Are you looking for a set-it-and-forget-it solution for outdoor lighting that will work both at night and when conditions get dim? Do you want a reliable light source that works even if you don’t remember to switch it on? That’s where our picks for the best solar lamp post can point you in the right direction.
Like solar power, significant strides in the industry have brought improvements to these products, making them more practical and useful. But not all of them perform the same.
We’ll help you wade through your options with information on essential features to help you make an informed choice.
How Does an Outdoor Solar Lamppost Work?
We’ll start with the basics to light your way through the myriad of items on the market. First, when you see the term, solar power, that refers to the end product of sunlight converting to electricity using photovoltaics (PV) or solar cells for these types of uses. It differs from concentrating solar power used by bigger operations such as power plants.
PVs work by harnessing that light to create electricity through a process called the photoelectric effect. Without getting into the physics of it, suffice to say that it occurs directly within the solar cells. That makes it easier to use for a variety of applications. They use direct current (DC) to link multiple cells together in a network. And they can recharge the batteries inside of them to work day after day.
Perhaps you’ve seen weather stations, speed trackers, or other scientific instruments with a small panel attached to provide the power. It’s a simple yet powerful technology. The products you buy such as a solar yard light post are one way to aim the end-product where you need it, namely, your dimly lit porch, deck, or walkway.
Surprisingly, it’s not a new concept. The uses we put to work for today are not very different than they were in 1883 when Charles Fritts made the prototypes. It’s interesting to think that it’s been around since Einstein’s day, although it would take decades before you could find a solar lamppost for your backyard.
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The Advantages of Using an Outside Solar Lamp Post
The benefits of using this type of outdoor lighting are evident. You can put them wherever you need someplace illuminated even if you don’t have an outlet nearby. Even so, a wireless option is the better choice without having to worry about securing it or wildlife chewing on an exposed cord.
Then, there are the energy savings.
Let’s put it into context with lighting a tree in your front yard with a variety of light sources. According to the US Department of Energy, it’ll cost you about $10 a year to illuminate it using incandescent C-9 bulbs. LEDs bring it down to only $0.82. If you have a lot of area to cover, those expenses add up quickly.
There are other pros in favor of this LED-solar option including:
- Less heat generation
- Better long-term investment
- Durability for everyday use
Of course, you can’t discount the convenience factor. Most products will turn on when the ambient light reaches a specific level. That means that you needn’t remember to flip a switch, especially because you’ll likely figure out that it’s off at the most impractical time like when you’re coming home with an armful of groceries. Been there, done that.
And the prices of bright solar post lights are much more reasonable today than they were even a few years ago. You’ll likely reap your cost of investment much quicker, making them an even more appealing choice.
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The Limitations of a Solar Powered Outdoor Lamp Post
While the idea behind them is simple, it’s essential to understand what you can expect from solar LED lamp posts. We know that the two technologies are the ideal marriage of cost-saving and convenience. But, there are several things you need to know up front that may affect your choice.
While the sun shines everywhere, it doesn’t do so with the same intensity which you can see with the map of solar energy potential. Areas in the southwestern United States have the highest capacity in part because of the amount of daylight and the angle of the sunlight. It declines the farther north you go. And it gets worse during the winter months where human can’t even get enough to produce vitamin D.
So, what does that mean for your outside lighting?
Simply, it may not receive enough juice to keep the lights on year-round. They may be dimmer or not last as long. Unfortunately, that also coincides with the time you’re likely to need them most, especially with the possibility of slippery sidewalks and icy porch steps.
That’s where placement is crucial. You can work with the amount of direct sunlight you get to take advantage of it. You can also look for a product that can help you overcome some of these issues with alternative sources of energy. Another possibility is to hook them to a mounted PV electricity source that receives adequate light. You’ll often see this setup with solar lamp posts for driveways.
No matter what route you take, it’s also essential to give your solar lantern posts the best chance at emitting enough light. Make sure the area around them stays clean of snow, slush, or other debris that could block the sun rays from reach the PVs.
