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The Best Solar Lights For Your Porch

External solar porch lights are some of the best options for outdoor illumination. Let's check out some of the best products and brands out there.

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Reviewed by
Robert Laswell
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Solar powered porch lights are a multifaceted accessory for your home. They can provide both aesthetic value, security and increased lighting at increasingly affordable prices. The fact they are solar powered also means they will have a less negative impact on power bills then conventional lights. Solar lights also have the huge benefit of being incredibly easy and intuitive in placement and installation. Finding a suitable light fixture for a regular light can be a hassle. With a solar light all you have to do is choose a position for the light and solar panel and voilà, no plugs, extension cords and cables needed.

This article will review some of the best outdoor solar lights for your porch, patio or front door on the market in 2021.

Editor’s Picks

So with the products reviewed here are our 3 top picks.

Gama Sonic GS-122 Barn
Best Overall
Gama Sonic GS-122 Barn

Best Features: A sleek and stylish design coupled with extreme durability, easiness to install and efficiency in both recharging and lighting. This exquisitely designed wall lantern wins first prize.

Otdair Solar Security Lights For Porches
Runner-up and Best Security option
Otdair Solar Security Lights For Porches

Best Features: Could easily have won first place, in fact it is not strictly better or worse than the Gama Sonic (though the latter is more durable). This brand of flood lights is one of the best when considering its highly advanced motion sensor technology and wide angle coverage.

URPOWER 2-in-1 Solar Lights with LED
Special Mention and Best Budget
URPOWER 2-in-1 Solar Lights with LED

Best Features: Highly affordable, very durable and extremely versatile, URPOWER’s entry gains a surprise special mention because of low price, resistance and effectiveness in colder months and versatility as it can be placed virtually anywhere outdoors.

How Do Solar Porch Lights Work?

Without the fuss and tangle of wires and cabling, it’s easy to be confused by solar power technology, especially when it comes in the form of these small, easy-to-install and versatile solar porch lights. We know that consumers like to be informed, and so we’re here to explain to you in depth just exactly how solar porch lights work.

Whilst the various brands manufacturing these lights may take a different approach to their individual models, and whilst some may prove more versatile in their application, the basic concept behind a solar porch light is simple. A solar panel is built into the body of the unit and directed upward, toward the sun; this panel spends the day converting sunlight into consumable electricity, which is then stored in a battery; some nightfall, a light-sensor detects the drop in light, and automatically switches the porch light on, which then uses the previously-stored electricity to keep its bulbs shining bright throughout the night. (Alternatively, some solar porch lights come with solar panels separate, which need to be mounted or staked somewhere they are exposed to the sun.)

Most solar porch lights are designed to be mounted on a wall or pole, or hung from eaves and guttering, but other types are built on stakes which need to be driven into the ground. All porch lights can pretty much double up as garden or patio and pathway lights, as well – it all depends on where you install them. Some are designed to look vintage and rustic – more like conventional lights – whilst others lean in to the modern, chic, futuristic look. A standard solar porch light will do little more than automatically turn on and stay on throughout the night, before turning off to charge again at dawn. However, some solar porch lanterns come with additional features such as motion detection, wireless remote controls, and variable brightness settings.

Lastly, let’s talk quickly about how solar panels actually work. Whether built into the frame or attached separately via wiring, they work exactly the same. The panel itself houses many smaller individual solar cells, comprised of thin films of polycrystalline or monocrystalline silicon. This silicon has a striking property: when it is exposed to sunlight, it undergoes a physical and chemical reaction (known as the ‘photovoltaic effect’), during which electrons are displaced from one silicon layer to another, generating volts of electricity. The panel converts sunlight to electricity through this process over and over again, as long as it’s exposed to direct sunlight, and stores its generated power in a battery housed within the porch light casing. This electricity is used later to power the LED bulbs of the light.

Pros and Cons of Solar Porch Lights

When you’re shopping for lighting designed to keep you and your house safe, protected, and well-lit, it’s important that you know about the positives and the negatives of the products you’re buying. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of solar porch lights.

