Solar Christmas lights are an idea that might seem funny at first glance, but they are an excellent way to show off during the holiday season without running the electric bill up to ridiculous rates. There are some outstanding choices when it comes to solar-powered Christmas lights that are bright, multi-colored, and stand up to the best non-solar light options out there.
Our pick for the overall best solar Christmas lights are the Joomer Solar Christmas Lights. This was tough as there are a half dozen excellent options, but Joomer had a great combination of colorful lights, excellent battery, and reliability that helps it edge out the other solar Christmas lights on the market.
We take a look at the top options out there. We also looked at and tested a lot of solar Christmas lights that didn’t
If you don’t care about the in-depth detailed review and just want to know our recommendation, here’s the link to it:
TL;DR Top Choice: Joomer Solar Christmas Lights (Affiliate link connects to current price listings on Amazon)
If you want the full in-depth guide and review to all our top choices, then read on!
Will Solar Christmas Lights Work in Winter?
Solar Christmas lights will work in winter in most environments, even those relatively far north. Now, there is limit. If you’re in Fairbanks Alaska where you get 45 minutes on dusk light for a whole day.
So common sense still applies.
However, most quality solar Christmas lights should last 9-12 hours when fully charged, and have solar panel connections that allow them to charge up during the sunny sections of winter. Solar needs light, not heat. So even with freezing winter temperatures, the solar panels work.
In fact bright sunlight reflecting off the snow can help the panels charge the batter for the lights even faster. In most places 9-12 hours of light is more than enough to cover the evening and night, although in some places you’ll be cutting it close by the early morning mark.
If you’re in northern Minnesota you’ll need to wait maybe an hour at night before flipping the Christmas decorations on versus say Missouri where that extra hour or two of sunlight even in winter can make a difference. However, the best ones last up to 12 hours and that is enough to cover the overwhelming amount of time when it’s dark out.
The quality of the solar Christmas lights matters a lot! Mediocre design means you’re looking at maybe 8 hours of light per charge and that is enough for the hours where people are most likely to pass by and appreciate them.
Not everyone cares about the 5 a.m. light shows, even during the Christmas season 🙂
What Do We Mean by “Best” Solar Christmas Lights?
The best Christmas solar lights by the way we define them should:
- Charge consistently and effectively with winter sunlight
- Store enough energy to last all night (or most of it at least)
- Come in a variety of colors or designs
- Are reliable throughout even cold rough winters
- Bonus if they work fine during other seasons for outdoor patio lighting
This is why despite talking to dozens of people, hitting up companies who produce these, and testing out many, many different solar lights, we have a list of only five that made our cut. The others just weren’t good enough and I don’t believe in recommending untested or unreliable goods just for the comission.
So these were the ones that consistently passed out standards, passed the tests of others, and have been around for a minimum of three years that way there’s a track record to cull out the “one and done” imposters that all too often come from companies that specialize in cheap dropshipping.
With that in mind we have three “best” Christmas lights powered by solar.
- Best overall solar Christmas Lights (this was clear cut by our tests and from opinions we trust)
- Best budget option for solar Christmas lights
- Best (biggest) solar battery that comes with quality solar Xmas lights
So without any further wait, here are our top choices with in-depth looks on each of them and why they’re our favorite picks.
Best Solar Christmas Light Overall: Joomer Solar Christmas Lights
This was actually a pretty easy pick when all was said and done. Joomer was a name that came up again and again when we looked for the best solar powered Christmas lights around.
And we weren’t disappointed when we went over to a friend’s house and tested them out.
Why are they the best?
First, auto sensors. These make life way easier for those of us who like to set up Christmas decorations and forget about them as much as possible.
The sensors determine when it’s day time and shut off lights automatically, preserving the stored solar energy and then turning the lights back on at night in their full glory.
Multiple color options. There are ten different colors available, including the outstandingly festive multi-color strings.
Add in warm lighting, two styles of lights, and the long strings that make these versatile lights good for non-Christmas season events, as well, and they clearly have more options that the competition.
There are memory modes, patterns, all kinds of things that can be programmed in. Best of all: this is actually pretty easy to set up. Whoever they hired as a technical writer for the manual did a fantastic job to dumb it down to technical idiots like myself.
Follow the step by step directions and you’re good. If I can do it, you should be good to go.
