The Best String Lights for Your Outdoor Space
You can’t beat outdoor entertaining as the weather warms, and the right lighting can set the mood. Here are the best outdoor string lights for weather tolerance, color, style, and energy savings.
String lights make those nights spent outdoors so much more relaxing and festive. Even one simple strand can magically transform a backyard—or a patio or porch—into something more like an outdoor living room, with their twinkling adding both ambience and allure. But not just any string lights can stand up to rainstorms and wind gusts and the rigors of outdoor use. You want a set that is weatherproof and safe to use in all conditions. Before shopping, review our tips on choosing the best outdoor string lights for your space, and don’t miss our top picks:
- BEST OVERALL: Brightown 100-Foot Outdoor String Lights
- BEST FOR ALL WEATHER: Lemontec 48-Foot Outdoor String Lights
- BEST SOLAR PICK: Brightech 27-Foot Ambience Pro LED Solar String Lights
- BEST FOR EVENTS: Banord 102-Foot Vintage LED Filament Outdoor String Lights
- BEST TECH PICK: Govee 24-Foot Outdoor String Lights
Key Considerations When Shopping
Water Resistant and Wet Rated
Because your outdoor string lights will be exposed to the elements, it’s important to shop for a product that is hardy and tested in conditions like rain and heavy wind. The last thing you want is to have to take your string lights down every time your area faces inclement weather.
When choosing a string light for your backyard, ensure that first of all, the manufacturer or seller lists the product as suitable for outdoor use. Using an indoor light outdoors creates a potential fire hazard. Second, check that the product is both water-resistant (or waterproof) and wet rated. Wet-rated lights are designed for direct exposure to water and have waterproof seals to protect their inner parts from getting wet and compromising safety.
Bulb Size and Style
When it comes to string light styles, classic glass globe lights are the most popular. The simple round lights generally come in three sizes:
- G30: The smallest of the bulb sizes at 30mm (1.25 inches) in diameter
- G40: Medium, measuring 40mm (1.5 inches) in diameter
- G50: The largest of the bulb sizes, coming in at 50mm (2 inches) in diameter
Besides globe string lights, you also can find the following styles:
- Edison: The “Edison” bulb—light bulbs designed to look like Thomas Edison’s original invention—has a warm, glowing appearance thanks to their internal filaments. These bulbs give your outdoor space a vintage look.
- Lantern: Typically a regular globe outdoor string light that you can cover with a paper lantern (or often, tarpaulin, which is a durable, waterproof canvas-like material) for a soft and festive look.
- Fairy: Want to make your backyard look like a magical kingdom in the evenings? Fairy lights give the appearance of thousands of fireflies gathering together. You can create the effect by draping strands of lights over tree branches, in bushes, or on a fence.
- Rope: Rope lights are essentially mini lights covered in a plastic jacket to protect them from the elements. You can hang rope lights from the fence or illuminate a garden space.
For a small patio, there’s no need for a 100-foot strand of lights, and you might come up short when you’re trying to string a 10-foot strand between trees. Though it depends on the manufacturer, outdoor string lights typically come in wire lengths of 10, 25, 35, 50, and 100 feet.
A small space typically needs no more than 50 feet of wire, and a backyard patio or deck calls for a strand between 50 and 100 feet. For really large areas or to illuminate a large event, you’ll need at least 100 feet.
Of course, adding an extra light source ultimately increases your electricity bill. Luckily, plenty of products out there boast energy-saving measures to minimize the impact on your energy bill and the environment. When shopping for outdoor string lights, consider one of the following options:
- LED bulbs use much less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs and don’t get as hot when they burn. Because they are cooler to the touch when in use, you can often find LED bulbs made of plastic—meaning they won’t shatter if dropped.
- Solar-powered lights don’t add to your energy bill and—bonus—they don’t require an outlet to work, making them perfect for apartment patios or houses that don’t have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. Simply place the included solar panel in a spot that gets a lot of sunlight and the bulbs will light up at night
When looking for string lights, you should also consider what color lights you want. There’s always the classic white or yellow glow, but if you’re looking for something a little more fun, some string lights come in all colors of the rainbow. Some even have customizable light shows you can control via an app.
Our Top Picks
We’ve selected the best outdoor string lights to make your outdoor space more comfortable, more intimate, and more inviting for all of your outdoor gatherings—whether it’s you and the entire neighborhood, or just you and a glass of wine.
1. BEST OVERALL: Brightown 100-Foot Outdoor String Lights
For creating ambiance in the backyard, these string lights have it all: generous length (100 feet), waterproof protection, money-saving efficiency, and enticing vintage style, thanks to their Edison glass bulbs. Not only are these bulbs dimmable, but at 5W per bulb, they are also satisfyingly bright, with soft, warm illumination able to make even the darkest hour of the night feel welcoming and lively. Installation is incredibly easy; use either a cable tie or a suspension kit.
2. BEST FOR ALL WEATHER: Lemontec 48-Foot Outdoor String Lights
Lemontec Commercial-Grade Outdoor String Lights are classic in looks, but quite advanced in their weatherproofing. 48 feet long and featuring 15 clear incandescent bulbs, Lemontec’s option is built to last and exceptionally rugged, able to withstand just about any weather year-round.
3. BEST SOLAR PICK: Brightech 27-Foot Ambience Pro LED Solar String Lights
If you think solar-powered lights can’t be attractive, think again. These waterproof, solar-powered, Edison-style string lights are every bit as stylish as any plug-in—minus the energy bill. With six hours of direct sunlight, these string lights stay lit for up to six hours. Additionally, the Brightech lights boast commercial-grade WeatherTite technology, which means they can withstand rain, snow, extreme heat, and winds up to 50 miles per hour.
4. BEST FOR EVENTS: Banord 102-Foot Vintage LED Filament Outdoor String Lights
With 34 hanging sockets and 102 feet of thick, durable electric wire (102 feet!), these Banord Dimmable LED string lights are perfect for a large backyard barbecue, wedding, or graduation party. On the one hand, the plastic bulbs are completely shatterproof. On the other, the LED bulbs—which consume less energy than incandescents—can be dimmed. Meaning, you can create just the right level of lighting for your evening event.
5. BEST TECH PICK: Govee 24-Foot Outdoor String Lights
Looking for something a little more dramatic and celebratory? Check out these color-changing string lights from Govee. With WiFi, Bluetooth, and multiple control modes—through an app, remote control, or smart home hub like Amazon Alexa or Google Home—you can operate Govee lights from just about anywhere, and you can customize their operation to your heart’s content, with 16 million color choices and special programming modes, such as setting bulbs to change colors in sync with music.