The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Solar Landscape Lighting Problems — What Are The Best Alternatives?

Solar landscape lighting problems include poor quality and low brightnessDrive through just about any neighborhood, and you’ll see solar-powered landscape lighting, the lights lining driveways and walkways with a subtle glow.

As an expert in the field of landscape lighting, I get a lot of questions about all sorts of lighting, including solar powered.

It’s no mystery why they’re so popular. Solar-powered lights are inexpensive, costing just $60 or so for a 10-pack of path lights.

You can plop them wherever you like — no pesky wiring needed. No need to give up a whole weekend to install them. All you need is a screwdriver.

They’re energy efficient — just wait for the sun to power them up.

So why shouldn’t everybody light up their landscape using the free power of the sun? The list of benefits to using solar landscape lighting seems long. But there are a few notable solar landscape lighting problems. Here’s a look at them.

Poor Quality

Typically made of inexpensive plastic, solar lights just don’t hold up.

And lined up along your front walk or your driveway, the rows of little black lights look a bit like a landing strip.


Because it’s powered by the sun, solar landscape lighting produce only a dim glow — at best. Weather obviously affects them; on cloudy days and winter days, they won’t soak up enough sunlight to work.

You also have no control over when they’re actually on: They start to glow at night and turn off during the day.

Solar Landscape Lighting Vs. Hard-Wired: Landscape Lighting Design Alternatives

Here’s a look at three places around your home where you might choose to put solar lights, and what a professional would choose instead.

Up To Your Front Entry

Instead of a row of solar lights lining your front walk, consider a 1.2-watt LED lamp inside an aesthetically pleasing fixture that ties into your architecture and landscape design.

Where you might use 10 solar lights, we’d choose maybe four or five, strategically and discreetly placed so you don’t see the light fixtures — just warm and inviting light.

In Your Garden

Instead of solar landscape lighting lining your pretty garden bed, a professional might nestle a few 2- to 4-watt LED lights into your bark mulch to artistically illuminate your garden.

If you have tall perennials that block low lighting, we’d use bullet lights with directional uplighting to gain a bit of elevation. You’ll see the light — not the fixtures.

Along The Driveway

Don’t go airport runway style with your landscape lighting! A professional might opt for moonlighting. We’d place fixtures high in the trees near your driveway — or in the soffits of your house, so the light washes over your driveway.

This lighting style creates pretty shadows that add drama and interest.

Benefits Of Hard-Wired Landscape Lighting

Alternatives to solar landscape lightingAmong the advantages of hard-wired lighting over solar powered:

  • Solar lights are energy efficient, but so is low-voltage LED landscape lighting. They use 15-20 percent of the electricity used by halogen or incandescent bulbs. You’ll pay only about $5 a month on your electric bill for an entire landscape lighting system, front to back.
  • They’re dependably bright at all times: in the shade, on cloudy days, during all seasons.
  • You can connect them to a timer to turn on and off when you choose.

And at Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah, our landscape lighting systems come with a lifetime warranty that covers fixtures and installation.


You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to landscape lighting — and solar landscape lighting is inexpensive, easy to install and an energy-efficient option. However, from where I’m sitting, the problems with solar landscape lighting outweigh the benefits: They provide a very low level of light, depend on ample sunlight for power and are not crafted to last.

If you decide a professional, hard-wired landscape lighting system is right for you, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call at (801) 440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or fill out our simple contact form.

Located in Sandy, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves customers throughout Utah’s residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper and Holladay. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects from Salt Lake County and Utah County, to Davis County and Summit County — and beyond.

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