The solar panels have C-batteries for when you have that bit of a night/day gap that require the panel to work a little harder to keep the lights on during long nights until it’s time to recharge.
They Just Look Good
I’m honestly really surprised at the sheer variety of colors and looks these lights offered. My friend’s were 3 years old and he is ecstatic with how they work, and how they look. Plus his displays don’t pile on to the electric bill since the power is via solar.
If a situation comes up where there isn’t power, the lights don’t dim they just shut off. Either they are on and strong or they are off and charging. No weak fading.
- Even their “white lights” tend to be on the bluish tint. If you’re mixing and matching lights then these might not fit in as well.
- You need to position the solar panel for each light string well to get the absolute most charge during the limited sunlight during winter days (doable but may take some time to find out what works best for you)
Best Budget Solar Christmas Light: Albelt Extra Long Solar String Lights
Sometimes you’re on a budget and going premium isn’t an option in year one, even when looking at the amazing utilities savings that going solar is going to bring to the table.
The good news is that we found at least one set of solar string lights that were consistently priced lower than others but actually held up to testing. Those were the Albelt solar string lights.
These come in five different colors, with a few that seem focused on things like Christmas and a few that are more Halloween in nature (like the orange ones).
Why do we like the Albelt lights so much?
- LED lights mean they are efficient and bright
- Good portable solar panels that are comparable to the premium brands
- Great very small lights that give soft white LED lighting
- Inexpensive pricing
Those traits make them a solid choice if you love the idea of solar patio lights that work whether or not it’s the holiday season but you don’t have the budget to invest high end early on.
Important to Know: These solar lights need to be set to powered on BEFORE the solar panels are put in place and everything is connected. This is contrary to instinct and how most of the other solar lights work, but save yourself some headaches and do it this way instead of the “conventional” way otherwise these can get finnicky before finally charging up.
We talked to some others who struggled with these and each time the problems seemed to start shortly after charging them differently.
- These are SMALL lights. Even smaller bulbs than you would expect with Christmas lights. This can be a negative if you’re looking for bigger and brighter – though when in designs with strings close together there’s still plenty of light
- The solar panels aren’t bad, the stakes to mount them into the ground feel a bit sus. We didn’t have any problems with them, but it wouldn’t surprise us if people starting with much harder ground eventually ran into issues.
These are quality inexpensive solar string lights that can be used during the Christmas season or for decorating with gentle lighting both in and outdoors.
Click on the button below to check Amazon.com for current prices.
Best Battery with Solar Christmas Light System: YiQu Outdoor Solar String Lights
Don’t get me wrong, the lights here are solid though I personally prefer versatile lights to ones that are very specifically made in “vine” style of strings to be extra Christmas-y.
The YiQu Christmas lights are great, and the battery is the best we’ve found among reliable options.
The average battery size is 1200mah for solar powered Xmas light setups, but with YiQu the battery is larger at 1800mah. That makes them more reliable for staying on every single second of the evening, and means these lights can be charged up more heavily before first use.
Those are definite positives, and when paired with solid string of lights that makes for a winning combination.
In fact, they were in serious competition to take the top overall spot, as well, though no one could quite match the Joomer lights.
So what stood out about YiQu lights (aside from the name?)
- Largest reliable solar battery available
- Larger solar panels than most other solar light setups – meaning the larger solar battery doesn’t go to waste
- Back button on the back of the panel that you can keep pressing until you get the lighting mode you want – which makes things much easier
- Customer service for when there is a problem is the best we’ve tested
So they sound great – what are the potential negatives that we noticed?
- Just the one color – a soft white light. You’ll need to mix and match with others if you want a more colorful display.
- About twice as heavy as other solar light systems, though still not bad.
- Some customers have reported the light not lasting as long as expected, especially with the larger battery (we could not replicate this issue, but it has been reported a few times)
These are still an excellent choice if you’re looking for solid outdoor solar lights with some extra battery space for charging.
Other Excellent Solar Christmas Light Options
These might not have been the absolute best in any of our three categories above, but they are well enough made that we feel confident recommending them.
To be clear, we still recommend the three further up as the best overall options in each of their fields, but if for whatever reason you find those unavailable or are looking for other options, these are the only two that we would recommend beyond that top rated trio.
Qinol does a lot of good things, but they don’t compete with the highest end ones. That said, these are reliable solar Christmas lights with a quality battery, good lights, and moderate pricing that creates a solid package worthy of making it on this list.
