Best Outdoor Lighting 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

Able to combine practicality with looks, outdoor lighting is becoming an essential purchase for anyone who loves to spend time in their garden or outside space. They can give you more time in the garden after dark, which especially helps when the weather is warm enough to enjoy some after barbecue drinks.

There is such a huge range available, from ones which sit on your dining table, to ones which fit on the wall and even string fairy lights which really boost the overall look of your outdoor space. Then you have other considerations such as how bright you want them to be, the power type and how weather-proof they have to be.

This makes the choice incredibly hard, but thankfully, there are thousands of variations available to buy. To save you having to search for hours, we have rounded up some of the best outdoor lights in this guide, as well as including some information about what everything means.

The Best Outdoor Lights – Our Top Picks

Best Solar-Powered Outdoor Lights

Duracell LED Stake Lights, Set of 4

Battery-powered solar lights are the most popular choice amongst UK customers, but batteries in general aren’t massively reliable.

So step up Duracell, a name notorious for making some of the best batteries on the planet. If the battery happens to run out, it is replaceable, so you pretty much have them for life.

You get to choose from two lighting modes. Choose the first to enable 6 hours of light or Mode 2 to enable 10 hours of light, depending on how long you want them to be on.

They are made from stainless steel and glass, so not only is the power great, but the build and structure are too. The stake is strong yet streamlined, so positioning is very flexible and you can even move them to another place if you wish.

The weather rating means they will be protected from any water or dust which could damage them. Price-wise, there is no doubt it is an expensive purchase, especially if you’re going to need more than four. But they should be with you for life, which is more than can be said of the ones which you can get for £1 and only last a few months.

Specifications

  • IP Rating: IP44
  • Size: H52 x Dia.10.5cm
  • Kelvin: 4300K

We like

  • Nice and stylish
  • Surprising amount of brightness for the size
  • Quality stainless steel finish

We dislike

  • Cost

Final Verdict

Duracell know what they are doing, and they have created the perfect lights for waste-conscious, eco-friendly individuals who like their quality

Eva Solo SunLight LED Lamp

Brilliantly atmospheric and perfect for using on an outdoor table or taking with you wherever you move as it is nice and portable. This makes it great for use as a stylish camping light, too

The frosted glass gives it the perfect level of glow, and the anodised aluminium base is frost-proof so it can be left out at all times without you having to worry.

Charging it up fully will take around 8 hours, which then gives you 20 hours of full light. You can set it on to auto mode, so it will do all of this charging and lighting without you having to touch it or bother with switches and settings. There is also a standard on/off switch for if you want to use it.

The solar panel is hidden, so it doesn’t affect the looks, and if it becomes dirty, it is easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Specifications

  • IP Rating: IP44
  • Size: H14 x Dia.13cm
  • Kelvin: 2700-3200

We like

  • Looks fab
  • Gives out a great amount of light
  • Light is warm for a comfortable glow

We dislike

  • Price

Final Verdict

A pricier pick, but the 15,000-hour LED bulb will give you plenty of time with it

John Lewis & Partners Lettsom LED Stake Lights, Set of 4

If you want the perfect balance between quality and budget, then these stake lights are a cheaper alternative to Duracell’s collection but still offer a good amount for the money.

They are floor-level stake lights, so don’t stick up, which is great for anyone who doesn’t want the lights to ruin the look of their garden but still needs something for when it goes dark. This also means they shine upwards, so are perfect for decorative purposes and lighting up flower displays as opposed to paths.

Each provides between 4 and 5 hours of light on a full charge, and the lumen level is relatively high, so the light they give off is quite bright for their size.

Specifications

  • IP Rating: N/A
  • Size: H13 x Dia.10.5cm
  • Lumens: Each stake 6lm

We like

  • Price
  • No sightly stalks on show

We dislike

  • Shine upwards so are mostly decorative

Final Verdict

Makes an impact with their brightness, and great if you want to spend that bit more without going extreme

The Solar Centre Lumify 300 LED Line Lights

String lights are by far the most aesthetically pleasing form, especially if you are in it for the atmosphere more then the lighting. The wired aspect is obviously a warning sign if you’re going for the wire-free look, so the fact these are solar is very handy indeed.

