The 10 Best Outdoor Solar Lights of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Our list includes everything from decorative string lights to motion-activated security lights.
Melanie Fincher is the associate commerce editor for Real Simple and has over three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. She was the former SEO writer for Allrecipes, covering product reviews, cooking tutorials, and food news.
In This Article
Outdoor solar lights can transform your backyard into an inviting oasis, light the path to your front door after dark, and even help deter intruders. No matter which type you choose, these versatile lights take in sunlight during the day to illuminate your yard at night.
For expert advice on choosing outdoor solar lights, we spoke with Cate Singleton, director of design at Tilly, an online landscape design company. Before deciding which outdoor solar lights to buy, the most important factor to consider is how much sunlight you get in that area, according to Singleton.
“Sun exposure and making sure there is enough sun in your yard to charge your lights would be top of the list,” says Singleton. “I recommend doing a true assessment of the morning and afternoon sun conditions within your space.”
With this advice in mind, we tested 27 outdoor solar lights and evaluated them on setup, features, design, brightness, durability, and value. We even set up a GoPro camera to find out exactly how long the lights stayed on in the middle of the night. Based on all these factors, we determined the very best outdoor solar lights for every type of yard and lighting need.
Best Overall Outdoor Solar Lights
Urpower Outdoor Solar Lights
If you’re looking to illuminate a specific area—whether it be your house, driveway, landscaping, or pool—the Urpower Outdoor Solar Spotlights are an excellent choice. In our testing, the automatic dusk-to-dawn lights remained on for 7 hours and 46 minutes on a full charge. They put out an impressive 200 lumens of light on the highest mode (there’s also a low setting). The lights themselves can be adjusted up to 90 degrees to direct the light where it’s most needed, while the solar panel can be angled up to 150 degrees, so you can face it where it will receive the most sunlight during the day.
These spotlights also stood out in our evaluations for their durability. With a weather-resistance rating of IP65, these solar lights sustained no damage after we poured water over them, dropped golf balls on them, and placed them in the freezer for one hour.
Additionally, the Urpower lights come with two different installation options—you can insert them into the ground using the provided stakes or mount them to the wall using the included hardware. The lights are available in three different color options: cool white, warm white, and multicolor. They don’t come with any pattern options, such as blinking or strobe modes, and they aren’t particularly sophisticated in terms of design. However, for basic solar spotlights, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value than the Urpower Outdoor Solar Spotlights.
Price at time of publish: 30 for 2-pack
Lumens: 200 | Operating Time: 8–10 hours | Charging Time: 4–5 hours | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP65
Best Budget Outdoor Solar Light
Better Homes Gardens Ellis Transitional Pathway Light
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly solar light, we recommend the Better Homes Gardens Ellis Transitional Pathway Light. (Better Homes Gardens is owned by Real Simple’s parent company, Dotdash Meredith.) In our testing, this pathway light stayed on for 8 hours and 14 minutes, which is slightly longer than the 8 hours the manufacturer lists. We found this light very easy to assemble—it came in two pieces and simply required pulling the tab from the battery on top. And because it has a long stake and a fully exposed globe, this light is capable of providing plenty of coverage. Even though the lightbulb is narrow, it gives off a pretty sunburst pattern with a warm white glow on the ground.
Based on its size, we thought this outdoor solar light would be much brighter—though it’s still bright enough to light up a pathway so you could see where you’re walking. (We were able to read a book in the dark just fine in our evaluations.) It held up well in our durability tests, too, and even though the manufacturer lists this light’s weather-resistance rating as IPX4 (basically a little splash-proof), it still worked after we stuck it in the freezer for an hour.
Price at time of publish: 13
Lumens: 20 | Operating Time: 8 hours | Charging Time: Not listed | Weather-Resistance Rating: IPX4
Best Outdoor Solar String Lights
Brightech Ambiance Pro Solar Non-Hanging String Lights
Unlike the string lights synonymous with Christmas decorations and college dorm rooms, Brightech’s outdoor string lights feature large, Edison-style bulbs that give off a warm, moody glow. In our testing, the dusk-to-dawn solar lights stayed on for 7 hours and 52 minutes on a full charge. In our testing, we appreciated that there are two easy installation options for the solar panel: a stake for inserting it into the ground and a clip that allows you to secure it to a railing—we think the latter is a great option for an apartment balcony or porch.
The bulbs are spaced out 20 inches apart, and the lights are available in two different cable lengths, 27 and 48 feet. (We found that you can’t connect multiple cables together, though.) In our durability testing, the shatterproof plastic bulbs and the solar panel weren’t damaged at all after being hit with golf balls and running water (although the solar panel did get knocked off kilter a bit), nor were they affected by being placed in the freezer.
Keep in mind that these soft white lights are meant to enhance the overall appearance and feel of your outdoor space, not necessarily to increase visibility around your home. But if your primary goal is to create an inviting outdoor space, the Brightech Ambience Pro Solar String Lights will do just that.
Price at time of publish: 48 for 27-ft. strand
Lumens: 100 | Operating Time: 5–6 hours | Charging Time: 6 hours | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP44 for panel, IP55 for lights
Best Outdoor Solar Fairy Lights
Brightown LED Solar Powered Fairy Lights
Strung on a flexible, shapeable copper wire, these whimsical, fairy lights from Brightown can be wrapped around just about anything, including shrubs, trees, railings, and more. Keep in mind that they’re designed to produce low, ambient light that’s more for decoration than visibility. In our testing, these automatic dusk-to-dawn lights did not provide enough brightness to read a book—but when fully charged, they stayed on for 7 hours and 56 minutes.
The solar panel can be installed via a stake in the ground, and the angle can be adjusted up to 120 degrees to receive the most sunlight possible. The lights received high marks in all our durability tests, and boast an impressive IP65 weather-resistance rating.
One of the most unique features is the numerous modes, including sequential, waves, slow glow, slow fade, twinkle, and steady on, so you can switch things up from time to time or play around with them to determine which you like best. The Brightown LED Solar Powered Fairy Lights come in a set of two and are available in multiple sizes (ranging in length from 33 to 198 feet) and colors (like warm white, bright green, and multicolor).
Price at time of publish: From 23 for 2-pack
Lumens: Not listed | Operating Time: 8–10 hours | Charging Time: Not listed | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP65
Best Outdoor Solar Path Lights
Hampton Bay Jefferson Solar Landscape Path Lights
These Hampton Bay solar path lights will illuminate walkways, driveways, flower beds, and more, all while adding a sophisticated look to your outdoor space. We particularly like the unique, crackled-glass design, which gives the lights a sparkling effect—though it does not detract from the brightness.
This pick, which is designed to turn on at dusk and stay on until dawn, remained lit for 8 hours and 2 minutes in our testing on a full charge. They’re easy to assemble with just three simple parts, including a plastic stake that secures them into the ground. In terms of durability, these lights were able to withstand all the elements we threw at them. They only come with one brightness setting, which we found to only produce enough light to read from while directly under the lamp. However, for their intended purpose of providing low light where you need it (aka near the ground), the Hampton Bay Jefferson Solar Path Lights are an excellent choice. And since the price per light breaks down to just over 11, this set is also a great value.
Price at time of publish: 114 for 10-pack
Lumens: 10 | Operating Time: 8 hours | Charging Time: Not listed | Weather-Resistance Rating: IPX4
Best Outdoor Solar Spotlights
Vont LED Outdoor Solar Lights
In our testing, these automatic, solar-powered spotlights stayed on for an impressive 8 hours and 16 minutes with a full charge—and according to the manufacturer, they can last up to 12 hours depending on which of the two brightness modes you choose. In our testing, we found that they give off a bright light in the dark, and it was just as powerful after our water and durability tests.
