By illuminating a backyard or patio area, outdoor string lights can create a cozy and festive environment that’s perfect for unwinding on warm summer nights. With various styles, colors, and bulb types available, we’ve highlighted the top-rated models that provide the most impressive illumination. We tested them in different weather conditions while also evaluating their material quality, installation ease, and durability. Keep reading to discover what features to seek out when searching for outdoor string lights, and to discover which models stood out as some of the finest options.
Bhclight LED Fairy Lights
For those seeking a delicate and extensive set of lights, Bhclight’s 200 LED fairy lights offer a subtle white glow for a cozy ambiance. These lights are perfect for those who prefer a more intimate feel for their outdoor space, rather than the bright bulbs of traditional string lights. Installing the lights is a breeze – simply wrap the copper cord around any surface, plug it in, and control the eight different modes to your liking. Additionally, the lights come in four different colors and are waterproof, tangle-free, and suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Do bear in mind that some lights may be slightly dimmer or brighter than others due to the multitude of bulbs on the cord. Starting at $20, these lights are a great addition to any outdoor setting.
– Bulb Type: LED
– Cord Length: 66 feet
– Power Source: Plug-in
– Weather-Resistance Rating: IP44
Addlon 48 Ft Outdoor String Lights
Thanks to its sturdy construction, luminous bulbs, and versatile design, this Addlon pick is a true triple threat. Boasting an insulated exterior and tough cord, these lights can withstand extreme weather conditions such as heat, wind, water, humidity, and snow – making them ideal for year-round outdoor use. With a cord length of 48 feet, plus an optional 96-foot version for larger areas, these lights can be customized to suit your needs. If you’re after a particular ambiance, the lights can be dimmed to your liking. As of the time of publication, these lights are available for $50 and come in lengths of 24, 48, or 96 feet. A plug-in cord powers them up.
SUNTHIN 48ft LED Outdoor String Lights
Pros of SUNTHIN’s LED Outdoor String Lights include their warm illumination, durable and weather-resistant construction, and shatterproof plastic bulbs. Compared to similar options, they are more budget-friendly. These commercial-grade lights are ideal for creating a cozy ambiance in your outdoor space, perfect for gatherings and outdoor dinner parties.
One downside of these lights is that they are not as bright as other options. However, this can contribute to their charm. With 15 bulbs per 48-foot-long set spaced out appropriately, you can connect up to 12 strands to cover more space. You can also purchase a separate dimmer from the brand to customize the light output.
Our tester installed the lights in their yard and found them to be durable and able to withstand storms. Despite heavy winds, no bulbs were blown during their two-week testing period. When clinking the bulbs on concrete during installation, there was no damage, which would have certainly shattered a regular glass bulb.
These string lights use Edison-style LED bulbs and have a wattage of 13.5. They are powered via a plug-in connection.
XMCOSY+ Patio Lights
With a length of 98 feet and 30 bulbs, the XMCOSY+ Patio Lights offer a long cord and WiFi control through the XMCOSY app on your smartphone. The LED bulbs are high-quality and situated on a thinner, single-strand cord with a “T” hanging style that reduces overall bulk. The setup process takes about 15 minutes, during which you pair the lights with your phone’s WiFi network. The app allows for different “scenes”, but we used it mainly for remote on/off and the dimmer function. The timer function offers scheduling options as well. The XMCOSY+ offers a lengthy and remote-controllable lighting arrangement, though its inability to replace individual bulbs and relatively high price may give some pause.
Vigdur 9.8-Foot Outdoor String Lights (10 Bulbs)
Not as luminous as uncovered bulbs
This traditional set of outdoor string lights consists of 10 small white lanterns hanging on a 9.8-foot wire. The lanterns are lit by warm white 0.6-watt LED bulbs, which blend in perfectly for any outdoor environment (yet may not give off a lot of brightness, so you may want to add tabletop lanterns for added illumination).
