The Best Solar
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A cost-effective way to have a brighter, safer property.
If you've ever shopped for a solar-powered light, you likely know that finding one that's reliable and performs well is no small task, particularly if you live in an area that doesn't get decent sunshine year-round. At the consumer level, the technology for small fixtures is often mediocre at best. That said, making an attempt to go solar is certainly worthwhile to, you know, save the planet. Another benefit is cutting ginormous electric bills.
A solar-powered floodlight is a good place to start if you want to brighten the area around your home. Installation is a snap compared to staking dozens of solar pathway lights or hanging solar Christmas lights. Plus, there are plenty of reasonably priced options on the market that won't set you back more than $100. Solar-powered floodlights aren't a one-size-fits-all purchase, however, and there are a number of specs and features to consider before making a purchase. Read on for our recommendations, plus everything you need to know before you buy.
There are a lot of details you'll need to nail down to figure out which solar-powered floodlight will work best for your home and outdoor space. We've outlined the most essential below.
Lumen (plural lumens) is a unit to measure brightness, expressed numerically. For example, floodlights with around 1,000 lumens are a step up in brightness from what you'd get on average from a spotlight; floodlights from 1,000 to 1,500 lumens will likely cover an average driveway or patio; 1,500 to 2,000 lumens is good for mid-size backyards and patios, and longer driveways. Floodlights ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 lumens cover large areas, and anything over 3,000 is generally sufficient for extra-large spaces.
Unless you live in a rural area, you'll also likely need to consider your neighbors' tolerance of brightness, and you may want to confirm in advance if the light meets your town's requirements to avoid needing a permit.
Looking at the angle and range of light will help you gauge its coverage. The average floodlight covers up to 180 degrees at a distance of 25 to 40 feet. Most floodlights have multiple light modes for light intensity, duration, or both. Some floodlights are dimmable or have color temperature options ranging from bright to warm. There are also “street style” floodlights that are angled downward and work well for covering larger areas, as well as seating areas and spaces for nighttime activities. Another important consideration is if you want adjustable light and solar panels.
Dusk-to-dawn floodlights are the most basic models available. They charge during the day and automatically go on at night; duration depends on the amount of light the solar panel captures to power the battery. Motion-sensor floodlights are only activated when—you guessed it—motion is detected, which sucks up less battery power. Many floodlights offer both types of functionality with different lighting modes, as mentioned above.
You'll want a floodlight that blocks water and small particles like dust from getting inside. The ingress protection (IP) rating is comprised of two numbers: the first representing resistance to solids (on a scale from 1 to 6), and the second resistance to water (on a scale of 1 to 8). Most floodlights range from IP65 to IP67.
In addition to features like lighting modes, dimming, and color temperature options, some solar-powered floodlights come with extras like timers, memory functions, and remote controls. There are also smart-enabled options.
Every solar-powered floodlight we cover has an average customer rating of four out of five stars or higher. We feature a range of styles and options that span multiple price points, and while making our selections, we judged lights based on functionality and features as mentioned above. We also considered aesthetics and ease of installation before narrowing down our final picks.
Looking for more home lighting? Check out our stories on the best wireless charging lamps, the best floor lamps, and the best desk lamps.
This bright solar-powered floodlight offers solid features and a low price tag. Its three adjustable light panels have roughly 200 LEDs that emit up to 2,500 lumens, with extra-wide coverage of 270 degrees at a distance of up to 26 feet. With an IP65 rating, it can also handle heavy rain.
While there's no dusk-to-dawn functionality, the floodlight has three lighting modes, including one that stays on continuously for up to 4 hours before automatically switching to on/off motion detection.
There's a remote control included, though it doesn't have a timer—and the solar panel is in a fixed position, so it's essential to position it in such a way that it'll get ample sun.
