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Best garden lights 2017
Category: General

Whether itís a string of solar LEDs or a wired and wonderfully extravagant illumination, thereís something magical about outdoor lighting. It doesnít take much effort to transform even the tiniest space and make it feel like youíre on holiday or in a fancy bar.

Unfortunately choosing outdoor lighting and garden lighting isnít easy, especially when manufacturers are - ahem - creative with their photography. What promises to be a Disney-scale epic in photos all too often turns out to be disappointingly dim and ridiculously short-lived?

So how do you choose the best garden light for you? The first thing to think about is how you intend to power your outdoor lighting fixtures. Battery-powered ones are best left for the winter, as replacing the batteries soon becomes a pain. Solar lights are free to run and if you choose wisely they can be impressively bright, but itís important to appreciate their limits: a single, small solar panel isnít going to produce enough juice to mimic the Blackpoll Illuminations.

Solar string lights in particular are great for ambience but pretty rubbish for providing useful illumination, although solar exterior light fixtures with lots of LEDs can make effective security lights even in winter. Wired lights have the widest choice, although of course you need to plug them in or connect them to the mains.

1. Solar Centre Lumify USB Outdoor Solar Fairy Lights

Letís be honest: most solar string lights are crap, with misleading prices (RRP A bazillion pounds! Now just £3.74!), the kind of build quality pound shops would laugh at. Solar Centre lights arenít like that. The companyís products are solidly made, designed for the British weather and, as here, often include genuinely useful features such as fast USB charging for when there simply hasnít been enough sunshine and a power saving mode that dims the lights slightly to make them last a lot longer. The solar panel is much bigger than most - thatís a good thing - and all the connections are waterproof. The version weíre picking here is the 100 bulb, 10m model, but you can get up to 300 bulbs on a 30m cable. Make sure you choose the right LED: normal white LEDs are cool in color like the ones in car headlights, while warm white has a more yellow tint that makes it look closer to led outdoor lighting.

2. John Lewis Large Outdoor Solar LED Rattan Lantern

John Lewis offers a range of reassuringly expensive outdoor lighting including some really pretty tabletop LEDs and retro lamps, but if you fancy something a bit different from the stuff you see in supermarkets this large lantern is just the thing. Its 69cm tall and 19.5cm deep, with a solar powered LED that isnít replaceable but which should last for at least 20,000 hours of illumination. Thatís over 800 days of continuous light, and of course itís not going to be on constantly. At 2.5kg you donít need to worry about it falling over, and we think it gets the balance right between being cute and being gimmicky - something that doesnít always apply to unusual outside light fixtures.

3. MPOW 54 LED Security Light

Amazonís best-selling solar security light isnít very pretty, but with 54 LEDs and eight solar panels to drive them itís exceptionally bright - up to 1188 lumens, which is roughly equivalent to a 100W filament bulb - even when the weather isnít brilliant. The motion sensor has a 120 degree wide angle, there are three different brightness settings and itís waterproof to IP65. The all-in-one design means itís simple to mount, and unlike other solar led exterior lighting, this one comes with a 45-day money back guarantee and an 18 month warranty. You can get no-name solar security lights for less money, but we think thatís a false economy: itís worth spending a little more to get a security light you can rely on.

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