Pros:

  1. Versatile. Solar lights don’t need to be restricted to the porch, they can be used as path lights, outdoor lighting, garden lights, patio lights, you name it – it’s all down to you and where you place your lighting.
  2. Durable. Built to withstand rain, wind, snow, ice and even the damaging UV rays of the sun, outdoor solar lights are designed to last you for years to come.
  3. Free electricity. We know that this is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, when it comes to renewable energy. Installing solar powered lighting means you’ll never have to cough up a single additional cent on your energy bills.
  4. Green power. We live in difficult times, and our world needs all of the help it can get. Replacing conventionally-powered products with renewable-energy products keeps your carbon footprint low and the world a little healthier.
  5. Safe lighting. Solar power does not mean less power. These solar LED lights are just as bright as any other porch light, and as such keep you, your family and friends, and your property safe and safely-lit.
  6. Easy to install. Ready to be mounted or staked just about anywhere, and with no additional wiring required, most solar lighting is ready to be installed right out of the box (even if the accompanying solar panel requires separate placement).
  7. Affordable. Renewable energy has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and today is just as affordable (if not moreso) than equivalent, conventionally-powered technology. These solar lights don’t have to break the bank.

Cons:

  1. Sunlight dependent. It goes without saying, but in order for your solar powered products to achieve their maximum potential, and stay on and bright throughout the night, they must have fairly consistent, direct exposure to sunlight during the daylight hours. Maximise the potential for this by placing the lights/the solar panel somewhere that they are guaranteed to get sunlight; and keep the panel clean and free of debris.
  2. Variable light quality. Tied to the above con is the fact that depending on how much sunlight your lights get during the day, the quality of the light during the night will vary (this also applies with regards to changes in the season throughout the year).
  3. Varying additional features. A small gripe, but unfortunately not all LED solar powered solar lights come with all of the features you might be looking for – including but not limited to motion sensing, variable brightness settings, and a remote control.

The Best Solar Powered Lights For Your Porch Reviewed

Otdair Solar Wall Lantern for front porch

  • Brand: Otdair
  • Solar Powered Light
  • Decorative and Durable
  • Weather Resistant
Otdair Solar Wall Lantern for front porch

A steampunk hanging solar wall lantern set that comes in two pieces guaranteeing ample illumination of your front entrance. Don’t be fooled by this models somewhat antiquated appearance though, because it is one of the most solid entries on our list. Its stainless steel composition means it is completely waterproof and can withstand even the worst kinds of weather conditions without rusting.

No separate extensions or timers are needed either, meaning you can simply install it and sit back and reap the benefits of its wide angle coverage. It features an integrated dusk to dawn light sensor meaning this solar porch light will turn on when the sun goes down before automatically turning off at dawn.

Pros:

  • It is an easy to install hanging wall light that comes with all the tools, brackets and screws needed
  • Charges incredibly fast (6-8 charging time effectively staying lit for up to 10 hours)
  • Two separate lights means a wide angle coverage of your front property

Cons:

  • No motion sensor, but the dusk to dawn feature almost makes up for it

URPOWER 2-in-1 Solar Lights with LED

  • Brand: URPOWER
  • Color: Cool White
  • 2 Brightness Levels
  • Separately Adjustable Light & Solar Panel
  • 2 in 1 Functions & 2 Installation Options
  • Dusk to Dawn, Auto ON/OFF
  • IP64 Waterproof
URPOWER 2-in-1 Solar Lights with LED

One of the best led light options around. This set also comes in two pieces and is also indicated for its durability. Most solar lights work at a subpar rate during winter but this model was practically made for bad weather. Completely waterproof and packing a punch with two brightness modes it can reach a lumen output of 200 thanks to its four led bulbs apiece.

The design of this model sees its solar panels mounted directly on top of the actual light. The light is also highly versatile offering numerous installation options. The stake portion of the light means it can be stuck in the ground, doubling as a pathway or backyard light but it can also be mounted as a wall sconce type light. This model also has an automatic on/off feature, turning off at sunrise and back on at sunset.

Pros:

  • Extremely bright and designed for use in locations that receive little sunlight
  • Very resistant build
  • Incredibly versatile, can be used in a variety of ways, including as a pathway or backyard solar light

Cons:

  • No motion sensor or any security feature to speak of
  • Very basic aesthetic style
  • Not completely intended as a frontal solar porch light

Towkka Porch Solar Lights

  • Brand: Towkka
  • Color: Black
  • Super Bright 120 LED Solar Lights
  • 3 Optional Working Modes
  • Sensitive PIR Motion Sensor
  • IP65 Waterproof & Easy Installation
Towkka Porch Solar Lights

This set of 6 piece led solar lights are the first on our list to provide substantial security. Covering a 270 degrees radius, they are equipped with a nifty PIR motion sensor mode that detects movement up to 20ft away. With four lighting modes to choose from that include: Maximum Brightness Mode thanks to their 2200mAh Li-ion rechargeable batteries. There’s also a medium level “Constant On” lighting mode and a “Dim” lighting mode and lastly the “Motion Sensor” mode where the light will turn on if it detects any movement.

