Solar path lights
May 14, 2010 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Do they actually make and sell solar garden/path lights that aren't total crap?

My local huge-chain hardware store sells some lights that cost less than $4 each. I bought a half dozen of them, but 5 of the 6 don't seem to even want to work, and the one that does work puts out only a pitiful amount of light. I'd really rather not dig a trench and bury a low voltage cable if I can avoid it. Are there any outdoor solar lights that come close to performing as well as those cabled lights?
posted by crunchland to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I got some of the cheap ones from Walmart and they're not bright, but they do work. Are you sure you pulled out the plastic tab between the solar array and the light part? They put them in so the lights aren't turning on and off in the store, and if you don't take that tab out they won't light up. Found that out the hard way.
posted by The otter lady at 12:44 PM on May 14, 2010

In my experience, the solar lights are all inferior to the hardwired ones. Usually if they put out light at all, it only lasts for a couple of hours. Digging a little trench and putting in the hardwired ones is actually not that hard, and you will be so much more pleased with the results.

If I had to get solar lights, however, this type of light from Gardener's Supply is the one I'd recommend.
posted by Ostara at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2010

Response by poster: Well, I'll try to replace the batteries. I did remove the little plastic protector things. I mean, the lights are comprised of a total of a single led lightbulb, so I shouldn't have expected them to put out much light in the first place.

Oh -- and the major drawback of digging the trench for low voltage lights is that the area I want to light up is separated from the nearest power outlet by about 50 feet, and several paved surfaces.
posted by crunchland at 3:04 PM on May 14, 2010

Solar lights only work if they get direct full sun for most of the day - four hours direct sun isn't enough to run the light more than an hour or two in my experience. Are yours in direct sun all day, or can you reposition them so that they are?
posted by anadem at 3:13 PM on May 14, 2010

IMHO they're a waste of money. They require pretty much full sun for 6-8 hours and they only put out enough light to see them at night - they don't illuminate your walkway unless it's pitch black out.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:10 PM on May 14, 2010

The ones I've tried have been pretty weak. More of a path marker than a path light. And then the neighbor's dogs decided to dig them up and run merrily about the yard with them.

Here's hoping someone can recommend a good brand!
posted by ErikaB at 9:10 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a solar powered LED security flood light that is fantastic - very bright and covers a nice area of my driveway. It's completely possible to make these solar LED lights not suck.

However, I've never found solar path lights that were anything more than a dim, bluish colored glow. Good if you want your walkway to look like a scene from a creepy ghost story, but not the type of light you want to welcome people to your home.
posted by 26.2 at 1:27 AM on May 15, 2010

We put a set of solar lights along our walk several years ago. Bought them at a big-box hardware store, too. We never had an issue with the way they worked (they did what we wanted...just mark the path, not illuminate the block) But, they definitely were cheap plastic crap. The globes merely sat on top of the posts, and didn't lock-in at all. After the first year, we had missing or broken globes from either falling off, or breaking where they fit onto the posts. The lights themselves kept working, though.

I think you have to upgrade to the more expensive metal lamps to get anything durable in the solar market.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:45 AM on May 15, 2010

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