The right outdoor lighting can change everything about how a yard or outdoor space looks and feels.
It’s funny how you can paint the walls of a space, redo the flooring, and install new furniture, but lighting seems to have the most impact on the mood and experience. Keep a room dark and it seems depressing and dreary. Light it up with unique multi-colored bulbs or fixtures and it suddenly springs to life! Open up the blinds and let natural light flow in and it looks more homely, warm, and inviting.
So, it makes sense that the same principles would apply even outdoors. Yes, during the day the outdoors usually gets an uninterrupted flow of warm, bright sunlight. But at night, that’s when things can really make a difference. Even something as simple as Christmas or rope lights can transform an outdoor space into something truly magical.
If you want to make some magic happen, whether in your backyard, garden, or somewhere else, get some lights!
What Makes Outdoor Lighting Different from Indoor Lights?
The right lighting will completely transform an outdoor space.
Who doesn’t know what lights are? The better question is why outdoor lighting would be any different from indoor lighting?
It’s simple, really. Outdoor lights were designed specifically for use outdoors, which means they can withstand the elements. Most of the time they’re completely waterproof, and they have other outdoor-friendly features, such as a UV-resistant coating that won’t fade from long-term sunlight exposure.
They might also include unique power sources, like solar-based panels and batteries.
Why Would You Want Outdoor Lighting?
Besides allowing you to see when it’s dark, outdoor lighting can transform a space. It can make a wooded backyard look almost magical and fairy-like. It can illuminate a patio in beautiful and vibrant hues. Lights can also make it easier to traverse the world at night, by illuminating walkways, sidewalks, piers, and much more.
Some outdoor lighting can be mounted to a fence or nearby fixtures. Others can be mounted to the side of a home, shed or structure. Also, they can be staked in the ground, hung from various places, and any number of creative configurations.
How Do You Install Outdoor Lighting Solutions?
Most lights are plug-and-play.
It depends on the type of light and the fixture you choose. Some can be mounted or installed to surfaces like an outside wall, shed, garage, or even fence. Others just need to be staked into the ground.
Some lights are solar-powered, some are battery-powered, while others must be plugged-into the mains (an outlet).
There are so many different types of lights and fixtures, that it’s impossible to describe installation for all of them at once. However, it is worth noting that almost all lights are relatively easy to install. The hardest part would be hard-wiring the light, which may require an electrician.
How Much Does Outdoor Lighting Cost?
This is another point that’s going to depend on the type of outdoor lighting you choose, but also how much you want. If you want to light up your whole backyard and need dozens of feet of string lights, that’s going to be more expensive than, say, a single strand or spotlight.
Typically, outdoor lighting can cost between $20 and $500+. Those prices may differ depending on the size of the space you want to illuminate, the method you choose, and the brand. Installation costs may also apply if you choose a hard-wired lighting solution that needs regular power.
Why Should You Trust Ideaing?
Our team members have an extensive background in technology, from electrical engineering to product managers at Fortune 500 companies. Since 2013, we have been providing truly objective insight to readers through our reviews and recommendations. Our panel of product experts spend thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products.
After doing extensive research on hundreds of the top outdoor lighting solutions on the market, here are our X best picks for a beautiful backyard.
The Best Outdoor Lighting to Beautify Your Yard in 2021
Beautiful. Mystical. Unique. Lights can make that happen.
Based on our research, reviews, and expertise, here are the best outdoor lighting solutions for 2021:
Please Note: If you buy through affiliate links, we may earn commissions, which helps support our site at no cost to you. If you do end up buying anything, thank you! If you don’t, we hope you enjoy the content regardless!
15. Sterno Home Color-Changing LED Solar Hanging Lights
Available in a pack of four, these gorgeous dangling lights come with steel shepherds’ hooks to stake them into the ground. They have a steel, weather-resistant housing and a crackled glass diffuser that offers a unique experience when the lights are on.
The LEDs shift between 5 different colors and are powered by the built-in solar generation system. When fully charged, they output 2 Lumens of brightness or 5000 Kelvin (color temperature).
If you want to light a walkway you’ll need a few packs, but once they’re installed you’ll be impressed.