For roughly $15 each at the time of this writing, this two-pack of solar-powered floodlights is a fantastic deal. Each emits 1,000 lumen, featuring two adjustable side panels that rotate 360 degrees. There's a motion-sensor sett that triggers the lights to shine for 30 seconds, and an all-night stay-on dim mode with automatic shutoff to charge during the day. They also have an IP65 waterproof rating.
What you sacrifice for the low price is a narrower detection angle of 120 degrees (versus typical 180 degrees) and a remote control
With 2,500 lumens, motion-detection coverage of 280 degrees at a distance of up to 40 feet, and a powerful 4000 mAh battery, this solar-powered floodlight is tough to top if you have a larger property. There are also nearly 300 LEDs on the compact unit, with light panels on the front, sides, and bottom, and a solar panel on top, and it has an IP67 rating.
The solar-powered floodlight offers three lighting modes, including dusk-to-dawn functionality that works up to 12 hours on its lowest setting and 6 to 7 on its brightest. Fixed light and solar panels and no remote control are potential drawbacks.
There's a lot to like about this solar-powered floodlight, starting with 4,000 lumens of ultra-bright light and motion detection that spans 180 degrees at a distance of up to 72 feet. There's also four lighting modes, including dusk-to-dawn functionality, plus its three light panels and solar panel are adjustable.
The light panels feature more than 190 high-quality Samsung LED beads said to have a 50,000-plus hour lifespan, and the floodlight has a IP65 rating and comes with a powerful 3,000 mAh battery. There's also a 16.4-foot cable to connect the light and the solar panel, which is handy,
Its lineup of features is reflected in the price tag, slightly higher than options with a similar style. The main drawback is that it lacks a timer.
This versatile solar-powered floodlight features five adjustable lighting panels that emit 2,700 lumens of white light, which can be folded back into a cube to project a bright, 360-degree beam.
Other highlights include three lighting modes, a remote control, and a IP65 rating, though there's no timer, the solar panel is fixed, and its motion-detection coverage is lower than other options, at 120 degrees and a max distance of only 19 feet.
Still, the floodlight gets high marks all around, with an average 4.6 stars from more than 550 reviewers. It's also sold singly or in a set of two.
If your smart home ecosystem already includes Ring devices, this motion-sensor solar-powered floodlight is your best bet. The Ring Bridge, sold separately, is required to enable smart features, and you can set up notifications, set the timer, and connect to other Ring devices through the app.
The floodlight casts 1,200 lumens from two adjustable heads to cover 180 degrees at a distance of up to 45 feet, plus it has an adjustable solar panel and a IP66 rating. It's available in black or white, and the floodlight come with a 1-year limited warranty.
Getting blasted in the face with a floodlight during an evening around the fire pit is less than ideal. The solution is to invest in a light that shines from above, just like a street lamp. However, if you care about aesthetics in areas where people tend to gather, finding one that doesn't look like a Cold War listening device is a challenge.
That’s why we’ve chosen this option—with both motion-sensor and dusk-to-dawn functionality—for your consideration. The solar panel is discreetly attached to the top of the modern white fixture, which can be pole- or wall-mounted. It emits 1,300 lumens when fully charged—enough to coverage an average patio or driveway—and stays illuminated for roughly 10 hours at 100 percent brightness.
There are two lighting modes and you can switch between warm and cool light, plus it has memory function, a timer, and comes with a remote control.
The main drawback—which isn't insignificant and may be a dealbreaker for some—is that its coverage area isn't listed.
Rachel Klein is a Senior Commerce Editor for Popular Mechanics, where she writes about everything from garden hose reels and patio furniture to mesh wifi systems and robot vacuums. She started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and was a travel editor for more than a decade before she started testing and reviewing luggage, noise-cancelling headphones, and other travel-related products. Fast-forward another five years and her area of expertise includes home decor, appliances, tech, and outdoor adventure gear. In her spare time, you'll find her planning her next trip, reading historical fiction, and seeing as much art as she can squeeze into a weekend.
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