Outdoor living season is almost at the doorstep, which means it's time to prep your patio, balcony or backyard for some warm-weather joy and tranquility. Whether you intend to host your pod or decorate for yourself, proper lighting is an important part of setting up the right vibe for your space. The best outdoor string lights are a simple, rousing solution to ring a shimmer in your open areas.
We've rounded up our favorites at various price points and styles to help you make your outdoor space ooze the desired ambience:
1. Brightech Ambience Pro Waterproof LED String Lights
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If you're looking for the perfect glow for ambient lighting in your patio or pergola, these waterproof outdoor string lights from Brightech should be your first choice.
These string lights have a high-quality build. The bulbs are made of sturdy glass, with an airtight rubbery seal around them to prevent water/moisture from leaking in. There's also a small hole above each bulb for easy hanging.
The product comes as a 48-feet heavy-duty strip with 15 hanging sockets and black LED Edison-style bulbs. They are screw-in bulbs, each rated at 2W, so you'll have to install them yourself. These outdoor string lights have a very bright glow, enough for the ambience of an evening party or gathering. However, you'll need to use a dimmer when you want mood lighting.
2. MagicPro Solar Powered Globe String Lights with E12 Socket
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Since you'll be using your string lights outdoors, why not take advantage of solar energy? This product comes with a solar panel to power it, as well as USB charging during rainy or cloudy days.
The set comes as a 24ft strip with 20 G40 LED Edison bulbs, each rated at 1W. The bulbs are made of durable plastic, making them both shatterproof and IP44 waterproof. These are arguably some of the most sturdy and energy-efficient string lights we have seen on the market.
They feature a built-in sensor that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn automatically. 4-8 hours of solar charging will give you roughly 16 hours of light. You also get 4 lighting modes -quick flash, slow flash, steady light and pulsating light- to create different tastes of ambient lighting.
3. XMCOSY+ Smart LED String Lights
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If you're looking for smart string lights, you'll want to check out this WiFi-controlled option from XMCOSY+. These impressive outdoor string lights can be controlled from a smartphone app, giving you a lot of cool lighting options.
These string lights can be integrated into a smart home design, like Google Assistant or Alexa, so you can control them using voice commands. Pretty cool, right? You can choose different colors from a color wheel and pick any of the available lighting effects, such as pulsing, fading in and out or blinking patterns. You can also set these outdoor string lights to create different themes, like Christmas or the American flag.
These 110V string lights come as a 49ft strip and 15 7.5W-rated bulbs. The plastic bulbs are obtuse in shape, which helps to give off a beautiful, cozy glow. Furthermore, the bulbs are both waterproof and shatterproof, increasing their longevity.
4. Novtech Twinkle Copper Wire String Lights
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Most of the outdoor patio lights featured on this list are filament-type or LED bulbs. This set from Novtech sports fairy copper wire lights inside the bulbs to give off a pleasant, mellow appearance.
These outdoor string lights produce a warm glow that's more suited for a relaxed, cozy ambience. This makes them ideal for intimate, chilled-out setups. Plus, the bulbs have a plastic hook for easy installation.
Each of the thirty G40 bulbs is made of glass, so you'll have to handle them with a bit of care until you hook them up securely. The light strip is 38 feet long, which should be sufficient for the average patio. These outdoor string lights also come with 3 additional replacement bulbs.
5. SUNTHIN Commercial Grade Incandescent String Lights
- Perfect Vintage Outdoor String Lights--SUNTHIN vintage edison...
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If you're a fan of vintage, yellow, incandescent light rather than bright LED lights, these commercial-grade outdoor string lights from SUNTHIN might be right up your alley. The bulbs are quite popular for their incredibly appealing warm white color temperature.
The set comes with two 48 foot long strips and thirty E26 hanging sockets, 15 of them per strip. This also includes incandescent Edison-type bulbs, plus 3 spares. The 11W-rated bulbs are made of glass, helping to create a pleasant retro atmosphere. The bulbs are also waterproof and durable for optimal longevity.
These outdoor string lights are dimmable, allowing you to use a compatible dimmer to get the desired brightness. With this light set, you can easily create a nonesuch ambience for a bistro date, an evening party or a romantic dimly-lit wedding, and so on.
Factors to Consider in The Best Outdoor String Lights
1. Power Source
Needless to say, you'll need a readily accessible power source to enjoy the glamour of your outdoor string lights. Most string lights are designed for plugging into an electrical outlet. Nevertheless, it's still important to ensure the type of string lights you intend to buy are compatible with your power source at home.
If you don't have a readily available power source for your outdoor lighting, you can opt for USB or solar-powered string lights. These do the job just as fine, not to mention helping you save some money on your electricity bill.
2. Bulb Type
LED bulbs are the most common, thanks to their bright lights, impressively long lifespan and unrivaled energy savings. Furthermore, you can connect several strands without exceeding capacity, making them ideal for covering large areas. On the other hand, incandescent bulbs give off soft and warm light. This makes them perfect for more traditional decors. If you're going for a vintage, retro vibe, it doesn't get any better than these.
