several, highly beneficial reasons why you’d want to opt for this source of illumination for a backyard setting, but the most prevalent of all for many people is how tremendously economic they are versus other light sources. Not only that, but they offer a level of design flexibility that hard wired varieties simply can’t. Read on for all of the information you could ever need about sun-fuelled path lighting.
What Is Solar Pathway Lighting?
What separates this lighting variety from others that you may be familiar with is the integration of a photovoltaic cell array in the frame of the lighting unit that allows the light to sustain itself exclusively using energy from the sun.
How you place the lighting is entirely up to you given their dynamic independent design. Whether you’re looking to surround an outdoor feature with some low-key mood lighting or light up a garden path for safety, you can do it using this flexible light source.
Because you only need the sun to sustain these units, this means that once you’ve paid for your initial series of lights, you won’t have to spend another penny on running them.
Another fantastic benefit on offer here is that you’re not going to be releasing any harmful waste products into the atmosphere. Not only are you lightening your financial load in the long run, but you’re also helping to reduce harmful greenhouse emissions.
How Does a Solar Path Light Work?
As mentioned in the previous section, solar path lights require input from the sun to function and sustain themselves. This is all due to the inbuilt photovoltaic cell structure in the housing of the lighting unit.
The job of a voltaic cell is to absorb these rays and split these atomic elements, following which inbuilt inverters draw on the resulting power that this process creates. This power can then be sent through the circuit and used to light the LED bulb.
Unlike other forms of solar powered lighting technology, path lighting within this category is typically of a “one-source” variety. This means that there aren’t usually any additional means by which you can charge them. This isn’t likely to be an issue, however, given that these products spend their entire life outdoors and are therefore in the best position possible to draw on photon rays.
How to Choose the Right Solar Path Light
Depending on your specific requirements, you’re going to need a series of lights that can deliver everything you need to bring your chosen outdoor location to life. This might require a high level of brightness, a certain design, or a certain build quality. Regardless of what you need, make sure that you consider the following areas before committing to a purchase:
This is one of the most important areas to pay attention to because the battery life of your product is going to determine how long it stays on for. With the best options on the market lasting up to 25 hours on a full charge, the right product is definitely out there for you. Equally, there’s no point in paying extra for far more battery life than you need.
If you’re trying to create some subtle mood lighting, then the last thing you want is spotlight level brightness as it’ll entirely distract from the environment. Equally, if you want to make your garden highly visible at night to keep potential intruders at bay, then the brighter the better.
Light output is measured in something known as lumens. High lumen solar path lights are always going to offer the best visibility. Lighting in this category isn’t supposed to be used as a main light source. The individual units are supposed to be combined to achieve the desired level of illumination. As a result, higher end models rate on average at between 30-40 lumens.
Charge time isn’t as much of an issue here as it might be with other solar products because this item is technically never going to be free of the sun’s gaze anyway. However, it’s still nice to have some assurance that the daylight hours will be enough to provide full night’s worth of use.
On average, it takes 8-10 hours to achieve a full charge with most solar path lights. That should be more than adequate to get the amount of “juice” you need to sustain full use throughout the twilight hours.
Design and durability
On one end of the scale, you’ve got traditional lantern-like structures that would weave well into almost any setting whilst looking completely in place and tasteful. On the other, you’ve got highly individual shapes and colors that’d require a specific type of environment to look right.
Most solar lighting units are ground based, but you can also get some that are wall or fence mountable, too. Depending on the type you go for, you’re going to have access to a wide variety of appearances. Also consider whether or not your chosen units are weatherproof, waterproof, and well-built. The more potential damage they can withstand in an outdoor environment, the longer they’re likely to last.
Another design-based aspect that will need to be considered in its own right is the profile of your chosen light. This is because the profile is going to dramatically impact the look you’re trying to achieve within your desired setting.
Many of the lighting units on offer within this category stick into the ground and elevate an average of anywhere from 12-20 inches high. There are alternatives that only come a few centimetres away from the ground while offering the level of illumination you need to set the right tone within your chosen location.
Choosing a product from a well-known brand can be a great way to ensure that you’re getting something reliable and high quality. The following manufacturers are known to create reputable solar pathway lights: SolarGlow, ArMax, Gigalumi, Etmury, Blibly, Maggift, Sowsun, and Beau Jardin.
Any product you acquire from the above list of brands is likely to satisfy. There are of course other brands available, too. Always check product reviews before buying.
The main bonus feature that you’re likely to encounter with these products is the addition of a sensor to the solar cell panel that’ll allow them to track the suns location throughout the day and therefore only activate the moment it gets dark enough. Usually, these units are switch activated. A sensor just means that once you’ve installed your lighting, you don’t have to do anything further to them to make use of them.
Top 5 Best Solar Path Lights
In this section, we’re going to highlight what we feel are five of the best solar walkway lights available on the market.
5. GIGALUMI 8 Pack Solar Ground Lights
These Gigalumi lights are a great option for those who want to make use of a slightly different shape to achieve their desired path lighting effect. With 8-10 hours of use after a 4-6 hour charge and a stainless steel shell that can withstand 100kgs worth of resistance, these lighting units can sit snugly against the surface of the ground whilst offering maximum efficiency.
