The 10 Best Outdoor String Lights, According to Reviewers

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There's a reason outdoor string lights are referred to as "party" or "fiesta" lights: They bring the ambiance! Whether you place them around a back deck or a porch railing, a fence, trees, a planter area or around the perimeter exterior of your home, the best outdoor string lights will not only function to keep the surrounding space nicely illuminated (no tripping in the dark here), they'll make things downright magical—if you get the right ones, that is.

With the right lights on hand, you'll feel like you're having dinner at a romantic restaurant or chilling at a café in Paris at night—ooh la la!

What Makes a Good Outdoor String Light?

In addition to not getting too hot, running efficiently and safely, key features you should look for in outdoor string lights include:

  • Bulb type
  • Water and weatherproof designs
  • Length that fits the intended space
  • Strip connection capability
  • Color (warm or bright white)

Good outdoor string lights will have long-lasting bulbs, so you won't have to deal with replacing them often. This is especially important if you plan to hang your lights somewhere high that would require a ladder each time you need to change a bulb. Thus, you're best to go with LED bulbs, which are not only longer-lasting but are also more energy efficient. It is worth not that these bulbs may produce a brighter, whiter light than traditional incandescent bulbs, so if it's a soft orange glow you're after, you'll want to look for one with a warm tone. Incandescent bulbs are still a viable option if you plan to use the lights sparingly, however, or in more compact spaces where you can easily change them when needed.

You can also consider solar-powered string lights, which charge in the sun and require a ground-mounted panel. Keep in mind that these might not be as bright as other types, however, and will only operate for a specified period of time per charge (typically six to 12 hours).

Another important feature of a good set of outdoor string lights is that they will be rated to withstand inclement weather, including both high humidity and freezing cold, as well as rain, snow and whatever else Mother Nature might throw at you. This way, you won't have to take them down in a storm or change them every season. Check the temperature rating range to ensure the lights you're considering fit within the parameters of the climate you live in. (The wider the range, the better.)

Additionally, you'll want to ensure your string lights can be connected to other strings (something that's particularly key if you're using light strips around a large area, like the perimeter of your home's exterior or a large fence in the backyard).

Last but not least, good outdoor string lights will be bright enough to light your way but not so bright such that they'll be distracting to you or the neighbors. Choose a set that works with a remote or a smartphone app for extra control of the brightness.

How We Chose the Best Outdoor String Lights

We chose this list of the best outdoor string lights by looking at a variety of factors. Along with customer reviews (every Amazon set on this list has more than 1,000, the majority of which are glowing), we examined important details, like brightness and adjustability, string durability, weatherproof design and ease of use, to choose our favorites. Energy efficiency was also something we considered, not only to help the environment but to help reduce those hefty electricity bills.

The Best Outdoor String Lights at a Glance

Outdoor string lights: A set of twinkling lights

The Coolest Upgrade You Can Make to Your House

Our Top Pick

1. Brightech Ambience Pro String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: warm vintage glow, thick weatherproof cords
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Glow: warm or soft white
  • Watts: 2
  • Length: 24 feet
  • Promising Review: "I've had these...for two years. I do put them away during winter but so far no problems! Perfect amount of light."

Measuring 24-feet long and featuring 2W vintage Edison LED bulbs with a warm white hue that will make you feel like you're sipping a cup of joe at a Parisian bistro, these string lights are bright enough to illuminate your space, but not so bright that your guests will be squinting in discomfort. Each string has a set of seven hanging bulbs, but you can connect up to 20 for larger jobs. The heavy-duty rubberized cord uses the company's WeatherTite technology, too, which Brightech claims will hold up to rain, snow and winds of up to 50mph, so you can confidently leave them up all year round.

Most Dimmable String Lights

2. Brightown Globe String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: classic globe design, compatible with dimmers
  • Bulb Type: incandescent
  • Glow: warm white
  • Watts: 5
  • Length: 100 feet
  • Promising Review: "I had three sets already and liked them so much I now have four. A wonderful addition to my pergola. They’re very durable and have survived some thunderstorms. Highly recommend."

While these also boast a warm white glow, they're compatible with a dimmer, so you can adjust the brightness as needed. They won't connect to other strings but at 100-feet long, you may not need too. The string is also fully weatherproof to withstand everything from extreme temperatures to damp climates. Note that these use incandescent bulbs, so you'd do well to place them down lower to make things easier when you need to swap them out.