Now let’s consider how to buy the best Solar lamp post for your yard.
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What You Should Look for in the Best Solar Post Lights
We’ve identified several features that you should research before making your final pick. They include:
- Lumens of light
- Solar panels
- Ease of installation
- Power source
We’ll cover each one in detail.
Lumens of Light and Color Temperature
This term describes the amount of light a product emits. You don’t need a super bright solar lamp post to get the job done. After all, an excess amount is light pollution and frankly, wasted energy—and money.
That’s where you need to think about the ultimate purpose of your purchase.
If you’re planning on having them to light your way into the house, the temperature of the light won’t matter too much as long as they’re bright enough to prevent a fall. However, if you want to linger on your deck, you might find that warmer temps in the 2700 degree Kelvin range are less glaring and easier on your eyes.
You’ll find this information along with the wattage, cost, and energy usage on the product’s label.
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You’ll find a variety of products with a broad spectrum of numbers and lumens for the LEDs. It’s a smart idea to make a note of these figures for comparison purposes, especially if you’re new to using these items. Look for the quantity and light temperature which you’ll find with the list of specs.
The construction and layout of the solar panels is one sure way that you can differentiate a quality product from one that may pose problems down the road. Sometimes, there’s not a lot you can do when it comes to getting the optimal amount of light to your solar-powered devices. However, you can look over the design to see if it’s one that tries to maximize its usefulness.
We prefer lamp posts that have a 360-degree exposure to sunlight to ensure that the unit is getting as much sun as possible even with the limitations that are beyond your control. You’ll often see that these products are colored black for the best input. We’d also suggest that you examine the fixture itself. Look at the top to see if it has angled sides to help snow and slush fall off and not block the solar cells.
Also, take a look at the glass on the sides. You’ll see products with tempered panels that can protect them from shattering should it topple. Patterns or rippling add to the decorative effect and can create attractive designs of light. However, avoid opaque or frosted ones that can obscure the glow and pose a greater challenge to illuminating the area around it.
If there’s one thing you can say about the best solar lamp post, it’s that it will likely have more than one use. Some simply work as outdoor lighting and nothing more. Others include planters or pots to increase their practicality. These other features aren’t necessarily of the deal breaker category, but you may find they can give an edge to one item over another.
We’d suggest that you consider these possibilities, especially if it can bring added value to your purchase and enhance your landscaping.
Materials and Dimensions
These two specs are some of the most critical when deciding which solar lamp post outdoor to buy. Consider the quality of the construction and the materials. Look at the finish as well which can give you additional clues about its practicality. Pay attention for descriptors that identify its water resistance or waterproof traits.
Also, look at the type of solar cells. Each varies in their efficiency which can tip the scales for one over another. You’ll usually see monocrystalline or polycrystalline silicon cells. Others exist but often have specific applications other than residential use.
Don’t forget to measure and even better, check it twice if there is any question of a solar garden lamp post fitting the intended space. The same caution applies to a solar lamp post top. You can add some wood biscuits for any gaps that could affect its fit and stability.
You’ll see some mention of a guarantee or warranty with these specs. We always recommend to our readers to check out this information up front before you have to make a return. We’d also suggest getting the latest version of the item. Often, a manufacturer will tweak the design of a product after getting customer feedback. Make sure they’d handled common issues with the most current rendition.
Ease of Installation
Don’t let this one escape your notice. Most products have straightforward instructions. However, pay attention to the fine print for information about how long you should wait before switching the solar outdoor lamp post on for the first time after its initial charge.
Make a note of any specific recommendations on the number of direct sunlight hours. It’s the single best thing you can do to ensure that you’ll get the most out of your purchase. It’s a typical source of buyer complaints, so you’ll often find that sellers address this issue in the product description right from the start.
Try moving your solar light to a different location if it doesn’t perform like you’d want or investigating an alternative power source before sending it back for a refund. As we’ve discussed, it’s all about the location when dealing with these types of lights. And no matter how easy a seller tries to make it, it’s always simpler to find a solution than pack it up and ship it back.
