It’s summer. You and your family have been out in the garden all afternoon but now night is drawing in. You’re contemplating firing up the BBQ and staying just where you are for the evening, but you’re losing the light and the light from next door’s security light doesn’t quite reach over to your deck. How lovely would it be if you could light up your entire decking area without any harsh beams; just subtle, soft light lighting which creates a relaxed, serene almost magical feel in your garden? Well, you can… with decking lights.
The best decking lights aren’t just pretty – they can also make your garden safer and more secure. We all know how slippy decking boards can become when it’s wet and icy, or how finding your way up and down your decking steps can be somewhat tricky when you can’t actually see where you’re going!! Whether you’re letting the dogs in the garden last thing at night, or fancy a summer evening BBQ and you don’t fancy your mother-in-law’s chances on those steps, decking lights will make your decking area safer and more accessible. Decking lights emit just enough light for you to keep yourself, and particularly children and elderly relatives, safe. They’re also great for those late-night garden swarays, where the kids have been allowed to stay up past bedtime – being able to keep track of what they’re up to gives you peace of mind that you’re able to keep an eye on them, whilst still being able to relax and enjoy your outdoor area with friends and family.
If you’re looking for decking lights that are relatively cheap; easy to install; and low maintenance, yet still create a warm, relaxing glow around your decking area, you’re best going for solar LED bulbs. Electric decking lights are available but, as they require wiring and aren’t as hard-wearing as solar lights, most people tend to go with solar. Electric decking lights are considerably brighter but, unless you’re fitting your decking lights for security purposes only and not for decorative reasons, you’re not likely to be wanting to have to wear a pair of sunglasses to shield your eyes from the harsh light they emit. You’ll get a less intense, but still effective light from solar-powered LED decking lights.
Only got 5 minutes
Choosing the right type of decking lights
|What made you decide you wanted decking lights?||The type of decking lights best for you||Deciding factors|
|You’ve seen them in a magazine or in neighbour’s garden and thought they’d look great in you garden.||Solar LED||Softer lighting Inexpensive Easy to install Low maintenance Stylish|
|After a few close calls when your decking boards have been slippy, you’ve decided you really need to be able to see where you’re going.||Solar LED or electric||Depends on to what extent you want to light up your decking area: solar lights should be sufficient – they’ll easily give you enough light for you to see where you’re going – but, if you want to go brighter, go for electric.|
|Your garden’s dark and you want to add a bit of light to improve the view from your front window.||Solar LED||Soft white LED decking lights enhances your otherwise cold-looking wooden decking, creating a relaxed, warm ambience Inexpensive Easy to install Low maintenance Stylish|
|Do you want to illuminate your garden to deter intruders and/or keep pests out of your garden – both the animal and human kind!||Electric||Brighter light emitted than that of solar Some models can be controlled remotely Not dependent on solar energy|
Electric Vs Solar
If you’re after lights so bright that your decking area could be mistaken for Blackpool Illuminations, then you’re best going for mains powered lights – LED lights can’t compete with mains powered lights where brightness is concerned, however, if you’re looking for subtle, softer lighting, high-quality solar lights can hold their own and will light up your decking area no problem.
It’s not hard to see why Solar LED lights are so popular – they’re relatively easy to install and, as there’s no electric current, getting them set up is completely safe. Once they’re up and running, they won’t get hot like electric lights, so they’re the safer option, particularly around children and pets. You’ve got the freedom to position them anywhere and, as they have such low energy consumption, they’re environmentally-friendly.
Solar decking lights
So, unless you’re investing in decking lights for security reasons, it’s likely you’ve decided to start shopping for solar decking lights.
You start looking and then stop. Regardless of if the lights you’re looking for come with a separate solar panel or not, for a minute you forgot you lived in the UK – famous for its grey skies, never-ending rainfall and cold winters!! Some days you question whether the sun even exists the sky is so grey! So, how on earth are the dozen pretty, stylish, solar decking lights you’ve set your heart on going to generate enough energy to light up a plant pot, never mind an entire decking area??!!
Take a breath. It’s under control. Just take a second to check that the lighting units you’re considering have one or both of the following alternative charging functions:
- USB charging ports
- Power saving mode
- External solar panel
A USB charging port will enable you to charge up your decking lights as easily as you do your mobile phone. Just plug it in and once fully charged, you’re good to go. Granted, it’s not the environmentally-friendly, cost-free method of charging you expect from solar lights, but it’s a back-up method if you suddenly get the urge for an autumn BBQ; al fresco mulled wine and turkey sandwiches; or to see in the New Year outdoors, watching the fireworks and sipping some fizz.
The best decking lights will give you the option of adjusting the brightness to power saving mode; this technology means you can conserve energy by only using a low brightness setting. Fair enough, you might only get a bit of subtle lighting, but it’s a back-up option for when the sun’s been reluctant to make an appearance, and you’ve forgotten to charge using the USB port.
An external solar panel is great for those of us who don’t have a south-facing garden or whose decking area is in the shade. The panel is separate to the lighting units and so can be placed anywhere in your garden – ideally where it’s exposed to maximum sunlight. The panel will then store the solar energy generated by the sun’s rays, ready to power your decking lights when you’re ready to use them.
It’s worth keeping in mind though that even with remote solar panelling, there’s only so much energy that can be produced and stored on a dark and dismal December day, so look for a model that also comes with a USB port that won’t let you down, even on the darkest of winter days.
Decking light features
|Stainless steel lighting units||Solid, stainless-steel lighting units will be waterproof, rust-proof and shock-proof to ensure the bulb is protected from the external environment.|
|Colour Choice||If you’re wanting a bright light for your area, go for white or blue. If you go for warm white, you’ll get light which is warmer and softer. Other colours are available if you’re looking to give your decking area a party feel!|
|Quick & easy installation||You don’t need DIY experience to install solar decking lights – just a jigsaw, drill and screwdriver. If you’re going for electric decking lights, it’s advised to have your lights installed by a professional.|
|Manufacturer’s Warranty||A manufacturer’s warranty of at least a year or two will give you peace of mind that you’re likely to be covered if you experience any problems with your decking lights.|
|Sensors/remote access||Dusk sensors are sensitive to light – when the sun starts to set, they’ll switch your decking lights on automatically. The best decking lights will go a step further and come with a timer, or the option of controlling your decking lights remotely.|
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools you’ll need will inevitably depend on the type of decking lights you go for but the general rule of thumb is that a screwdriver; drill; marker pen; tape measure; and jigsaw should be all you need to install solar decking lights.
If you’ve gone for electric lights that need wiring up and connecting to the mains, be sure to bring in a professional electrician to have your lights fitted safely.
● Use your tape measure and marker to pen to mark where each decking light will be positioned.
● Where you have marked, draw around the base of one of the light units.
● Cut the hole with your drill and jigsaw.
● Finally, fit the light unit into the hole; it should be a snug, secure fit.