The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (2024)

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (1)

One of the easiest ways to spruce up the look of any outdoor space is to hang string lights around the exterior. Not only do string lights illuminate outdoor spaces during the night, but they also add a warm and cozy ambiance to your patio, deck, or yard.

“The main benefit we see of adding string lights is ambient light that is functional, but also elegant,” adds Skeets Fish, owner of L&L Outdoor Lighting Co. “String lights provide good coverage without the annoying feeling of glare from more conventional lighting applications.”

To find the best outdoor string lights on the market, we researched options in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and price ranges. In addition to Fish, we also spoke to Kevin Leary, sales manager at Carolina Outdoor Lighting Professionals, for their expert insight on finding the best outdoor string lights for your space.

Our Top Picks

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Best Battery-Powered Outdoor String Lights:

Loende Battery-Operated Globe String Lights at Amazon ($16)

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Best Solar-Powered Outdoor String Lights:

Brightever Outdoor Solar String Lights at Amazon ($25)

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Best Outdoor Fairy String Lights:

Bhclight LED Fairy Lights at Amazon ($13)

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Best Color-Changing Outdoor String Lights:

Govee Smart Outdoor String Lights at Amazon ($100)

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Best Curtain Outdoor String Lights:

Brightown LED Curtain Lights at Amazon ($33)

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Best Splurge Outdoor String Lights:

West Elm Simple String Lights at West Elm ($56)

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What Stands Out

  • These lights are solar-powered and stylish.

What Could Be Improved

  • They’re not as bright as some other options.

For the very best outdoor string lights, check out this option from Brightech. These beautiful ambient lights feature vintage Edison-style bulbs that emit an ultra-warm glow, all strung on a black cable cord. The lights are solar powered, so you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries after lots of use, and they’re also weather resistant, so they can withstand rain and snow during the winter.

Because these lights are solar powered, they’re more sustainable than traditional lights, as they use less electricity, and they also turn on automatically once the sun sets. And they turn off once sunrise occurs, saving you the time and hassle of having to remember to flip a switch every morning.

Price-wise, these lights are just about average, and they’re durable enough to last a long time. Just keep in mind that they’re a bit dimmer than some other string lights out there if you’re looking for the utmost brightness. Also, the bulbs come spaced fairly far apart on the cable, but you can adjust the looks of the lights to your preference fairly easily if that’s an issue for you.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 27 or 48 feet | Power Source: 1-watt solar panel for outdoor use | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP65

What Stands Out

  • These lights include hangers for easy installation.

What Could Be Improved

  • They aren’t the most weather-resistant option on our list.

If you’re looking to stay under a tight budget in your search for string lights, we recommend taking a look at this low-priced option from the Better Homes & Gardens collection (Better Homes & Gardensis owned byReal Simple’sparent company, Dotdash Meredith). The lights come in a set of 20 and feature glass globe bulbs strung together on a deep brown wire. You can use these lights both indoors and outdoors, but they’ll look especially nice when emitting their warm, white glow in your backyard or patio space.

These string lights can connect to two other sets for nearly 60 feet in length if you’re looking to light up a larger space and come with two extra bulbs in case any of the main ones break or die out. Each lamp holder also features a tiny hanger so you can put them up easily, such as on a fence or tree.

On the downside, these lights are fairly delicate, so you’ll want to be very careful when placing them around your home. They’re also not as weather-resistant as some others out there, so while they can certainly handle some rain, they might not make it out intact after a heavier storm.

Bulb Type: G40 glass globe | Cord Length: 18.7 feet | Power Source: Plug-in | Weather-Resistance Rating: Not listed

Best Battery-Powered Outdoor String Lights

Loende Battery-Operated Globe String Lights

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (4)

What Stands Out

  • You can choose from eight light settings including twinkle and slow fade.

What Could Be Improved

  • The cord isn’t super long.

Another very budget-friendly option, these battery-powered string lights from Loende are ideal for anyone looking to light up their outdoor space. The set of 30 globe-shaped LED lights is controlled by an included remote control, which you can use to power off and on as needed or to set an automatic timer (six hours on and 18 hours off). The remote control also offers eight settings (including twinkle, slow fade, and sequential), so you can change how your lights flicker and glow.

These lights emit a gentle, warm white light, with the durable glass bulbs attached to a 16-foot green or silver cord. Plus, the lights are shatterproof and waterproof, so they can handle the occasional fall or inclement weather. Unfortunately, the cord isn’t as long as some others, and there aren’t many lights in the package, so you may want to buy a second or third set if you need more coverage in your outdoor space.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 16 feet | Power Source: Batteries | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP65

Best Solar-Powered Outdoor String Lights

Brightever Outdoor Solar String Lights

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (5)

What Stands Out

  • You can change the lights’ brightness between four levels.

