What would the holidays be without the best outdoor Christmas lights to illuminate the winter darkness? Whether they’re tiny twinkle lights or dangling meteor shower lights, these decorations help create a heartwarming holiday season. Outdoor Christmas lights come in different styles, bulb shapes, and string designs.
When choosing the right ones for your home, consider the lights’ string length, color, and control features, too. Start dreaming of the ideal lighting scheme by checking out this guide that includes shopping tips and a list of the best outdoor lights around.
- BEST OVERALL: Prextex Christmas 100 Clear White Wire Light Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BHCLIGHT Extra-Long LED Green Wire Christmas Lights
- BEST WHITE: QUWIN White Christmas String Lights
- BEST COLORED: Twinkle Star 200 LED 66FT Fairy String Lights
- BEST SMART: Twinkly TWS100STP 250 Multicolor LED String Lights
- BEST ICICLE LIGHTS: KNONEW Christmas Lights Curtain Fairy String
- BEST OUTDOOR PROJECTOR: Y YUEGANG Christmas Laser Lights
- BEST METEOR LIGHTS: Aluan Christmas Lights Meteor Shower Rain Lights
- BEST SOLAR: UPOOM Solar String Lights
- BEST LARGE BULB: NOMA C9 LED Quick Clip Christmas Lights
How We Chose the Best Outdoor Christmas Lights
The most important factors in Christmas lights are reliability and durability. These two factors guided the majority of our Christmas light choices. We wanted lights that lasted and looked great at the same time. Some categories, like solar-powered lights, have more reliability problems, but we chose the ones that stood out for their power consistency in that case.
Other deciding factors included bulb type, light strength, and length options to fit different homes and lighting needs. To curate this list of trustworthy lights, we spent extensive time researching the different Christmas light types and what features make them more useful and reliable, looking at more than 100 makes and models from many different brands.
Our Top Picks
The best outdoor Christmas lights include sets that consistently provide bright, clear light and last for a reasonable amount of time. There are a variety of styles on this list to fit different tastes, architecture, and themes. Remember—no matter the style, the best lights are the ones that make you feel like the holidays have finally arrived.
The Prextex Christmas 100 Clear White Wire Light Set keeps lighting basic but beautiful with a traditional all-white design. These small twinkle lights come on an approximately 18-foot string with an 18-inch lead wire and a 3-foot end connector. They’re designed for indoor or outdoor use and are sized so they don’t look out of place in either location.
The package includes some backup materials in case an accident happens or a bulb goes out, including two flasher bulbs, two extra bulbs, and two replacement fuses to keep them up and running. While there’s a small number of these strings that show problems within the first few months, this company’s responsive customer service takes care of dissatisfied customers.
- Length: About 18 feet
- Color: White
- Number of bulbs: 100
- Budget-friendly option offering 18 feet of lighting
- Traditional design that blends with other styles
- Suitable for outdoor or indoor hanging
- A few reports of units failing after a few months
Get the Prextex outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
The BHCLIGHT Extra-Long 95-Foot 240 LED Green Wire Christmas String illuminates the holidays at a foot-by-foot price that’s hard to beat. Each 95-foot string contains 240 LED white Christmas lights—more than sufficient to add a warm, Christmassy glow. They’re approved for indoor or outdoor use (waterproof), providing versatility along with holiday cheer.
These lights include eight different lighting modes: combination, waves, sequential, slow glow, chasing, slow fade, twinkle, and steady. A mode control on the electrical plug allows users to switch modes as needed. The set includes a few replacement bulbs to extend the string’s life. However, if a single bulb goes out, the rest of the lights still stay on. This string’s shortcoming is that it cannot plug into another string to create a longer set of lights.
- Length: 95 feet
- Color: White
- Number of bulbs: 240
- Affordable price per foot; great for large exteriors on a budget
- 95 feet of string with 78.7 feet of lights
- Approved for indoor or outdoor use
- Cannot plug into another strand; difficult with larger installations
Get the BHCLIGHT outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
For those who prefer the bluish hue of a cool white light, the QUWIN White Christmas String Lights might be the perfect addition to a holiday display. These lights can run on eight different lighting modes, including combination, waves, sequential, slow glow, chasing, slow fade, twinkle, and steady.
Decorators who opt for these lights also won’t have to splurge on several sets to sufficiently adorn their home—the 115-foot string contains 300 LED lights. However, the extra-long string can also connect with up to two additional strings to seriously extend the holiday illumination.
The string is IP55 rated, which means it can withstand water—but only a sprinkling, not a downpour. They might not work in climates where the holidays are a rainy affair.
- Length: 115 feet
- Color: White
- Number of bulbs: 300
- Eight lighting modes for a variety of decoration options
- Can connect with two more sets of the same lights
- LED bulbs conserve energy; great for lowering electricity bills
- IP55 rating works for light sprinkles, but not a downpour
Get the QUWIN outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
The Twinkle Star 200 LED 66-Foot Fairy String Lights deliver a colorful holiday feel. The LED bulbs glow brightly and conserve energy at the same time. This 66-foot string features more lights per square foot with lights separated by only 3.9 inches.
