Installing Outdoor Solar Lights
One benefit of solar lighting is that its much easier to install than traditional, hardwired fixtures. In most cases, outdoor solar lights can be installed in minutes with minimal tools and no electrical expertise. In some cases, a few screws or industrial adhesive strips are all thats required. Consider your own lighting needs, including whether you want a permanent solution or a semi-permanent option that allows you to move your new lights if need be.
Why Trust The Spruce
Jenica Currie is the Associate Commerce Editor for outdoor, gardening, and home improvement at The Spruce. She has tested dozens of products at home and in the Lab, including artificial Christmas trees, clothing racks, bean bag chairs, fans, and vacuums. She spends her weekends gardening and working on other projects to improve the outdoor space around her home . For this article, she used our test results and researched dozens of top-rated outdoor solar lights to compile this list of the best available options.
What To Look Forward To
Were planning to test the Feit Electric PAR38 Smart Light Bulb, a Wi-Fi model with tunable white and colored lighting. Well also review the Philips Econic Outdoor Pathway Light, a 600-lumen stand-alone fixture with white and colored lighting. And were still planning to look at the Hue Lily XL, which puts out 1,200 lumensalmost twice as much as its predecessor.
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For Safety: Ring Solar Pathlight
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa
Who its for: Anyone who has a poorly lit walkway, driveway, or yard can install these lights without having to do any wiring. Path lights are terrific for guiding people safely along a walkway, preventing you or your visitors from trampling flower beds, and ensuring that you dont slip and fall into the pool. Smart path lights illuminate automatically, only when needed. They also look great, so you can install them to highlight the best-looking areas around your home.
Why its great: The Ring Solar Pathlight quickly, cleanly, and cheaply provides an elegant bright-white guide for you and your guests through areas that would otherwise be dicey in the dark. It doesnt require running wires underground and into your house or replacing batteries every six months. And you can control it centrally with an app or let the built-in motion sensors automatically turn it on and off.
Flaws but not dealbreakers: Rings model conserves battery power by not allowing you to schedule the lights to be on full brightness for long periods of timeyou can manually turn them on and leave them at full power for up to 15 minutes only. If you have Alexa, you can schedule your Ring Pathlights through that app, but only in the same one-, five-, 10-, and 15-minute increments. If you want continuous lighting of a pathway at full brightness, consider other devices that arent battery-powered.
Security Privacy And Smart Outdoor Lighting
Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously and investigates, as much as possible, how the companies we recommend deal with customer data. As part of our vetting process for smart outdoor lighting, we looked at all of the security and data-privacy practices behind our picks. We also reached out to all the companies that produced our top picks and had them answer an extensive questionnaire to confirm information we thought should be of primary concern for any potential buyer. Here are the results.
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Types Of Outdoor Solar Lights
Outdoor solar lights are available in three main types: Timer-controlled, motion-activated, and dusk-to-dawn. The best models offer more than one of these modes. Its worth considering which is best for you based on your lighting needs. Timer-controlled solar lights provide the most control because you determine when the light turns on and off. As the name implies, motion-activated models only turn on when they detect movement, whether it be a person, an animal, or a vehicle. These are often best for security-focused lights, like a floodlight to illuminate your front porch or backyard. Dusk-to-dawn lights are usually best for ambient or decorative lighting in pathways or gardens.
For Entertaining: Philips Hue White And Color Ambiance Calla Bollard
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings
Who its for: This light is for anyone who likes to entertain outdoors and has a pool or patio area, or a large yard. Besides lighting your way, multicolor path lights can match the scenery or add a splash of color whenever you want it.
Why its great: Though the Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Calla Bollard is the most expensive of our picks, its also the best-looking outdoor smart lighting fixture we tested. Its bright enough to illuminate landscaping or to light the way for family and friends enjoying a late-night dip in the pool or a backyard barbecue. If you like to add variety to your backyard, you can shift the Calla through 16 million colors to complement any activity, holiday, or mood.
Each Calla Bollard measures 10 inches high, but the 600-lumen LED on top takes up less than 3 inches of that. Included in the base kit are a power supply and a cord, which allow you to place the unit up to 11½ feet away from a covered outlet and can support up to five lights. The cords are thick and should withstand the elements, though we recommend running them against the side of the house or through shrubbery, to prevent tripping or lawn-mower mishaps.