Best LED String Lights

3. Sunthin Cafe String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: shatter-proof LED bulbs, dimmable, connectable
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Glow: warm white
  • Watts: .9
  • Length: 48 feet
  • Promising Review: "We really like these lights. They are great for lighting up a deck for an evening party. Bright but not too bright so that spoil the party vibe. They seem pretty well made and have held up for two months outside so far. The set even comes with a spare bulb."

Not only does this string light set feature LED bulbs that are shatterproof for years of use, they come two to a 48-foot pack, so you can use them in two locations or string them together to light up a larger space (up to 12 strands can be connected). Dimmable and weather-resistant, they'll also give off a gorgeous warm white color that's perfect for reading a good book on the porch swing at night. As an added bonus, you'll get six bulbs to spare.

Best Outdoor Solar String Lights

4. Brightech Ambience Pro Solar String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: sun-powered, no outlet needed
  • Bulb Type: solar LED
  • Glow: warm white
  • Watts: 1
  • Length: 24 or 48 feet
  • Promising Review: "These are great quality and either save on light bill or [for a] power outage."

These WeatherTite solar lights will help you save on electricity usage, since you don't need to plug them into a power source. (They also leave your precious outdoor outlet open for other cords.) Instead, these string lights run on solar power: According to the company, six hours of direct sunlight will give them about five to six hours of run time—which is plenty long enough to host your next dinner party. Simply place the included solar panel anywhere in the backyard using the included stake and clip.

Best Hanging String Lights

5. Lemontec Globe String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: vintage design, good value
  • Bulb Type: incandescent
  • Glow: warm white
  • Watts: 5
  • Length: 50 feet
  • Promising Review: "I have these looped around my deck on a timer at night for about four hours and run [them] all year, including [in] occasional rain and snow. The bulbs are not impacted by the weather....[Five are still lit after two years and 11 months (approximately 4,000 hours usage)....Three years isn't bad."

This two-pack of strings includes 25 clear incandescent bulbs each (50 in all), giving you plenty of bang for your buck. As one reviewer noted, they got nearly three years of use out of them before needing to change the majority of the bulbs—and even then, the set comes with an extra. The buyer noted they also held up nicely through inclement weather, making them quite a bargain at $30.

Best Battery-Powered Outdoor String Lights

6. YoTelim Globe String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: eight lighting modes, no cords, included remote control
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Glow: warm white or multicolored
  • Watts: 3
  • Length: 20 to 33 feet
  • Promising Review: "These work well....I like all the different settings. I got the white-coated ones, which give off enough light but not enough to brighten up a medium area. Input them in my outside umbrellas."

Not only are these string lights battery-operated, so you won’t have to worry about any pesky cords, they also come with eight different lighting modes that you can control from the comfort of your deck chair or hammock with the included handy remote. (Choose from a wave, sequential, slo-go, flash, slow fade, twinkle, steady or combination mode to create the perfect date night vibes.) They come two sets to a pack and have 40 globe-shaped, fairy-style LED light bulbs each. To use them, just pop three AA batteries (not included) in the waterproof battery compartment.

Best Fairy String Lights

7. The Holiday Aisle Bik String Lights

The Holiday Aisle

  • Why We Love Them: sun-powered, varying display modes, yellow glow available
  • Bulb Type: solar LED
  • Glow: white or yellow
  • Watts: .05
  • Length: 66 feet 
  • Promising Review: "These are really cute lights. They have different settings....They were very bright when I tested them . ...I would recommend for any outside area."

With solar-powered LED bulbs, these string lights come strung up on flexible copper wires, making them easy to wind around a pole. Weather-resistant, this set also comes with a solar panel and a ground stake that are designed keep them lit up for up to 12 hours without the need for cords or batteries. There are even switchable light modes, so you can alternate between flashing, twinkling or steady twinklers as needed.

Best Color-Changing String Lights

8. Govee Smart String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: can be synched to music, dimmable, app-control, custom colors
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Glow: multicolor
  • Watts: 12
  • Length: 48 to 96 feet
  • Promising Review: "These are great! ...They are Bluetooth and not Wi-Fi, so to control you have to be nearby. I used the timer options on the app to get around this issue. I programmed them to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn."

