Solar Security Lights
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Just over two years ago, I purchased over £250 worth of solar lights for my garden and these included security lights for outside my shed and some decorative stakes for around my lawn.
I’ve just thrown the whole lot in the bin.
If you’re thinking about buying solar security lights, read my 2-year review as I think I can save you money.
The Lights I Purchased
Here are a few photos of the security lights I purchased.
You’ve probably seen these before as they’re very popular and cheap:
The manufacturer produces several variants, including some that are three or four times bigger and brighter, but I chose the smaller product as I have a small garden.
The lights have the following features:
- Two screw holes at the top, with the screws supplied.
- 100 LEDs on each.
- 270° angle.
- Motion sensor to 180°.
- 3 options; strong light, dim light, and motion-activated light.
I’ve found that setting up the lights was easy, the batteries were already installed, and all I had to do was screw the devices into place and press the button to select one of the three options (bright, dim, motion-activated).
I installed these lights in several locations:
- Above my shed.
- Next to my porch.
- Down the side of the house.
- On the rear wall pointing into the garden.
Here are the key points:
- The sensor activated the light when I walked within 13 feet (4m) of it.
- The light stayed on for 15 seconds after the motion stopped.
- It was bright enough to light up the entrance of my shed and porch.
- In the rear garden and down the side of the house, I found that the 100 LEDs weren’t enough to light up the area beyond a few metres.
- I had no issues with waterproofness or the build quality over the two years I used them.
For nearly two years, they worked great, and I had no issues with them at all.
Where Things Went Wrong
These solar security lights contain a rechargeable battery and as you probably know, these batteries don’t last forever and need to be replaced every few years.
From my experience, I’ve found that most rechargeable batteries last for between 400-600 charge/discharge cycles.
After two years of owning these security lights, they started to fail with the shed light going first and then a couple of months later the rest of them stopped working.
I knew what the problem was – I just needed to replace the batteries, so I opened up the devices by unwinding the screws on the backplate.
This is what I found inside:
As you can see, this type of battery (18650) is hardwired to the circuit, so it can’t be replaced easily.
The only way to replace this battery is to buy a new one (£8 each) and physically connect the wire to both ends by welding it.
Now, I’m sure I could do this, but I shouldn’t have to.
In my opinion, solar lights should have batteries that can be replaced easily, just by pulling them out and pushing in the new ones.
Also, at £8 each, it would cost me £48 to replace them all – that’s far more than it would cost to run 6 low-powered LED lights from the mains electricity.
I experienced a couple of other issues with these solar security lights too:
The light only stayed on for 15 seconds after the motion stopped, which I found annoying if I moved just outside its detection range. I would have liked different options so I could change the duration of the light.
It wasn’t very powerful – the solar security lights I purchased had 100 LEDs on each, and that sounded like a lot, but above my shed, I found it was just enough to light up the padlock while in my rear garden, it only lit up the lawn by a few metres.
If you’re looking to buy a decent solar security light for your garden, porch or driveway I think you’ll need one with at least 200 LEDs and possibly more.
My Decorative Garden Lights
When I purchased the solar security lights, I also purchased 18 decorative garden solar stakes.
Each stake has a solar panel on the top and a single LED downlight.
While these lights offered no security value, I liked their appearance in the garden, where they cast a gentle light along the edge of the lawn:
After 16 months, I noticed the batteries weren’t holding their charge for more than a couple of hours, but changing them was a breeze as they were AA batteries – a common type.
Then a few months later, I noticed the solar panel was bleaching white, due to damage from UV light:
I’ve tried to clean off these white marks but it’s impossible, and now too little light can get through to the solar panel to charge the batteries.
So There You Have It
So two years after spending £250 on solar garden lights, I’m left with 18 stakes that won’t charge because they’re bleached white from the sunlight and 6 security lights with sealed batteries that I can’t easily or affordably replace.
So much for saving money and helping the environment!
I’m not suggesting that all solar garden lights are worthless, but if you’re intent on buying them, I suggest you:
- Make sure they come with replaceable batteries, not sealed batteries.
- Pick products made with UV-resistant materials that don’t bleach.
- Check that you can change how long it stays lit.
- Consider paying more for a branded product rather than budget-range solar lights made by companies you’ve never heard of before.
Also, on Amazon, I found that my solar security lights have over 2600 reviews, with most of them being positive.
I feel that this highlights an issue with online reviews – so many people leave a review after only owning a product for a few hours or days, and very few will do so many months or years down the line.
I think you should hunt out those long-term reviews from customers who can provide insights beyond how the product performed on the day it was installed.
As for me, I know when to quit. I will get a security light fitted outside that’s powered by my mains electricity; it’s less hassle and cheaper.
A Note From Our Reviewer
Here at DIY Gardening, we frequently ask experts to review our statements and provide additional insights for our readers.
Here’s what Paul Farley had to say about security lights:
Modern wired security lights cost between £20 and £40 and consume around 25-30 watts of electricity, which isn’t much at all, especially when you consider they are only on when they detect motion. It wouldn’t cost you much to get an electrician in to hardwire them from an existing circuit.
The only time I would consider a solar secuirty light would be if getting a power cable to the light would too much of a challenge.
Author: Daniel Woodley
Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.
He previously worked as a project manager and has experience in managing teams of tradespeople and landscape gardeners on both small and medium sized projects.
Daniel is also a keen gardener and enjoys growing unusual plants and tending to his lawn.
Why Trust Us? Our Experience
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Daniel Woodley wrote this review of his solar security lights after owning them for 26 months.
As accuracy is important, we asked Paul Farley to review and fact-check this guide.
Explore: Paul Farley’s profile and qualifications.