What Could Be Improved

  • The bulbs are spaced far apart on the wire.

Solar-powered lights prioritize sustainability since they save energy and turn on only when the sun goes down. This set from Brightever is our favorite outdoor solar light thanks to its eco-friendly design, eye-catching look, and low price, among other factors.

The set comes with 16 yellow-hued globe LED bulbs that you can set to go off in one of three lighting modes (steady on, breath, or flash) using the included remote control. You can also use the remote to set a timer (six hours on, eight hours off) and even change the lights’ brightness levels between 25, 50, 75, or 100 percent if you prefer a slightly dimmed look. Plus, the bulbs are waterproof and weatherproof, so you can use them on any occasion and season, and the solar battery automatically recharges when left out during the day.

On the downside, the bulbs are far apart on the wire, and because only 16 bulbs are included, the ultimate effect isn’t as bright as we’d hoped. But considering their pretty glow and low price, they’re still a worthwhile pick.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 34 feet | Power Source: Solar | Weather-Resistance Rating: Not listed

Best Outdoor Fairy String Lights

Bhclight LED Fairy Lights

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (6)

What Stands Out

  • You can pick one of four colors for the lights.

What Could Be Improved

  • Not every bulb has the same level of brightness.

If you don’t love the look of bigger bulbs and want a more intimate feel for your outdoor space, consider opting for smaller, delicate fairy lights. We recommend this option from Bhclight, which contains 200 LED fairy lights, each with a subtle white glow. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they’ll add some serious light and warmth to your space.

These lights are super easy to install—all you need to do is wrap the copper cord around a wall, tree, piece of furniture, or wherever else. They plug into an outlet, with a switch that lets you control the eight different modes offered by the set. Choose between many different speeds and settings for the lights (including a simple and reliable “steady on” mode) and customize the lights to your liking. You can also pick from one of four colors for the lights: warm white, cool white, multicolor, and pink.

These lights are waterproof and don’t tangle easily, and they can work both indoors and outdoors. Just be warned that some of the lights may be slightly dimmer or brighter than others, given how many there are on the cord.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 66 feet | Power Source: Plug-in | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP44

Best Color-Changing Outdoor String Lights

Govee Smart Outdoor String Lights

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (7)

What Stands Out

  • They can be controlled via your phone or smart device.

What Could Be Improved

  • The short option may be too small for most outdoor spaces.

Although outdoor string lights make for a beautiful scene, color-changing string lights can create a tailored, vibrant outdoor scene in any hue. The Govee Smart Outdoor String Lights have unique, pear-shaped bulbs that hang from a black wire and can shine in any color you’d like. You can choose from 16 million shades and 47 modes for personalized outdoor lights. You can set every light to a different color, sync the lights to music, or create a party ambiance for your next outdoor gathering.

Another great perk of these lights is that they’re smart tech-enabled, meaning you can control them using Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or the Govee Home app. No need to flip a switch or click a button when you want the lights to go on or off—you can use your device to power off/on and set timers as needed. These lights are also durable and waterproof, so you shouldn’t need to replace them frequently. However, while you can choose either the 48- or 96-feet length versions, the former only comes with 15 bulbs, so we recommend the longer option to get the best lighting.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 48 feet, 96 feet | Power Source: Plug-in | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP65

What Stands Out

  • They’re bendable, so you can mold them into any shape.

What Could Be Improved

  • The bulbs are extremely small.

If you’re looking for a set of string lights with aesthetic appeal, we recommend this unique option from Holiday Aisle. The 50 tiny, delicate LED bulbs are designed to look like cherry blossoms and are perfect for adding flair to your outdoor space. Whether you opt for the elegant yellow or vibrant yellow/red/blue combo option, these lights make great decorations for parties or outdoor events.

These battery-powered lights are lightweight and bendable, so you can mold them into whatever shape you need and twine them around trees or fence posts using their black cord. They’re weatherproof and waterproof, too, and also relatively inexpensive. Keep in mind that they are small, so if you’re looking for bright lights, these probably won’t be your best bet. But if you love their eye-catching look and simple sophistication, they’ll make a worthwhile addition to your outdoor space.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 23 feet | Power Source: Solar | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP65

Best Curtain Outdoor String Lights

Brightown LED Curtain Lights

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (9)

What Stands Out

  • They come in a variety of elegant color options.