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14. Winado Waterproof Solar Outdoor LED Pathway Lights
Don’t want to deal with a small four-pack? No problem! This set includes 24 pathway lights that you can stake in the ground all over your yard, or, of course, you can line your walkways.
They are solar-powered so they will generate energy during the day, and they hold enough power to stay illuminated from dusk until dawn. They automatically turn on when it’s dark so you don’t have to run outside every night and switch them on. What’s more, they are all-weather-resistant and can withstand even a downpour.
The stainless steel body is durable, while the lights output 3 Lumens of brightness or 6500 Kelvin (color temperature). The downside is that the integrated LEDs are built into the fixture so they cannot be replaced, but the lights do have an estimated lifespan of 10,000 hours.
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13. Wayfair Basics 48’ Outdoor 15 Standard Bulb String Lights
Available in black, green, or white colored strands, these retro-style lights are meant to hang between various fixtures. If you have a screened patio, you can fasten them to the frame. If you have trees or support posts, you can string them up using those.
The bulbs are LED, with an Edison-like design that resembles antique lights and bulbs. They output 3000 Kelvin (color temperature) and use a maximum of 1W or 120V. Each 48-foot strand includes 15 bulbs (and one extra), and they have an estimated lifespan of 25,000 hours at a minimum.
They must be plugged-into an outlet, so keep that in mind. They do not rely on solar power, but multiple strands do connect thanks to end-to-end ports. Also, the lights are dimmable, which is nice when you want to set the mood!
12. Honche 33’ Solar Rope Lights with Multi-Colored LEDs
This long, rope light is solar-powered and IP67 water-resistant. It comes in several styles, like cool white, multi-colored, and warm white.
The best part about rope lights is they’re incredibly versatile. You can wrap them around furniture, trees, fixtures, and posts. You can mount them or hang them. You can set them on the ground, and weave them into landscaping or walkways, and much much more.
It takes 6 to 8 hours to charge the 800mAh battery, and the lights last for 6 to 10 hours depending on how much power is generated. There are also 8 different lighting modes with unique movements like flicker, slow fade, and waves.
11. Kooper Color-Changing LED Lily Flowers
These lights are perfect for the garden or flower beds. They look like Lillies and come in packs of four. At night, the top of the flower illuminates, creating a mythical glow. They are solar-powered and include the panel built-in, so there’s no need to plug them in or charge batteries.
The high-efficiency solar panel is attached to a 600mAh battery, which can last for up to 8 to 10 hours on a full charge. The lights are color-changing, with up to 7 themes. They’re also weather-resistant with an IP65 rating.
10. Triburst Bulb by Bell+Howell with High-Intensity LED Lighting
You want it bright? Okay, we got you. This 144-LED tri-bulb system will illuminate your patio or deck completely. It comes in several variants such as a 2-pack, 4-pack, and a special contractor’s version.
It’s a bulb, so you plug it into a regular light fixture, presumably one you already have installed. You may need to modify the light fixture to accommodate the bulb because of its unique design, for instance, by leaving off a decorative dome or cover.
This thing is no joke, and it produces 4,000 Lumens of light, which is about 4 times brighter than your average bulb. The hinged panels are adjustable up to 90 degrees, so you can direct the light where you need it. Even with its high-brightness levels its energy-efficient and uses an estimated $6 of energy per year.
9. Philips Hue Lily White and Color Outdoor Spotlight Base Kit
It’s more expensive, yes, but this is also a smart lighting kit that works with Philips Hue’s lighting ecosystem — although, you will need a Hue Hub. It includes 3 spotlights, with a power supply, and mounts. The system is also compatible with Alexa, HomeKit, and Google Assistant so you can turn it on, off, and adjust settings using voice commands.
The lights are IP65 dust and water-resistant, so they can handle the great outdoors. They have an estimated lifetime of up to 25,000 hours, too. They must be plugged into mains, and also they must be within 30-feet of the hub. Moreover, you can string multiple sets together.
8. Ebern Designs Cullens Solar-Powered LED Deck Set
With this 4-pack of solar-powered deck lights, you can choose between amber and warm-white illumination styles. They are battery-powered, and the light will last from dusk to dawn with a reliable charge. The built-in solar panels will generate enough power to keep them on, and they’ll turn on automatically once it gets dark.
