Make your deck glow in the evening with these 5 deck lighting ideas. Affordable solar lights highlight your deck for evening entertaining – on a budget!
Last summer we replaced our decaying deck, installed a shade sail, and attached tiki torches to the railing. This summer, we’ve got two goals for our deck: (1) adding solar deck lighting and (2) staining the wood.
I’ll tell you… I’m much more excited about installing deck lighting than staining 150 balusters (yikes!). So, today, we’ll be talking about creative, budget-friendly ideas to integrate solar lighting into your deck’s design and decor.
Disclosure: This page includes affiliate links.
Solar Deck Lighting Ideas
1. Install Solar Post Cap Lights
Solar-powered post cap lights can be used on most deck designs which include posts between each section of the railing. Standard posts are typically 4×4, 5×5, or 6×6. If your deck posts are one of these three sizes, you’ll be able to find budget-friendly options.
Install solar post cap lights directly to the tops of the posts. Use screws or an outdoor adhesive to attach the light, depending on the light’s installation directions and design.
Our post cap lights have a simple, modern design in an oil-rubbed bronze finish and cost less than $10 each. Our deck gets plenty of light so the solar battery powers the light throughout the entire night.
Looking for solar-powered post cap lights? Here are a few of my favorites in several finishes:
- Craftsman Style Post Cap Light available in Black, White, and Gray
- One-size-fits-all Classic Style Solar Post Cap Lights in Matte Black
- Vintage Brushed Bronze Traditional Style Post Cap Lights
- Copper Post Cap Lights
- Modern Translucent Post Cap Lights in Black
2. Install Deck Solar Step Lights
Solar-powered step lighting is a great option for deck lighting. Deck step lights are small and understated, adding ambient light and improving deck safety.
For example, the steps on our deck are located on the far side, away from the house. This means that our home’s exterior lighting isn’t doing much to brighten the deck steps. Therefore, additional lighting is necessary, specifically for the steps.
Plus, post cap lights aren’t a feasible solution on many deck stairways due to the handrail being installed atop the posts.
Solar stair lights can be installed low – near the step – or higher – near the railing height. We chose to install our stair lights higher, in order to illuminate more steps with a single light.
Looking for solar-powered step lights? I highly recommend the modern black lights that we chose (they even have 2 lighting modes!).
If you are looking for a different style or finish, here are a few of the other lights I considered:
- Stainless Steel Step Lights (8 pack / 6 pack)
- Modern Warm White Step Light in Black
- Copper Warm White Stair Lights
3. Install Deck Rail Lights
Another effective location for deck lighting is along the railing. Typically, solar rail lights are downlighting that adds ambiance and helps illuminate the floor (aka. safer for walking and moving around the deck).
Looking for solar-powered deck rail lights? Here are a few of my favorites in several finishes:
- Stainless Steel Deck Rail Lights
- Modern Black Deck Rail Lights
- Bronze Half Circle Deck Rail Lights
- Round Deck Rail Lights in Dark Brown
- Modern with Bubble Glass in Black
- Traditional Style Warm White Rail Lights in Black
4. Add Tabletop Solar Lights
What if you don’t want to (or can’t) actually attach any lights to the deck? Maybe you are renting or prefer to avoid drilling into the wood. There are other options for deck lighting that don’t require installation, such as tabletop solar lights.
Tabletop solar lighting can be found in many styles and sizes. Place these decorative solar lights onto an outdoor dining table, side table, coffee table, or garden stool.
Wendi of H20 Bungalow made a tabletop solar light (and a hanging version, too!) that blends perfectly with her patio’s style. Make sure to check out her tutorial to make your own.
Or, if you’d like a really quick and simple project, try these mason jar solar lights from Becky of U Create.
Looking for solar tabletop lights? Here are a few of my favorites in several styles:
- Modern Flickering Tabletop (or Hanging) Lantern
- Rattan Tabletop Lantern
- Bohemian Flickering Tabletop Light
- Bamboo Tabletop Lantern
- Retro Stone Tabletop Light
You Might Also Like: 20+ Best Tiki Torches for Your Backyard – including tabletop torches!
5. Add Solar Hanging Lanterns
If you are able to mount anything above the deck – such as to a gazebo, tall corner posts, or to the exterior of your home – then consider hanging lanterns as a deck lighting option.
Solar-powered hanging lanterns are perfect for ambient lighting. Lanterns are available in a variety of styles and finishes – which helps add style and personality to an outdoor space – while also providing overhead light.
Ken and Amy of Stow and Tell U made DIY solar lanterns by upcycling old lanterns (so clever!). If you’ve got an old lantern lying around, give their tutorial a try.
In general, I’ve found that overhead lighting is the most difficult to find in solar-powered options. Therefore, check out solar hanging lanterns if you’d like to incorporate budget-friendly overhead lighting.
Looking for solar hanging lanterns? Here are a few of my favorites in several styles:
- Modern Black Lantern
- Coastal Style Lantern with Hooks
- Traditional Style Sconce
- Bronze Flickering Lantern
- Bohemian Style Lantern in Black and White
- Modern Pendant in Black
Exterior Lighting on a Budget
As you plan exterior lighting for your home, don’t skip planning for decks. Adding lighting to your deck will create ambiance, improve safety, and increase the amount of time you can use your deck.
Plus, you can install deck lighting in phases. For example, the first type of solar lighting we added to our deck is post cap lights. Next, we installed the step lights. Lastly, we’ll install rail lighting.
If we had chosen electric landscape and deck lighting, it would have been outsourced to a company. We would have paid a high price for them to come in and install it all at once. Then, we would pay for the electricity usage.
Instead, since we used solar deck lights, we are able to install them in phases within our budget and without increasing our monthly electric bill.
What type of outdoor lighting do you use on your deck?