Some string light bulbs are made from plastic for extra durability. However, if you opt for a glass-made option, you'll definitely have to handle them with a bit more care and caution. Classic glass globe lights are the ones you'll come across most. These simple round bulbs typically come in three sizes:
- G30: Smallest, 30mm (1.25 inches) in diameter.
- G40: Medium, 40mm (1.5 inches) in diameter.
- G50: Largest, 50mm (2 inches) in diameter.
3. Wire Length
Outdoor string lights generally come in 10,25,35,50 and 100 feet wire lengths. For a small space, say around your balcony or front porch, you need no more than 35 feet. A backyard patio or deck needs between 50-100 feet of string lights. If you want to light up a large area, your entire backyard, for instance, you'll probably need at least 100 feet.
4. Water Resistant & Wet Rated
Your outdoor string lights will definitely be exposed to the elements. As such, you need a product that can withstand harsh conditions, such as rain and heavy wind. The last thing you want is having to replace your string lights every time your area has inclement weather.
Therefore, when looking out for the best outdoor string lights, it's important first to ensure the product is listed as suitable for outdoor use. You also need to check whether the product is both water-resistant/waterproof and wet-rated. This capability guarantees that the lights are built for direct exposure to water, plus waterproof seals to protect the inner components.
NB: Using indoor lights outdoors is highly advised against since it creates a potential fire hazard.
Besides globe lights, you'll also find several string light styles out there. The different styles come about depending on how you want to display your lights, where you want to place them and what you intend to use them for. Each has its own distinct elements that set it apart:
a). Festoon Lights
These are also known as café lights because they're typically used as accent lights and decor in such spaces. Festoon lights are really a more versatile version of the traditional garland lights with big bulbs. They're superb for porches, pergolas and patios. Furthermore, you can connect several strands to illuminate large areas.
b). Solar Lanterns
These sport a distinctive look, resembling minimal paper lanterns, although they're made of durable cloth-like material. Solar lanterns can last between 15-20 hours. Plus, they are properly suited for the outdoors, withstanding typical weather conditions all year round.
c). Edison Bulb Lights
Edison bulb lights are perfect if you want an antique touch to your outdoor space. They give off an elegant and timeless look for a nice vintage vibe. The warm glow is equally enticing and pleasing to the eyes.
d). Colorful Lights
Colorful lights are extremely popular during holidays and special occasions. These outdoor string lights create bright, colorful, eye-catching displays, but you can also find more subtle options. Colorful lights are fairly easy to install, plus they can be used in all sorts of interesting ways.
e). Fairy Lights
These are used to bring magical, fairytale-inspired decors to life, both indoor and outdoor. Fairy lights are usually draped on trees over branches and trunks. From a distance, they'll seem like a cluster of fireflies in the night. They also look pretty magnificent on terraces, patios and gazebos.
f). Rope Lights
These unique lights stand out from their design, tiny bulbs enclosed in a PVC tube. Rope lights are remarkably flexible and versatile. They can be hung around poles, trees, staircases, garden sculptures, etcetera.
Some outdoor string lights come with decorative covers in all kinds of various shapes, like stars, butterflies, flowers, cats, etcetera. Others are also designed to look like small jars hanging from a rope. The reality is, there are plenty of options to choose from to suit your desired style.
6. Lighting Effects
You don't necessarily have to settle for a steady glow in your outdoor string lights. Several models come with a dimmer, a remote or a complementary app that allows you to set various lighting effects. Some are even capable of further customization to produce pretty cool effects such as strobing, flashing, twinkling as well as fading in and out.
Outdoor Lighting Tips
1. Weave your string lights across stair rails or a balcony. If you need more light in your outdoor area but don't have enough space, you can thread the string lights around your balcony's railings or the stair handrails. This is an easy way to get more light and character in your space.
2. Accessorize with light. Besides just hanging them up, you can consider bunching up a small strip in a lantern, vase or mason jar (if the plan is to go all out with the shabby-chic look). You can also wind some string lights around a decor piece to add some extra glimmer.
3. Use light as a space divider. If you have a fairly large area, you can use string lights to create different "zones" of the space. String lights over a table can foster a more intimate dining and entertainment area. Similarly, they can also turn a dark corner into a warm and cozy nook.
Frequently Asked Questions about The Best Outdoor String Lights
1. Can outdoor string lights be used indoors?
You should find this out from the product's packaging. Generally, most outdoor string lights can be used indoors. However, some of them have a strict disclaimer for either outdoor or indoor use only.
2. Do outdoor string lights consume a lot of electricity?
Having an extra string light source definitely adds to your electricity bill. Fortunately, most outdoor string lights have energy-saving capabilities to reduce their impact on your bill and the environment. We recommend LED bulbs and solar-powered lights as the go-to outdoor string light options for the best energy efficiency.