What Could Be Improved

  • They’re fairly thin, so a second layer may be needed to fill a space.

A gorgeous and unique way to add lighting to an outdoor space is to opt for curtain string lights, such as this pick from Brightown. The string lights form a large curtain when hung up on a wall, off a ceiling, or across a patio, making for an intimate feel. They come in a set of 600 tiny LED bulbs that emit a subtle glow, and they can be used both indoors and outdoors. Choose from warm white, white, blue, multicolor, or multicolored and warm white.

The lights feature eight flashing modes, including slow fade, twinkle, and combination, as well as four brightness levels. You can use the included remote control to go back and forth between the settings or place the lights on a timer for six hours on and 18 hours off. Just plug the lights into an outlet to set them up, and then they’ll be good to go.

These lights are also waterproof and energy-saving, but they are on the thinner side. You might want to opt for a second set to layer on a thicker, more solid fill for your space, especially because you can’t connect the lights to any other set horizontally.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 10 or 20 feet | Power Source: Plug-in | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP44

Best Splurge Outdoor String Lights

West Elm Simple String Lights

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (10)

What Stands Out

  • The sophisticated design is available in black or dark bronze options.

What Could Be Improved

  • There are only 10 lights per strand.

If you’re able and willing to spend more on your outdoor space, this lovely and elegant option from West Elm is a solid pick. The frosted globe lights have a black or dark bronze base and hang just a few feet apart from each other on a durable black PVC cord. Whether you want string lights over a dining table, pool area, or patio, they’ll create a beautiful, subtle glow that’s a worthy addition to your outdoor decor.

Because there are only 10 lights per strand, you might need to purchase multiple sets for full coverage of your space. On the upside, though, the brand allows you to recycle any old bulbs at any of its stores, helping ensure sustainable use of its products and reduce waste.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 11 feet | Power Source: Plug-in | Weather-Resistance Rating: Not listed

What Stands Out

  • They’re spaced two feet apart, creating plenty of light.

What Could Be Improved

  • You can’t set a timer or change the settings.

LED outdoor string lights are popular for their brightness, longevity, and energy-saving design, and we’re big fans of this option from Hampton Bay. The 24 included Edison-style bulbs emit a warm light and are spaced just two feet apart on a 48-foot-long black or white string (and there’s also a 24-foot option if you want fewer lights), making for a bright, lovely display. You can link up to 11 strings together for a whopping 550 feet of coverage for those with a larger outdoor space.

These durable lights are weatherproof and impact-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about them easily breaking if they fall onto the ground or get caught in a storm. They also have a classic look that goes with any outdoor decor, and you can mount them over a fence, patio, or tree as long as you can connect to an outlet. Unfortunately, these lights don’t have lighting settings or a timer.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 24 feet, 48 feet | Power Source: Plug-in | Weather-Resistance Rating: Not listed

Best Outdoor String Lights for Patios

Addlon LED Outdoor String Lights

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (12)

What Stands Out

  • You can pick from many cord-length options.

What Could Be Improved

  • They aren’t as durable as other string lights.

Adding a set (or two) of string lights to a patio makes a significant difference in the space’s look and feel. This set of 15 LED lights from Addlon emit a lovely warm white glow and hang across a 50-foot black wire, offering plenty of length. But if you want a different cord, you can choose from various options ranging from 25 to 200 feet and everything in between.

The bulbs in this set are waterproof and weatherproof, designed to withstand rain, wind, or snow, and there’s an extra bulb included in case one of yours breaks. Each light is a little over three feet apart from the next, allowing for full coverage, and they have a classic, modern design that meshes well with any backyard design. They’re very low-priced, too, and don’t require batteries. While they aren’t the most durable string lights on our list, for lighting up a patio (or other outdoor space) inexpensively, these bulbs do the trick.

Bulb Type: LED | Cord Length: 25, 36, 48, 50, 72, 96, 100, 150, or 200 feet | Power Source: Plug-in | Weather-Resistance Rating: IP65

Final Verdict

Our favorite outdoor string lights are the Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Non Hanging Patio Lights, which are solar powered, weather resistant, and feature classic Edison-style bulbs that emit a warm glow.

How to Shop for Outdoor String Lights Like a Pro

Bulb Type

String lights come in a variety of bulb types. LED bulbs “are a great option as they are energy efficient, have a long lifespan, and are made of shatter-resistant plastic,” explains McCoy. LEDs consume less energy than other lights and are generally brighter. On the downside, they tend to be pricey.

