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No holiday display is complete without a few strings of Christmas lights, and no matter your style, there are plenty of indoor string lights to help make your home festive. “Decking the halls looks different for everyone, but I do recommend mapping out a plan for your lights to get the best results,” says Lance Allen, Decorative Holiday Merchant at The Home Depot. “Pick a focal point to highlight. Place your brightest lights or a higher concentration of lights on the areas you want to pull the most focus on and build out your plan from there," he adds. Some more indoor Christmas lights include draping them around windows or along the mantle.
To find the absolute best Christmas lights for indoors, we spent several weeks researching indoor lighting products, narrowed down the top list to 15 options, then spent an additional 28 hours road testing these products. We compared each lights' brightness, bulb shape and size, length, quality, and features—you can see what the lights look like on trees in the included pictures from testing. We also spoke with several holiday lighting experts to see what the pros recommend when shopping for Christmas lights (spoiler: They all say to use LED lights).
Based on this testing, the following are the best indoor Christmas lights to use in your home.
Best Overall: Wintergreen Lighting 5mm LED Christmas Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: 5mm conical | Length: 24 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: 44
Extremely bright lights
Available in several popular colors
One-piece bulbs resist corrosion
Able to connect up to 44 strands
Bulbs can’t be replaced
Could come in longer strands
For bright, festive indoor lights that will stand the best of time, we recommend the Wintergreen Lighting 5mm LED Christmas Lights. They were the brightest and most vibrant lights out of more than a dozen products we tested. These holiday lights are 24 feet long with 70 bulbs on each strand, and they’re available in a variety of popular color schemes, including amber and cool white, red, multi-colored, and even red and white. Plus, you can connect up to 44 strands end-to-end using just one outlet, allowing you to create bigger and brighter displays.
When testing the Wintergreen Lighting Christmas Lights at home, we liked that that they had one-piece professional-grade bulbs, which keep moisture and dust out to prevent corroding. The lights are Energy Star-certified, and the brand offers a 3-year seasonal warranty as well.
Best White: GE Energy Smart Colorite Miniature LED 100-Light Set
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: T5 mini | Length: 33 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: 25
Extremely bright and vibrant
Strand stays lit if a bulb is out
Not available in other colors
Bright white isn't as cozy as warm yellow
For those who enjoy pure white Christmas lights, our testers recommend the GE Energy Smart Colorite LED Light Set, which blows away the competition with their brightness. These Christmas lights have classic T5 mini bulbs, but they’re slightly larger than usual and extremely bright, making them stand out from the competition.
Each stand is 33 feet long with a total of 100 LED lights. While these aren't professional-grade lights, they still seemed to be very well made when evaluated during testing. The white Christmas lights have “constant on” technology, meaning you won’t lose the whole strand if a bulb burns out or comes loose. (They do come with replacement bulbs and fuses nonetheless.) You can connect up to 25 strands of these lights end-to-end.
"I recommend paying attention to the connection limits of light strands. Don’t connect more strands together than the directions recommend." –Lance Allen, Decorative Holiday Merchant at The Home Depot
Best Colored: Pro Christmas T5 Smooth LED Christmas Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: T5 mini | Length: 23.3 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: 44
Available in numerous colors
Bright and colorful
One-piece bulb prevents corrosion
Not the most saturated in color
If you’re looking for classic colored Christmas lights to deck your holiday tree, the Pro Christmas T5 LED Lights are bright and cheerful. They come in a range of hues, including multi-colored, red, green, and blue. In testing, we noticed they weren't the most saturated in terms of color, but they’re fairly bright and look fine wrapped around a Christmas tree. Plus, the professional-grade lights feature a one-piece bulb and socket design that prevents rust and corrosion, ensuring your lights last for years to come.
These Christmas lights are over 23 feet long with 70 bulbs on each strand, and you can connect up to 44 sets end-to-end to decorate even the largest displays. They are a bit more expensive than other options, but we liked that the lights are fully-wave rectified, meaning there’s no discernible flicker from the LED bulbs.