The Calla Bollard doesnt have a built-in motion sensor, but Philips Hue does offer a separate outdoor sensor, which you can use to configure your lights to automatically turn on when someone or something walks by.
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Other Outdoor Smart Lights We Like
We tested a number of lighting devices that we didnt prefer as overall picks, but we think they may be perfectly good for specific outdoor lighting needs.
Our previous pick, the Sengled Smart LED PAR38 Bulb, is still a great choice if youre looking for a bulb that includes a built-in motion sensor. However, its almost twice the price of our top pick, doesnt offer tunable white lighting, and requires the use of a Zigbee hub, such as the Sengled Smart Hub or the .
Philips Hue bulbs are our indoor upgrade pick, and the Philips Hue PAR38 Outdoor White Bulb is a good choice for anyone who has that system. It works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, as well as everything under the Hue umbrella, making it perfect for those looking to sync a larger smart-home setup.
As with the Hue, we can recommend the Ring PAR38 Smart LED Bulb only if you have an existing Ring lighting system. It performed well in our tests, but it doesnt offer tunable white lighting and is $10 more than our top outdoor bulb pick. Also, it requires a hub, such as the Ring Bridge, the Echo Show 10 , or the Echo .
The LIFX Nightvision BR30 has bolder, brighter colors than our top bulb pickbut for almost three times the price. Note that this particular model includes infrared LEDs, which can perk up the night-vision capabilities of any nearby outdoor security cameras you may have.
Why You Should Trust Me
I first started testing smart-home devices back when the only smart-home devices were X10. Over the past 15 years, Ive had my hands on everything from remotes and security cameras to AV receivers and smart light switches. Ive also written articles for The New York Times, Wired, Womans Day, Mens Health, and USA Today, among others.
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What About Sconces
There are a few smart outdoor sconces available. After doing research and even testing some of them, we continue to dismiss the category based on factors such as design, price, and the installation process. For now, we think youd be better off picking the weather-tight fixture of your choice and using a smart bulb or a smart light switch.
Who This Is For
More than anything, smart lighting is just convenientyou no longer need to worry about entering a dark house, falling near a dark swimming pool, stumbling by the trash cans, or wondering where the edge of the driveway is. Your lights will come onautomaticallywhen you need them.
If you hate it when outdoor lights remain on all day, you have concerns about home security, or you just want to enhance the look of your yard or garden, smart lighting can be a great all-in-one choice. Smart outdoor lighting allows you to turn lights on and off from almost anywhere using a smartphone app, as well as to set them to operate automatically based on schedules, motion sensors, or triggers that you program in the app. Just like indoor smart lights, outdoor ones can integrate into a system to work with a variety of other smart devices, such as security cameras, sensors, and alarm systems.
You can find several styles of smart outdoor lights, including bulbs, sconces, spotlights, and floodlights, among others. Most allow you to adjust the brightness, and some let you change the light color. Determining the type of light thats best for you will depend on where you want to put smart outdoor lights, how you plan to use them, and the technology you prefer to use.
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How Our Picks Compare
- Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Calla Bollard: Yes
4. Can I use these without connecting them to the internet?
- Cree Lighting Connected Max PAR38: Yes and no. As part of setup, you need to connect the bulbs to Wi-Fi, however should you have an internet outage, you can control them using Bluetooth.
- Ring Solar Pathlight: Yes, bulbs will still function as regular motion detecting lights, however an internet connection is required if you intend to set schedules, group devices, and receive smartphone notifications.
- Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Calla Bollard: No, an internet connection is required to set schedules, group lights, and control the device through the app.
5. Is data shared with third parties?
- Cree Lighting Connected Max PAR38: No
- Ring Solar Pathlight: Customers can opt out of sharing their information for the purpose of receiving personalized ads, as well as web and app analytics, right from the Control Center in the Ring app.
- Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Calla Bollard: We do not sell or rent personal data. Personal data is only shared when required by law, if the user provides us with permission, or to other parties acting on our behalf, such as curriers or data centers. They only keep personal data until the purpose we collected it for has been fulfilled, but may be required to keep some personal data for longer due to legal requirements. We may also use app data to improve products and customer service.