We found these solar lights easy to assemble and insert into the ground using the included stakes, although they can also be mounted to the wall. The light itself can tilt up to 120 degrees, so you can FOCUS it exactly where you want, whether it be on a house, driveway, or landscape feature. Plus, you can choose between cool and warm light, depending on your preference.
Price at time of publish: 40 for 2-pack
Lumens: 100 | Operating Time: 12 hours | Charging Time: Not listed | Weather-Resistance Rating: IPX7
Best Outdoor Solar Post Light
Kemeco Solar Post Light
If you happen to have a post or column in your yard, mounting this traditional lantern to the top will add an elegant touch to your space and a bright light to your lawn. We found that it was easy to read by the light of this Kemeco lantern, which is no surprise given it puts out an impressive 125-145 lumens. Plus, the dusk-to-dawn light remained lit for 8 hours and 6 minutes in our testing.
The lantern has frosted glass and a cast aluminum frame that comes in both black and white, which gives off a cottagecore look and feel. Keep in mind that this pick requires a screwdriver to assemble, and it’s especially important that you attach it securely to the post—we noticed that it’s a bit top-heavy, and the glass shattered when we dropped a golf ball on it from six feet above. This solar post light is on the pricier end of those we tested, however, it doubles as a piece of decor that will elevate the look of any outdoor space.
Price at time of publish: 100
Lumens: 125-145 | Operating Time: 6–8 hours | Charging Time: 8 hours | Weather-Resistance Rating: Not listed
Best Outdoor Solar Wall Lanterns
Home Zone Security Solar Wall Lantern 2-Pack
These wall-mounted hanging lanterns provide soft, warm lighting that’s perfect for illuminating entrances, porches, fences, and more, without being overly bright or harsh. In our testing, we found the light to be too dim for reading, but it was just right for illuminating an entry point.
Though these are marketed as dusk-to-dawn lights, the manufacturer doesn’t specify exactly how long they should stay on—and we found they had the shortest operating time out of all those on our list, at just 4 hours and 15 minutes. But if you’re just looking to light the way for comings and goings at night, this is likely more than enough time.
The Home Zone Solar Powered Wall Lantern Lights also survived our water, golf ball, and freezer testing—a testament to their impressive IP67 weather-resistance rating. Overall, this would make a great choice for anyone who wants a wall-mounted light for illuminating a small area.
Price at time of publish: 45 for 2-pack
Lumens: 10 | Operating Time: ~4 hours | Charging Time: 8 hours | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP67
Best Outdoor Solar Lights With Motion Sensor
AloftSun Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights
These spotlights are the only outdoor solar lights on our list with motion-sensing technology—meaning they have a built-in sensor that can detect movement within a 33-foot range and 120-degree angle—and in our testing, we found that it worked as expected. According to the manufacturer, the light will be triggered by people, animals, and cars, but not by wind, rain, or frost. Given the IP68 weather-resistance rating, the AloftSun Motion Sensor Solar Spotlights unsurprisingly survived all our durability testing.
The most unique feature of these spotlights is that there are three different modes—however, it’s worth noting that it was difficult to figure out how to change the settings at first. In the dim light sensor mode, the lighting stays dimmed when there’s no motion and switches to high when motion is detected. The constant-on mode keeps the light on medium, whether or not there is motion nearby. On the high light sensor mode, the light says off without motion and switches to high with motion. Even on the dimmest setting, the light was bright enough to read by—and it stayed lit for an entire 8 hours when fully charged.
The lights come in packs of two and four, and they can be mounted to the wall or inserted into the ground. At the time of our testing, this pick was only available in a cool light option, which was our main critique (it could be a little harsh for some people’s tastes). Since then, the brand has expanded its offerings so that these motion-sensor spotlights now come in a warm light option.
Price at time of publish: 33 for 2
Lumens: 800 | Operating Time: 12 hours | Charging Time: 6–8 hours | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP68
Best Smart Outdoor Solar Light
Ring Solar Floodlight
The Ring Solar Floodlight is a mounted outdoor light that can be controlled from an app on your smartphone. That might make it seem like it’s hard to set up, but in our testing, it took us less than 10 minutes to install this Smart light and get it ready to use. It arrived fully assembled and with a half-charged battery, and the instructions were extremely easy to follow. Unlike many other options on our list, the solar panel for the Ring floodlight isn’t directly attached to the lights. Instead, it’s a separate unit with a long cord—but we like that this makes it easier to place the panel in direct sunlight.
From the app, you can turn on/off the lights, change the brightness, set schedules and alerts, and adjust the motion sensitivity. It has multiple brightness settings and gives off an impressive 1200 lumens. Keep in mind that you’ll need a Ring Bridge for this Smart light to work, though you can purchase a starter pack that comes with it for slightly more money.
Price at time of publish: 140 for starter pack
Lumens: 1200 | Operating Time: Not listed | Charging Time: Not listed | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP66
Our top pick is the Urpower Outdoor Solar Spotlights because they can be installed in two different ways and have two brightness modes, the highest of which is an impressive 200 lumens. We also appreciate that both the solar panel and the light itself are adjustable, so you can direct the light where it’s most needed and make sure the panel gets the most sunlight possible.
For a more budget-friendly option that’s sold individually, we recommend the Better Homes Gardens Ellis Transitional Pathway Light. This affordable pathway light proved to be durable and long-lasting in our tests, even though it wasn’t as bright as we thought it would be.
Our Testing Process
We tested 27 outdoor solar lights in our Lab, evaluating each based on its setup, features, design, brightness, durability, and value. First, we unboxed each product and assembled it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We then charged each light in direct sunlight for the amount of time specified in the instructions.
Once the light was fully charged, we moved it to a completely dark room and observed whether it turned on independently (for dusk-to-dawn lights only). We evaluated how bright each light was by attempting to read a book by the glow of its light.
For lights with multiple settings, we cycled through the various patterns and colors and took note of how easy it was to change the mode. For lights with a motion sensor (such as the AloftSun Motion Sensor Solar Spotlights), we set each model to the motion-detection mode, exited the room, waited two minutes, and then returned to the room at a distance of at least two feet from the light, noting how well the sensor registered movement.
Next, we used a watering can to sprinkle each light with water to simulate rain. We then took the light back to the dark room to see if its functionality was affected by the water. To further assess the durability of each product, we dropped a golf ball on the light from 6 feet above and again on each solar panel (when applicable) from 4 feet above and recorded whether any damage occurred. (The Kemeco Outdoor Post Light was the only one on our list that was damaged by the golf ball.) We also placed each light in the freezer for an hour and then repeated the above tests to simulate cold-weather conditions.
Finally, we took our testing outdoors. We set up each light side-by-side in our outdoor testing area, within view of a GoPro camera. We evaluated the ease of installation for each light and then set it to its automatic dusk-to-dawn mode or its manual on/off mode, depending on the type. We left the lights on overnight and reviewed the GoPro footage to record the light output, noting the times each model turned on and off. Our best spotlight pick, the Vont Solar Spotlights, stayed on the longest: 8 hours and 16 minutes, to be exact. Once our evaluations were complete, we received the retail price of each item and scored its overall value relative to its performance in the above tests.
How to Shop for Outdoor Solar Lights Like a Pro
Solar lights typically fall into one of three categories: dusk-to-dawn, motion-activated, and timer-controlled lights. Dusk-to-dawn solar lights are the most common—they use sensors to detect sunlight and automatically illuminate when the sun goes down and remain on until sunrise, making them a great choice for decorative lighting. However, dusk-to-dawn options can have trouble storing enough solar energy during the day to stay lit all night, particularly if you live in an area with limited sunlight.