Incandescent lights, meanwhile, have the benefit of emitting a warmer, more traditional glow than LED lights. Plus, they are less expensive than LEDs. “That said, incandescent bulbs are made of glass, making them easier to shatter,” McCoy says. Also, because incandescent bulbs put off heat, they could make a potential fire hazard around bushes or trees.

Then there are solar-powered lights, which “may cost more initially but can ultimately lead to savings on your energy bill,” McCoy says, adding that if they’re “placed in areas that receive sufficient sunlight, this can be a sustainable and cost-saving option for your household.”

Cord Length

Outdoor string lights can range from a few feet long to over a hundred feet long, and their bulbs have different spacing. To find the best cord length, we recommend measuring the space where you intend to hang the string lights. “If you are choosing a smaller space, it’s recommended to look at the distance between each bulb," says McCoy. "The smaller the space covered, the closer together the bulbs should be."

You can also buy multiple sets of lights and attach the cords for a fuller look.

Power Source

Outdoor string lights generally have one of three power sources: solar, electrical, or battery.Battery packs usually accompany smaller fairy lights and “are often remote-controlled, making them easy to turn on and off when needed," says McCoy. "They will have a shorter lifespan and need ongoing battery changes." For this reason, they are a higher maintenance option and are less sustainable than other power sources.

Plug-in lights “tend to have a longer life span,” McCoy adds, “although they are limited to areas with access to a power outlet and extension cord.” For those who want a simple setup, plug-in lights are your best bet.

Lastly, solar-powered outdoor string lights offer improved sustainability. They can cut down on electrical costs and minimize any need to replace batteries—and thankfully, because they're placed outdoors, they can charge up throughout the day before emitting light once the sun sets. The main downside of solar lights is that they may not be as bright, and especially on days when the weather is dreary and dark.

Weather Resistance

Many string lights come with an IP rating to indicate their level of weather resistance. IP ratings are on a scale from 0 to 68 and determine the lights’ protection against debris like dust and moisture. The first digit corresponds to the lights’ durability against dust and foreign objects, while the second digit relates to how they handle water and temperature changes.

“Outdoor string lights should ideally be rated IP44 or above depending on their location and potential for water exposure,” says McCoy. The highest ratings (like IP65) are “better for areas that will be exposed to harsh weather conditions.”

A set of outdoor string lights may also come with a UL certification, but that “simply indicates that the product has undergone the necessary testing to be considered safe for your home or business,” McCoy explains.

Questions You Might Ask

Can you use regular LED string lights outdoors?

That depends on the string lights, as some LED options are designed to be used indoors and outdoors, while others are not. Those that can be used in both areas typically feature IP ratings that indicate they can handle moisture and dust, says Fish. Otherwise, “using an indoor string light outside is a hazard as it does not have these weatherproof connections.” Make sure to carefully read the instructions and details on your string lights to determine if they can be used outdoors.

How and where should you hang outdoor string lights?

“The great thing about string lights is that there isn’t a right or wrong design,” says Fish. “Outdoor string lights are very versatile so you can string them in many different configurations. Whether you’re using a pole, anchors, or attaching them to an existing pergola, it is totally up to you how you want to design your string light pattern.” Leary adds that “most people hang their string lights over patios, decks, or inside screened-in porches,” if you need some inspiration.

How many string lights can you safely connect?

“It really depends on the type of string lights you are using and the manufacturer’s specifications,” says Leary. Make sure to look carefully at the packaging to see if they list a number of sets that are safe to connect. “Always consult an electrician if you are unsure,” he adds.

Can you leave outdoor string lights on all night?

McCoy doesn’t recommend leaving outdoor string lights on all night—he recommends shutting them off before you head in for the night. “Even LED lights can overheat and cause a fire if exposed to flammable substances,” he says. If you’re worried that you’ll forget to turn the lights off overnight, McCoy suggests purchasing an automatic light switch timer. “A timer is a great attachment that allows you to schedule specific times of the day or night for your electronics to turn on and off—you can also program your string lights to turn off after a set amount of time,” he says.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Simon, a writer for Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, The New York Times, and many other publications. She frequently covers home products and did significant research on outdoor string lights for this story, including speaking to Skeets Fish, owner of L&L Outdoor Lighting Co, Kevin Leary, sales manager at Carolina Outdoor Lighting Professionals, and Gary McCoy, Store Manager at Charlotte-area Lowe’s.

The 11 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2024 (2024)


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