How to Choose Outdoor Pathway Lighting

Solar path lights are a simple, cost-effective way to add lighting to walkways and landscapes. They work by collecting light throughout the day and turn on automatically at night.

Durability and brightness are key factors when choosing a solar pathway light. Read our full guide to learn how to choose the best one for you.

1. Durability

The durability of solar lights can be determined by their build quality and how well they hold up to outdoor elements, such as rain and extreme temperatures. Look for a sturdy construction material, and find out what type of protection the lights have against the elements (such as IP ratings).

The size and style of the light can also impact its durability. Low-profile lights, for example, tend to have smaller solar panels that can easily be covered by dirt, leaves, snow, or debris—and broken if stepped on—while lantern-style options typically offer a more traditional aesthetic and larger solar panels.

Other factors to consider when evaluating the durability of solar pathway lights include whether or not they’re motion-activated and timer-controlled. These features can help conserve energy and ensure that the lights are only turned on when they’re needed, reducing unnecessary battery usage. You should also find out how long the lights take to fully charge, since shaded areas can limit sunlight exposure and affect their charging capabilities.

2. Brightness

If you want your solar pathway lights to illuminate your walkway at night, look for ones with a higher lumen count. This rating, which is typically measured in a milliampere-hour (mAh) capacity, determines how bright your light will be. You can find this information on the product description page.

Those who are less concerned with brightness and more interested in marking their path can opt for lower-lumen path lights. However, be sure to select a set that features enough light markers to cover the desired area.

In addition to brightness, you also want to consider the design of your outdoor solar lights. You’ll find plenty of options to choose from, ranging from craftsman designs featuring dark metal cages to more intricate Victorian-era vibes and ethereal-looking orbs.

For a more traditional approach, consider the Better Homes & Gardens Ellis Solar-Powered Black Metal and Glass LED Path Light (which is owned by The Spruce’s parent company Dotdash outdoor pathway solar lights Meredith). This style includes a charming lantern design that adds a decorative element to your space while providing an adequate amount of illumination for your walkway at night.

3. Style

Many homeowners who select solar path lights have a particular purpose in mind, such as highlighting foliage along their main garden pathway. Others want to add a bit of safety and security to their outdoor space by implementing motion-activated solar walkway lighting. In some cases, these lights can even provide a sense of style for your landscape, whether they’re designed to look like a garden gnome or a rustic iron chandelier and planter.

It’s also important to consider how much light you need for your specific purposes. Some models have multiple brightness and color temperature settings so that you can find the ideal setting for your space. If you live in an environment that frequently experiences storms, it’s also worth looking for options with marine grade certification to protect against salt corrosion.

For example, the UMICKOO solar path lights feature a streamlined design and several lighting modes, including sequence, slow fade, twinkle, and steady on. They’re made of weather-resistant materials that can withstand the elements and include a solar panel to harness energy from sunlight for operation.

4. Battery Life

Solar pathway lights don’t add to your electricity bill, drawing photovoltaic energy from the sun to operate through a rechargeable battery. Look for solar water pump for home the amount of sunlight the light requires to charge, and how long it will remain powered when fully charged.

The number of lumens the light produces is also an important consideration, as it determines how brightly it illuminates a walkway at night. Many products offer multiple brightness settings and light color temperature options, ranging from warm white to daylight.

A quality set of solar pathway lights will feature a sturdy, weatherproof design and a convenient on/off switch to save battery life on days that the lights won’t be used. Choose from a variety of styles, including craftsman-inspired dark metal cages and Victorian era vibes with fogged glass panels.

Some solar path lights have removable batteries, which makes changing the battery simple and quick. Make sure the lights you buy have a long warranty in case they malfunction. You’ll also want to know if the solar panel is easy to clean so you can keep your lights looking great year-round.

5. Installation

Solar pathway lights are easy to install and require very little maintenance. Before you begin, review the manufacturer’s directions and follow basic guidelines, such as keeping the solar panel clean. This will ensure the light absorbs enough sunlight to operate properly. You may also need to clear snow and ice from the panel, as it won’t be able to absorb the sun’s energy if it’s covered.

Pathway lighting can help draw people through outdoor spaces after dark without adding a lot of extra electrical infrastructure or an expensive power bill. They are available in a variety of designs, including craftsman-style dark metal cages with clear or fogged glass panels, Victorian era vibes that offer ornate accents, and geometric shapes that lend an artistic touch to walkways.

For an aesthetically pleasing and cost-efficient lighting solution, consider spacing the lights farther apart to create a more dramatic effect or closer together at regular intervals for a more uniform look. By assessing your energy needs, selecting the right fixtures for your landscaping, installing and styling them correctly, you can create a lovely and functional lighting setup that’s both sustainable and stylish.