The lanterns themselves are approximately 3 inches in diameter and made from nylon, ensuring resistance against rain. They are placed 5.5 inches apart on the water-resistant wire, which can be linked to additional sets end-to-end, up to a maximum of 216 watts.
What to Look for When Buying Outdoor String Lights
Power Sources for Outdoor String Lights
Outdoor string lights can be powered in several ways, so it’s important to choose the best source for your needs. Most string lights are designed to be plugged into an electrical outlet, but this can limit their use to areas with exterior outlets or where an extension cord can be used to connect to an indoor outlet. However, plug-in lights can be connected to other strands to cover larger areas.
If you cannot access an outlet, consider purchasing solar-powered or rechargeable string lights. Solar lights require a solar charging panel exposed to sunlight, while rechargeable lights are connected to a portable power bank using a USB charging cord. These options are ideal for camping, older homes or apartments, but are not generally connectable to other strands.
Style of Outdoor String Lights
Different types of string lights offer varying styles of lighting. Edison or globe bulb string lights provide bright lighting and are perfect for outdoor patios. Fairy and curtain lights offer a more intimate ambiance but are less bright.
Weatherproofing Outdoor String Lights
Consider weatherproofing when choosing outdoor string lights. Ensure they are durable enough to withstand most seasons. The highest tier of weatherproofing is UL Listing or Certification from Underwriters’ Laboratories. These products are tested to ensure durability, efficiency, and quality.
Wattage and Energy Usage of Outdoor String Lights
The energy usage of your string lights is an important factor, as it can impact your electricity bill. Solar and rechargeable lights will not impact your home’s energy usage. Look for low wattage options to conserve energy, but be mindful that this may affect brightness. LED bulbs are the best choice for maximum light payout and minimal energy usage.
How do you hang string lights?
When hanging outdoor string lights in your yard, you’ll need a few additional tools to properly secure the lights into place. Plan to have at least a step ladder, some screws, a screwdriver, and an extension cord on hand.
“Depending on what you are planning to use as your anchor points for the string lights, you may need special hardware to secure the lights,” Fox says. “There are lots of string light hanging kits out there with a variety of hardware types for this issue. If you do not have an existing tree, tall fence or wall to mount the lights to, consider purchasing string light poles, which come with a clip intended for holding string lights.”
How long should you keep string lights on?
The amount of time you should keep your string lights on depends on the type of lights that you have, says Linda Haase, an NCIDQ-certified interior designer and advisory board member at The Project Girl. “If your string lights are LED, they can be left on for as long as 10 hours per day,” Haase says. “If your string lights are incandescent, they should be kept on for no more than two hours at a time.”
This is because incandescent bulbs become hotter than an LED bulb, creating a potential fire hazard if left on indefinitely. In terms of broader lifespan, the temperature at which you store your lights and number of hours of use per day can also have an impact on how long the lightbulb lasts, according to Haase. Storing your string lights at warmer temperatures and longer hours of use will both shorten your lights’ lifespan.
“It’s a good idea to invest in an outdoor electric timer so that your lights will automatically come on at night and go off during the day,” Dedrick says. “If you go with solar-powered lights, they will come on and off automatically based on how much energy they can store.”
How long should your string lights be?
In order to answer this question, you need to know where the lights are going and how you’re planning to arrange them.
“Will your lights follow the perimeter of your outdoor area, will they zig-zag over the area, or will you create a starburst pattern with them?” Fox says. “Once you determine how you’d like them to be laid out, then you can measure the length you need.”
We also recommend buying about 20 to 30% more length than you think you’ll actually need, allowing for a little extra give in the string when you go to hang them.
How can you hide the string light cord?
Hiding your outdoor string lights’ power cord can be a challenge, but according to Dedrick, the easiest way to conceal it is to hang the lights as close to the outlet as possible.
“This is the most difficult part,” says Dedrick. “It really depends on where the outlet is. The best way to hide the cable is to have an electrician install an outlet as close to where the lights will be as possible. The next best thing is to bury it where possible. And use green cords that are labeled for outdoor use if you need to run power on the ground.”