The house we rented during our last summer vacation had an outdoor solar lamp installed next to the entry door. The black bulky lamp was far from attractive, but it gave efficient light in the evenings. In other words, it served its purpose (providing light, free of charge). But the lamp left me wondering what better-looking solar lights are available (surely there are some)? I went hunting for solar path lights, lanterns and string lighting.
Before I give you my roundup, here’s the low down on how solar lights work. Solar lights are powered by light from the sun, and have three essential three parts: a photovoltaic solar panel, a rechargeable battery, and an LED lamp. The solar panel harnesses energy from the sun during the day time and stores this energy in a gel cell battery. Usually, solar lamps come with sensors to automatically turn on the LED light when energy from the sun is no longer available. The stored energy in the battery lights up the lamp.
Here are my favorite solar lights:
Above: Designed to hang from tree branches, the Cornet by Sven Ono is inspired by the shape and size of Nordic Christmas ornaments. A set of three costs $47.95 from Amazon.
Above: The OSun Nomad LED Solar Portable Light was initially designed to provide light for families around the world who don’t have access to electricity. The Nomad lamp comes in six colors and costs $125 from OSun.
Above: An outdoor table lantern that flickers like a candle, Sven Ono’s Turner can be flipped upside down during daylight hours to recharge (as shown); available in five colors, it is â‚¬14 from Mooni.
Above: A Solar Outdoor Floor Lamp designed by Jean Marie Massaud for Foscarini has a wooden base, which at different angles determines the quantity of light diffused, allowing multiple effects; $1,575 from YLighting.
Above: This Collapsible Solar Powered Lantern is the creation of Gothenburg-based designer Jesper Jonsson. Hang or place anywhere in your garden by way of a leather strap. Contact Jesper Jonsson for more information.
Above: The Solar Bud light, designed by Ross Lovegrove for Italian Luceplan, features an aluminum stem and UV-resistant head. An eight-hour charge provides up to 15 hours of light. The lamp costs $175.50 from Lumens.
Above: With a stainless steel body and built-in high quality LED bulb, a solar Path Light from German designer BTR is $67.99 (a set of six is $359.99) from GEM.
Above: A set of eight stainless steel Mini Solar LED Landscape Lights is available to pre-order to ship in early November; a set is $38.99 from All Modern.
Above: A set of 30 Solar String Lights with energy-saving white LED bulbs is 20.5 feet long and comes with a separate solar panel. It will automatically light up at dusk for six hours when fully charged; $29.99 from Klockit.
Above: Ikea’s Solarvet LED Lighting Chain is solar-powered and comes as a set of 24 lights for $12.99. Use it as Christmas lights, or simply add lanterns to create a festive setting.
For more of our favorite outdoor lighting ideas, see:
- 10 Easy Pieces: Pathway Lighting.
- Hardscaping 101: Pathway Lighting.
- Hardscaping 101: Stairway Lighting.