They’re meant to be mounted to a deck, fence posts, walls, and other fixtures. They’re super easy to install too, just mount them and go! Also, the lights are waterproof and weather-resistant.
7. Pure Garden Solar-Powered LED Spotlight Set
There are outdoor speakers that look like rocks, so why not lights? This set includes 4 solar-powered spotlights all designed to look like natural decor. They’re not waterproof but they can handle some moisture, so it’s best to use them in covered areas like a patio.
The built-in solar panels will charge the battery during the day, and keep them on all night. They produce 1 Lumen of brightness and have an estimated lifespan of 50,000 hours. You don’t have to install or mount anything, either. Just place them where you want them and that’s it.
6. Myfuncorp Big Hanging Solar-Powered LED Lanterns
Hanging lanterns look amazing, and this iron set includes 2. They are solar-powered with built-in panels and batteries, so there’s no need to plug them in or run wiring. They produce up to 10 Lumens of brightness with a soft, golden glow.
The iron frames have a washed bronze finish, and they’re IP44 water-resistant. With a solid charging time of 6 to 8 hours, they’ll last for up to 8 to 10 hours thanks to the 600mAh battery. They work great hanging from fence posts, support beams, and trees. If you get some shepherd’s poles you can run them along a walkway, too.
5. Solar In-Ground Disk Lights for Gardens and Landscaping
This set includes 8 in-ground lights, including the stakes. They have built-in solar panels on the top and rechargeable batteries to keep them running, from 6 to 8 hours with a full charge and decent sunlight.
The steel frames are waterproof (IP65) and durable, so even if you step on them they won’t shatter or break. A sensor turns the light on when it’s dark, and off when it’s light out.
What makes these lights really special is they can be staked flush with the ground or landscaping. If you run them along a path it looks like the lights are right in the ground. They’re bright too, even with a warm, yellow glow.
4. Lutec Starry Design Seeded Glass Outdoor Sconce and Wall Light
Want something unique and captivating? This light has a seeded glass cover which creates a sparkling star-like appearance in the area. It produces a warm glow with a brightness of 795 Lumens and a 3,000 Kelvin color temperature. The light is weather-resistant too, but since it requires a mains connection you’re more likely to install it on a patio, deck, or mount it to the walls of your home.
It comes in a few variants, including one that’s oval-shaped, as opposed to the cottage-style square shape, and some brighter models — up to 1,000 Lumens. It’s easy to install, provided you have the appropriate hard-wiring available.
3. Litom Solar-Powered Outdoor Lights with USB Charging
This two-pack includes mounted lights, similar to traditional wall fixtures, albeit they’re solar-powered. They also support USB-charging for rainy or overcast days where the sunlight isn’t as effective. They’re weather-resistant with an IP67 rating, and they’re super easy to install and unmount when you need to charge them.
Motion sensors built-in to the lights will turn them on as needed, which makes them perfect for pathways or walkways. While on, they offer a 360-degree wide beam angle, which means they can light up a large area.
The solar-power means you can place them in areas where no outlets or hard-wires are available. You don’t need to hire an electrician to get them working, either.
2. TomCare Flickering Flame Solar-Powered Lights
Want some realistic torches that don’t need any fuel? These landscaping and garden lights come in sets of four and include built-in solar panels and batteries. The high-efficiency lights inside don’t use much power, but they flicker and wave-like real flames. The lights will turn on and off automatically once installed.
They’re absolutely beautiful, and they work perfectly for patios, pool-edge lighting, walkways, and more. They are weatherproof, with an IP65 rating. They’re also frost-proof so they can be used in cold climates too, and during all seasons. With a proper charge of about 8 hours, they’ll last anywhere from 5 hours during the winter months to 10 hours in the summer.
1. Low-Voltage LED Deck and Landscaping Lights with 2W Integrated LED Chips
This set offers a more modern design and should be compatible with nearly any existing lighting system thanks to the built-in 2W LED chips. They do require power, low-voltage or not, so you will need to hard-wire them. They work best when mounted to stairs, decks, and other add-ons close to your house.
The frames are solid die-cast aluminum and weather-resistant, and they will work fine in damp or wet locations. You will need a low-voltage (12-24V AC/DC) transformer to get these lights working, which is not included.
They come in white and black.