The lights can run on one of eight modes, including combination, sequential, waves, slow, flash, slow fade, twinkle, and steady. They also have a 17-foot lead wire, which makes them easier to place on the roofline without the use of an extension cord. Each string can connect with up to three more sets of the same lights. If there’s a con, it’s their IP44 rating, which means they’re only meant for sprinkles of water, not heavy snow or a downpour.
- Length: 66 feet
- Color: Multicolored
- Number of bulbs: 200
- Dense bulb distribution; ideal for eye-catching displays
- 17-foot lead wire provide flexible installation options
- Connects with three additional strings
- Cannot handle heavy moisture; not great in rainy climates
Get the Twinkle Star outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
Bring sophistication and hands-free operation into the holiday season with the Twinkly 100 Multicolor LED String Lights. The app that works with these lights does more than simply turn them on or off; it detects the location of each light using a smartphone camera. Users can then set different sections of the lights to different colors.
The app can also control multiple strings and other smart devices from the same company. There are synchronization options between different strings and remote on/off functions, too. The lights can connect to the app using either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. However, the app isn’t perfect, and some users, especially Android users, reported connectivity issues.
- Length: 65.6 feet
- Color: Multicolored
- Number of bulbs: 250
- Includes multiple lighting and color options
- Hands-free control and easy to use
- Can sync multiple strings; ideal for large installations
- Android phone users may have connectivity issues
Get the Twinkly outdoor Christmas lights at Amazon, or 100-bulb versions at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, or Best Buy.
The best icicle lights turn any home into a winter chalet. The KNONEW Curtain Fairy String Lights provide a maximum amount of LED lights (400) on a 32-foot string. The dangling strands alternate lengths to mimic the look of an icicle-covered chalet.
These lights are available in several colors and string lengths, so if cool white isn’t the perfect fit, there’s also blue, orange, multicolor, orange and purple, and warm white. The string includes a built-in timer function, too. However, these lights cannot handle heavy rain or snow, so they’re only meant for outdoor use in mild climates.
- Length: 33 feet
- Color: White
- Number of bulbs: 400
- Dense bulb distribution create an impressive display
- Several color options satisfy many style choices
- Alternate lengths add to the real icicle appearance
- Only meant for outdoor use in mild climates
Get the KNONEW outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
The Christmas Laser Lights Projector eliminates the need for a ladder and drastically cuts installation time. The projector can be staked into the ground or mounted to a sturdy structure. A head with 300 degrees of rotation provides adjustability to get the right angle. Plus, the projector provides five holiday lighting patterns from which to choose.
The remote control works up to a 65-foot distance, and the optimum placement reaches up to 3,800 square feet when placed at a 33-foot distance. Oddly, it only has a 16-foot electrical cord, so an extension cord is required to cover the maximum square footage.
- Length: Covers 3,800 square feet at a distance of 33 feet
- Color: Multicolored
- Number of bulbs: N/A
- Easy installation; no roof climbing required
- Can be staked or mounted; suitable for multiple home types
- 65-foot remote radius; great for most homes
- Short electrical cord; may require an exterior extension cable
Get the Y YUEGANG outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
The Aluan Christmas Lights Meteor Shower Rain Lights provide a fun lighting option. Available in cool white, blue, multicolor, and warm white color options, each 10-foot string contains 10 dangle tubes, available in 12-, 20-, or 31.5-inch lengths, that resemble falling stars. The tubes are connected by an electrical cord, so only one plug is required for 10 tubes.
The string can connect with an additional three sets of lights, which function on a lighting pattern that falls in sequence to mimic a meteor rather than emanating steady light. However, the strings have had issues when connecting multiple sets together.
- Length: 10-foot string with 10 tubes
- Color: White
- Number of bulbs: 240
- Multiple tube length options; suitable for most homes
- Mimics the look of a falling meteor
- Comes in several color choices
- Can be problems when connecting multiple strings
Get the Aluan outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
The UPOOM Solar String Lights 50 LED 24-Foot Outdoor String Lights bring a somewhat whimsical feel to the holidays. These solar-powered lights feature 50 multicolored LED globe lights on a 24-foot string. They’re not strictly holiday lights but will certainly fit right in with a colorful holiday theme.
This string offers smart control using an accompanying app. Through the app, users can pick one of three controls, including off, on, and flash. The lights require 6 to 8 hours to charge, and they work for 8 to 15 hours, depending on the mode. However, these lights begin to fade as the power runs out. That’s pretty typical for solar-powered lights and is part of the compromise of going solar.
- Length: 24 feet
- Color: Multicolored
- Number of bulbs: 50
- Smart control is very easy to use and change setups
- Long and budget-friendly runtime
- Whimsical vintage design
- Light level fades as power runs out
Get the UPOOM outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
The NOMA C9 Quick Clip Christmas Lights feature bright, multicolored bulbs with a vintage feel. However, their construction is all modern—they’re LED and energy efficient, saving money on that holiday electric bill. One user-favorite feature is the built-in bulb clips that attach the bulbs to the roofline. Usually you have to buy bulb clips separately, but not with these lights.