6. Is location data recorded or shared?
Home Depot Is Selling Solar Powered Lights That Attach Right To Your Gutter
I am a bit obsessed with lighting around the outside of my house. Maybe I have watched too many scary movies, I dont know.
But, I am all about light especially around those creepy, dark corners of my house.
These Hampton Bay Solar Powered Gutter Lights are Totally The Bomb See what I did there?
I got mine at my local Home Depot, and they were only like $16 for a four-pack of lights. I was able to light all around my house for like $80!
If youve never used solar lighting, its SO EASY!! You just put them up, and let them fully charge in sunlight for 10-12 hours. There is no turning them on and off. When they sense its getting dark, they switch on!
They put out a very soft white light. It is not a yellow-ish hue, like weve seen on outdoor lighting in the past.
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How We Picked And Tested
We looked at all of the smart outdoor lighting options that are currently available by searching online reviews, retailers, and manufacturer websites. Many outdoor lighting devices are similar, so we whittled the group down to what we thought was worth testing based on online feedback, useful features, and price. We also eliminated outdoor lighting fixtures with integrated cameras, since we cover those in our outdoor security cameras guide.
We thought about the practical, real-world use for each light we reviewed, and then we judged each one based on where we thought it would work best. We also considered the following elements:
With the exception of hardwired devices, we tested everything for a minimum of four weeks, but in most cases for several months, in our home office and out in the yard up to 50 feet from our router. We tested app interfaces using an iPhone SE and a Nokia 3.1 running Android 9 Pie, when possible. We set schedules, created scenes so lights would go on at certain dimming levels, and triggered other devices using lights when we could. We also turned each light on and off while out of the house so that we could test remote capabilities.
For Security: Cree Lighting Connected Max Par38
*At the time of publishing, the price was $20.
Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri Shortcuts
Who its for: If you have an outdoor floodlight fixture, this PAR38 bulb makes it easy to switch to smart lighting. Smart bulbs instantly turn any light fixture that uses traditional bulbs into a smart light you can control remotely and put on a schedule. Some models also include a Vacation Mode, so the light goes on and off at random times . Add in a motion sensor, and you can put a spotlight on the pizza-delivery person on your doorstep or stray cats that wander through your yard. Smart outdoor bulbs also offer peace of mind, ensuring that you never stumble in the dark or have to hunt around to fit your key in the keyhole . Outdoor smart bulbs are rated to tolerate wetness, so if you dont have a totally weather-tight fixture, an outdoor smart bulb works best.
Why its great: All of the outdoor smart bulbs we tested allow you to turn them on and off using app controls, voice controls, and schedules created using the app. However, the Cree Lighting Connected Max PAR38 is also the brightest Wi-Fi outdoor bulb we testedand the least expensive. In fact, most bulbs that measured as brightly in our testing cost twice as much and dont connect to Wi-Fi, so require installing a separate hub.
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How We Tested The Outdoor Solar Lights
We researched popular outdoor solar lights of various styles and selected 27 to test in our Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, evaluating each on a wide and thorough array of attributes that included ease of assembly and installation, feature set, brightness, durability, and value.
After putting them together, we let all of the lights charge in full sunlight for the time specified in their instructions. We then took each to a dark room to run through all of their features, including any motion sensors and lighting modes, and noted how easy it was to cycle through those. For lights with motion sensors, we had testers exit the room, wait 2 minutes, then re-enter and note whether the lights turned on without any prompting. Then, we evaluated each light’s brightness by attempting to read a book under it.
Next, we wanted to see how each product withstood the elements, including rain, hail, and winter’s subfreezing temperatures. To simulate rain, we sprinkled water on them from a watering can “hail” took the form of a golf ball, dropped from 6 feet above the fixture and 4 feet above the solar panel. Then, we froze each light for an hour. After each test, we noted any changes and checked to see that all of the features were still working.
How We Tested
We researched and personally tested dozens of outdoor solar lights, including permanent and portable options. We considered everything from the build quality and brightness to the price and ease of installation. While its hard to pick one perfect model for each category, the list above represents our honest picks of the best outdoor solar lights to consider in 2022.
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