Many products use rechargeable batteries to up the convenience factor. We’d recommend having some spares on hand, just in case. They vary in their charge times, efficiency, and lifespan. Check to see what ones are appropriate alternatives in case you want to upgrade to a better set. But while you’re looking at the specs, confirm whether batteries are included with your purchase along with the type.
Pay attention to the wording for batteries. We’ve seen some product state outright that they are temporary and have a finite effectiveness period. Also, check to see if you can substitute other kinds. You’re likely to have some AAs around the house, but a Ni-MH one is another story unless you plan for it.
Our Roundup of the Best Solar Lamp Posts
Now that you know what you need to look for, it comes down to making the best choice for your home. Prices are across the board with these types of products. We recommend that you set a budget after determining where you need to have lighting along with its purpose.
Kemeco ST4311AHP 6 LED Cast Aluminum Solar Lamp Post
Best Overall Solar Lamp Post
You can increase it if you add some stones to the bottom of the planter which is a smart idea anyway to improve drainage. It is a bit more work to maintain plants you put inside of it, but the plastic construction is adequate for the task. The styling is tasty and keeps with the overall scheme of the design. We see its best use for brightly colored annuals that will pop against the dark background.
We liked the fact that it has four solar panels for capturing 360 degrees of sunlight to improve its ability to recharge the included batteries. The light is on the warm side which, frankly, we prefer for the brightest solar lamp post. The temperature range is around 2700 degrees Kelvin which also fits the style of the light.
It does have an ON/OFF switch which is useful if it doesn’t provide a winter solution or to keep it charging if you’re going away from home for a while. However, the length of the warranty is sufficient for determining if it’ll work out for you.
The light is bright if it gets the proper amount of sun exposure. That said, placement is essential if it is too distracting for those inside your home. Of course, you can turn it off when you go inside, but that detracts from its convenience. We’d suggest that you wait to fill the planter after you’ve confirmed it will work in the place you want it so that it’s easier to move to another site if necessary.
Overall, the lamp ticks off the necessary boxes for design, illumination, and functionality. The planter, of course, serves the dual purpose of acting as an attractive anchor for it without a lot of fuss when it comes to placing and using it.
Sterno Home Outdoor Solar Lamppost
The Sterno Home Outdoor Solar Lamppost takes a more traditional riff on the lamp post with a design that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. It is both the tallest and brightest solar post lights of the products we reviewed at 80 inches tall with 12 LEDs. We appreciated the fact that the package included not just one but three rechargeable batteries.
The cast aluminum construction is solid and rust-resistant. It weighs over 15 pounds. However, some users may have to secure it with extra weight on the bottom to prevent it from tipping. It has four solar panels with clear glass in the fixture for the maximum light output. Twelve LEDs bolster it, making it a suitable choice for a driveway or sidewalk. It has an ON/OFF switch too.
The base is wider than the top, making for a more stable fixture. The parts slip together effortlessly, providing a secure fit. It also makes it more economical for the seller to ship the product to keep the cost reasonable. It comes in four separate pieces. However, you must use them all and can’t change its height.
We liked the design of the fixture that points the light downward to maximize its output. The position of it under the top provides better protection for the unit should the glass break. The wider top maximizes the sun exposure for optimal charging. Overall, the materials are high-quality which adds to its pleasing appearance and value.
Kemeco ST4311AQ LED Cast Aluminum Solar Post Light Fixture
Best Solar Lamp Post Top
The Kemeco ST4311AQ LED Cast Aluminum Solar Post Light Fixture is similar to the manufacturer’s other product that we reviewed previously with its four-panel monocrystalline solar cell design and six warm-light LEDs. The difference is that it is only the top and not the entire post with the planter. You can install it on an existing 3-inch round post or use the included base to place it an elevated surface.
The light is gorgeous with its rippled glass that allows it to emit a pleasing yet bright glow. It’s a decent size too at 8.8-inches long by 8.8-inches wide by 18.8-inches high. It weighs just over 4 pounds. Installation is crucial to keep it secure while providing enough weight in the bottom to keep it from tipping. We see its best use if you have a weighted post in the ground already.
