Landscape Lighting: Solar Lights vs. Powered Lights

When designing your landscape, you face many decisions: pavers or concrete? Grass or turf? Fire pit or pergola? These big picture decisions are the ones that most people expect to make, but there are dozens of little decisions as well. One of those is whether you choose solar lights or traditionally powered lights.

The importance of good lighting can not be overstated. Lighting can add ambience, focus, functionality, and safety to a yard, making it a relatively simple addition that can make a big impact. 

There are plenty of options for lighting your yard: hanging string lights, in-ground posts along pathways, spotlights for trees, etc. Along with these choices, you will have to choose what type of power your lights will use—namely, solar or low voltage.  

There are pros and cons to each. The important thing is to make an informed decision. Here are the key differences between the two.

Power source

Obviously, the biggest difference between the two options is the power source. Solar lights are powered by the sun, while low voltage lights run off of your home’s electricity. 


Because solar lights require no plugs or wires, they can be installed almost anywhere. You want to place them somewhere that receives a good amount of direct sunlight, but other than that, it is simply a matter of securing the light wherever you want it to go.

Low voltage lights, on the other hand, are not so flexible when it comes to installation. With these lights, you are limited based on distance from a plug, spacing of the wired lights, etc. Also, to avoid unsightly (and potentially unsafe) wires lying around the yard, you’ll have to dig trenches to conceal them.


Both types of lights vary widely in terms of cost. The prices of your solar lights depends largely on quality. If they are specially made to be all-weather lights or to hold a charge for a longer period of time, they will likely be more expensive.

Wired lights also have a wide range of costs, mostly dependent on design. Keep in mind that the cost of installation is likely going to be higher for these lights, especially if you hire a professional.


No matter what kind of light you choose, you waste your time, money, and energy if they don’t work well. 

Although solar lights have an advantage in terms of installation and cost, they can struggle with performance if they aren’t able to get adequate sunlight throughout the day, whether that is due to placement or clouds. If they can’t fully charge, then they may not be able to shine as brightly. In general, brightness is the biggest complaint people have with solar lights.

Low voltage lights tend to perform consistently well, as long as you purchase a quality product to begin with. They are all-weather and tend to shine brightly, making them a more dependable option for full-yard lighting or security lighting.

Lighting is a fantastic way to add visual interest to your yard. Now that you are aware of the big differences between solar-powered lights and low-voltage lights, you can shop around to find lights that will work for your yard in terms of style and functionality. 

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