Their eight LED bulb infrastructure also provides 700 lumens worth of illumination, which is considerable considering their size. They’re not only subtle, they’re also incredibly bright as well. Thanks to the added sensor, not a moments worth of power is wasted, either.
- Unique disc design allows for subtle integration into an outdoor setting
- Very bright bulbs
- Durable design allows these units to withstand 100kgs worth of force
- Inbuilt sensor for improved functionality
- A more expensive option given the unit size and therefore volume requirements
- The shape won’t work well or look good in every setting
4. LITOM 12 LEDs Solar Landscape Spotlights
Your reasons for wanting something with this level of brightness may vary, but one thing’s for sure, if you want to throw as much light as possible onto your path or outdoor space, these Litom spotlights will be the best way to do it. They have an output of 600 lumens, which is obviously considerably bright when compared to other products on the market. But it might be that you feel that your walkway calls for it depending on what’s in your backyard or exterior space.
Whether it’s to enhance the impact of a feature or simply to maximise security by offering maximum night time visibility, you can achieve either of these ends with the integration of this product. With a waterproof design and robust build quality on offer, you’re getting as much security for your bulbs here as you are for your property.
- The best option for maximum visibility
- Durable weatherproof build quality
- Multiple light modes
- An array of color options
- Probably too much power for most people’s needs
- Housing is made from ABS plastic, which isn’t as damage resistant as metal
3. Maggift 8 Pcs Solar Powered LED Garden Lights
For those looking to secure pathway lighting purely as a means of decoration, these Maggift lights are probably going to be exactly what you need. The big negative here is the lumen rating, which is only 3. Obviously, this means that they’re never going to give widespread visibility for your walkway, but that isn’t what they were designed for. With this product, it’s all about ambience.
The classy lantern design here means that the bottom of the rectangular unit sits snugly against the ground, offering a unique lighting option that’ll massively enhance a decorative garden setting and offer a subtle but warm glow that appeals to the eye on a dark night. Other benefits besides the striking design are a sensor that’ll automatically activate the bulb once the night time comes around and an impressive 8-10 hours of use time.
- Visually striking design
- Long usage time on a full charge
- Sensor activated
- Perfect for introducing gentle ambience
- Brightness rating is low at 3 lumens
- Not the most durable design because the housing is plastic
2. BEAU JARDIN Solar Lights Pathway
Not only are these pathway lights gorgeous to look at, they’re also an incredible value, too. With eight in a pack and an inbuilt sensor that automatically turns these lights on and off based on the level of daylight, these units are a great option for those who want something that functions effectively while offering a design that looks a little “different” to the norm. They’re also very resistant against anything they’re likely to come up against outdoors thanks to excellent weather and waterproof ratings that’ll safeguard them from any potential damage.
Combine that with steel housing, and any impact or animal-based damage is likely to be minimal.On a full charge, you’re likely to get 8-12 hours use. The only real negative here, however, is that the brightness output is only six lumens, which is fine if you’re lighting up a small area, but you may need a higher volume of lights if you have a particularly expansive path.
- Elegant design makes this product stand out versus other options
- Long use time of 8-12 hours
- Robust build quality
- Inbuilt sensor for enhanced practicality
- Design may not suit all settings
- Brightness level isn’t the best
1. Moonrays 91754 Richmond Solar Metal Path
This set of lights is made out of metal, meaning that they’ll withstand the majority of damage risks that the great outdoors has to offer. These lights provide 30 lumens worth of brightness, which is more than enough to deliver high level visibility as part of a path lighting array. Their ribbed glass bulb design also means that you’ve got a 48-inch illumination cone in the area surrounding the light. Simply put, as part of a chain of lights, every inch of your path should be well-lit.
Speaking of design, these lights are also shaped like a traditional lantern. They’re going to look perfectly in place as part of most settings no matter how quirky your outdoor environment is. This is also an incredibly well built unit that’ll last for 6-8 hours on a full charge. Considering the brightness, that’s no small feat.
- Highly durable build quality
- Great bulb brightness
- Automatic sensor only turns them on when you need them
- 1 year warranty included
- Expensive versus other options
Pros and Cons of Solar Path Lights
In summary, here’s why sun-fuelled pathway lighting could be a good or bad thing for you:
- Long-term savings thanks to your utility expenditure not being impacted
- Dynamic designs allow for unique lighting arrays in otherwise complex locations
- Sensors mean that once installed, your lights will work entirely on their own
- A variety of shapes, sizes, and profiles allow for a high level of customization
- Typically not as bright as hard wired lighting options
- Potentially more susceptible to damage than more robust permanent units (though this is not always the case)
- Potentially not as reliable as wired units depending on the levels of sunlight and time of year
- Can work out to be expensive if you go for the highest end models
Overall, these are the main areas to consider before using solar powered path lighting.
Even though you came here today seeking answers to how and why this form of pathway and outdoor lighting is one of the best available, you should now have every answer you need to determine whether or not they are a viable option for you.
There are so many benefits on offer here in the long and short term, whether it’s cost saving, reduced environmental impact, or even enhanced practicality due to sensor integration, all of which make these products market leaders in the world of exterior lighting.
Weigh up the pros and cons on offer before making a decision using our “how to choose” section, and provided the features align with your needs. It’s safe to say that you’ll be enjoying enhanced walkway visibility for years to come.