Suppose you’re looking to add an aesthetically pleasing and valuable addition to your latest gardening landscape project or simply light up an entertainment area for your guests.

In that case, you can never go wrong with outdoor lighting. However, you are now faced with a choice about whether to choose solar lighting or hard-wired electric outdoor lights. Here’s what to consider when selecting the best option for your home.

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The decision about whether to opt for solar powered light or electric outdoor light will largely be determined by costs, aesthetic appeal, upkeep, and the climate you live in. Each option has distinct advantages and disadvantages, so you need to identify what you want out of your outdoor lights.

It also makes my garden a far more accessible area for entertainment purposes. But no two homes are the same, and there’s a lot to think about before adding this game-changing feature to your garden.

The Difference Between Outdoor Solar Lights & Electric Lights

Solar-powered and hard-wired electric outdoor landscape lighting will produce two very different outdoor lighting set-ups, which may take you some time to truly appreciate.

The Difference Between Outdoor Solar Lights & Electric Lights

It may take five or ten years to see the differences, and it’s certainly not a choice that should be made on a whim, considering the time it takes and costs involved with install outdoor lights.

Electric outdoor lighting, for example, offers powerful, bright lights, which may be more suitable for you if you have a large garden. However, they will weigh heavily on your electricity bill are bad for the environment.

Electric lights are hard-wired to your home’s circuit board which provides a 220V outlet. In contrast, solar lighting are typically limited to around 15 volts output from their solar panels, depending on how many cells your lights have (one cell produces a maximum of 0.45 volts which is considered a low voltage light).

The difference in power output and the reliability of the power sources makes a far more significant difference than you think.

Pros and Cons of Outdoor Solar Lights

Let’s take a look at the pros first.

Lower Electricity Bill

Because a solar light runs independently and don’t rely on the power grid, they will cost you nothing to run. American families can save thousands of dollars every year by switching to solar-powered outdoor lighting options!

Considering that solar lights have a very long lifespan, you end up saving a tremendous amount of money in the long run.

Environmentally Friendly

The sun is a renewable energy source, and the carbon footprint of outdoor solar lights is significantly lower for this reason alone.

However, they also don’t contain any mercury, unlike outdoor electric lights. Mercury can be dangerous not only for mother nature but your family’s health as well.

Longer Life

While most electric bulbs have a lifespan of around ten years, most solar-powered lights will guarantee you a lifespan of about 20,000 hours.

They are also have LED lights, which last far longer than the lightbulbs used in electric outdoor lights and don’t have to be replaced as frequently.

Easy To Install

Finally, because solar lighting are run on a closed circuit, you don’t need to lay out any wiring.

You just put them in the ground, let the solar panel do its thing and as soon as the sun goes down, they turn on, and you’ll never have to do anything again until you replace them.

Not to mention, not having to hire a professional to install them saves you a few extra bucks.

Automatically Switch On And Off

Solar-powered lights are designed to switch off during the daytime while they use the sun to store power and will switch themselves on at night when they need to do their job. It’s convenient for you not to have to think about it at all.


Now let’s look at the cons.

Less Powerful/Dim Lights

One of the problems with outdoor solar lighting is that, because they don’t use much power, the output is lower and your outdoor lights can be dimmer, and they take on a blue color rather than white.

If it’s been raining or overcast, it could be even worse. For some people, less power and dim lights could be a dealbreaker. Some solar lights are a bit more powerful, but they can be expensive and run out of power faster.

Requires Direct Sunlight

What’s even worse than a lower power output is when your solar lighting have no power at all. Depending on where you live, this is something you need to put careful consideration into.

If you live somewhere with a colder climate with lots of cloud cover, solar power is probably not for you because it simply will not work without direct sunlight. The same goes for homeowners whose gardens have many high trees and thick vegetation that limits sun exposure.

Initial Costs

While solar-powered lights will save you electricity in the long run, the upfront costs will be higher because they cost more than electric lights.

Perhaps they can save a lot of money in the long run, but the fact of the matter is that it could be unaffordable for you right now.


Solar panels tend to accumulate a lot of dirt over time and need to be kept in good condition. Now and then, they’ll require some thorough cleaning to keep performing at an optimal level.

Pros and Cons of Outdoor Electric Lights

Considering the pros and cons of solar lights, electric lights offer pretty much the exact opposite for either column.

Electric lights are more powerful and shine brighter, which is better for larger gardens. The initial costs are lower, and they will work all day, whether it’s sunny, raining, overcast, or dark.

And one of the truly great things that a fully hard wired landscape lighting system is that it can improve your property value. It’s a genuine landscaping feature desirable to homebuyers due to the elevated curb appeal that it gives your home.

However, electric outdoor landscape lighting is not good for the environment, and they have a far larger carbon footprint than their solar-powered counterparts.

Because they make an impact on your electricity bill and because lightbulbs have to be replaced far more frequently than solar-powered LED lights, the running costs for electric lights are far higher.

You’re also going to need to remember to turn your lights on every evening and turn them back off every morning, which could be an inconvenience and prove costly if you mistakenly leave them on all day. Fortunately, you can solve this problem by installing a timer.

The Final Verdict – Outdoor Solar Lights Vs Electric Landscape Lighting

So ultimately, you’re left with a decision between higher costs today or in the future. You’re faced with a decision about whether you want to do what’s right for the environment, and you need to consider the relative differences in power, longevity, and ease of use when you’re choosing between solar-powered and electric outdoor lights.

Outdoor Solar Lights Vs Electric Landscape Lighting
Photo by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

Over the years everyone is looking for creative ways to light up their gardens, and, having given both options a try, I prefer the solar-powered option. My garden is small enough not to need bright lights, and I live in an area with a warmer climate with plenty of sunshine.

You’ll found it to be significantly cheaper in the long run, and to me, the choice is a no-brainer. But everyone has their own opinions, priorities, and varying set of needs/requirements for themselves. So take my recommendation with a pinch of salt and rather use the knowledge that you now have to make an informed, educated decision.