Motion-activated solar lights turn on when they register movement, which helps conserve energy. These are best suited for people who want solar lights for security purposes or guidance, such as spotlights. Finally, timer-controlled lights allow you to specify exactly how long you want your lights left on, giving you maximum control.
Installation and Design
It’s important to consider exactly where you want to direct light, according to Singleton, who adds: Do you need to illuminate pathways? Are you looking to create a focal point in the yard? Are there steps that need lighting for safety? Do you have a back gate that needs lighting for easy access? Below are common varieties of outdoor lighting, each with a different intended use.
- Path Lights: To illuminate pathways such as sidewalks or driveways, opt for path lights. They are inserted as stakes into the ground and typically have a solar panel directly on top.
- Spotlights: A spotlight creates a narrow beam of light that you can direct into a specific area. This makes them a great option for security or guidance purposes since you can highlight a specific area without lighting your entire yard. Spotlights may be mounted on the wall or inserted into the ground as stakes.
- Post Lights: Post lights serve a similar purpose as path lights, but rather than being inserted into the ground, they’re fixed to a post in your yard.
- Wall-Mounted Lights: Wall-mounted solar lights can come in several different forms, like lanterns, spotlights, flood lights, etc. Regardless, mounting lights to a wall or fence can help illuminate the perimeter of your space for added guidance.
- String Lights: String lights are popular for theirdesign, as they can add a warm and inviting ambiance to any space. They feature a long cable with connecting bulbs—which may be full-size Edison bulbs (like the Brightech Ambience Pro Solar String Lights, our best string lights pick) or dainty, fairy-style lights (like the Brightown LED Solar Powered Fairy Lights). These are best used on a patio or porch for decorative purposes because they don’t give off a lot of light.
The brightness of lights is measured in lumens, and the higher the number, the brighter the light. For ambient lighting, five–100 lumens is best, while lights meant for security (such as spotlights and floodlights) typically go even higher. Some solar lights come with multiple brightness settings designed for different purposes.
Simply put, an IP rating is a measure of how waterproof or weather-resistant an item is. This is especially important for outdoor solar lights, as they’re going to be exposed to various weather conditions and elements.
IP stands for Ingress Protection and relates to the amount of protection the fixture will have against solids and liquids, says Singleton. A good rating for an outdoor solar light would be IP65. The first number refers to the ability to repel dust and debris, six being the highest. The second number refers to how airtight the fixture is. Level five will [protect] against angled spray, while level eight can be completely submerged in deep water.
When you see an IP rating with an X in it, this means the product does not offer protection for that category. For example, IPX4 means the device is protected from water splashes in all directions, but not from dust and debris.
There are a few special features you may want to consider, depending on your needs and budget. Some outdoor solar lights are Wi-Fi-enabled, so you can control them from your phone. Others feature the ability to change color or patterns (i.e. blinking or strobe lights), which can be fun during the holidays and when hosting parties.
Solar Lights to Consider
Linkind Outdoor Solar Motion Sensor Landscape Spotlights: This is a less expensive motion-sensing option with a simple streamlined design and several different modes to choose from. However, it fell short of the competition because it only lasted 4 hours and 9 minutes in our testing, although this may be enough for some people.
Frontgate Pro Series VI Solar Path Lights: If you’re willing to spend a little more, these path lights have an attractive design and produce 60 lumens of light. Unfortunately, they only lasted 3 hours and 20 minutes on a full charge.
Questions You Might Ask
How do solar lights work?
Singleton says that solar lights charge during the day with the sun and then light up at night when they have energy. But on a more complex level, she explains that solar lights are made up of five basic components: solar cells, the photoresistor, the battery, the controller board, and the LED light.
The solar cells are connected directly to the battery, says Singleton. The solar cell is essentially charging the battery during the daytime. After sundown, the solar cell stops producing power and the photoresistor turns on the LED light. The controller board is the ‘brain’ of the solar light and takes in power from both the solar cell and the battery, along with input from the photoresistor to indicate when to turn on the LED.
Solar lights stay on until the batteries run out or the photoresistor detects the absence of light (in the case of dusk-to-dawn lights).
Do solar lights require direct sunlight?
Solar lights can still work in indirect sunlight and on cloudy days, but they may not stay on as long. For best results, place your solar light in a location that gets several hours of direct sunlight each day.
A good rule of thumb is eight direct hours of sunlight will produce approximately 15 hours of illumination, but it will vary depending on the exact light you have, says Singleton.
Where is the best place to install solar lights?
When installing solar lights, you’ll need to consider both where you need light during the night and where you receive direct sunlight during the day. In general, the best places to install solar lights would be along pathways and for highlighting focal features—whether that be a structural plant in the landscape, a water feature, or a sculptural element, says Singleton.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To come up with this list, we tested 27 outdoor solar lights in our Lab and evaluated them on setup, features, design, brightness, durability, and value. For expert tips on how to shop for outdoor solar lights, Melanie spoke with Cate Singleton, director of design at Tilly, an online landscape design company. Melanie uses the Brightech Ambience Pro Solar String Lights to illuminate her porch every evening and loves the ambiance they provide.
What Is Real Simple Selects?
Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.
Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.
The 11 Best Outdoor Solar Lights of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Jenica Currie is an expert content manager, producer, writer, and editor with over a decade of experience cultivating online communities.
Mary has been a Master Gardener for 30 years and a commercial and residential gardener for 50 years. She is a former Clemson University Extension Agent.
Sarah Scott is a fact-checker and researcher who has worked in the custom home building industry in sales, marketing, and design.
Outdoor lights using solar energy are the perfect landscape lighting solution. They tend to be budget-friendly and easy to install, and you can place them exactly where you want them because they don’t require plug-in power sources. But it’s important to consider the placement and purpose of outdoor solar lights, says Sheva Knopfler, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Lights.com, a well-known online retailer of all kinds of lights and lightbulbs. How much brightness do you need? she recommends asking yourself. Does the light need to be direct or spread out? The height of your solar lights is also important. Will they be a tripping hazard? Are you able to install them into your pavement or garden?
Over the course of several days, we tested 27 different solar lights at our Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, including path lights, spotlights, lanterns, wall-mounted, and string lights. After assembling and charging them in sunlight for the time specified by the manufacturer’s instructions, we evaluated their assembly, brightness, features, design, value, and durability. And then we went beyond: We froze them, read under them, and dropped golf balls on their solar panels. We even video-recorded them overnight to make sure they truly stayed on from dusk until dawn! To test wall-mounted lights, we tested and installed 18 options in our own homes.
AloftSun Solar Motion Sensor Outdoor Lights
- Highest waterproof rating
- Three easy-to-use modes
- Bright enough to read by
- Two installation methods
Our top pick, AloftSun Motion Sensor Solar Landscape Spotlights, withstood all of our durability tests, are easy to use, and are bright enough to read by! These spotlights can detect motion from as much as 33 feet away, depending on the setting. The three modes that operate from dusk until dawn—dim light/high light when motion is detected; no light/high light when motion is detected; or medium light/constantly on—give you options to suit your lighting needs and are simple to use. (It did, however, take us a few minutes at first to figure out how to trigger them.) Easy to put together (just two pieces), this two-pack of lights can either be staked into the ground (the method we tested) or mounted onto a wall with the included hardware.
We were impressed at how these lights held up during our durability tests. Since the manufacturer claims these lights have the highest waterproof rating and are frost-resistant, we sprinkled water on them, then froze them for over an hour. After each test, the lights still worked just as well as before! We also dropped a golf ball on their solar light panel from a distance of 6 feet, and they still held up.