Their very user-friendly design makes for an easy installation whether it be on your wall, front or back door, porch or even balcony. The design makes for an incredibly sturdy product. Made up of thermo-resistant (ABS) polymers, these lights can withstand very harsh weather and have an IP65 rating meaning high resistance to outside influences such as water, dirt and snow.

Pros:

  • 270 degree extra-bright light coverage
  • Incredibly easy to install and position
  • Four light modes including very effective motion sensor lights for added security
  • Ultra-resistant ABS composition
  • Comes with with its own rechargeable solar batteries

Cons:

  • This model may need more solar power then other models to work effectively

Otdair Solar Security Lights For Porches

  • Brand: Otdair
  • Color: Black
  • 118LED Bright 360° Rotable Spotlights
  • 2200mAh Eco-friendly Solar Power
  • Long Time Working Time
  • IP65 Weatherproof Easy to Install
Otdair Solar Security Lights For Porches

A top of the line model for outdoor solar flood lights. Powered by 70 bulbs of high-end led light performance. This set of three motion sensor lights can be rotated 360 degrees. The motion sensors can detect movement at a whopping 33 feet, turning on for 30 seconds before automatically turning off. The composition is also very robust and durable, adaptable for all kinds of atmospheric conditions.

If positioned accordingly in order to receive maximum sunlight, these puppies can run solely on solar energy for up to 30 hours. A built-in Lithium 2200mAh battery, means these lights will be charged in very little time. Lastly, they are also very easy to tactically place, covering your front door on either side or mounted on porches on patios.

Pros:

  • Top of the line motion sensor technology
  • Dusk to dawn automatic activation feature
  • Very robust build boasting IP65 waterproof protection
  • Top-notch Lithium 2200mAh battery already integrated in the model
  • Solar panels also built in the device

Cons:

  • Built almost exclusively as a motion sensor light which means it does not stay on all night, meaning it isn’t optimal as a consistent light source

Pottery Barn Solar Powered Color Changing Indoor/Outdoor LED String Lights

  • Brand: Pottery Barn
  • LED lights with acrylic lens; weather resistant cord
  • 14 color changing modes which can be selected and timed with attached controller
  • Bulbs are impact-resistant and designed to withstand year-round exposure to the elements
  • Indoor or outdoor use
Pottery Barn Solar Powered Color Changing Indoor/Outdoor LED String Lights

The string light pick of our review. These outdoor led lights are great as both home and yard decorations. The set of string lights comes in two sizes of 12 and 24ft with a led bulb every foot. Don’t be fooled by their cuteness, the copper wire and resistant bulbs can withstand mighty gusts of wind.

These are definitely the most casual lights on this list, but will still at least adequately illuminate your property. Perfect for the holiday season this model comes with 14 changeable light modes that can be selected via a remote controller. They also come with a solar energy powered USB panel that can be placed at up to 30ft from the furthest bulb. Perfect as a carefree porch, yard, pathway or wall lighting.

Pros:

  • Fun casual string light design
  • More robust than they seem
  • Can cover a lot of ground, up to 24 individual led lights
  • 14 different accent lighting modes, perfect for parties or the holiday season

Cons:

  • Not your typical porch lights
  • No motion sensor modes, not ideal for security or standard illumination

Gama Sonic GS-122 Barn

  • Brand: Gama Sonic
  • Color: Bright White Led, Brown
  • External solar panel and 6 bright-white LEDs
  • Automatically turns on at dusk
  • Weather-resistant cast aluminum frame in a matte brown finish
Gama Sonic GS-122 Barn

Our top pick for last. When it comes to outdoor solar powered porch lights it doesn’t get much better than Gama Sonic. The perfect blend of style, technology and efficiency. This outdoor wall lantern comes in a super-stylish goose neck design with an old-school brown finish that will set the mood and atmosphere of your house before your guests even walk in the front door.