The bulbs are adjustable on the string, pointing up or down based on how they’re installed. A downside to these lights is the length and light distribution. At just 16 feet long with 24 bulbs, it could potentially take a lot of strings to create an outdoor display.
- Length: 16 feet
- Color: Multicolor
- Number of bulbs: 24
- Built-in bulb clips for precise placement
- Vintage bulb design for a timeless look
- Adjustable bulb direction
- Short string length leads to a time consuming installation
Get the NOMA outdoor Christmas lights on Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Outdoor Christmas Lights
Outdoor lights come in a surprising variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Smart LED Christmas lights, for example, can emit hundreds if not thousands of colors in a single light. Keep your personal style and preferences in mind while reading the factors that come into play when choosing the best outdoor Christmas lights.
The most common outdoor Christmas light styles include:
- Twinkle: These tiny traditional lights look as at home on the indoor Christmas tree as they do outside along the eaves. Small and affordable, they’re a great option for those on a budget. Most are either white or multicolored, but some may allow users to choose between the two.
- Icicle: Designed to mimic hanging icicles, these displays offer a touch of elegance. They’re bulkier to store than twinkle lights and have more bulbs per string.
- Meteor shower: Meteor shower lights’ distinct shape makes them look like glowing meteors or shooting stars falling from trees or eaves. They’re more complicated to install but offer a unique effect.
- Globe: Not just for the holidays, these large, round globe lights can be used year-round. They’re often multicolored and offer a warm glow that radiates in all directions.
- Large bulb: These are basically a bigger version of traditional twinkle lights. They’re bright and often multicolored, though some are a single color.
There are also outdoor Christmas light projectors, which aren’t Christmas lights in a traditional sense, but they can add a festive flair to a holiday display.
Length and Size
Outdoor Christmas lights come in various lengths from as short as 10 feet to as long as 100 feet. Make sure to measure the distance the lights will need to cover to get an idea of the right number of strings for the lighting design. Falling a few feet short can easily ruin an outdoor Christmas display.
As far as size, outdoor Christmas light projectors have a defined square footage the display can cover. The projector can be moved farther from the house to expand the display size, but only if there’s enough space on the property.
Electricity and solar are the main power sources for outdoor Christmas lights. Of the two, electricity is by far the more reliable. Electricity provides consistent power, though it also requires extensions cords and access to an outdoor outlet in the right location.
Solar-powered lights are less common but are still a viable option. They’re an energy saver come Christmas time but aren’t without their flaws. The biggest problem is power consistency. Solar power must be stored to keep the lights running after the sun goes down. Many of these lights shine brightly for about 1 or 2 hours but then dim as power fades. Yes, they save power, but they’re not nearly as bright or consistent as electric lights.
LED bulbs have light-emitting diodes instead of a filament like incandescent bulbs have. The diodes use less energy and last longer than filaments, creating a long-lasting, energy-efficient bulb. Outdoor LED Christmas lights also come in a wider variety of colors. When paired with smart features, they can create a rainbow of colors.
Outdoor Christmas lights can include extra features like:
- Smart control: Smart control gives users the ability to change colors, lighting patterns, and timer settings using an app. With a phone as a remote, you can turn on the lights before arriving at home or turn them off from work.
- Pattern settings: Flashing, intermittent, and other lighting patterns can make a lighting display really stand out.
- Color options: White, blue, green, red, and multicolored are the most common light options. Some strings are a single color, while others, like smart LED lights, may offer several colors. More color options let users change the look based on seasons for year-round holiday lighting.
- Lead wire and end connector: The lead wire is the length of the string before the lights, and the end connector is the length of the string after the lights. These two measurements are important to keep in mind if precise measurements are required. For example, a longer lead wire allows installation farther away from an electric outlet.
If Christmas outdoor Christmas lights are a first for you this year, you might have a few questions. Thankfully, there are proven answers to the most common ones. These will help you get your lights up, running, and looking their best this holiday season.
Q. What length should outdoor Christmas string lights be?
The light string should be slightly longer than the area in which they’re hung. That extra length puts them closer to the electrical outlet and reduces the length of any needed extension cords.
Q. How should I hang outdoor Christmas lights?
Recruit a helper, get a sturdy ladder, and get ready for a few hours of work. Start with a string near an electrical outlet, and hang the lights by following the roofline. Have your helper hold the ladder for stability. Some people hang lights from nails, others use a staple gun, while others use removable light clips. Of these options, the removable clips offer the easiest and least damaging method.
Q. How waterproof are outdoor Christmas lights?
Outdoor Christmas lights should be 100 percent waterproof. If they’re not, they could short out the first time it rains or snows. Check the IP rating. The IP rating has two numbers. The first number indicates dust and debris resistance, and the second indicates water resistance on a scale of 0 to 9. Outdoor Christmas lights should have a rating of at least four (in the second number) or higher. Lights with a four or five can resist light rain, though they may not do well in extremely wet weather.
Q. Can I leave outdoor Christmas lights on all night?
Yes, Christmas lights are safe to leave on all night. However, you might want to connect them to a timer to save energy.
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