These spotlights feature 30 LED light chips, which help illuminate your pathway or yard easily, stand up to the elements, and are noted by the manufacturer to have a 40,000-hour lifespan. However, they are not particularly stylish. And they are more cool-toned (6500K) than we’d prefer for a home. However, if you are looking for durable, bright lights with useful features, you can’t go wrong with this pick.
Price at time of publish: 33
Dimensions: 11.81 x 5.43 x 4.33 inches | Lumens: Not listed | Power Source: Solar panel and 2200 mAh rechargeable battery | Charging time: 1-2 days first use, up to 8 hours on cloudy days | Operating time: 6-12 hours depending on setting | Lights in sets: 2 | Weather Resistance Rating: IP68 | Color Temperature: 6500K
Home Zone Security Solar Wall Lantern 2-Pack
If you are looking for wall-mountable lantern-style lights, this option from Home Zone is the perfect choice. You get a two-pack of preassembled lanterns that include wall brackets and screws (no tools included). We love how versatile this set is—you can place them on a table, on a garden hook, mount them to the wall, or carry them around by their handles when you need extra light. Plus, they come with a 1-year warranty.
Made of stainless steel and glass, these lights stood up to our durability testing, with no damage to the glass or solar panels. They are bright and cheery for an entryway but not as bright as other options we tested—we couldn’t read under them. With a simple, automatic dusk-to-dawn operation, these lights are simple to use but have no other features. They also need two AA batteries to operate, which eventually need replacing. However, we love their farmhouse-style, affordable price, and the ability to have wall-mountable lights without needing electricity.
Price at time of publish: 45
Dimensions: 8.66 x 6.3 x 10.04 inches | Lumens: 10 each | Power Source: Solar powered and two AA batteries ( included) | Charging Time: 8 hours | Operating time: Not listed | Lights in Set: 2 | Weather Resistance Rating: Not listed | Color Temperature: 3000K
Best Path Light
Better Homes Gardens Ellis Transitional Pathway Light
- Light shines 360 degrees
- Tall, durable stake
- Displays a sunburst pattern on the ground
Sometimes, one simple path light is all you need to make your entryway shine. The Better Homes Gardens Ellis Solar Powered Black Metal and Glass LED Path Light is a nice addition to any entryway or outdoor space, and you may even be tempted to buy two! With a tall stake, and a globe that completely illuminates the surrounding area, this affordably priced solar light emits a nice, warm yellow glow (Better Homes Gardens is owned by The Spruce’s parent company, Dotdash Meredith). (When setting up, remember to pull the tab off the battery on top.) While testing, we appreciated the sunburst pattern the light displayed on the ground. We also found it bright enough to read by, although we did expect it to be even brighter, considering the size of the bulb.
This product capably withstood our durability testing—water, freezing, and dropping a golf ball on the glass didn’t affect the light fixture or the quality of the light. This path light lacks motion sensor capabilities or other features aside from an on/off switch. But when switched on, the unit stayed lighted from dusk until dawn, which, during our summer testing, was 9:13 to 5:27 a.m. CDT.
Price at time of publish: 14
Dimensions: 6.69 x 6.69 x 21.40 Inches | Lumens: 20 | Power Source: Solar powered | Charging Time: Not listed | Operating time: Not listed | Lights in Set: 1 | Weather Resistance Rating: Not listed | Color Temperature: Not listed
Hampton Bay Solar Landscape Path Lights
- Great value for pack size
- Durable and bright
- Stylish design
- 2-year warranty
Solar path lights allow you to illuminate a walkway or driveway without having to worry about having outdoor electricity or extension cords. Aside from being stylish and durable, this 10-pack from Hampton Bay is a great value, especially if you have a longer area to illuminate. We loved the “sparkly effect” these lights display on the ground, as well as their unique crackle look on the glass. Our concern that this would affect the brightness of the light was unfounded—it was still so bright, you could read directly under them!
We also found these lights to be as durable as they were aesthetically pleasing, holding up well during watering, freezing, and being impacted with a golf ball. Made of aluminum, glass, and plastic, they stand 18 inches tall and have only three pieces to assemble, which we found to be easy. Like many of these solar lights, they feature dusk-to-dawn operation and stayed lit for 8 hours (after an 8-hour charge). They offer no other settings or special features and only come in packs of 10. However, if you are looking for a great set of path lights, this option stands out.
Price at time of publish: 114
Dimensions: 18.1 x 4.92 x 4.92 inches | Lumens: 10 | Power Source: Solar | Charging Time: 10-12 hours | Operating time: 8 hours | Lights in Set: 10 | Weather Resistance Rating: IPX4 | Color Temperature: 3000K
Vont LED Outdoor Solar Lights
- Durable and waterproof
- Two placement options
- Can pivot 120 degrees
- Lifetime warranty
If you need to illuminate a large space or specific focal point and don’t want to worry about wires or electricity, solar spotlights are a great option. The Vont LED Outdoor Solar Lights are easy to put together and install, with sturdy stakes to put in the ground or with the included screws to mount on the wall. You can even pivot them up to 120 degrees, so they can point in the exact direction you need.
The manufacturer lists these spotlights as being weather resistant, and they back this claim with a lifetime warranty. Despite what we put them through, we noticed no changes in their brightness or anything else. Although these lights turn on automatically at night, they don’t offer any other lighting features besides two brightness settings. However, if you are looking for bright spotlights that can withstand the elements, these should be your go-to.
Price at time of publish: 40
Dimensions: 5.5 x 4.2 x 12.2 inches | Lumens: 100 | Power Source: Solar, Built-in 2000 mAh 18650 lithium battery | Charging Time: Not listed | Operating time: Up to 12 hours | Lights in Set: 2 | Weather Resistance Rating: IPX7 | Color Temperature: 6500K
Best String Lights
Brightech Ambiance Pro Solar Non-Hanging String Lights
- Stylish design
- Versatile placement
- Durable, with shatterproof plastic bulbs
- Simple installation
- Can’t connect multiple strings
- Lights aren’t as bright or stay on as long as other lights we tested
Illuminate your outdoor space with pretty string lights like this set from Brightech. This set is 27 feet long, with no electricity required. Just stake the solar panel in the ground or clip it to a balcony or other surface and place the lights where you want them! These shatterproof plastic Edison-style bulbs not only look stylish but are durable as well, holding up well during our tests. Though the solar panel moved a bit when we hit it with a golf ball, it showed no damage. They have a 1,000-hour charge lifespan (around 2.5 years, according to the manufacturer) and are backed by a full 2-year warranty.
We loved the “moody lighting” these lights emitted but noted they were bright enough to read by only when the lights were gathered together and not strung out. Also, these did not stay lit as long as the others we tested (6 hours total). If you are mostly using them for decor or entertaining purposes, this shouldn’t be an issue. And although you can’t connect multiple strands together (as we hoped!), there is a 48-foot strand available if you have the space.
Price at time of publish: 48
Dimensions: 27 feet long | Lumens: Not listed | Power Source: Solar | Charging Time: 6 hours | Operating time: Up to 6 hours fully charged | Lights in Set: 1 string | Weather Resistance Rating: Not listed | Color Temperature: 3000K
Brightown LED Solar Powered Fairy Lights
For an affordable lighting option that adds ambiance to your outdoor space, we recommend the 33-foot-long Brightown Outdoor Solar string lights. Available in seven colors (we tested white), these fairy lights survived all of our durability tests and were easy to install, with only two stakes needed for the solar panels. And because they are solar-powered, you don’t need electricity for them to work, unlike many other outdoor string lights. We would have liked them, however, to provide more light to read by.