There’s not much to break down here that wouldn’t be re-hashing the company copy or anything you couldn’t find from skimming customer reviews, but among the “best of the rest” Qinol is one that has actually shown some staying power compared to other fly by night come and go options.
To be honest, we were rather surprised by this one. Based on the name we were worried it was basically cheap drop shipped crap with no accountability, but what we got for our money instead was a solid if not spectacular strings of solar lights.
These looked nice, stayed on most of the night, and charged even during cloudy winter days to get ready for night once again.
I suspect the solar panels aren’t quite as efficient as the ones higher on the list, but unless you’re waking up at 6 a.m. looking for the smallest drop in performance of the Christmas lights, you probably won’t notice.
This is the only other brand aside from Qinol outside of our top three that we would recommend or give an okay to.
Solar Christmas Lights Best Practices
Remembering to turn the solar Christmas lights off during the day, allowing the solar panel to fully recharge the battery before nightfall, makes a huge difference in helping them to last through the season.
This is common for non-solar Christmas lights so it really shouldn’t be all that much of an adjustment to shift the hours by one or two.
Charging begins with the on switch, and it’s important to make sure to follow the instructions given with each one, especially during the initial charge to avoid causing any issues down the line.
Placement of the Panels Matters
Be watchful of shadows and shade throughout the day. The trickiest part is setting up the panels so they get the maximum sunlight exposure. This is rarely straight up and down, but they often need to be angled or move to find the perfect area that gets the most light exposure throughout the entire shortened winter day.
Be prepared to try out a few different setups before finding one that works well for you and your light setup’s specific power needs.
What Are the Advantages of Solar Christmas Lights?
While there are some disadvantages that come with going the solar route for your next holiday light setup, there’s little question in my mind that the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages.
Much Lower Electric Bills
If you’ve ever put up a big display of Christmas lights for Christmas and then seen the electric bill come in…it’s not a great gift during the already expensive Christmas season. Because the solar Christmas lights generate their own electricity, you’re not going to see that huge spike in utility bills.
Even if you have a backup system for when the solar energy runs out before the sparse winter daylight, the pull on it is going to be so much smaller than if you use traditional Xmas lights.
No “One Bulb Kills the Chain” Issues
I will fully concede that this is a less of an issue with some modern lights than the strings many of us helped Dad wrestle with as kids. One really bad bulb and that whole chain would go out.
In our experience we have not run into any of these problems with solar Christmas lights. Now in fairness, I’m not an electrical engineer by any means so I’m not guaranteeing this won’t change in the future, and I have run into a situation where one or two bulbs were out, but the rest of the line still lit up so it worked.
Since the lights are powered from the collected sunlight of the attached solar panels, you’re not pulling energy off the grid that might be powered wholly or in part by coal. This means the lights don’t leave a carbon footprint and are thus more environmentally friendly since they won’t drive up your carbon footprint.
What Are Potential Disadvantages of Solar Christmas Lights?
There are a few potential disadvantages of solar Christmas lights. So as much as I’m a really big fan of them, it wouldn’t be a complete guide without looking at the other side of things, as well.
May Not Last The Entire Night
In many northern states in the U.S. those long winters are going to push the stored energy of the solar panels to their limits. Then again, do you really care if the Christmas Lights go off in the morning 40 minutes before dawn?
Some people might, and to them it might be worth paying the large utility bills to have that full “up and lit” effect.
However, it’s important to note that even the good solar lights might not always last the entire night.
Not All Brands Are Good
There are way more solar Christmas light brands than what I have listed here. And none of them would meet my stamp of approval or those of my friends who have used these lights and give them a thumbs up I’m actually willing to trust.
Only a very few brands are any good at all and you want to make sure to get one of the good ones and not any of the other ones.
Solar Christmas Lights: In Conclusion
Solar Christmas lights are now a viable option for showing the Christmas spirit and while the up front cost is more than with conventional Christmas lights, in the long run many people who make the switch are very glad they did.
The savings in electric bills alone quickly recoup the cost of the lights in many areas, and the knowledge that your setup is environmentally friendly is just an added bonus.
If you haven’t considered solar Christmas lights, maybe this is the time to bring them out!
Remember our pick for #1: Joomer Solar Christmas Lights
We hope you found this buying guide useful and wish you a Merry Christmas with your beautiful eco-friendly light display!
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