Its incredibly robust design guarantees maximum durability. Let’s just say you will have this light for a long time. Incredibly easy to install, even for first timers, the model comes with an 8ft connecting cable to a 7×7 inch mono-crystalline layered solar panel separate from the light fixture that is impervious to water and wind. The light encasing itself is made of cast aluminum making it 100% rust resistant. If that wasn’t enough, its recharging and light duration times are some of the best on the market, guaranteeing at least 10 hours of bright, uninterrupted light each night.

Pros:

  • Very elegant design, a truly stylish wall lantern
  • Extremely durable
  • Very fast charging times guaranteeing well-lit nights
  • Dusk till dawn automatic feature

Cons:

  • Stationary build means it can’t be tilted
  • Limited availability, sometimes cannot be found in stores

Buying Guide For Solar Powered Porch Lights

As we have stressed before, the features that make a perfect solar porch light are many. It is the customer that ultimately has to make a choice that meets his expectations. Are you more concerned with security or stylishness? Do you want an affordable and basic light or do you want to invest in high-tech outdoor lighting that you can tinker with and customize? Location is also key, as a less durable outdoor light will suffer under worse weather conditions. Let’s check out the three main attributes that can determine the right solar powered porch light for you.

Type of outdoor Solar Porch Light

There are three main varieties to consider when reviewing solar porch or patio lights. These are based on their light output settings and are:

  • Dusk-to-dawn
  • Motion-activated
  • Timer controlled

Let’s see the main perks and downsides to each. Dusk to dawn solar lights automatically light up at the end of the day before shutting down at dawn. While the automation frees you from manually keeping up with your lights cycle, in locations with less sun or during winter, some models of dusk to dawn lights may face difficulties when storing solar energy for extended periods. Motion-activated outdoor lighting is great for reliability and security, but some brands only activate when set off, not giving off consistent illumination. Timer-controlled solar lights are the ones with most options, as you can control the duration of your outdoor lighting to a tee.

Brightness

The brightness of a solar powered porch light is a very important factor. Lights of this type can range from a small 5 lumen output of a decorative string light or lower-tier wall lantern to 300 lumen flood lights or spotlights designed to completely light up whole outdoor sections with consistent illumination or even to spot potential intruders.

Installation and Price

Lastly we have the practical features of installation and price. Practically all outdoor solar lights are easy to install by design. A lot of outdoor solar lights mount traditionally like any light fixture or wall sconce. Alternatively, adhesive mounted lights are also becoming popular and can double as a temporary installation, allowing more flexibility. With regards to path lighting, most solar lights and panels have a built-in stake, all you have to do is find a soft spot in your yard, stick it in and your outdoor solar light is ready.

Final Verdict

Outdoor solar porch lights are a valued addition to your home and a sound investment in an age where solar power is fast-becoming the primary source of energy. Low maintenance, easiness to install, automatic feature, eco-friendliness and the fact you can forget about wires, cables or generators are all solid reasons to consider buying. The fact that most (especially on this list) are of a sturdy design (a final mention to our winner Gama Sonic GS-122 Barn) that can face even dire weather conditions is an added bonus. They represent an incredibly adaptable lighting solution at the forefront of green technology.

FAQS

How much sun do solar lights need to charge?

Every model has different specifications, but as they count on solar energy to function its safe to say that the most sunlight they receive the better they will work. Some models are specifically built for locations with more adverse weather conditions, but the placement of a solar panel in a well-lit area will always be more beneficial than installation in a dimly lit position.

Do all outdoor solar lights for porches automatically turn on and off?

All respectable models of this type feature automatic power-ups and downs, meaning peace of mind and adding nothing to your electricity bill.

Is there a standard warranty for solar powered outdoor lighting?

No, each model and brand offers different warranties usually in the range of one to three years.

What are some tips?

A huge positive of solar lights is that they require very low maintenance. From the moment they are installed all you have to do is an occasional check-up (maybe more so after a storm or any kind of adverse weather). As we’ve seen many of these outdoor solar lights are built to last and so they don’t need continuous looking after.

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Author Bio

Robert is a renewable energy and sustainability specialist with 10+ years of experience in the solar and renewable energy space.

With experience in different organizations in the industry, he operates semprius as a passion project promoting sustainable renewable energy ideas and products.

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