Its weight strikes an excellent balance between usability and durability. The cast-aluminum finish is attractive and gives it a pleasing texture that is fitting with its style. The package includes a base if you’d prefer to mount it on a flat surface. It is a 5.5-inch square that can fit on most wooden railings. The combined height of the unit is almost 22 inches which is an appropriate level for this use.
It has an ON/OFF switch which we appreciated. The package includes the batteries and everything you need to install it. While the manufacturer recommends at least six hours of sun exposure, the light performs well even through a string of cloudy days. It stays lit during most of the night hours, slowly dimming as it gets closer to dawn on a full charge.
Davinci Solar Post Lights - Outdoor Post Cap Light
The Davinci Solar Post Lights – Outdoor Post Cap Light work with existing structures to provide a light source with an easy-to-install product. One of its biggest strengths is its versatility when it comes to placement, thanks to what the manufacturer calls its “fuzzy fit” design. It’s an excellent choice for patio or fences to illuminate an entrance or stairway.
You’ll get two units, measuring 6.3-inches long by 6.3-inches wide by 3.7-inches tall. Screw holes in the base allow you to attach it directly to the post for a secure fit. We found that the included hardware was long enough to attach it far into a post. The base material is plastic which makes them more affordable with a design that doesn’t detract a lot from their appearance.
Each one has a single monocrystalline solar panel which is the most efficient type for the job. The lights are the warm side with a 3000-degree Kelvin temperature. We thought it a smart choice on the manufacturer’s part, given its likely use. They provide adequate light, mainly when used side-by-side. We think they work well for patio use with a pleasing design that fits in with any decor.
The placement of the panel ensures that the unit receives adequate sun exposure during the brightest hours of the day. However, it misses out on an extra energy boost without solar cells all around the top. That makes your location for the cap lights crucial, especially given their lower output.
The only gripe we had with the design was the crossed metal pieces over the panels. While they protect the glass, they also detract from the light. The squat pattern is also problematic and hampers the amount of light input they could offer. However, they provide a pleasant glow which fits its use for ambient lighting. We see them as more decorative instead of functional.
Gama Sonic GS-105S-G Baytown Ez Anchor Lamp
The Gama Sonic GS-105S-G Baytown Ez Anchor Lamp is another entry in this classic style that we love. This product is the post alone without any extra features. The first thing we noticed is the attractive lighting element that almost gives it the appearance of a gaslight. It measures 9.5-inches long by 12-inches wide by wide by 78-inches tall or 6.5 feet high. It weighs just over 10 pounds.
The design includes an auger-like stake that screws into the ground. It even has an indicator to let you know you did it right. That makes it easier to install, depending on the soil type. If it’s compacted clay, you may find it more challenging with the risk of cracking the bottom. Sandy soils also present some issues for securing it properly if they are too loose. While plastic is the primary material, it holds up well.
It wasn’t clear to us how long the shaft was which can affect its stability and ease of installation. That feature can affect its usefulness and practicality for some areas of the country. If it’s too short, it won’t have the necessary stability, especially in sandy soils or those with a significant gravel component. However, the manufacturer does show that they’re thinking of the user experience in the design.
The light has a summer-winter switch to optimize seasonal use and conserve power that we thought was brilliant. It has a slot for a second battery to ensure year-round use. It has 10 LEDs which are bright and suitable for its use along the sidewalk or entrance, albeit, on the stark side for some users. It has four solar panels to take advantage of 360 degrees of sunlight exposure.
You can buy the lamp-post combination or the fixture alone with mounting brackets for flat surfaces or use on an existing pole. Bear in mind that you can only install the lamp post in the ground. It’s not suitable for use as-is on sidewalks or patios. Our take is that this product has a limited customer base who can take advantage of the benefits that it offers.
