The soft glow of string lights twinkling overhead as you relax outdoors on a warm summer night… It’s a magical feeling, isn’t it? Decorative outdoor string lights allow you to create that enchanting ambiance in your own backyard, patio, or deck. They provide both illumination and charm to transform your space into a venue for happy gatherings or peaceful solitude.
In this article, we’ll explore the top string lights on the market to help you choose the perfect ones for your needs. You’ll learn what to consider when shopping for outdoor string lights, from bulb type and durability to special features. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions to shed light on proper installation, care, and troubleshooting for these festive lights.
So let’s plug into the possibilities and see how to brighten up your nights with decorative outdoor string lights!
Top 5 Outdoor String Lights to Brighten Up Your Nights
When shopping for outdoor string lights, you’ll find a diverse range of styles and options. To make the selection process easier, we’ve spotlighted five of the best-rated decorative string lights perfect for illuminating your outdoor living space. Consider these top choices:
1. Brightown 25 FT Vintage Edison Bulb String Lights
If you want to create a hip, industrial chic vibe on your patio or porch, Brightown’s 25-foot string lights with clear Edison-style bulbs are just the ticket. The flexible black cord hides unobtrusively along eaves and railings while the vintage bulbs provide a striking accent.
The key specs:
- 25 clear bulbs on black cord with hanging loops spaced 1 foot apart
- Incandescent lights produce a warm, glowing light
- Dimmable to control ambiance
- Durable shatterproof bulbs resistant to weather
- Each bulb screws securely into a plastic socket
Brightown’s industrial Edison lights are perfect for patios, porches, gardens, and backyards. The black cord melts into the background by day while the clear bulbs shine once the sun sets. Reviewers love the smooth dimming capabilities and vintage vibe. Just note the bulbs are not replaceable, so handle carefully!
2. Homelink 20 FT Café String Lights
Do you want to recreate the allure of a cozy Italian café or bistro? Homelink’s café string lights are designed to do just that, bringing Euro charm to your outdoor space.
- 20 E26 base bulbs spaced 12 inches apart along brown cord
- Clear bulbs with thin “caged” filaments resembling antique bulbs
- Dimmable with 8 brightness levels
- Bulbs are replaceable
- Link up to 3 strands together
These café lights are ideal for replicating the romantic ambiance of dining al fresco on your patio. Use them to illuminate seating areas and pathways while adding vintage character. The replaceable bulbs ensure you can keep the party glowing. Reviewers love the café vibe and dimming ability. Just take care when handling the glass bulbs.
3. Brightech Ambience Waterproof LED String Lights
For an awesome set of weatherproof string lights, check out Brightech Ambience. The smart LED design means these lights can withstand the elements while saving you money on energy costs versus old-fashioned incandescent bulbs.
- 24 LED bulbs encased in shatterproof plastic shells, spaced 1 foot apart
- On a flexible brown cord with hanging loops
- Waterproof and weatherproof construction
- Cool white light color from the natural white LEDs
- Linkable up to 8 strands for over 200 ft of coverage
- Smart technology for custom functions
Brightech’s LED string lights are a super choice for decks, pergolas, patios – anywhere you need durable lighting that will hold up in outdoor conditions. The cool white light provides visibility while the plastic shell protects the bulbs. Smart features allow you to set timers, customize colors, and control lights from an app. Just plug in and enjoy ambient lighting all year round!
4. Porch Pot Hanging Mason Jar String Lights
Add a touch of farmhouse charm to your porch or patio with these charming hanging mason jar string lights from Porch Pot. The lights feature dangling vintage-style mason jars fitted with sturdy handles and E26 light bulb bases.
- 12 hanging jars spaced 2 feet apart along the 48-foot cord
- Mason jars are approximately 6 inches tall
- 12 E26 base sockets so you can use your choice of bulb
- Cord has 12-foot drop lengths between lights
- Link up to 3 strands together for a total of 36 jars
The farmhouse vibe and dangling jars create visual drama andrustic ambiance. Use these lights to decorate porches, trees, gazebos, or centerpieces over dining tables. Just take care when handling the glass jars. Reviewers love the vintage farmhouse look and ability to change bulbs.
