Most homeowners appreciate the benefits of solar lighting, such as cost-efficiency, low maintenance, and savings on electricity expenses. Once installed, a solar outdoor light incurs no further costs. These outdoor lighting models rely entirely on solar power, and are therefore clean, green, and zero-cost, without any reliance on the national grid.

However, if you’re new to solar lights, there are thousands of models and solutions to choose from, ranging from decorative fairy lights for patio dining spaces to high-illumination security lights with automated motion detection functionality.

Here the experts at Solight run through six of the most important features to look for in a set of solar lights, helping you make informed decisions about the outdoor lighting that will work effectively for years to come, and deliver the best possible value for money.

1. Outdoor Lighting With Corrosion Resistance

Our first pointer is to check that any light you might be considering has great corrosion resistance properties – this is even more important if you live close to the coast, since the higher saline content in salty water can mean conventional lights develop rust spots far sooner than you might expect.

We’ve discussed this factor in greater detail in our earlier guide to Selecting Hard-Wearing Rust-Resistant Outdoor Lights, but it’s often something that buyers overlook. Many also assume that any outdoor solar light is designed to be durable and are disappointed when corrosion starts to show on the outer casing of the lights in just a few weeks.

Quality solar lights made from rust and corrosion-resistant metals like lightweight aluminium alloys are ideal, alongside components made from stainless steel, since they are almost impervious to damage caused by salt water.

2. Waterproof Outdoor Solar Light Casing

The next priority is to ensure your outdoor solar lights are waterproof – you can check for an ‘IP’ rating in the product specification, which is a reliable indicator since this refers to an independently awarded accreditation.

Solar lighting with an IP rating of IP60 or so and upward will not become damaged or faulty due to water ingress, which can occur when moisture from humid air seeps inside the casing and causes damage to the components.

Picking a waterproof solar light means you won’t find that after periods of heavy rain or hot and humid weather, your lights start to work intermittently, or the bulbs fail and require replacement.

3. Durable, Long Lasting Lights and Bulbs

Durability is a big issue in outdoor lights since exposure to heat and cold, potential tampering, wind, and bad weather mean that a light designed for use outside your home or business needs to be far more robust than a light that you might install inside.

Alongside the aspects we’ve already talked about – corrosion resistance and waterproofing – it is essential that the bulbs and other elements built into the casing are just as long-lasting. Batteries are the most common components that either stop working or require replacement, regardless of how robust the outer casing is.

Modern, advanced LED bulbs can last for multiple times the longevity of lower-quality bulbs, with many engineered to deliver steady lighting for up to a decade. This type of bulb is well-suited to regular recharging through the solar cells and does not emit excessive light that can contribute to light pollution and impact local wildlife.

4. Sustainable Solar Lighting Models

Low-cost and low-quality outdoor solar lights might appear to be environmentally friendly, since they enable you to reduce your electricity usage, and depend on sunlight to recharge. The complication is that a solar light that only lasts a few months or years isn’t as sustainable as it might appear.

Unfortunately, when metals and components are disposed of, they often end up in landfills, given the lack of available recycling facilities or because local councils do not have the capacity to offer recycling to allow the materials and wires to be separated and reused.

Our advice is to select the best solar light within your budget, which ensures the lighting model will remain functional for years to come. That allows you to effectively reduce the costs of lighting your garden or business premise, without having to throw away broken lights and purchase new models periodically.

5. Long-Life Batteries and Temperature Controls

We often talk about the technologies incorporated into our lights – the most relevant include:

  • ALS (Adaptive Lighting System) tech, which uses sensors to automatically step down the amount of light emitted by your solar lights depending on the light conditions. For example, your solar lights might be programmed to come on during the evening and overnight or switch on when the weather is overcast.
  • TCS (Temperature Control System) features preserve the power of your solar battery by managing the temperature of the battery system. Your solar lights will still perform in hot and cold weather, but the technology will prevent the battery from breaking down or losing capacity due to exposure to extremes.

Another great feature to look for is remote control or automated functions, which mean you don’t necessarily need to manually turn your lights on and off or reset them with a remote when you aren’t at home.

Remote controls are great when you’d like the autonomy to choose when you’d like your lighting to be on, such as when entertaining, and incorporated with automatic functions mean you maintain a good level of security even when your property is empty.

6. Simple Installation and Operation of Solar Lights for Outside

Finally, we’d suggest choosing a solar lighting model that is easy to install, with many models suited to immediate installation by placing the model into the appropriate area with a stake, or attaching the light to a bracket that can be fitted against a wall or fence.

Most solar lights work best when left in full direct sunlight until they achieve a full charge, since this means that once the light is installed in your desired position it will begin working straight away.

There are no wires, electrics or cables to consider, so you can fit your lighting system, select your preferred programming or activation times, and leave your lights to function for the foreseeable future. Enhancing your braai area with decorative solar lighting can create a warm and inviting atmosphere for gatherings, making every event special.

Creating a network of outdoor solar lights not only ensures security but also adds a warm and inviting ambiance to your outdoor spaces. Solar lights can add a touch of magic to your garden or patio, creating a magical canopy of light that transforms the space. It’s important to choose solar lights that match your style and outdoor decor, ensuring that your lighting not only serves a functional purpose but also complements your home’s aesthetic.

For more information about any of the features or properties discussed here, please get in touch with the Solight team. You are also welcome to shop our extensive solar lighting catalogues, where you’ll find detailed specifications on each product page, highlighting the convenience and variety of options available online.