The main gathering place in any outdoor space at night tends to be around a light source whether that is a fire pit, under some string lights, or by the porch lights. Light creates a natural gathering space.
If you enjoy spending time in your backyard, but don’t have easy access to electricity or simply do not want to deal with the hassle of it, there are plenty of great options to light up your outdoor space.
The best ways to light up a backyard without electricity are solar lights including pathway, deck, and wall lights, battery or solar operated outdoor string lights, lanterns, or a firepit.
When planning your outdoor lighting for your backyard, you don’t need very bright light. Bright light can be blinding and create a harsh, unwelcoming feeling.
For the right lighting effect, you want to look for a soft light that will provide a nice glow but still allow you to enjoy the nighttime atmosphere.
Check out our article here for how bright your outdoor lights should be.
Solar powered and battery operated lights are two of the best options for wireless outdoor lighting. Solar lights are powered by solar energy from the sun, a renewable resource, and can be quite cost effective.
Battery powered lights can also be effective in areas that do not receive much sunlight. We discuss several options for both below.
Creating wireless outdoor lighting systems can be easy, and solar-powered outdoor lights are one of the best ways to light up your outdoor areas. These are a great option for outdoor lights that don’t require wiring and usually have a simple setup process.
There are many different ways that outdoor solar lights can be placed around your backyard. Another benefit of solar-powered lighting is that it won’t impact your electricity bills, and it is eco-friendly as these lights derive their power from the sun!
Solar Pathway Lights
There are many different styles and designs for solar path lights, and they are generally easy to install. You can just stake them into the ground wherever you need them.
They do not need to be used only for path lighting though, they can be used for many different purposes. You can use them to line the edges of a patio, along the edge of flower beds, or even to highlight a water feature.
Check out this article for links to some of our favorite solar pathway lights, solar garden lights, and other outdoor lighting ideas.
Solar Porch Lights
A backyard porch is a natural gathering place, and whether or not you have easy access to electricity shouldn’t stop you from enjoying it after dark. There are several different types of solar powered porch lights.
Deck Post Lights
There are some solar powered deck lights that sit on top of posts on your porch and will provide nice light for the porch.
These can be placed on corner posts of your porch or can be mounted on posts around a patio for some additional light. They are also great on posts along stairways to provide safety to accessing those areas after dark.
One of our favorite options is these deck post lights.
All deck post lights are not created equal, and the reasons that we recommend these lights are that the light is shielded (it shines down and not out the sides), and they are not overly bright.
This is good for two reasons. 1: When the lights are aimed down, they will not be shining directly into your eyes when you are sitting on your porch, and 2: they will not be contributing to light pollution.
Solar Wall Mounted Lights
If your outdoor entertaining area is right next to your house, either a deck or patio, solar outdoor light fixtures are an easy, low cost, low maintenance way to add some light to your space.
They require a little work to mount to your exterior walls, deck railing, or post, but it is still much easier than wiring a light fixture into your existing wiring.
This is our favorite outdoor wall mounted solar light. We love this one because the light is shielded and aimed down. This directs the light only where you need it and it won’t be shining into you or your neighbor’s windows.
Solar String Lights
String lights look good in any backyard setting, and luckily there are some that run on solar power! Solar powered string lights are a great option for adding some soft welcoming light to a patio, porch, or any outdoor gathering area.
They look exactly like regular string lights, except instead of having a plug at one end, they are wired to a little solar panel that will power the lights.
This is not only good for a backyard without electricity, but even if you do have an outdoor electrical outlet, you can set these lights up anywhere in your yard and don’t have to worry about an extension cord creating a tripping hazard.
When choosing string lights, look for ones that have a lower brightness (lower lumens) and a warm color temperature.
Battery Powered Outdoor Lights
Battery powered outdoor lights are another great option for lighting up your outdoor space. These are a great idea if your backyard is generally shady and doesn’t receive enough sunlight to power solar lights.
When purchasing battery powered string lights, be sure to check that they are recommended for outdoor use. They need to be waterproof and weatherproof.
We also recommend using rechargeable batteries in your string lights as this will not only save money on batteries, but it is more eco-friendly too!
Battery-powered lanterns are another great option because they are so portable. You can just bring them out wherever you need them.
There is a wide variety of outdoor battery powered lanterns or table lamps. They don’t all look like your classic camping lanterns anymore. There are even some nice unique ones that will work with any aesthetic.
Candles and Fairy Lights
One of the easiest, low cost ways to provide some nice outdoor ambiance is with some mason jars and real wax candles. This is the best option for low budget outdoor lighting.
These are great to set up on a picnic table or outdoor dining table. You can also use a LED candle if you are concerned about the fire risk, or just want something a little easier.
Another great idea is to put some fairy lights in mason jars. There are many options for fairy lights that use batteries and don’t need to be plugged into an outlet. These will add a great atmosphere to any outdoor area.
Install or Create a Fire Pit
Fire pits are great features for outdoor settings. They are a natural gathering place, provide warmth on cooler nights, and can even be used to cook over.
Another benefit of using a fire pit is that the smoke from the fire tends to keep the bugs away. We have all probably experienced being chased indoors by bugs on an otherwise lovely night, and lighting up a fire can help to prevent that.
And who doesn’t love roasting marshmallows over an open fire for smores!
Dark Sky Friendly Lighting
All of the lights that we recommend can be considered dark sky friendly lighting. How can you tell if a light is dark sky friendly? When you look at the light fixture, you should not be able to see the source of the light (bulb).
We understand that people like to use outdoor lights, whether for aesthetic effects, entertaining, or security, and we want to help people make informed decisions about the lights being used.
You can use outdoor lights at night while still being a friend to the starry sky movement and decreasing your contribution to light pollution!
For more information about light pollution, check out our article What is Light Pollution.
To stay up to date on all things light pollution related, check out and subscribe to our podcast Light Pollution News. We have a new episode every month bringing you the latest news and research about light pollution.