5. Luminoodles LED Color Changing Rope Lights
For maximum versatility, rope lights like these color-changing LEDs from Luminoodles are a fantastic option. The thin flexible rope light can be wrapped around railings, structures, trees, and more to provide colorful accent lighting.
- Weatherproof, waterproof flexible rope light
- Adhesive backing makes installation easy
- Linkable up to 32 feet per control box
- LEDs provide vivid multi-color effects
- Timer, remote control, and app for control
Luminoodles LED rope lights allow you to highlight architecture, gardens, pathways and more with a splash of customizable color. Use a single solid color or slowly transition hues for events and parties. Reviewers love how easy the lights are to install and control. Just take care not to wrap too tightly around small items or the lights may suffer hot spots.
Shopping Considerations for Picking Outdoor String Lights
With so many options for decorative outdoor string lights, it helps to know what features and specs to evaluate as you shop. Keep these key considerations in mind:
Pick the Right Location
- Where do you want to install the lights? Overhead, hanging, wrapping?
- Measure to calculate how much length you need.
- Factor in light spacing and dropped lines if hanging lights.
- Ensure you have access to an outdoor electrical outlet in the right area.
Consider Bulb Types
- LED bulbs are energy-efficient and long-lasting.
- Incandescent lights provide a traditional glowing light.
- Bulb material affects durability – plastic vs. glass.
Evaluate Bulb Styles
- Vintage Edison, globe, cone, flame tip, lantern and more!
- Modern or traditional look?
- Clear vs. frosted or colored bulbs?
Determine Number of Bulbs
- Enough to provide light but not overwhelm the space.
- Opt for linkable strands to add length as needed.
- Space bulbs appropriately – often 12 inches.
Pick Cord Color
- Black hides well on structures and in trees.
- Brown has a vintage appeal.
- White pops against darker backgrounds.
Look for Linkable Option
- Link 2+ strands together for longer runs.
- Allows you to start smaller and add more.
- Link up to 8 or 10 typically.
Consider a Dimmer
- Allows you to control ambiance and mood.
- Creates a soft glow for relaxing nights.
- Look for stepless or multi-level dimming.
Check Durability Factors
- Shatterproof and weather-resistant bulbs.
- Waterproof casing on cords.
- Durable, flexible cords.
Evaluate Special Features
- Timers, remote controls, phone apps for lighting control.
- Color changing lights.
- Solar power or battery operated.
Match Your Style
- Rustic, vintage, modern, trendy lighting styles.
- Make sure the look complements your décor.
- Café lights for a bistro vibe. Industrial for urban flair.
Set a Budget
- Outdoor string lights range from $10 to $150+
- Determine how much you want to spend per strand.
- Higher budgets allow for added features and smart controls.
Mind the Power Source
- Distance from outlet affects cord length needed.
- Use extension cord for short distances if needed.
- Look for solar-powered or battery options.
- Ensure lights are rated and UL-approved for outdoor use.
- Follow all installation instructions carefully.
- Check for frayed cords, damaged wires, broken bulbs before hanging.
Thinking through these factors will help guide you to the perfect set of string lights to create a sensational outdoor ambiance.
Frequently Asked Questions About Outdoor String Lights
Decorative lights are a great way to enhance your outdoor space. But what about lighting up your night with questions? Here we’ll shed some light on the most common FAQs about outdoor string lights.
Are outdoor string lights weatherproof?
Outdoor string lights should always be certified and labeled as weatherproof or suitable for outdoor use. Features like plastic bulbs, waterproof casings, and durable cords prevent damage from exposure to elements like rain and snow. Always check product descriptions and specs to confirm the lights are designed with weather resistance in mind before installing outside.
How do you hang outdoor string lights?
There are a few good options for hanging outdoor string lights. Small nail hooks or cup hooks work well for attaching lights under roof eaves, awnings, pergolas and other structures. Avoid using staples which can damage cords. For trees, use insulated tree hooks to hang lights without causing harm. S-hooks are handy for attaching strands along fences or suspended from gutters. Always space hooks evenly and align with the bulb spacing. Ensure hooks and lines are rated to safely hold the weight of the strand to prevent hazardous drooping and detachment. Consider hiring an electrician for installing lights at higher heights or for permanent fixtures.
What is the best way to store outdoor string lights?
