LED Outdoor Stair Lighting

Greetings. I'm a poor graduate student - in pharmacology - and I can tell you a lot about how drugs work, but I hardly know a damn thing about electrical circuitry. All I remember is that the robot kit my dad bought me as a kid didn't turn out the way it should... Anyhow, I've been faced with a small problem: the back staircase to my apartment (the main entrance as far as I'm concerned) is scary craggy and doesn't have any lighting. I considered just using a christmas strand of LED lights to illuminate the thing, but there is no outdoor outlet on the house.. I then tried using a solar powered garden light set, but it was pretty much useless (couldn't charge fast enough) up until the point when roofers tossed a bunch of crap on the solar panel and smashed it. So I'm wondering if there's a way that I can keep my staircase lit perpetually (solar panel?) or in a way that doesn't require that I change batteries often. I considered using a lantern battery, but 5 amp-hours is what its rated at, and I guess that even with resistors, I'm not going to get that much life over the course of a few hours. Features wanted: Solar (?) charging or low battery turnover Enough light to see the ground over the string of 6+ lights Light meter so that it only turns on after dark? Thanks, Joel