Products at a glance
This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.
Outdoor lights can do much more than allow you to see in your garden at night. Choose the right lights and they can transform your patio into whatever after-dark environment you wish.
Create a warm glow for an al fresco evening meal with someone special; show off your garden design skills with some strategically placed post lamps; or get into the party mood with a multicoloured light display.
Best outdoor lights at a glance
- Best strip light: Philips HUE Outdoor Lightstrip
- Best ornamental light: Gainsborough Solar Garden Lighthouse
- Best heater lamp: Kettler Ibiza Floor Standing Heater with LED and Wireless Speaker
- Best spotlight: 4lite Smart Outdoor LED Spike Light Twin Pack
- Best for ‘candle light’: Iconic Lights Vase Shaped Basket with Candle Light
- Best globe light: Innr Smart Outdoor Globe Light Colour
- Best solar post light: SolarCentre Kodiak Outdoor Solar Powered Garden Post Lights (Set of 2)
- Best for decoration: Breakwater bay Matthew LED lights
- Best for a traditional wall light: Lutec Corniche Wall Lantern
- Best for string light twinkles: Lights4Fun 40 Warm White Bubble Solar Fairy Lights
What is the best way to power outdoor lights? Solar, battery, or electricity?
Patio lights are typically lit by one of three sources of power: connected to the mains electricity, traditional batteries, or the increasingly popular solar batteries. This latter option uses a solar panel to charge a battery during sunlit hours and will switch on the light at dusk.
Some solar lights come with an inbuilt solar panel, which is fine if you’re going to place your light in a sunny daytime spot, otherwise you should look for lights with separate solar panels that can be connected to lights that are positioned in the shade.
You will also notice an increasing number of smart lights available on the market. These allow you to control lights remotely, from devices such as your phone or voice activated systems.
This means you have much more control over the lighting, often allowing you to adjust the timing, intensity and even colour of the lights.
To give you an idea of some of the lighting options available for your patio, we’ve compiled this list of ten types of lights with a product recommendation for each category.
So whether you use your patio for dining and entertaining in the evening, or simply want to enhance its visual nighttime appeal, there should be something here for you.
Pros: incredibly flexible, smart-power lighting set-up
Cons: not precisely cheap
£189.99 for 5 metre strip; £109.99 for a 2 metre strip
Philips HUE offers a range of smart lighting options that connect wirelessly to their HUE Bridge and can be operated remotely through your phone or voice controlled devices.
Up to 50 devices and accessories can be set up this way, giving you the ability to control the connected lights’ timing, routines and more.
Among their range of outdoor smart lighting products we were drawn to their lightstrip, a 5 metre flexible piece of rubbery material that glows along its full length. It comes with simple mounting clips to fix the strip in place and is weatherproof for year round use.
Use it to light up a pathway, wrap it around a garden structure, or simply snake it around a few patio objects and use the app to select from millions of colours.
At full intensity, the diffused white light offers plenty of brightness, but have fun changing the colour and intensity and you can create whatever lighting mood you wish.
It may be a little expensive, particularly when you factor in the need for a HUE Bridge, but if you’re keen to set up a smart lighting system then Philips HUE provides a whole range of quality lighting options, both indoors and out, that are easy to use.
Pros: Bright rotating light to mimic a real lighthouse
Cons: It may annoy the neighbours if left on all night
Garden lighting can be used to create a sense of fun, and if you want to add some cheer to your patio then this solar lighthouse should amuse your guests.
It’s modelled on a classic lighthouse design, decked in red and white, with tough, weatherproof polyresin used to bring out the details of brickwork, windows and railings.
Place it in a sunny spot to allow the solar panel to charge up the battery and at dusk it’ll automatically activate the light, which not only casts a strong beam but also rotates, just like the real thing.
With a diameter of 13cm and height of 16.5cm it won’t take up too much room – and if you’ve got a rockery or pond then it will lend it a coastal effect.
Small £189; Large £389
Pros: Light, heat and music
Cons: The speaker isn’t great quality
If you’re hosting an evening of outdoor entertainment then you’ll want to provide some light, warmth and maybe even some music. And with this Kettler heater you can do all three.
It’s a tall, slender, mains powered unit, with the bottom portion taken up by a powerful 1800W heating tube (a larger unit has two heating units with a combined 3000W output) that heats up quickly and can be adjusted by a remote control unit.
A separate remote control is used for the LED light that sits on the top of a unit. Besides adjusting the intensity of glow, you can also change the colours and set them to flash, strobe or fade through the spectrum.
Below this disco beacon is the speaker, which is activated via bluetooth. It may not have the boombox power of an Ibiza rave, but it’s perfectly adequate for a small patio party.
Being tall (and possibly surrounded by your dancing pals) you will want to secure it in place – which is why it comes with a heavy base that can be bolted to the floor. At under £200 for the small unit we think this is a good value option for such a multi-functional piece of kit.
Pros: Affordable smart technology
Cons: Needs to be connected to a main supply
This spike light from 4lite provides 350 lumens of bright LED spotlight power and is much smarter than it initially appears.
