These energy-efficient lights can do more than just brighten up your space.

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Solar Garden Light
Credit: Getty / maxattenborough

Solar lights are any type of lighting you install in your yard that's powered by the sun, which makes them an incredibly sustainable option. These lights are available for purchase almost anywhere garden supplies are sold, and their price can vary depending on where you're shopping and what you're looking for. A single light stake, like Mainstay's solar-powered light stake ($2.97, walmart.com) retails under three dollars a piece, high-end lights that require professional installation can run a homeowner hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Solar lights are the perfect way to illuminate a garden path or add another layer of security to an otherwise dark space in your yard, all while being more eco-friendly. Whatever your reason for wanting solar lights, three experts explain everything you need to know before adding them to your outdoor space.

Get Your Garden Glowing

If you feel like your yard needs something extra at night, Mike Chapman, a horticulturist with Pike Nurseries, says a little light can go a long way. Solar lights add ambience after the sun sets that enhances curb appeal, helps illuminate garden paths or walkways for safety, and adds light to outdoor entertaining areas or a pool so to extend time outdoors." And because they're providing a little extra light in your yard, they'll help you enjoy your favorite plants well into the evening hours.

Illuminate Your Home, Too

You can also use solar-powered lighting to brighten up the façade of your home, or other decorative items like statues, fountains, or birdbaths, Chapman says. "Decorative solar lights such as garden stakes, lanterns, and orbs can add an artistic touch—place them among garden beds or even container gardens." And if you want to try something different, he suggests putting a few on tabletops, stairs, and gate entrances as well. Garden lights don't just need to be in the dirt to work.  "[Stringing] lighting across a patio or outdoor eating area creates a fun atmosphere and task lighting around the grill is helpful while cooking."

Why Go Solar?

Solar lights can be superior to traditional electric lights in some gardens, Kevin Dick, a program director for Delta Institute with more than 18 years of energy efficiency experience, explains. "Beyond the ease of adding outdoor lighting without using extension cords, solar-powered lights use 100 percent renewable energy from sunlight and do not rely on fossil fuels to operate." Since modern LEDs are both brighter and more efficient than older generations, newer solar lights can easily compete with electric lighting.

What to Know Before You Buy

The most important thing you should ask yourself before committing to solar lights is "What do I want these lights to do?" The type of lights you should buy will differ depending on if your answer is cosmetic or security-based. Additionally, Mark Dawson, chief operating officer of Mister Sparky, says that in order to get the most out of your lights you'll need to invest in a decent energy-efficient circuit. "I would suggest bringing in the professionals," Dawson says. "Your electrician will be able to make the best recommendation for your solar setup to suit your space, budget, and climate."

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