Solar lights are convenient and are available in a wide variety of styles. You just put them where you want them and you’re good to go. The sun charges the battery during the daylight hours, and the lights come on after dark. On a good charge, they may stay on all night, but they’re supposed to last at least 4-5 hours. Some are designed to flood an area with light and others are spotlights, so you can use them to craft how the light plays in the garden.
On the minuses side, they’re solar, so they need sun. Not all of our gardens get a lot of sun. If you place a light near the shade of a plant, the solar cells won’t get a lot of sun. That diminishes the amount of time they are on and they may be good for just an hour or two.
Also, the lights are only as good as the battery powering it. Know that when you buy a light for $1, it’s won’t be powered with the highest-quality battery. Typically the batteries are inexpensive NiCad or NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries. You can replace the batteries with higher-quality ones, but it won’t to help if the solar cells is in the shade.
Garden Railways’ back issues:
Let there be light: LEDs, Oct. 2011
Let there be light, Aug. 2011
Light up your railroad, Dec. 2008
Build simple street lamps, Oct. 2007
Nightscaping series, Oct. 2005, Dec. 2005, Feb. 2006
Make your own small landscape lights, June 1996