Sometimes, white bulbs just don't fit the vibe. Whether you're after a soft red for a romantic dinner or a cool blue for an evening by the pool, these Govee smart string lights will fit the bill, since you can select a custom hue from 16 million (!) colors for each of its 15 dimmable bulbs. There's even a built-in mic, so they can sync to a music source and pulse along to your tunes. They work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa for voice control as well as the Govee Home app, and the LED bulbs are both waterproof and shatterproof, so you can hang them virtually anywhere without worry.

Most Unique

9. The Holiday Aisle Nessie String Lights

The Holiday Aisle

  • Why We Love Them: unique shape, solar-powered
  • Bulb Type: solar LED
  • Glow: yellow
  • Length: 2 feet
  • Promising Review: "The lights' size [is] perfect. Nice and and warm color."

Forget basic bulbs: These fairy string lights feature an eye-catching floral design that will look fantastic when strung around a pole, a tree or even when bunched together as a decorative piece. They are weather-resistant, and the LED lights, which are powered by the sun, can reportedly last for 50,000 lifetime hours.

Best Smart String Lights

10. Twinkly Multicolor String Lights


  • Why We Love Them: different colors, Bluetooth compatible, connectable
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Glow: multicolor
  • Length: 65.5 feet
  • Promising Review: "Love these lights!!! Its like a carnival in my living room!!...Worth every penny."

Smart lights are all the rage, and we get it: Who doesn't want the ability to control their bulbs' color, intensity and even effects by remote? As far as smart string lights go, Twinkly takes the cake. Its wares work via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, an app and voice command with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. The strings include tiny LEDs (about 100 per string) with the ability to connect up to 4,000 together. They are also waterproof, so you can use them near your pool, sprinklers and the like.

What Are Outdoor String Lights?

As the name implies, outdoor string lights encompass a series of bulbs affixed to a long string that you can mount or hang for a seamless look and brighter lighting. They have been becoming more and more popular in recent years thanks to the unique, attractive, calming look they provide outside of the home, as well as the influx of those decking out their outdoor spaces in the wake of COVID-19.

Where to Use Outdoor String Lights

Some of the most popular places to use outdoor string lights include:

  • In and around trees
  • Around the perimeter of your house, garage, shed or building
  • Along a fence or wall
  • The ceiling of a covered porch, patio or deck
  • Within a planter
  • Along a deck or porch railing
  • On a balcony

How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

Hanging outdoor string lights can be simple with a bit of know-how. To get the job done, you may need a measuring tape, hooks, weatherproof extension cords (to power them, of course), concrete anchors, a power drill, step ladder (if you plan to place them up high), and a staple gun or light clips. Decide if you want to hang your outdoor string lights taut for a more streamlined look, or loose, which tends to be a bit more casual. 

Before getting started, check the length of your strings to make sure they'll accommodate your intended space. You may need multiple strings, so make sure they will all work together if so. It's also a good idea to plug them in ahead of time to ensure all the bulbs are working properly.

  • For wood deck railings: Position the lights on the underside of the railing and use a staple gun at equally staggered spaces to secure them in place. Make sure that you do not puncture the strings with the staple gun (the staples should be positioned on either side of the string). Alternatively, you can use light clips, which work on a variety of surfaces. 
  • For other spaces: If you're installing the outdoor string lights on stucco or siding, you'll need wall anchors and hook screws or light clips. These are also great for stringing lights around trees, so they aren't easily blown away.

Once set up, you can run an extension cord to the power source if needed, plug them in and marvel in their beauty.

How to Upgrade Outdoor Lighting

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Christine Persaud has been in the business of writing and editing for close to two decades. With a passion for cooking, fitness, fashion, TV entertainment and tech, she has written about all of the above, plus plenty of other home and lifestyle topics, too. Her favorite way to unwind after a busy day of writing and reviewing products is to chill with her feet up and glass of wine in hand (always red!), to binge-watch TV.

Sydney Meister is PureWow’s Assistant Home + Commerce Editor. Along with covering the latest interior design trends, she writes about everything from travel to home hacks, must-have products and what's happening in the world of celebrity design. Before PureWow, Sydney worked for various interior designers across NYC—primarily as a content creator focusing on trend forecasting and reporting. She's a go-to resource when it comes to interior styling tips and product recs to keep your home looking au courant (hint: it's time to ditch the modern farmhouse look).

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