Solar hanging lights and lanterns are an awesome addition for any outside space of your home. Many models of solar lights have unique and eye catching designs that provide aesthetic pleasure purely by way of their structure. Hanging lights can come in the form of fairy lights, string lights, and hanging lanterns, making them versatile to fit your every need.
Their eco-friendly benefits (due to being powered by the sun) makes them an unbeatable alternative to regular lights of the same type, as they are a much cheaper alternative to traditional grid power. Not only are hanging lights and lanterns a more efficient source of lighting, but a chic, trendy addition to your home.
Our top pick could take first place counting on its looks alone. A gorgeously designed olive shaped lantern with a kaleidoscopic pattern finishing. This lantern also marks very highly in the more practical categories of durability, solar energy conversion, price and luminosity.
Two large dual solar hanging lights with an elegant but understated design that are noted for their low price and versatility while still delivering on the technical sides of longevity, luminosity and resistance to the elements.
A set of two high-quality rustproof lanterns that are highly sought-after thanks to their vintage design and unique features including a special flame dancing design that gives the illusion of flickering fires coupled with exceptional durability and long lighting hours.
How Do Hanging Solar Lights Work?
We’re sure you’ll agree that the hanging solar lights we’ve so far exhibited here are really good-looking products. Question is, though: where are the wires? We’re so used to associating electrical products with ugly, obtrusive and invasive wiring that it seems quite alien to see lights like these be free-standing and wireless. However, it’s no illusion, these hanging solar lights really are just that attractive. Without the fuss of wires, though, you might well expect these lights to be subpar when compared to conventional, wall-plugged lights; perhaps you’re still just confused as to how they work. Well, we’re here to explain for you exactly that.
Though hanging solar lights come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, styles and luminescence, in essence they all work more or less the same. Essentially, LED bulbs are housed in an attractively-designed casing (usually made of plastic or metal), which has been treated so as to make it both waterproof and durable in all but the most extreme of weather conditions. These bulbs are typically operated by a light-sensitive sensor, which automatically turns them on come nightfall, and then turns them back off at dawn. The lights are ready to be hanged as you like via a hook or hoop built into their casing, or may come with a stand or hanging chain as part of the pack. Some hanging solar lights come with additional features such as motion sense, different lighting modes, and even a remote control.
But the lights still need something to power them overnight, right? That’s where the solar part comes in. Each individual unit has a solar panel (or several) built into the top part of their casing, faced upright to point directly toward the sun. These solar panels, though already tiny, house even tinier individual solar cells. These cells are made of thin silicon films (either polycrystalline or monocrystalline), which react when exposed to sunlight in a process called ‘the photovoltaic effect’. This reaction – which pushes electrons from one film of silicon to another – creates volts of electricity. This electricity is generated by the in-built solar panels throughout the day and stored in a battery, for use overnight, during which time it is released into the bulb(s), keeping your solar hanging lights bright and powered throughout the night.
Pros and Cons of Hanging Solar Lights
Whilst we think you’re really onto a winner with just about any of the hanging solar lights on this list, you could do worse than to take a minute and read through the various pros and cons surrounding solar power, and hanging solar lights. An informed consumer is a happy consumer!
- Free electricity! We include this pro in every one of our renewable energy product guides; but how could we not? It’s surely the most recognisable and attractive of perks. Cut your energy bills right down, and pay out not a single cent on electricity for your outdoor lighting with these hanging solar lights.
- Attractive. Designed with aesthetic rather than utility in mind, hanging solar lights create a warm, welcoming, familial (or romantic – your choice!) atmosphere outdoors; perfect for those late evening dinner parties, family meals, or a shared bottle of wine.
- Green energy. Whilst perhaps not your first agenda, we hope that you’re inspired to go renewable by the knowledge that you’d be doing the world a favour. As a global society, we are gas-guzzlers and over-consumers; don’t contribute to the damaging of the planet any more than you have to. Buy solar!