We especially appreciate the eight lighting modes, including combination, waves, sequential, slow glow, chasing/flash, slow fade, twinkle/flash, and steady-on, so you can choose fun options for gatherings or holidays. After turning on automatically at night, these lights have an up to 10-hour runtime, but inexplicably, they did turn off for 60-second increments during our overnight testing. Also, you have to be sure to place the solar light panels where they can get light, which may limit placement options a bit. However, this two-pack is a great budget option, especially if you are looking for string lights or want to add a fun element to your outdoor decor.
Price at time of publish: 23
Dimensions: 33 feet long | Lumens: Not listed | Power Source: Solar powered, 800mAh high capacity rechargeable batteries | Charging Time: Not listed | Operating time: 8-10 hours after fully charged | Lights in Set: 2 sets of string lights | Weather Resistance Rating: IP65 | Color Temperature: 2700K
Best for Post
Kemeco Solar Post Light
- Bright, beautiful light
- Stylish design
- Two placement options
- Easy to assemble and install
A light post can add a stylish, vintage look to your decor while illuminating your entryway. And with the Kemeco Solar Post Light Fixture, you have many more options on where to add it to your outdoor space, with no electricity or wires needed. You can mount this light to a post (not included) or to its included mounting base and place it just about anywhere. We tested both installation methods—at our lab, we assembled the light to the mounting base and placed it on a step, and during our at-home test, we assembled and installed the light on an existing round pole. We also noted that screws and a bracket were included for both a round or square pole, which isn’t listed on the manufacturer’s product description.
In both settings, we found the light easy to put together with just two pieces. While using the mounting base, however, we found it a bit top-heavy. If you choose to use the mounting base, we recommend also using the mounting bracket to screw it securely to a step to correct any concern over top-heaviness. We found both methods easy to install, and once set up, we loved how this aluminum light fixture’s lantern style and ripple glass added a nice glow. Despite the ripple glass, the light shines so brightly that we could even read around it while testing. While it’s certainly still bright, this light isn’t bright enough to be a security spotlight.
We noted that the only feature, aside from its solar capabilities, is an on/off switch. Our lab testing also revealed some conflicting results. On the one hand, the frosted glass shattered during our golf ball test; on the other, the solar panels still worked. The manufacturer claims the product is weatherproof and wasn’t damaged when we poured water directly above it in the lab. We also haven’t noticed any issues with the light being damaged by storms so far in our real-world testing.
Price at time of publish: 100
Dimensions: 8.8 x 8.8 x 18.1 including 5.5-inch mounting base | Lumens: 130-145 | Power Source: Solar with 3 x 1.2v 2300mAh Ni-MH rechargeable batteries | Charging Time: At least 8 hours | Operating time: 6-8 hours | Lights in Set: 1 fixture and mounting base | Weather Resistance Rating: Not listed | Color Temperature: 3000K
Linkind StarRay Solar Spotlights
- Two motion detection modes
- Bright for large spaces and pathways
- Simple, all-in-one design
- Can wall mount or stake in ground
Solar-powered lights with motion sensors allow you to add lighting when and where you need it. The Linkind StarRay LED Solar Motion Sensor Landscape Spotlights have two modes to suit your needs. You can choose to have them turn on for 25 seconds when motion is detected or to operate constantly at half light and only brighten for 10 seconds when motion is detected. (We noted that on the second mode, the difference between half-light and full-light was hardly detectable, although both modes are bright enough that we could read under them.) Although they are powered during the day, these lights do not automatically turn on at dusk unless you select one of those modes.
Aside from their motion sensor feature, we also love their versatility and streamlined design. You can stake them in the ground or mount them on a wall with the included hardware. The light and solar panel are on the same unit and can be pivoted up to 90 degrees vertically (180 degrees horizontally), so you can angle the light exactly where you want it to shine. Also, we found that these lights withstood our water and golf ball tests without sustaining damage. But when frozen, they strobed three times before turning off.
The price for the Linkind StarRay LED seems a little high for a single light, but we found it works as described and feels sturdy. We recommend it either for landscape lighting or for lighting pathways and security.
Price at time of publish: 33
Dimensions: 11.4 x 6.26 x 3.94 inches | Lumens: Not listed | Power Source: Solar powered, lithium Ion battery | Charging Time: Not listed | Operating time: 6-12 hours | Lights in Set: 2 | Weather Resistance Rating: IP67 | Color Temperature: 6500K
Derynome Solar Lantern Outdoor Lights with Wall Mount Kit
- Small footprint
- Easy to install
- On and off switch
- Durable and stylish
Wall-mounted lights can help you save space, but they can be a little intimidating and time-consuming to install. Plus, there could be many reasons you can’t install them in the location you want to, including lack of sunlight or surface space. Requiring a small footprint for the hanging bracket, the Derynome Solar Lantern Outdoor Lights give you all of the benefits of wall-mounted lights with little effort—you will need a drill and to make sure the holes are level, but only two screws are needed.
We installed both of these lights at one of our homes (one on an enclosed side porch and the other on a front porch post) in less than 15 minutes, not including the time it took to locate a drill. Once the brackets were installed, it only took seconds to hang the lantern on the hook. Keep in mind, though, that the lantern feels sturdy and durable but is lightweight (just over 3 pounds) and can swing around on the hook—make sure you hang it at a height that is accessible for when you need to remove it. We did note after rainy and windy weather (although not extreme), the lantern never blew off. The on/off switch is located inside the lantern, but it was easy to twist the lantern to access it. When on, the lantern will go on and off automatically (dusk until dawn).
The bracket extends 5 inches from the wall, so even with a small overhang, the solar panel is more likely to get sun. In fact, we installed them under a little overhang, and they were still able to get the sunlight they needed to remain lit overnight. But since they are so easy to install, if you find you need a sunnier spot, it’s relatively easy to rehang. Although a little brighter, this pick is very similar in style, price, weight, and durability to our lab-tested, Best Budget option, the Home Zone Solar Wall Lanterns. However, the Derynome Solar Lantern Outdoor Lights have an on/off switch and are available in three different colors (black, white, and bronze). We also like that the battery lasts longer. If you are looking for a lantern you can place on a table though, the Home Zone pick is the better choice, with a wider base.
Price at time of publish: 50
Dimensions: 11 x 6 x 6 inches | Lumens: 15 each | Power Source: Solar powered and Lithium Ion battery (included) | Charging Time: 6 hours | Operating time: 8 hours | Lights in Set: 2 | Weather Resistance Rating: IP65 | Color Temperature: 3000
Ring Solar Floodlight
- Plenty of settings controlled via app
- Easy to set up
- Large solar panel
- Works with Alexa
The Ring Smart Lighting Solar Floodlight is a great way to upgrade your existing floodlight and tap into the benefits of Smart home features. We did just that in one of our homes: We removed a traditional motion sensor light (keeping the existing plate) and quickly installed this Ring Smart Light, utilizing the easy-to-follow, illustrated directions (which are also helpful if you are installing a light for the first time). Keep in mind, you will also need to buy and install the Ring Bridge to utilize all of the Smart features (if you don’t have it already), although it was easy to plug in, install the app, and set up.
As with other solar lights, you need to ensure that the solar panel on this Smart outdoor light gets enough sunlight to fully charge each day. Since the Ring Smart Floodlight has a solar panel that hangs on a long cord, you have more options on where you can install the light. The solar panel is large and matches the color of the floodlight. Since this light is available in both black and white finishes, we found the white finish helped the solar panel to blend into the siding of a home. You can also choose to recharge the battery separately using the USB cord.