It can be controlled via WiFi and Bluetooth, using the WiZ app, and can connect to Alexa, Apple Siri and other voice activated devices – without the need to pay for an extra hub.
When connected you can politely ask the special smart bulb to emit its glow in a full spectrum of colours, dim its output or set up schedules to save energy and increase your patio security.
The light itself is fixed to a spike that can be thrust into the ground and it has smart looks to match the technology that controls it.
Pros: Candle style glow without flames
Cons: Needs batteries
If you want to enjoy a candlelit evening meal or drink, without the breeze playing havoc with your candle, then this battery operated light can be used as a suitable mood-setter.
It uses two AA batteries to power an LED light that not only has a natural-looking ambient candle glow, but also flickers like a flame.
The light is housed in a vase shaped basket made of iron that mimics a woven wicker look, enhancing its natural appeal.
It’s 32cm tall and 19cm diameter, which makes it a suitable size for placing on the table or the floor, and looks equally effective inside if the weather scuppers your outdoor plans.
Innr Smart Outdoor Globe Light Colour - £169.66 (pack of three)
Innr Bridge - £29.99
Pros: Can connect to various hubs
Cons: Apps a little tricky to get used to
Innr Smart is a rival to Philips HUE in smart light technology and its products can also be controlled through a mobile app or voice activated device.
You’ll need the Innr Bridge to connect it all (sold separately) or you can run it through other bridges including Philips HUE. Of the Innr Smart products available, we like the globe lights for outdoor use. You can connect up to five of them from the same mains socket (you get three in this pack) and they certainly make an impression when dotted around the patio.
The Innr App is a little less intuitive than others but, once mastered, you can easily set it up with any number of preset functions or have fun playing around with the colours and brightness to strike the right mood for your garden.
The globes are 19cm in diameter and come with a rubber loop to suspend them, which can be swapped for spikes (provided) for inserting into the ground.
This kind of smart lighting isn’t cheap, but they are a fun and practical option for use inside and out.
Pros: Solar panel provides long lasting glow to stylish posts
Cons: Spike could be stronger
For those who like a modern, structured aesthetic to their patios, then post or bollard lights can enhance your design skills when the light fades.
Use them to mark out corners of the patio, illuminate a path, or incorporate into a group of plant pots or other objects.
These Kodiak post lights look especially sleek and stylish in stainless steel, with their 16 lumens natural white glow illuminating the immediate surroundings without dazzling the eyes.
It’s freestanding, with a spike providing support in soft ground, but don’t try to thrust it into place with too much force as it’s not the sturdiest at the base.
The light is powered by a solar panel which is neatly integrated into the top of the post and can be tilted to the best angle for sunlight, while a powersave button is useful for winter days when the nights are longer.
It’s an effective, long lasting light that delivers a stylish glow to your patio.
Pros: Cheap choice for decorative appeal day and night
Cons: Heavier than other string lights
Although string lights look great at night, we find some of them can look a little sad during the day – devoid of glow and baring their cable construction to the world.
This set of lights is entwined within a thick hemp rope, so wrap it around your chosen feature and it’ll add some boho decoration to your patio even before the sun fades.
The rope is 4.5m long and is studded with 60 tiny lights, giving you plenty of length to play with, and with additional cable length for the solar charger you should have no problem finding a sunny spot for the solar charger, even if the lights are in the shade.
At dusk, each bulb emits a warm twinkle of light, and they can be set in static or flashing mode.
Pros: Well priced tradition looking light
Cons: Needs to be wired into the mains supply
If your patio is adjacent to your house, then installing a decent wall light can bathe the whole area in light at nightfall.
Get one with a built-in motion sensor and it provides you with some additional security too. Wall lights come in just about any style you can imagine, but we’ve gone for a traditional look with this choice from Lutec.
The lantern is built from heavy duty aluminium, finished in black, with elaborate curves that conjure a Victorian street scene.
The bulb is protected by clear glass panels and, when connected to the mains electricity, it can be securely fixed to the wall by a matching black aluminium backplate to complete the vintage look.
Pros: Attractive sparkly glow
Cons: More for decoration than to light up a whole patio
There’s something magical about a string of lights twinkling in the night, whether hung out along a fence or wrapped around a tree or other structure. These lights provide an extra sparkle with their bubble effect design and a range of settings that includes flashing, besides a static glow.
The string is 3.9m long and contains 40 tiny, round lights, each with a 2.4cm diameter. They’re solar powered and, when fully charged, emit a warm glow that is designed more for decoration than lighting up the entire patio. And at around £20 they offer a magical value too.
For sheer inovation we were blown away by the Kettler Ibiza Floor Standing Heater with LED and Wireless Speaker.
If you’re after a whimsical sparkle, the Lights4Fun 40 Warm White Bubble Solar Fairy Lights are a delight, or for illumination, opt for the 4lite Smart Outdoor LED Spike Light Twin Pack.
For more garden furniture inspiration, read our guides to the best garden furniture 2022, where we review everything from garden swing chairs to dining sets, deck chairs to sun loungers.
For expert reviews on camping gear, exercise kit, homewares and more, check out our recommended section.