Best Extra-Long: MZD8391 Christmas Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: Not listed | Length: 105 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: 4
Extra long strand
Available in multiple colors
Offers several lighting effects
No replacement bulbs
There’s nothing worse than running out of lights when you still have several feet to go in your decoration, but that won’t be an issue with the MZD8391 Christmas Lights, which measure in at an impressive 105 feet. This extra-long strand of lights is available in both multi-colored and white options, and our testers found that they’re brighter than many other products, even though the bulbs are quite small.
This set of lights has 300 LED bulbs that span 99 feet of its length, and the remaining 6 feet is an extra-long lead—ideal if your outlet isn’t close by. We liked that the wires of these Christmas lights are noticeably thinner than the norm, making them easy to hide in a holiday tree or other decoration, and as an added bonus, there’s even a button on the plug that allows you to cycle through the set’s eight lighting effects.
"Consider where you are hanging lights, LED bulbs are best suited for live trees and wreaths because they stay cool to touch and prevent fires." –Lance Allen, Decorative Holiday Merchant at The Home Depot
Best Professional-Grade: Holiday Essence LED Mini Christmas Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: 5mm conical | Length: 16 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: 45
Durable one-piece bulbs
Bright and colorful
Able to connect up to 45 strands
Slight strobing effect
If you’re tired of having Christmas lights burn out after just one or two seasons, it might be time to upgrade to professional-grade lights, such as the Holiday Essence LED Mini Christmas Lights. Many of the experts we spoke to recommend using this type of light, as the bulbs and sockets are one solid piece, preventing moisture, dirt, and dust from getting into the bulbs and causing them to burn out prematurely.
These lights are quite short at just 16 feet—our testing notes report that you'd need at least two sets to decorate a Christmas tree, maybe even three—and there are 60 LED bulbs on each strand. They come in both multi-colored and white options, and you can connect up to 45 strands of them together to complete your holiday display.
Best Large Bulb: NOMA C6 LED Christmas Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: C6 | Length: 23.8 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: 45
Cute faceted bulbs
Ideal for larger displays
Many colors available
No lead wire
The colored lights aren't as vibrant
The NOMA C6 LED Christmas Lights are perfect for those times you want to make a bolder statement—the C6 bulbs have a pretty teardrop-shaped faceted design that we loved in testing. We also appreciated that they’re not so big that they seem out of place indoors.
These lights come in a wide range of colors, and each strand is over 23 feet long with 70 bulbs spaced 4 inches apart. During our tests, we found that the colors aren’t as vibrant as other Christmas lights, but they still stand out on a tree thanks to their unique shape. You can connect up to 45 strands of these lights together, but the one downside is that there’s virtually no lead wire, meaning the bulbs start immediately after the plug.
Best Smart: Twinkly Gold Edition 250 Amber and White LED String Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: AWW | Length: 65.5 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: N/A
Extremely high quality
Able to be controlled via smartphone
Many customization options
Somewhat complicated to set up
If simple lighting displays just aren’t your style, the Twinkly LED String Lights give you more customization options than you ever thought possible. These high-end Christmas lights actually sync up to your smartphone, and through the Twinkly app, you’re able to put them on a timer, adjust the brightness, and play around with dozens of lighting effects. In testing, we found that it was easy to sync the strands to the app, and we were impressed that the app can even use the phone’s camera to “map” the lights and ensure its lighting patterns are optimized.
The Twinkly Lights offer 65.5 feet of wire and 250 LED bulbs—enough to cover a large tree—but we thought it was strange that the string lights are actually split into two separate strands, both of which are connected to the main control unit. Our testing notes report that this unconventional design makes it somewhat complicated to set the lights up, but thankfully, both strands have a generous lead wire to get them where they need to go. The lights have the brand’s AWW bulbs, which appear to be a smaller version of 5mm conical bulbs, and they do get a little warm to the touch if left on for long periods, so just make sure to handle with care.
Best Lighting Effects: JMEXSUSS LED Indoor String Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Bulb Shape: Not listed | Length: 43 feet | Maximum Connected Strands: N/A
8 lighting effects
Several colors available
Clear wire blends in at night
Extremely long lead wire
No way to connect multiple strands
For a more dynamic Christmas display, the JMEXSUSS LED Indoor String Lights have eight lighting modes, including twinkling, chasing, slow fade, and more. During testing, we found the lights to be warm, cozy, and bright, despite having smaller-than-usual bulbs. We also liked that the strand’s wires were clear and thin, which made them virtually invisible at night.