After setting up the app, you will be impressed with the abundance of features you can use with this Smart home product. Not only can you turn the light on and off via the app, but you can also schedule when the light will be activated, adjust motion sensitivity, adjust the brightness, and more. We found all of these features to be very useful but do wish the light was as bright as the previous floodlight installed at one of our homes (although we did appreciate the warmness of this Ring light). It was bright enough to serve its purpose as a floodlight and think this floodlight is the ideal choice for homeowners who already have multiple Smart devices integrated in their home. This light can also work with other Ring devices and lights through the Ring app.
Price at time of publish: 140
Dimensions: 5.51 x 10.43 x 4.68 inches | Lumens: Up to 1200 (adjustable) | Power Source: Solar power, battery pack with USB cord to recharge | Charging Time: Not listed | Operating time: Not listed | Lights in Set: 1 | Weather Resistance Rating: IP66 | Color Temperature: 3500
Durable and versatile, the AloftSun Motion Sensor Solar Landscape Spotlights are our top pick with three easy-to-use lighting modes and two installation methods, so you can have bright light when and where you need it. We also love the Home Zone Solar Wall Lanterns, 2-Pack, a stylish and affordable way to brighten up your doorway without worrying about electricity. Easy to mount on the wall, this set is built to withstand the elements and features an on/off switch.
Other Options We Tested
Ring Solar Pathlight: This path light was one of the brighter models we tested, but we struggled to get it to connect to the Ring Bridge, which is required for Smart capabilities. This struggle left us frustrated, but we will note that this light survived both our water and golf ball drop tests. For the price, we think you can easily purchase a pack of solar lights without the Smart features, if they’re not a must on your buying list. Aogist Solar Ground Lights: While there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this set of lights, they just didn’t impress us as much compared to other designs. Frankly, we found them a bit boring, and we question their durability against a work boot or a bike tire. They did survive and function after our water, freeze, and golf ball drop tests, but we still think there are better sets available that will last multiple seasons. Beau Jardin 4-Pack Solar Pathway Lights: With the number of rave reviews online, we had high hopes for this pathway light set. The ground spikes on these lights felt loose, and our suspicions were confirmed when we attempted to remove the lights from styrofoam after our water tests. They are also very dim, so we were not able to read with the amount of light they put out.
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. We installed 18 wall-mounted solar lights in our own homes. We evaluated 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 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. (If the lights didn’t turn on automatically, we searched for an accessible and functioning on/off switch.) For lights with motion sensors, we exited the room, waited 2 minutes, then re-entered, and we noted whether the lights turned on without any prompting. Then, we evaluated each light’s brightness by attempting to read a book under it. Next, for the lights we tested in our lab, 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 the features were still working. For lights we used in our homes, we noted how the lights have faired against any inclement weather over a period of one month (so far). After our lab tests, we took the lights outside and evaluated how easy they were to install, when applicable. After making sure the lights were on the appropriate setting (dusk-to-dawn mode, turned on, or left alone if automatic), we set up a video camera and recorded each overnight. We then reviewed the recording, noting when each light turned on and off and any anomalies.
What to Look For in Outdoor Solar Lights
Outdoor solar lights fall into three general types based on their light output: motion-activated, dusk-to-dawn, and timer-controlled. Because of solar cell size and battery capacity, the gathered solar energy is a limited resource, so consider when you want the lights to shine and for how long. Timer-controlled solar lights give you the most control since you can specify the time they turn on and for how long. Dusk-to-dawn solar lights use sensors to automatically illuminate when daylight dwindles and should have the lights remain on until sunrise. In regions with more limited sun, especially during winter, dusk-to-dawn lights may have trouble storing enough solar energy to stay bright for an extended period each night. Motion-activated lights turn on when triggered by movement and conserve solar energy reserves, such as the AloftSun Motion Sensor Solar Landscape Spotlights, our best overall pick for its bright lighting, three modes, and two installation methods. This style is often used for floodlights or for specific lighting needs, such as outside your back door. Our best Smart pick, the Ring Smart Lighting Solar Floodlight, offers all of the benefits of a Smart home device, including being able to set the lighting schedule, adjust the brightness, and adjust the motion detection settings, all from an app.
Where you want to use solar lights determines how you install them. Some outdoor solar lights mount like traditional light fixtures, using screws. For path lighting, solar lights with stakes are quick and easy to install—just push them into the ground, and you’re ready to go. Brick lights are great for illuminating gardens and pathways, as they can be installed into pavement or dirt, says Sheva Knopfler, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Lights.com, a well-known online lighting retailer. Another option that is typically easy to install is solar-powered string lights. These typically have a solar panel that needs to be placed where it can receive a good amount of sun daily. For example, the Brightech Solar LED String Lights, our favorite tested string lights, can provide ambiance to your outdoor space all year long. Wall lights, which are similar to string lights in effect, are also an option some retailers offer. Wall lights are great for general lighting around the perimeter of your space, Knopfler adds.
Lumens determine brightness: from 5 lumens for landscaping ambiance to 350 lumens or more for a strong spotlight or floodlight. Your needs depend on your desired location and application. During testing, we noted that not all products listed their lumen ratings on the package. Keep in mind that different retailers will offer different solar brightness options, which are all designed for different purposes. Depending on size, color, and placement in relation to the sun, most of our solar lights could produce up to 20 lumens, Knopler says. These lights are meant to be layered, so you can customize your brightness by placing them closer or further away from each other.
Typically, outdoor solar lights contain several key components, including solar cells, rechargeable batteries, photoresistors, and lightbulbs. During the day, solar cells convert the sun’s rays into electricity, which the batteries store. At night, photoresistors detect the absence of ambient light and switch on the units. The light stays on until the batteries run out or the photoresistors detect light in the morning.
Solar lights placed in bright, direct light collect more energy in their batteries, which means your light stays on longer. For best results, place your solar light in a location that gets several hours of direct sunlight. However, solar lights still work in indirect light or on cloudy days—they just won’t collect as much energy and may not stay on as long.
To install solar lights, follow the product instructions. Some lights are designed to be mounted to the wall using screws, while others have stakes that you stick in the ground. For the best results, arrange your product’s solar panel in a way that it gets several hours of sunlight throughout the day.
To get the best results from your outdoor solar lights, place them where they get 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. If they’re designed to be wall-mounted, consider placing them up high, so they’re closer to the sun. Ensure that your lights aren’t in an inconvenient location, like in the path of your lawn mower, blocking a window, or encased in shadow.
In general, batteries in outdoor solar lights last 3 to 4 years before needing replacement. Some manufacturers sell replacement batteries, while others require you to buy an entirely new fixture. You can help increase your solar lights’ life span by cleaning the panels regularly and protecting them from harsh winter weather. LED lights can last up to 10 years, so if your solar lights are properly cared for and protected from extreme elements, they could last a decade, Knopfler adds.
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 (including adding path lights along her driveway!). 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. She also personally installed and is testing the Derynome Solar Lantern Outdoor Lights on her front porch.
Emma Phelps, an Updates Writer for The Spruce, provided research assistance for this article. She reached out to Sheva Knopfler, the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Lights.com, to learn more about best practices for choosing, installing, and caring for solar lights.
What Is The Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
The 5 Best Solar Companies in California (2023 Guide)
California is one of the country’s most solar-friendly states. It annually leads the United States in solar capacity—enough to power 5.4 million homes—and has a 100% renewable energy goal by 2045. This includes a major expansion in the residential solar market.
If you’re considering going solar in The Golden State, this guide will help you in your solar research. After investing 300 hours into researching the country’s best-rated solar installers. we narrowed our list to the best solar companies in California.
