The 10 Best Path Lights
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in August of 2015. Illuminate your driveway, patio, front yard, porch, and other outdoor areas around your home with elegance, style, and energy efficiency using one of these sets of path lights. Available in both wired and solar-powered options, these illuminations are perfect for adding a decorative touch to your property and can also help keep your family safe by preventing falls and trips. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
March 22, 2021:
It was a straightforward round of updates for us, as the vast majority of our previous picks were still available and appealing options for the category. The one exception we came up against was the Moonrays 91754 Richmond, which wasn’t presently being offered, and so was removed from our list in order to make room for a new choice.
The Sunco Lighting Dusk-to-Dawn separate themselves from the lantern-style selections that dominate this category with a flush design that looks to sit less than an inch off your lawn, once its five-inch stakes are properly driven in. Its a style that seems to have gained popularity in residential neighborhoods over recent years and – if you’re lucky enough to live in a suburb that isn’t overrun by juvenile delinquents who are ready to rip them out of your grass the first Friday night you leave them unattended – they can provide an attractive, modern-looking means of outlining one’s driveway or front walk. They come in a pack of 12 and are priced quite reasonably, too. So, if you’ve got a long stretch you’re looking to light up, this is an option worth considering.
Once you’ve got your path lights picked out, don’t stop there. Head on over to our lists of solar string lights, backyard lights and landscape lighting to see if you come across any complementary fixtures.
February 25, 2020:
At this time, we're concerned about ongoing bulb issues with the Cast Aluminum, and about usability problems with the Voona Landscape, so we've elected to remove them both. The Signstek LED have become difficult to find, so we've removed them, as well. When it comes to simple options, the Jackyled Deck and the Beau Jardin Wireless are ones to consider — especially if the budget is a concern. They're solar models that won't break the bank, and, of course, they use LEDs that won't need replacing any time soon. If you want a look that's a bit different, there's the TomCare Flickering. As you might have guessed, the light dances to mimic flames, which is a charming touch.
For those who are switching to smart light bulbs and gadgets, we've added the Philips Hue Calla and the Ring Security Light. These are pricier than their "dumb" counterparts, but they work with Alexa and put control right at your fingertips. Note that the Ring model runs on D batteries and so can be expensive to keep on for long time periods. You might perhaps consider it for occasional use rather than all-night illumination.
Tech Lighting Syntra 42 Lovers of modern, clean design are sure to appreciate the Tech Lighting Syntra 42, a wet-listed bollard with a striking, minimalist appeal. The downlighting it offers is symmetrical, giving it a balanced look, and it comes in two handsome finishes, charcoal or bronze. techlighting.com
Hinkley Atlantis The Hinkley Atlantis is sophisticated, with a classy yet understated design. Made from aluminum with plenty of finish options, this model is Dark Sky compliant and arrives with a ground spike and wiring kit for your convenience. hinkley.com
E-conolight LED Bollard The 18-watt E-conolight LED Bollard can be mounted using the included anchor bolts, no matter whether you're illuminating an entryway or path. There are three color temperatures to select from, but whichever you choose, you can expect a wet-listed model that boasts a five-year warranty. e-conolight.com
Surprising Uses For Path Lights
Fortunately, path lights shine down towards the ground and are shielded, so they are usually allowed even in places that are following a dark sky ordinance.
Path lights can certainly create visual intrigue on a property, but they also offer many practical and safety benefits, too. If you spend a lot of time and money on growing beautiful path border plants, you do not want people stomping on them at night, all because they did not see them. There might also be sprinkler heads lining your pathway, and someone with a heavy foot could cause a lot of potential damage were they to step on them in the night.
If the land around your paths drops off suddenly, it can be hard for walkers to see that at night. Taking the smallest step off the path could cause someone to fall. This could prove problematic for you, since injuries caused by inadequate lighting are a major liability issue for property owners. You can use path lights to illuminate stairs, too, which can otherwise be very difficult to see at night.
If you live in a municipality that follows a dark sky ordinance, you may not be allowed to put up high and bright lights at night, since they create light pollution. The sentiment behind the movement has its merits, but it can pose a safety hazard to people who would otherwise like to have tall lights on their property at night. Fortunately, path lights shine down towards the ground and are shielded, so they are usually allowed even in places that are following a dark sky ordinance.
Burglars often target homes with a dark surrounding property. To them, this can indicate that a house is vacant. At the very least, if the property leading to one's home isn't illuminated, it is easy for burglars to navigate around the house, without neighbors or onlookers spotting them. Path lights can deter burglars from targeting your property. They also show that a certain amount of care and attention is put into the home, which could be an indicator of other deterrents like security systems.
How To Choose Your Path Lights
Americans waste an immense amount of energy each year on unused or unnecessary lighting. Fortunately, many path lights automatically shut off at dawn and will turn back on at dusk, so you will not spend money lighting your paths in broad daylight. Many path lights rely on solar power technology, too, and can offer additional savings. If you'd prefer to only use your path lights when absolutely necessary, look for ones with motion sensing technology. These will only turn on when they sense someone approaching, but will otherwise remain off. Weather-resistant materials are a smart choice, no matter what climate you live in, because your sprinklers will probably wet your path lights.
If your landscaping is your greatest pride and you do not want path lights taking away from it, look for a set made from highly reflective stainless steel. These will barely stand out against your garden. Just make sure that your stainless steel path lights have a zinc coating since this will protect against corrosion. Many also add to the ambiance and come in unique shapes, designed to look like crystal rocks and other natural materials.
If you decide to buy more traditional lights that must be electrically charged, look for an extra long extension cable so you are not limited on your placement options. Some are designed specifically to sit flush against the sides of buildings, steps in a staircase or anywhere else that stake lights would not fit.
Additional Tips For Enjoying Your Path Lighting
If you would like to create a nice warm glow around your home and garden, look for path lights that are around 12 to 14 inches tall. Because light spreads out the further it gets from its source, setting the bulbs higher above the ground will allow them to illuminate more of it. To get the most out of your lights, look for ones with a high lumen count. This way, you can use less of them, and spread them out further apart.
One form of a path light doesn't sit on the walking path at all but rather up in the trees, or some higher platform. These are called downlights and can create a pleasant moonlight effect. You can use path lights to draw guests' attention to your favorite parts of your property, like your rose garden or trellises, as well as to draw their gaze away from unsightly areas like trash cans and sheds under construction.
To avoid a harsh runway look, stagger lights on either side of the path. This will create a feeling of balance. Don't put your path lights right next to the walkway because this will only illuminate the ground beneath them. Instead, set them a few inches back from the walkway, so they also illuminate the surrounding area.