- Budget-friendly. There’s such a range here, from rustic lanterns to chic modern lighting, and none of it has to break the bank. Even if you’re on a really tight budget, you can find something to suit you that hasn’t skimped on style (and just think of all the savings you’ll make on your energy bills!)
- Durable. Built to withstand the rain, wind, ice and snow, solar powered technology is generally pretty durable and low maintenance (requiring only the occasional clean). Once installed, you’ll likely have these hanging solar lights around for many years to come, before they need any sort of repairing or replacement.
- Easy to install. It’s really as simple as unboxing the hanging solar lights, hanging them up and turning them on. No further installation and no expertise needed!
- Sunlight dependent. It’s impossible to write a buyer’s guide for a solar powered product without warning about the most obvious of details: you need sunlight for these products to work! We know this seems obvious, but it is paramount that you do everything you can to maximise your hanging solar lights’ exposure to sunlight, otherwise they will not function as advertised,
- Variable brightness. Depending on the amount of sunlight your hanging solar lights get during the day, their brightness overnight will differ. Cloudy or overcast days will mean duller lights at night. Moreover, over time the brightness of your hanging solar lights will also naturally decrease. This is generally true of all bulbs, but with mains-powered lights, you don’t notice the decrease as much as you might with hanging solar lights.
The Best Outdoor Solar Hanging Lights and Lanterns Reviewed
With our top three already chosen lets get go deeper into the reviews and check out some valid alternatives.
Tomshine Hanging Solar Lantern
- Brand: Tomshine
- Color: Brown
- Unique Olive Shape Hanging Pattern Design
- Solar-powered and energy-saving
- Long working time
- Durable and waterproof
Our top pick is our first reviewed product, and for good reason as this is one of the most popular choices on the market coming first in multiple categories.
Let’s start with the design, one of the driving forces behind any purchase that is meant to liven up your home. The Tomshine Hanging Solar Lanter features a charming and unique olive shape pattern design adorning its exterior that is sure to class up any space (outdoor or indoor), room or surface you place it on or near.
Completely solar powered and highly geared to energy saving, these lanterns use integrated solar cells that charge a built-in battery meaning these lights can be placed virtually anywhere with no need for a power connection. The lantern charges during the day and emits a both soothing and powerful light at night. The battery itself is a 1.2 V NiMH AA 600MAH battery. With a full charge (around 6 hours) this lantern can shine uninterrupted for up to 10 hours at night, one of the best performances on the market for models of this type.
The outer metal casing is waterproof and rustproof with an IP44 rating, meaning these pretty looking lanterns are also highly durable and made to last. Installation is incredibly easy, no wires or outlets are needed and your creativity is the limit as they can be hung or placed just about anywhere. Finally coming from such a popular brand, both the warranty (12 months) and customer service are top of the line.
- Gorgeous, high-quality design
- High luminosity and efficient solar power conversion
- Highly durable and waterproof design can withstand almost any weather
- Great warranty and attentive customer service from Tomshine
- Accessible price
- Smaller light than other models
Brightech Ambience Pro Solar lights
- Brand: Brightech
- Color: Warm White
- Warm and cozy lighting all year round
- Energy-efficient lighting for years to come
- Easy to install, easy to use
- Commercial grade weatherproof bistro lights with shatterproof s14 bulbs
Another very popular model of solar hanging lights, offering a vintage 1980s inspired design. The model itself was inspired it Italian Cafe lights of that particular decade and bring an advantageous mix of practicality and retro-allure to aficionados of the style and time period.
The kit itself is made of 15 Edison shatterproof bulbs on a highly durable string which confer maximum versatility during installation. The Ambience Pros can cover a wide surface completely illuminating entire gardens but also perfect for use around a porch, patio or gazebo. These completely solar powered solar lights last 5-6 hours on a full charge (6 hours of direct sunlight). Indirect sunlight or sunlight during overcast weather also works although it can affect the charge significantly.
