Tried and Tested – Solar Garden Lights

The warm glow from garden lights can really make the most of your outdoor space and solar-powered lights save you the hassle of positioning near a plug socket – not to mention the expense of running lights on electricity.

Best novelty

Miami Solar Lantern Bundle, £18.99,

This bundle comprises four lanterns – in aqua blue, juicy apple green, flamingo pink and cloud white – each measuring 20cm x 14cm. You need to assemble them, but it takes less than a minute to do so. Made from durable nylon, they need to be fully charged before use – which is best done outdoors. Hang them on a trellis, trees or a gazebo, and when darkness falls, they switch on – with a warm white glow which lasts for about seven hours, depending on how much charge they’ve received during the daytime. They cast a fair bit of light around the garden too, so are great for a bit of added security.

Best string

Luci Solar String Lights, £38,

This 18ft string of ten lights comes wound inside a cylindrical box, into which the solar panel required to charge them is set. To use, charge the lights for around 12-14 hours in the sun, then unravel them and turn on. They can also be charged via a USB port. There are four modes: a single light (or torch), or the string of lights in dim, medium and bright light. After a full charge, they really did give off a fair bit of light – enough to give ambient light to an entire room. On the brightest setting, a full charge lasted about eight hours; on the dimmest, about 13 hours. They looked lovely along the fence in the garden and would be great for camping as they are easily portable and splash-proof too.

Best lantern

Smart Solar Damasque Lantern, £29.99,

This beautiful, lightweight lantern charges from its lid easily during the day and gives out the prettiest glow as soon as dusk falls. There is an on/off button just under the lid if you want to save the power and it works just as well on the floor as on a table or hung from a tree – though you’d need to make sure the sun strikes the solar area during the day and isn’t hidden by branches. It may also need to be weighted down if your garden is breezy as it is so light.

Best torch

Solar Flickering Flame Torch, £9.99, Aldi

This attractive water-resistant light with a flickering flame effect comes in black and sticks straight into the earth in your garden or into a pot. There is an extension to the post so you can make it taller, which works well if it is placed among flowers where you might need a bit of height. Once the torch has been activated, the light is a lovely bright orange, which flickers consistently so really draws the eye after dark, giving the effect of an actual flame torch.

Best spotlight

Smart Garden Mega Spotlight, £14.99,

This little light gives out a surprisingly mighty glow. Unlike many solar lights, this really does give a strong spotlight-style beam, so you can focus it on your favourite rose or shrub, or garden mirror, for a really glam effect. Summer sunlight charges the rechargeable battery, quickly and easily, giving light until the small hours once it goes dark. It’s a great light for small gardens.

Best for camping

Brilex Solar Camping Lantern LED Flashlight, £10.99,

This lightweight, compact little light can be charged either via the sun – simply clip it
on to your rucksack or outside your tent – or, on dreary days, with a USB. When it was charged in the sun all day (for around eight hours), it then provided more than eight hours’ light, depending on the setting used. It has five adjustable angles and three settings – bright, super bright and strobe light (which is useful for emergencies) – and we found that the dimmest setting lit a four-man tent perfectly sufficiently. This light is water-resistant too and has a built-in power bank function, which means that you can charge electronic devices such as your mobile phone; however, this would be best saved for emergency use only as it drains the battery quite quickly.


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