Fear not if you’re worried about the lack of sun which your garden gets. They also come complete with a detachable control box which can be charged via a USB connection if solar power isn’t possible, so you’re always covered. There is 2m of cable between this and the start of the lights, so it doesn’t intrude.

A Winter power saving mode also makes them suitable for use all year round, so if you want them strung up over the grass in summer but under a canopy in winter, it isn’t going to be impossible to do. It lowers the brightness a bit but saves energy, for when you don’t have access to solar light.

You also get eight different lighting options, so you can set the exact warmth and glow which the evening requires. The distance between each light is 10cm too, so it is all nicely spread without being too roomy. They are also available in a 10m 100 bulb option.

Specifications

  • IP Rating: N/A
  • Size: Total length of string 32m
  • Kelvin: N/A

We like

  • Great length and spacing
  • Can charge manually as well as through solar power
  • Can work for 12 nights on a single charge

We dislike

  • Price

Final Verdict

Lovely lights which you have to pay that bit extra for, but in return, you get your moneys-worth

Blooma Glend Brushed LED Deck Light, Set of 2

Deck lighting is a relatively new concept. The idea is that you can install it in a garden, along a walkway, or recessed in a terrace to make the most of the space you have without things getting unsightly.

They are 33mm high, so will be unobtrusive when set into an area. Each light gives off a nice blue hue, which is bright without being too overbearing.

They have a high IP rating, so while you still need to ensure that they are tight enough to not let water and dirt in, they are generally very hardy.

It isn’t a bad price to say you get two in a pack, and the lifespan of the LED lights should give you 7 hours use per day over ten years.

Specifications

  • IP Rating: IP65
  • Size: H33mm
  • Kelvin: N/A

We like

  • Good quality glass
  • Good blue light
  • Long lasting bulbs

We dislike

  • Ensure they are watertight as they sit low - you may need to seal the area too

Final Verdict

Great if you want to illuminate a path or walkway, and as there are no wires, they’re easy to fit too

Best Mains-Powered Outdoor Lights

Nordlux Luxembourg Pendant

Pendants are brilliant for porches and those more covered areas, and this weathered-style design will really boost the look of the place.

Made from galvanised steel, it is strong and sturdy even in the drastic British weather. A sealed glass dome prevents the bulb from being exposed to the extremes, and you can unscrew it to access the bulb when it needs replacing.

A long suspension chain gives you a drop of around 160cm, so if you want it to sit low over a table it is a perfect option. You can also shorten this right back if you wish at the time of installation.

Specifications

  • Type: Outdoor Mains Pendant
  • Bulb: Halogen/LED Replaceable
  • IP Rating: IP23
  • Dimensions: H160 x W27 x D27cm

We like

  • Great rustic look
  • Replaceable bulb
  • Cable is very long so suitable for most places

We dislike

  • No bulb supplied

Final Verdict

Attractive, and not a bad price at all. Perfect if this is the look you want.

Philips Robin LED Wall Lantern

Wall lights are great, as they don’t take up any room but have the power to illuminate a large area.

This Philips light is crafted from quality aluminium and tempered glass, so is strong and stable in all weathers. It has the classic wall lantern design too, so perfect if you want to go for the classic practical look.

The light it gives off is nice and copes with illuminating the immediate area, so it would also be suitable to use as a front door light if you like to illuminate the entrance area to your property after dark.

It incorporates LED, so while these aren’t replaceable, they should last for up to 15,000 hours and use around 85% less energy than standard bulbs.

Specifications

  • Type: Wired Wall
  • Kelvin: 2700K
  • Lumens: 430lm
  • IP Rating: IP44
  • Dimensions: H23 x W17.4 x D20cm
  • Light Bulb: LED

We like

  • Nice style
  • Feels strong
  • Easy to install

We dislike

  • Warm hue means it isn’t the brightest available

Final Verdict

A great price for a light which is a) so easy to fit and b) will last for a fair few years (and you get a five-year warranty)

Astro Chios 150 Wall Light

A light option which gives you modernity and style as well as practicality, these are perfect for anyone who thinks that the traditional outdoor light design is a bit of an eyesore.

The bulb isn’t included, so you can replace it when needed, but this also means that the lumens, brightness and longevity depend on the ones you choose, so you may want to spend a bit more to get good results.