To prevent tangling and damage after use, carefully wind strands around a cardboard wrapping paper tube, paper towel roll, or plastic light storage reel. This helps maintain the shape of the strands during off-season storage. Keep lights in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and avoid temperature extremes which can damage bulbs. Before reusing, always check lights thoroughly for broken bulbs, cracked sockets, frayed cords, or faulty wiring. Replace damaged strands instead of risking hazards.
How do you keep outdoor string lights from tangling?
The key is to take time untangling and pre-planning arrangements before hanging lights. When taking down strands, carefully wind them so cords don’t get crisscrossed or overstretched. Use zip ties or small bag clips periodically as you wrap lights to keep the strands orderly. For lights currently in use, ensure cords are untwisted as you arrange them. Suspending lights using S-hooks or clips instead of wrapping also minimizes tangling risks. Pay attention to where cords naturally fall to avoid forcing them into positions that lead to knots. With care, your strands will stay tangle-free for seasons of enjoyment.
Can you leave outdoor string lights up all year?
Some outdoor string lights are designed and certified for permanent, year-round outdoor installation. These strands typically have the most rugged weatherproof construction. Provided lights are specified by the manufacturer as suitable for permanent outdoor use, you can feel comfortable leaving them up through all seasons. Just take normal precautions like occasionally checking for hazards as weather and seasons pass. For non-permanent lights, it’s recommended to take strands down during periods of extreme weather to avoid potential damage from storms, heavy snow, or ice.
How do you clean outdoor string lights?
Over time, outdoor lights attract dirt, dust, grime, and insects. For basic cleaning, use a dry soft brush attachment on your vacuum or a soft dry cloth to wipe down strands and remove debris. For deeper cleaning, dampen a soft cloth or sponge with a mild detergent and water solution. Gently wipe down bulbs, cords, and wires, taking care not to submerge the electrical components in liquid. Use a fresh damp cloth to remove any soap residue. Allow lights to fully air dry before reinstalling. Test clean a small section first before cleaning entire strands. Avoid abrasive cleaners or chemicals which could damage the lights.
How do you replace bulbs in outdoor string lights?
Always unplug lights and let bulbs fully cool before attempting replacement to avoid burns or shocks. Check that the new replacement bulbs match the correct wattage, socket base, voltage, and shape. Gently twist bulbs to remove rather than yanking cords. Insert new bulbs directly into sockets, taking care not to force. Refrain from touching new bulbs with bare fingers as oils from hands can cause bulbs to burn out faster. Test lights before rehanging to ensure all bulbs illuminate properly. Consider replacing all bulbs at once so lights glow evenly.
How do you fix string lights with blown fuses?
Start by unplugging the strand and locating the fuse within the plug, typically accessed by unscrewing the cap or sliding open a panel. Carefully remove the blown fuse without touching exposed wiring. Replace with a new fuse of the exact same type, wattage, and amperage rating. Securely close up the fuse cover and plug lights back in. If the fuse immediately blows again, there is likely a short circuit somewhere along the strand. Check for any damage, bad connections, or exposed wires which could cause a short. Also look for signs of water exposure which can create shorts. You may need to replace the string if issues continue after the fuse is replaced.
Can you shorten outdoor string lights?
It’s possible but not ideal to cut outdoor string lights shorter by cutting the cord. Anytime you slice into the cord, you damage the protective casing and expose the inner wires to outdoor elements which can shorten the life of lights. Instead of cutting strands, it’s better to tuck away excess cord length out of sight or space out lights more. For incandescent strands, you can remove some bulbs evenly to reduce the number that are illuminated. Linking multiple smaller strands together allows more customization of length without cutting. If you do cut lights, seal the wire ends completely with electrical tape and keep cuts as far from bulbs as possible.
Let Your Nights Shine Bright
Your nights can shine so much brighter with a beautiful set of outdoor string lights adorning your space. By keeping the key considerations and tips from this guide in mind, you’re sure to find the perfect lights to create an inviting ambiance and magical memories for years to come.
The gleam of lights against the night sky evokes such a feeling of comfort and contentment. Whether you prefer the modern glow of LEDs, vintage appeal of Edison bulbs, or rustic charm of mason jar lights, the right outdoor string lights will illuminate and enhance your home in spectacular fashion.
So don’t spend another night in the dark! Bring your patio, pergola, garden and more to life with decorative string lights designed specifically to brighten up your outdoor world.