Products That We Don’t Recommend
We felt we’d be remiss if we didn’t touch on the solar options that don’t fit our criteria for the best solar lamp post, given that there are so many items available. We recommend that you sift through the information you find carefully since many customer complaints involve improper placement and thus, non-functioning lights.
PierSurplus Solar Lamp Post and Planter
One look at the PierSurplus Solar Lamp Post and Planter will likely tell you straight away that you’re looking at a lot of work to get it assembled. The three-light fixture is undoubtedly attractive. However, you’ll spot some red flags from the start when you read the description.
First, there are no batteries. It’s a petty thing, but given its higher price, we felt that the seller should have tossed in nevertheless. The planter adds to its versatility, but take a look at the fine print. Second, the suggestion you’ll see is to add 50 pounds of weight to it. That would improve its stability, but we read a quality issue between the lines. The construction is top-heavy which makes it impractical.
Finally, take a peek at the terms of the sale. The seller accepts returns for non-used items. So, how can we test it with the 50 pounds of weight they suggest we add and still send it back in pristine shape? Oh, and by the way, shipping is on you—as is the 15-percent restocking fee. They are specific to the reasons they’ll waive it. But to us, it sounds like customer satisfaction isn’t a high priority.
Buyer, beware whenever you see a lengthy list of criteria for returns. We’d suggest you look out for it anytime you buy something online.
iGlow Outdoor Garden Solar Lamp Post
The iGlow Outdoor Garden Solar Lamp Post caught our attention for a couple of compelling features that we thought were worth noting. The height is adjustable which is a plus if space is a consideration. However, we couldn’t help but notice that it only has two LEDs that may or not require batteries. The wording goes back and forth between the two.
If it doesn’t, that means it relies totally on the recharging from sunlight exposure. That fact alone takes it off the table for buyers in northern areas. If the light manages to get enough to turn on at dusk, it likely won’t last very long into the night. That makes it less convenient and practical if you’re going to depend on it for a light source.
We also took issue with the construction. While it uses cast aluminum, the base is too small when compared to the larger light fixture. To be fair, the packaging includes anchor bolts and options for soft ground or cement. It does add another step to the installation. However, the diameter of the pole is also a problem at only 2 inches.
On a positive note, the manufacturer is transparent about its redesign of the product with before and after pictures illustrating the improvements. The light still is inadequate, and there’s no mention of a warranty on the product.
TruePower Cast Aluminum Solar-Powered Lamp
TruePower Cast Aluminum Solar-Powered Lamp starts well with an attractive design, four solar panels, and a LOW/HIGH/OFF switch. That covers the bases for seasonal use. But we didn’t like the fact that it is a telescoping pole that goes from 2 to 4 inches in diameter. We saw it as a weakness in the design and a ding against its durability if it should fall.
The construction is more user-hostile than friendly with it being difficult to access the screws to get to the battery. Quality control is also an issue at times. The light is adequate, but we’d prefer something brighter, considering its likely use to illuminate a driveway. Installation isn’t hard, but it may pose a concern if you don’t have the tools to get the job done.
Customer service is also problematic with longer than expected shipping and a poor response rate to concerns. The product works as described, but its hit-or-miss quality raised concerns for its long-term performance.
After reviewing the specs, usability, and features of each product, we feel that the Sterno Home Outdoor Solar Lamppost offers the best value with the optimal light output. With 12 LEDs, you can take full advantage of the features of the best solar lamp post. While its light is cool, we felt that it wasn’t a deal breaker, considering its probable placement at the end of a driveway instead of ambient patio illumination.
We were impressed with the high-quality construction and careful attention to the details of the design. Assembly is easy even if you need to take the extra step to mount it to a secure base. We felt that it is probably something you’d consider with any product of its type. Finally, there was the look of it.
We have to admit that it intrigued us right away. We thought it was a truer rendition of the classic form that made it a landscape feature on its own. Pieces that stand out for their visual appeal are an excellent value in our books.
Adding solar outdoor lighting brings both a practical use and welcome charm to your overall landscaping. They provide a convenient way to illuminate an area with a set-it-and-forget-it solution that we appreciate along with their good looks.