It has specifically been salt-spray tested too, so if you live on the coast and find yourself getting through outdoor lighting and furniture at a rapid rate, make sure this is your next option.

The light doesn’t give off an amazing amount, so it is more for a subtle glow than a light which will allow you to see with 20/20 vision, but the style is what you choose these wall lights for.

Specifications

  • Type: Wired Wall Light
  • Bulb: LED Replaceable
  • Lumens: 310
  • IP Rating: IP44
  • Dimensions: H15 x W6.8 D9.2cm

We like

  • Modern looks
  • Replacement bulb

We dislike

  • More for decoration as opposed to light

Final Verdict

Perhaps a case of style over substance, but will still make an impact if you just want to give your outdoor lighting a boost

John Lewis & Partners Sutton Wall Light

Like a cross between a wall light and a pendant porch light, this Sutton from John Lewis is a real charm.

If you are after a traditional style, then this one ticks all the boxes. The ornate styling and rustic look give it that perfect period look without it being too dated and overbearing. As the bulbs are replaceable, you can choose the exact brightness and warmth you want to add the finishing touch, as long as it is within the requirements and compatibility.

A small hole in the bottom lets in enough air to prevent condensation and any damage, without letting in any insects or dirt. To finish it off, the glass is slightly frosted, which helps give the light a more subdued feel rather than being in your face.

Specifications

  • Type: Mains Wired Wall
  • Light Bulb: LED/Halogen Replaceable
  • IP Rating: IP44
  • Dimensions: H33 x W16.5cm

We like

  • Rustic, old-style look
  • Bulb type is adaptable to a point

We dislike

  • A little fiddly to install

Final Verdict

We love the style, and while it doesn’t feel the most substantial or damage-resistant, we’d still say it is worth the money for the looks

John Lewis & Partners Festoon Line Lights

If you’re after some string lights which feature large bulbs to add some character, this line of 10 Festoon lights provides both illumination and decoration for a fun vibe.

They are available in both clear or coloured bulb form, depending on the exact look you’re going for. The distance from the power socket to the first bulb is 5m, so you have a generous amount of cable to reach to where you need it to go.

LED bulbs have been incorporated inside each glass dome to give you tens of thousands of hours use and they’ll also use much less energy than traditional non-LED string lights. Most of these light types can’t be replaced, but the ones in these festoon string can, so they most definitely will be with you for a long, long time. However, we will mention that finding exact replacements will likely prove more difficult than it is worth.

You can also use them indoors if you wish, so when the weather is wet and windy but you’re throwing a dinner party, they are there to keep the atmosphere fun.

Specifications

  • Type: Wired Festoon String Lights
  • Bulb: LED
  • Replacement IP Rating: IP44
  • Size: 9.5m Length

We like

  • Nice overall length
  • Choice of colour or clear

We dislike

  • Difficulty in finding replacement bulbs

Final Verdict

Not the longest you can buy, but if you purely want the fun factor then they’re a great option

Help and Resources

Fridge Freezer Buying Guide

Aim

The first thing you have to think about before you start looking is which area you want to light up. If it is going to be a path, you want something quite bright which will help to navigate people safely as opposed to lights which just look nice. You’ll also want to avoid wiring becoming a trip hazard. Likewise, for summer barbecues, decorative lights which give a warm glow rather than blinding everybody with their brightness could be the best.

This will likely reduce the amount available to you, but at the end of the day, you want the best for the job.

Power

  • Solar

Essentially, these are powered from the sun. This means they are cost-free to run and eco-friendly. No wonder they are so popular in the UK.

Technically, they are actually battery powered, as the energy they accumulate all day is stored here. They are perfect for placing anywhere, whether you have a seating area away from the house or want to illuminate a path. No connection cables are needed.

Solar lights can be difficult if you want the lights to be on over winter or in cloudy conditions, as the UK is notorious for its dark, damp months. You should be fine to use them in summer, though. Some will have switches which will turn them off if you want to store them ready for next summer again, without wasting battery. You may also be able to get a set with a battery which can also be charged via USB.

  • Mains

A wired option, which is generally more reliable than solar powered, especially when the nights get darker. They can plug into an outside socket, or be fitted to the wall and wire-free if you get a specialist to install them.

