Comparison: Hard-Wired Electric vs Solar Powered Lighting

Solar lights.
  • 3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 250
What You'll Need
Low voltage lighting or
LED solar lights
What You'll Need
Low voltage lighting or
LED solar lights

Solar landscape lighting is gaining popularity as more people become environmentally aware; however, low-voltage electric lights are a proven, time-tested lighting option. Before you make your final decision on which lighting option is best for you, take the time to compare both options. Adding landscape lighting to your home can make a major difference in your curb appeal.

Solar Landscape Lighting

Unlike electric lighting, solar landscape lights use LED lights. The LED lighting is one of the longest-lasting lighting options, sometimes lasting 10 years or more. Solar-powered lighting is great for those that don’t have much experience working with wiring because they don’t have any wires. They are exceptionally energy efficient because they run off the energy produced by the sun and they are virtually a no-cost lighting option.

Solar Landscape Lighting Pros

Instead of dying or blowing out, like conventional bulbs, LED lights simply lose brightness over time. Solar-powered lights don’t contain mercury. Magnifying the energy efficiency and sustainability of solar lights is the fact that they run off the power of the sun and don’t have a carbon footprint.

Solar Landscape Lighting Cons

On the downside, solar landscape lights don’t usually offer the brightness of low voltage electric lights. Brightness is a large consideration if the lights are placed in areas that don’t receive much direct sunlight. Maintenance can also become an issue. The lights can become covered in dirt and then aren’t able to absorb sunlight and recharge. If you are looking for bright white lights, solar lights may not be the best choice because they tend to look blue. The lights don’t offer you much control as they come on at night and go off during the day.

Low-Voltage Electric Landscape Lighting

Low-voltage electric lights are the choice of many professional landscapers. The brightness of these lights is usually very high and they come in a variety of styles and finishes. The lights do require wiring; however, the wiring process is not terribly difficult. Low-voltage lighting options also allow for the addition of a timer and are a low-cost landscape lighting option.

Low-Voltage Electric Landscape Lighting Pros

An electric lighting system of professional grade can increase the value of your property and is a feature that new home buyers are usually interested in. The brightness of low voltage lighting also allows visitors to locate your property and its walking paths at night with ease. Low-voltage lighting works great especially when you are looking to illuminate social areas, such as decks and gazebos. An overcast day won’t leave you entertaining your guests in dim light.

Low-Voltage Electric Landscape Lighting Cons

On the downside, even the little bit of wiring required may best be left to a professional. The bulbs on low-voltage lights will need to be replaced and the wiring may require care as well. Though these lights do offer timers, the timers will need to be reset for daylight savings time.