Compare Solar Companies Across CA
Pros and Cons
Pros Custom, in-house solar components Comprehensive 25-year warranty on every system In-house solar storage and electric vehicle (EV) add-ons Cons expensive than other providers, according to customer reviews Installer availability varies by ZIP code Doesn’t sell other brands’ solar components, batteries, or EV chargers, limiting customization
Warranty and Financing
SunPower includes a comprehensive 25-year warranty covering its system components, accessories, and workmanship, plus a 92% power output production guarantee.
Reputation and Awards
SunPower has been developing high-efficiency solar panels, components, and energy storage options since 1985. The company received PV Magazine’s 2019 Sustainability Award and Good Housekeeping’s 2022 Home Renovation Award in the Biggest Energy Savers category for its SunVault energy storage system.
SunPower is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and holds an A rating from the company. When we read customer reviews, we noticed that many customers praised SunPower’s high-performing systems and their resulting energy savings. However, several customers complained about high pricing and poor responsiveness from third-party installers.
- Why We Picked It: ADT Solar provides the most comprehensive warranty coverage of all our reviewed providers. The company includes 25-year warranties for panels, labor, and inverters, plus a power production guarantee for panel performance.
- Payment Options: Full purchase, loan
Pros 25-year warranty on panels, microinverters, workmanship, and performance In-house roofing services Monetary compensation for poor panel performance Cons Customer reviews mention communication issues with reps Only two payment options offered
ADT Solar offers a 25-year comprehensive warranty covering power production, panel, inverter, and labor warranty.
ADT Solar is accredited by the BBB and holds an A rating. When analyzing customer reviews, we found that homeowners praised the company for its timely installation process but called out communication issues when scheduling service appointments.
- Why we chose it: Sunrun offers two leasing options for homeowners uninterested in system ownership. Both options include 25-year comprehensive coverage and little to no money down.
- Payment Options: Full purchase, loan, lease, power purchase agreement (PPA)
Pros Added insurance protections for theft or damage EV chargers and battery add-ons Multiple financing options, such as two lease types Cons 25-year warranty limited to lease and prepaid customers Online reviews call out delayed repairs
Sunrun offers a 10-year comprehensive warranty that includes product, roof penetration, and workmanship coverage. Leasing customers receive an extended 25-year warranty that includes insurance protection for theft and damage.
Sunrun earned DroneDeploy’s 2022 Guardian of Safety Award for using drone technology with its site assessments. In 2021 and 2022, Sunrun received 14 awards from Comparably, including Best Company Culture, Best CEOs for Diversity, and Best Company for Women.
Sunrun has an A rating with BBB and is accredited. Leased customers appreciated the complete warranty coverage, but other homeowners voiced concerns about delayed installations and poor customer service.
- Why we chose it: Palmetto offers a comprehensive customer support system to keep your solar system in peak condition. Along with multiple customer support contact options, the company has additional protections such as system monitoring and extended panel warranties.
- Payment Options: Full purchase, loan
Pros Multiple customer support contact methods, including a mobile app Online calculator to determine potential solar savings Tiered protection plans for additional system coverage Cons Additional charges for the highest tiered protection plan Limited to two payment options
Palmetto includes a 25-year panel warranty, 12-year inverter warranty, 10-year workmanship warranty, plus five years of roof penetration coverage.
Palmetto’s Get Solar, Give Solar program provides solar energy to underserved communities. The company received Solar Power World’s Most Forward-Thinking Contractor in 2022. Inc. also recognized the company with a Power Partner Award in the same year.
The company has accreditation with the BBB and has an A rating. When reading home, we discovered an appreciation for the system quality and communication during installation but unhappiness with the permitting delays.
- Why we chose it: Momentum offers one of the best solar installation processes with start-to-finish assistance and timely project updates. Momentum uses in-house installers to minimize communication issues and deliver faster installations.
- Payment Options: Full purchase, loan, lease, power purchase agreement (PPA)
Pros Customer assistance with solar incentives and rebates enrollment Enphase partnership includes complimentary solar battery monitoring Has North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification Cons Some customer reviews noted aggressive sales tactics Limited selection of solar products
The company offers a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty to cover any defects. You’ll also receive 25-year workmanship coverage for any installation-related issues.
Since 2016, Momentum earned a spot on the Inc. 500 and Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. Momentum has also annually ranked in the top 50 Rooftop Solar installers list for Solar Power Magazine since 2018.
Momentum Solar holds an A rating and is accredited by the BBB. Based on customer reviews our team read, homeowners complimented Momentum’s customer service and quality panels but raised concerns over installation scheduling delays and spam calls.
Solar Incentives in California
Given the state’s goal for 100% clean energy by 2045. California officials have spent several years pushing for solar conversion. California provides several solar incentives, credits, and rebates to help offset solar system costs, making going solar more affordable. Below, we’ll highlight some top California solar incentives for homeowners.
Federal Solar Tax Credit
All California residents qualify for the federal tax credit. This program offers up to 30% off solar installation costs for photovoltaic (PV) panels. (Photovoltaic cells make up a solar panel.) This credit also applies to standalone solar battery installation, making it more affordable to add battery backup options to existing solar systems. The federal tax credit is not a rebate or cash payment. Instead, it’s applied to your owed federal tax liability. At tax time, this credit helps reduce or eliminate any owed taxes.
Net-Metering in California
California’s net-metering, or net energy metering program (NEM), provides credits for excess electricity sent back to the grid. These credits appear on your electric bill and reduce your costs. As of December 2022, California changed its NEM program to NEM 3.0. Starting April 15, 2023, NEM credits were reduced by 75%. Previously, residents received credits equal to their original per-watt costs. With the new program, you’ll receive a wholesale rate closer to what utility companies pay to produce electricity.
NEM 3.0 applies to all new solar installations occurring on or after April 15. Homeowners under the previous plans, NEM 1.0 and 2.0, are grandfather for 20 years starting from their solar system activation date. After that, you move to the latest NEM program. Wood Mackenzie reports that NEM 3.0 will extend California’s average solar payback period from five to six years to 14–15 years.
Other State Solar Rebates
You should also consider the following state incentives to reduce your up-front solar system costs.
- Active Solar Energy System Property Tax Exemption: Under this exemption, homeowners benefit from solar panels boosting their home value without increasing their property tax.
- Disadvantaged Communities – Single-Family Solar Homes (DAC-SASH): This program provides affordable solar system installations to California’s most disadvantaged homeowners. Homeowners must meet income requirements and be current customers of Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE), or Southern California Edison (SCE).
- Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP): This program provides up-front rebates for the addition of a solar battery to your home system. The SGIP offers 200 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of stored energy capacity. For example, you would earn about 2,700 in Tesla Powerwall cost savings, thanks to its 13.5-kWh energy capacity.
- Equity Resilience Rebate Program: This rebate program offers up to 1,000 per kWh to low-income households, homeowners in high-risk fire areas, and those who experienced two or more Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.
- Local incentives and rebates: Additional incentives and rebates are available to residents in certain counties, cities, and municipalities. Some utility customers may receive special rebates for solar panel and battery storage installations.
Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables Efficiency (DSIRE) for a complete list of local incentives.
The 7 Best Solar Companies in Pennsylvania to Save You Money
Solar installations in Pennsylvania are becoming more popular. If you’re looking to jump on the solar system train, now is the time to start looking into the best solar companies in Pennsylvania and start saving money on your utility costs.
Let’s break down the 7 best solar companies right now in Pennsylvania to help you choose!
Sunrun is a decent-sized company that sells high-efficiency monocrystalline solar panels via popular brands such as LONGi. The company also offers two lithium-ion solar battery choices, the Tesla Powerall and LG’s Chem.
All of Sunrun’s solar panels come with a 10-year warranty. Despite being less than the 20 to 25-year industry standard, the guarantee is thorough because it covers system repairs, equipment replacement, and related labor.