The string also features a detachable solar panel with on/off switch located on the back. The Ambience Pro LED bulbs can last a whopping 20,000 hours while the solar panel is rated at 1,000 charge lifespan (can last approximately 2.5 years). These are quality lights that are built to last and can resistant even during extreme bouts of weather. Finally, Brightech offers an impressive extended warranty of 2 years.
- Retro-inspired design
- 15 shatterproof replaceable LED bulbs that can cover a large surface
- Durable string and shatterproof bulbs
- Outstanding conversion rate and longevity
- Extended 2-year warranty
- Slightly on the expensive side
- The simplistic retro design is not for everybody
GIGALUMI Hanging Solar Mason Jar Lights
- Brand: GIGALUMI
- Color: White
- All in One Hanging Solar Lights
- Solar powered Mason Jar Lid Lights
One of the most popular models of solar jar lights around these are all purpose hanging solar lights that come in a complete 6 pack that includes: 6 jars, 6 lids and 6 hangers for versatile installation.
Versatility is key with this kind of hanging solar light model as they can be placed or hanged on various surfaces around the house or simply placed on a flat surface such as an outdoors cocktail table for a classy and soothing ambiance. These lights make for extremely elegant lawn decor.
Completely solar powered meaning no wiring, no outlets and no AC current is needed at all. These solar jar lights automatically turn off to recharge during the day and turn back on at night, shining bright for up to 8 hours on one charge. Despite their cheery appearance these lights are sturdy and highly waterproof built to withstand all types of wet or humid weather.
- Extremely versatile and charming jar lights
- High longevity and energy conversion
- Come in a 6 pack
- Highly waterproof
- Slightly more fragile than other featured models
- Slightly on the expensive side too
- Brightness can deteriorate over time
Maggift Dual Solar Hanging Lights
- Brand: Maggift
- Unique Style Lantern
- Energy Saving and Eco-friendly
- Weather Resistant
Our top budget pick is a pack of 34 inch hanging lanterns, adorned with versatile shepherd hooks meaning placement and installation is as easy as choosing the spot and voilà.
Perfect for gardens, porches, patios, pathways and pools, these lanterns can be placed or hung anywhere to confer a relaxing and charming ambiance. A defining feature aside from the excellent cost to quality ratio is the how large the actual lanterns are. At 6.3 x 9.5 inches these are some of the biggest solar lanterns on the market.
Highly energy saving and eco-friendly they employ an effective built-in light sensor that controls the automatic turning on and off and current. Rechargeable batteries are also included with every purchase. The 4 lumen LED bulbs are also very bright, meaning they can be used as actual lights to see what happens in your garden at night instead of simply being for ambiance and decor reasons.
Durability and waterproof resistance are also key features of this model. Despite its low cost, the lights are made of thick and durable plastic with an IP44 rating making them almost impervious to unpredictable weather and cold or humid climates.
- Exceedingly affordable
- Highly versatile
- Highly eco-friendly
- Powerful and physically large light
- Durable and waterproof with an IP44 rating
- Brightness may deteriorate over time
- No very effective charging in cloudy weather
- Shepherd hooks deemed fragile by some reviews
LeiDrail Solar Lantern
- Brand: LeiDrail
- Color: Black
- Bright and Beautiful Pattern
- Waterproof System
A lesser known brand that still delivers some very worthy products. The main draws of the LeiDrail Solar Lantern is its durable and highly effective poly-silicone solar panel and high longevity with a proven illumination in optimal conditions of up to 12 hours per night (though obviously affected by quantity of sunlight and presence of clouds).
Its appearance is also a defining feature. A peacock feather design that will grab attention no matter where it is placed. The grooves on the side of the lantern means the lights themselves come out in a pattern that remind of the feathers of a tropical bird. Aesthetically it features a mix of both modern and classical appearance and an elegant and simplistic onyx-black metal outer casing that is durable, rustproof and water-resistant.