You will be more restricted in terms of placement because of this. They’ll also cost to run.

Types

  • Stake

Perfect for sticking into the grass or ground, which keeps them firmly in place. This is ideal if you want to illuminate a rockery or path without cords and want something substantial.

  • Lantern

If you want a lamp for the middle of the table, or for decorative purposes, then lanterns are great. They can give off the feel of real candles to create a good level of ambience, and can often be picked up and carried around if you want something transportable

  • Wall

Ideal if you want something permanent and to light up a relatively large area. They don’t take up any space either, so are great if you want to maximise the room and just make the most of what is already there

  • Festoon

A fancy word for string lights. It covers the wide various styles, such as fairy lights, bunting or line lights. They are designed to hang lower and add a lot of ambience

  • Pendant

Often found in porch areas, they can dangle from a higher level to illuminate the immediate area. You may also be able to use one under a gazebo, or in an outhouse

  • Decking/Brick

A relatively modern answer to lighting. These are designed to fit into your outdoor decking or into any steps leading up to your house

Kelvin

This is essentially the level of colour of the light. The lower this number, the warmer the hue. 2,700K is an indoor soft white and this can go up to 5,600K, which is bright white shade. It depends on the atmosphere you want to create, but generally the higher this number, the more illumination it will give out.

Lumens

As opposed to telling you how bright a bulb is like the Kelvin rating does, the lumens (lm) are a raw measure of light output (essentially the brightness). They have replaced watts as the main measurement of this with the introduction of LED bulbs, as watts measure input but lumens measure output.

The higher the lumens, the brighter the light. Indoor lights are usually around 300-500 lumens, and some outdoor flood lights emit in excess of 20,000lm.

If you want to replace a watt-rated bulb with lumens:

  • 100W incandescent bulb > 1600 lumens
  • 75W > 1100 lumens
  • 60W > 800 lumens
  • 40W > 450 lumens

Weather Rating

Electrical, battery and solar-powered outdoor lights all have an IP (Ingress Protection) Rating, which lets you know how compatible they are with certain weather conditions.

The first digit of an IP rating refers to intrusion protection, so whether dust or larger objects (such as insects) can penetrate the sealing.

The second is all about the protection from moisture, such as rain or fog.

Intrusion:

  • 0: No special protection
  • 1: Protection from a large part of the body, such as a hand and from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter. Deliberate access still possible
  • 2: Protection against fingers or other objects over L80mm and D12mm
  • 3: Protection from entry by tools, wires etc. with D2.5mm or more
  • 4: Protection against solid bodies larger than 1mm (e.g. small tools)
  • 5: Protected against dust which could be harmful
  • 6: Totally dust-tight

Moisture:

  • 0: No protection
  • 1: Protection against condensation
  • 2: Protection against water droplets deflected up to 15 degrees from vertical
  • 3: Protection against spray up to 60 degrees from vertical
  • 4: Protection against water spray from all directions
  • 5: Protection against low-pressure water jets (all directions)
  • 6: Protection against string water jets and waves
  • 7: Protection against temporary immersion
  • 8: Protection against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure

The majority you see will be around IP44 or IP54. If one number is replaced by an X, it has not been rated for that particular issue.

Bulbs

Consider the type of bulb and size, and whether this is accessible for you to buy. Some forms include LED, halogen and incandescent.

Some bulbs, particularly in LED lights, are usually not replaceable so bear in mind the lifespan of the current fitted bulb. You will also want to look at the wattage, as this determines how bright the light will be. The higher the W, the brighter the bulb. Great if you have a particularly dark corner to illuminate.

Other Things To Look For

  • Portability – Do you want to be able to move it around the garden, or take it with you if you go camping/on holiday/inside?
  • Charging Options – If you want to opt for a solar light, some of these also offer a backup to use them as wired devices or charge the battery manually, which helps in low-light areas and could come in handy

FAQ’s

Where Is The Best Place To Buy Outdoor Lighting?

We love the collection which John Lewis has. You will find something in every category, whether you want the lights for style or for practicality.

Other good places to look are hardware stores such as B&Q, or even on Amazon. Beware of the ones which retail a bit too low – they probably won’t last very long.