–The Best Outdoor Lighting Buyer’s Guide and FAQ —
Even with that gorgeous backdrop, the patio lights make a difference.
What to Look for When Buying Outdoor Lighting and Light Fixtures?
If you plan to spend time in your backyard in the evening or at night, then you’ll need some sort of lighting. It doesn’t matter whether you install those lights on your patio, on your deck, beside walkways, or somewhere in your yard, they all have similar requirements, namely a power source.
Here are some of the things you should consider and look for when choosing outdoor lighting solutions for your home:
Arguably the most important factor, the power source determines how the light will be sustained during use. Solar-powered lights generate energy through UV and sunlight during the daylight hours, which charges a battery, and then provides power to keep the lights on at night. Hard-wired or mains-powered lights must be plugged into an outlet or connected to a wired transformer. There are also battery-only lights powered by disposable or rechargeable batteries, although we haven’t featured any in our list.
Choose the power source that aligns best with your configuration. If you’re installing the lights on a fence or hanging them from a tree, it’s going to be difficult running wiring to those fixtures, so solar-powered is the best option.
Almost all lights are relatively easy to install and set up. Most are plug-and-play, especially the solar-powered options. Hard-wired lights will need to be properly wired, and you may need to adjust or modify existing power solutions — which may or may not require an electrician’s help.
Build | Style
How are the lights going to improve the appearance of your yard? Will they rust or break down over time after being exposed to the elements? You don’t necessarily want the lights to be ugly, but you don’t want to sacrifice build quality and reliability for looks alone, either.
Decide a budget, factor in how much you’ll need, and then choose a solution that matches your parameters. If you need to cover a large area you’ll want to get the large bundles with a higher quantity of lights.
Some of the outdoor lighting solutions are “smart” like the Philips Hue sets. That means they can be controlled via wireless hubs and sometimes even voice assistants like Alexa or Siri. If you want this functionality then be sure to vet the additional features list.
The water-resistant and weatherproof ratings matter. The higher the rating the longer the lights are going to last and the more they can withstand. You should also note that some lights are safe for use in damp and wet conditions, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to expose them to direct water or submerge them.
Outdoor Lighting FAQs
Even if you read the full guide, you probably still have some questions, and that’s okay. We have you covered.
Q: How Bright Are the Lights?
A: You can tell how bright the bulbs are by the Lumens-rating, or the color profile. Warm is always a bit dimmer than white lighting, while a higher Lumens rating means higher brightness.
You should also know, with solar-powered lights the Lumens rating only indicates how high it can go IF the battery is charged during the day. Even a bright LED will be dim if the solar panel is dirty or obstructed.
Q: Do I Have to Turn Them on Every Night?
A: No. Most lights will turn automatically when it gets dark. Hard-wired lights typically don’t because they’re controlled via switches.
Q: Can I Install the Lights Myself or Do I Need an Electrician?
A: You can install most outdoor lighting yourself, especially the solar-powered variety, which are plug-and-play. Hard-wired lights and fixtures must be connected to mains, either via a direct connection or a nearby outlet. For that, you may need an electrician.
Q: Can I Control the Lights from My Phone?
A: With “smart” lights you can, but most are not. The Philips Hue sets can be controlled remotely using the Hue app if they are connected to a hub. They can also be controlled using a voice-assistant like Alexa.
Q: Will I Have to Do Any Maintenance?
A: Yes, a little. You’ll need to change the bulbs in regular lights. For solar-powered lights, you’ll have to clean the panels every so often, which you can do with a damp cloth.
Q: What Type of Outdoor Lighting is the Best?
A: It depends on where you’re placing the light(s), how much light you need, and how it will be powered. If you don’t have any outlets available, you’ll want to go with one of the solar-powered options.
To put it bluntly, there is no best of the best. There is only the best match for a particular budget, situation, or set up.
Best Outdoor Lighting Conclusion
If you want to make your yard, walkways, patio, or deck look its best, especially in the evening hours, then you’ll want to choose some gorgeous lighting! Fortunately, there are many options when it comes to outdoor lighting from wall-mounted fixtures to in-ground solar lights. Choose what works best for you, your home’s style, and the general placement.
Do you like the lights on our list? Want to make a suggestion? Feel free to reach out on Twitter or just leave a comment below!