If you’re on the fence about solar power but want to reap the benefits of free, sustainable energy, outdoor solar lights are for you. They rely on small photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight to energy—in essence, they’re miniature versions of the solar panels that go on your roof. And you can use them all over your backyard to light pathways and decks, illuminate a pool area, or just add a dose of soft, glowy light to nighttime festivities. Check out some of the many ways you can put them to work around your home. After all, lighting options this green definitely deserve their time in the limelight!
1. Illuminate a Pathway with Solar Lights
This is probably the most popular use for solar lights at home. Solar walkway lighting improves the safety and appeal of your outdoor spaces—and you don’t need an electrician to install it! When shopping for path lights, it pays to be picky, however. Spring for glass models rather than plastic, because a lawn mower can take out one of the plastic ones in five seconds flat. Other top-of-the-line features include an on-off switch, moisture-resistant battery housing, and a long charging life. It’s also a good idea to look for a brand that offers replacement batteries and bulbs—it’s way more sustainable to replace these parts than to throw the whole light away!
2. Light Up the Night with Solar-Powered String Lights
String lights add a special glow to outdoor parties and barbeques, but they’re not quite so lovely when you’re trying to shave money off your electric bills. That’s where these clever little lights come in. Hang them across the patio or along a fence line for a little bit of sustainable ambience—without tangled extension cords and bulked-up energy bills. Now there’s a “green party” for you!
3. Shine a Light Along Fence Lines and Decks
If you can use solar lights to brighten a pathway, why not hang some along a fence line or wall? Decorative mounted solar lights work beautifully for these situations, providing gentle, ambient light on deck railings and boundary walls alike. Available for sale online and at home improvement stores, they have a variety of upscale and functional features, like motion detection, and they usually last for somewhere between six to eight hours after a full day of charging. Best of all, there’s no messy outdoor wiring to deal with!
4. Boost Your Pool’s Green Profile
Pools aren’t cheap. After the initial investment, there’s also pool chemicals, cleaning, and maintenance—a lot of money goes into creating that idyllic summer retreat. But there is one way you can save yourself just a little bit of your hard-earned cash: trade in conventional pool lighting for solar LEDs. Floating pool lanterns, mounted fence lights, and lighted patio umbrellas will help you light that all-night pool party with light that's 100 percent from the sun. If you want to get really green, you can opt for a solar-powered pool water heater or pump, as well—some states even offer a tax incentive for installing one!
5. Hang Some Eco-Friendly Security Lights
Carports and roof eaves typically receive their fair share of sunlight, which makes them an excellent spot for some extra security lighting. These lights resemble your average security light in almost every way—they can be anchored to walls, posts, and roofs and they have attached motion sensors and adjustable heads. The best models rely on high-quality lithium ion batteries, rather than nickel or zinc, with a separate polycrystalline solar panel. And solar-powered security lights will stay on during a blackout or other power emergency, which is a huge bonus.
6. Use Them for a Stunning (and Safe!) Holiday Display
With the holidays swiftly approaching, you’ll probably find plenty of uses for outdoor lights in your yard. Solar-powered products make sense if you want a safe alternative for string lights, candles and other light-up decorations. Luckily, colored solar-power string lights are easy to find online. And this DIY tutorial teaches you how to use a modified solar path light as an alternative to candles in your jack-o-lantern. It’s so green, it’s scary!
With LED solar lighting, you can improve your energy profile and lower your electricity bills. What a way to shine a light on your home’s sustainability!