Sunrun also provides a distinctive bumper-to-bumper system warranty. For ten years, there is active monitoring, free equipment replacement, and system repairs. The warranty also covers theft and damage insurance, which is rare for most companies.
Momentum Solar customers can easily customize their systems because the company offers a variety of solar panels. In addition to providing solar battery storage through a partnership with Enphase, the company also offers electric vehicle chargers, inverters, and other solar products.
Momentum installations all come with a 25-year workmanship warranty as well as a 25-year equipment warranty. These warranties provide complete coverage for both goods and labor.
Also, Momentum Solar provides a dynamic mobile app for tracking system performance. This is useful while you become used to your new system and can help with upkeep, potential repairs, and more.
Palmetto Solar sells and installs high-quality monocrystalline Q Cells solar panels and Smart home solar batteries. The company also offers a 25-year equipment and performance warranty from the manufacturer.
Customers can add the Palmetto Protect plan to their bill after their installation for a modest monthly charge. Regular maintenance, panel cleaning, pest control, and active system monitoring are all included in this plan. The plan also covers panel removal or reinstallation if you move.
Palmetto Solar is available in 24 states, including Pennsylvania. Due to their size, they can offer residential consumers solar loans, leases, and power purchase agreements.
Green Home Systems
High-efficiency solar panels from Panasonic and LONGi are available through Green Home System, a great company in Pennsylvania. They also have a special Apollo II solar roofing option. Small monocrystalline solar panels that resemble roof tiles are used in this roofing system, which hides the panels better than conventional solar systems and maintains the aesthetic value of your property.
The company offers a performance guarantee and a 25-year warranty on their products. The equipment they install is also compatible with downloaded monitoring software, despite the fact that they don’t provide their own system monitoring app.
The company offers 0 down financing for qualifying customers, which is great if you need a solar loan. However, some customers have noted that you may have to wait weeks (if not months) to get your system completely installed.
One of the best parts of Yellowlite is that they offer a physical protection warranty for up to 30 years, which is longer than most companies offer.
In addition, Yellowlite is an excellent choice because it provides a nice selection of solar equipment brands with the highest efficiency ratings. However, it’s crucial to note that their workmanship warranty is inadequate.
The company does not offer leasing options, so you’ll want to be able to pay cash or get a loan through a third party.
Paradise Energy Solutions
Paradise Energy Solutions is a small and local installer that services Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, since the company is so small, only a few cities in Pennsylvania are served by the company. But if you live where they are available, they are worth looking into.
Depending on the high-efficiency solar panels brand you choose, you’ll get up to 30 years of physical protection and a 10-year craftsmanship warranty. Keep in mind that this company does not offer leases or PPAs. So, you’ll only be able to pay in cash or get a solar loan.
Since 2014, Solar SME has installed solar panels on homes and businesses. The business installs solar batteries in Pennsylvania and six other states.
Design, permitting, installation, inspection, monitoring, and maintenance are all handled exclusively by Solar SME since the company doesn’t employ any independent contractors.
You’ll also be able to choose from a variety of solar financing plans, including leasing and a power purchase agreement (PPA). No matter what you choose, the installation comes with a 25-year warranty for equipment.
How to Save Money When Hiring a Solar Company in Pennsylvania
There are different ways to save money on your solar installation, no matter which company you choose. Here’s how.
Tax Incentives and Rebates
While the state of Pennsylvania doesn’t have many state rebates or incentives, there are still a few programs you can utilize. The best solar companies will point you in the right direction to help you take advantage of these incentives.
Another way to save money is to compare companies. We suggest getting at least three estimates from different companies. Also, be sure to research why certain companies are cheaper — as an example, would it mean a smaller system and shorter warranty?
Ask for a Discount
It never hurts to ask for a discount from the company you choose. Be sure to ask nicely, or see if there are any ways to get a discount on your system (like a referral or loan).
What to Consider Before Hiring a Company
What should you think about before hiring a company for solar installation? We recommend these questions.
Years in Service
It’s a good idea to keep in mind that the solar contractor you choose should have completed numerous installations and refined their skills. Experienced solar installers use the proper installation methods and techniques.
A professional with years of experience will also be knowledgeable about the best installation tools and equipment. We recommend a minimum of three years, but the longer the better.
Selecting the ideal solar contractor is not always simple. Examining the contractor’s credentials and qualifications is among the most crucial things to do. Requesting to see their license and credentials is a good idea. Be sure to also research your state’s licensing requirements.
Even though they are not required, certifications are a terrific way to feel secure as a consumer. The contractor needs to be certified by the Electronics Technicians Association, Roof Integrated Solar Energy, or the North America Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
Contractors must have at least a year of experience installing solar panels in order to obtain these certificates. In order to keep current, they also must re-certify every three years after that.
Reputable businesses will always guarantee the quality of their job. Because of that, they should provide a warranty on the equipment they utilize as well as their workmanship. The specifics of those warranties, however, will differ from one contractor to the next.
Make sure you understand the terms of any warranties offered by the company on the equipment it will be installing and ask about them.
Trustworthy companies will have reviews and references from previous customers. Check the company’s reputation online and see what people have said about the company’s services to get an idea of quality, timeframe of installation, warranty, customer support, and workmanship.
One of the most challenging aspects of the procedure for the majority of homeowners is figuring out how to pay for their installation.
However, many businesses provide financing to spread out the expense over a number of years. This makes it easier for you to install panels and enables you to benefit from energy savings without breaking the bank. Reputable contractors will also go over existing tax breaks and incentives to further reduce the cost of your installation.
Are Solar Panels Worth it in Pennsylvania?
With everything we’ve talked about, are solar panels worth it in Pennsylvania? Because of the following incentives, we’d say yes! Here’s what you need to know.
The Federal Solar Tax Credit
You can deduct 30% of the cost of a solar system from your federal income taxes thanks to the Clean Energy Credit. Systems installed between 2022 and 2032 are eligible for the 30% Clean Energy Credit. The credit expires in 2035.
To claim the Clean Energy Credit, you’ll need to fill out form 5695 (PDF) and send it to the IRS. When you file your federal tax return for the year after your paperwork has been approved, you will be given a credit for your solar savings.
Once you have your solar system, you can sell extra solar generation to your utility company. In Pennsylvania, utilities are prohibited from charging net-metered consumers any costs that they wouldn’t charge a non-net-metered client and are required to offer net metering at non-discriminatory prices.
Solar Alternative Energy Credits
In the state of Pennsylvania, solar owners can receive one solar alternative energy credit (SAEC) for every megawatt-hour of power their system produces. Keep in mind that SAEC values change every day as a result of supply and demand, but you can use yours for three consecutive years.
Solar energy can save you money and eventually pay for itself, even though the initial cost is an investment. But where utility costs are high, like in the state of Pennsylvania, we’d say solar is worth the cost. And if you’re still looking for some of the best solar companies in Pennsylvania, you can look more into those we’ve listed!
The 7 Best Solar Companies in Pennsylvania to Save You Money FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How much does a solar system cost in PA?
On average, a solar system in Pennsylvania will cost around 20,000. Of course, it will depend on your home, personal needs, and the incentives you qualify for.
Does PA have a solar tax credit?
No, the state does not have a solar tax credit at this time.
Can you sell electricity back to the grid in Pennsylvania?
Yes, you can, using the state’s net metering rule.
About the Author
Kim Studdard is a freelance writer from the South and transplanted in the Midwest. Her portfolio includes articles involving personal finance, dog treats and pet care, and technology, including the articles on History-Computer. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her spending time with her family and pets, reading, and completing her yearly bucket list.