It is also extremely versatile and easy to install, absolutely no secondary power source or additional wiring is needed. A 12 month warranty and full refund is included this brand has proven to be very popular with a growing number of customers also due to its cost to value ratio.
- Aesthetically pleasing peacock feather design and lighting
- High conversion rate and longevity
- Durable composition
- Versatile installation
- Very honest price tag
- 12 month warranty
- Not as bright as other models
- Smaller than other models
- Brightness may deteriorate in time
Tomcare Flickering Flame Solar Lantern
- Brand: Tomcare
- Color: Bronze
- Metal Solar Lantern
- Flickering Flames
- Vintage Design
- Waterproof & Solar-powered
Our top premium pick is one of the most elegantly constructed solar lanterns on the market. Coming in a 2 pack. The defining feature of these splendid hanging lights is undoubtedly the flickering flame design. Though completely solar powered, the lanterns inside the light are constructed in such a way that they convey the illusion of a constant fire making for a simply magical ambiance.
The actual composition of the lantern is high quality rust proof metal with a four side finish of highly durable poly-plastic with a glass effect made for year round use. This composition makes the lantern not only highly shock and fall-proof but also extremely waterproof (IP65 rating that is the highest on our list).
Apart from the flickering flame, the vintage design featuring an immaculate bronze finish makes this solar lantern really stand out. For installation purposes it is equipped with a hardy hook meaning you can hang these almost anywhere. Being one of the most popular models of its kind from a leading brand of the sector means every purchase is backed up by a 12 month warranty and a 45 day money back guarantee.
- Unique flickering flame design
- Extremely durable metal/plastic composition and highest IP rating on our list
- Very good longevity and energy conversion
- Extended warranty
Solar Hanging Lights and Lanterns Buyers Guide
How do Solar Lights Work?
Solar lights are a fabulous way to illuminate your garden without the use of grid electricity. Each solar light contains a solar panel that absorbs the sunlight and transfers this into current which powers the light.
You need to ensure your light has direct sunlight for at least 4-10 hours a day to ensure your light works. Without any solar energy the lights will not work as they will have no power. Solar lights work best in the summer months as in the winter months they are not exposed to sunlight for as long. They will still provide light, however this light will not be active for as long and will not be as bright.
The Main Factors to Consider
Lighting type– there are two main types of lighting: bright white, and warm white lights.
- Warm white lights: a warmer light which creates a more relaxing, friendly atmosphere.
- Bright white lights: a colder brighter light which creates a more ambient energetic aura
Bulb type- bulbs are available as the more classical Edison bulb or an LED bulb
- Edison bulbs: the classic bulb type. Prettier design but less efficient and eco-friendly.
- LED bulbs: more eco-friendly, energy efficient and cost effective.
- Sun exposure
- Weather resistance, durability and IP rating
- Versatility of installation (hooks, wires etc.)
Although with aesthetic and decorative products such these all choices become subjective we still choose the Tomshine Hanging Solar Lantern as the best overall choice taking into account all factors above together with functionality, durability, cost and overall efficiency.
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best hanging solar lights:
To hang lanterns simply attach the hook any outdoor surface (usually a tree branch or lining of your patio, porch, gazebo etc.) Alternatively, attach a hook to your surface of choice and hang the lantern off there.
LED bulbs are a more efficient, eco-friendly way to brighten your garden. Unlike Edison bulbs, little electricity and energy is wasted making them more environmentally friendly, whilst providing more light with little waste.
It is completely your choice. Choose the product of your preference, ensure you have space to hang the product, and that the chosen area has direct exposure to sunlight, and make your purchase!
When buying any type of outdoor lights it is vital to ensure that your product is weatherproof and adequately IP rated. This will ensure that during rain or a storm your product will not be damaged. If your product is weatherproof it will work in rain, snow, wind and hail within reason.
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