These Christmas lights are 43 feet long total, but it’s important to note that only 33 feet of the wire is lit—there’s a generous lead wire that’s 10 feet long (overly generous). To change the lighting effect, you simply press a button on the plug, but keep in mind that you’re not able to connect multiple strands.
Our top pick for indoor Christmas lights are the Wintergreen Lighting 5mm LED Red and White Christmas Lights (view at Amazon), which blew away the competition in terms of their brightness and quality. They’re available in several color schemes, and each strand is 24 feet long with 70 extra-bright bulbs (other options available). If you’re looking to really step up your display, the Twinkly LED String Lights (view at Amazon) are a smart option that's worth checking out.
What to Look for in Indoor Christmas Lights
All the experts we talked to recommended LED Christmas lights, which offer several benefits over incandescent options. “Incandescent lights are the traditional Christmas lights that we grew up with—they produce visible light by heating a wire filament until it glows," explains Allen, "and while they are initially more wallet-friendly than LED lights, they do use up to 80% more energy.”
On the other hand, Allen says that LED bulbs last 20x longer than traditional lights and use up to 80% less energy. “They also come in a wider variety of colors than traditional incandescent bulbs.” He explains that LED lights stay cool to the touch, which is safer when you’re stringing them on a live tree.
There are several bulb shapes commonly used for Christmas lights, with T5 mini lights being the most popular. This classic, elongated shape offers a nostalgic vibe for many people, as it’s designed to resemble traditional incandescent bulbs and offers a mid-level brightness that’s ideal for indoor displays.
If you want your decorations to really pop, 5mm conical lights are a similar size but brighter than T5 bulbs, as their concave tips help to magnify the light. For a bolder display, you can also opt for larger specialty bulbs, including C6 or C7 bulbs, which have a teardrop shape.
One common complaint about LED Christmas lights is that they flicker ever so slightly, often creating a subtle strobing effect that can bother your eyes. This happens because 60Hz LED lights technically cycle on and off 60 times per second. If the strobing bothers you, you may want to opt for string lights with full-wave rectifiers, which speed up the flickering so it isn’t visible to the eye.
There are plenty of basic, no-frills Christmas lights available today, but if you want to create a more complex display, you may prefer a set of lights with special features. Common features include various light effects, such as twinkling, built-in timers, color-changing abilities, or even smart capabilities, like remote operation from your phone.
How do you hang indoor Christmas lights?
There are several ways you can hang indoor Christmas lights. The simplest option is to put small nails along the wall where you want the lights, then drape the wire over them. Alternatively, some people opt to use cup hooks (view at Amazon), which are ideal if you’re hanging lights from the ceiling, or Command hooks (view at Amazon), which won’t cause damage to your wall.
How do you fix indoor Christmas lights?
If your Christmas lights aren’t turning on, there are a few troubleshooting steps to take. The first step to fix Christmas lights is to check that there’s power to the wall outlet. If that’s not the problem, you’ll want to check to see if any of the bulbs are loose or burned out and replace them, if needed. If that doesn’t work, you can also try replacing the fuses, which are located in the plug—most string lights come with one or two replacement fuses, which are small metal and glass cylinders.
Can you use outdoor Christmas lights on an indoor tree?
When Christmas lights are UL-certified for outdoor use, it means that the strand won’t burn out or cause a safety hazard if it gets wet. Always check the instructions on your lights to be extra safe, but you can typically use these lights indoors as well.
Can indoor Christmas lights get wet?
The majority of Christmas lights sold today are approved for both indoor and outdoor use, meaning they can be used even in wet conditions. (Note: Always check the labels and make sure that they are UL-certified to be sure.) However, if moisture gets into the bulb itself, it can cause rust or corrosion, which may shorten the lifespan of the bulb. To avoid this, you may want to opt for “professional-grade” string lights, which have a one-piece bulb and socket that water cannot get into.
How We Tested Indoor Christmas Lights
Our search for the best indoor Christmas lights began with weeks of research on the best brands and lighting products. Then, the actual testing process occurred over the span of two days. Our tester first unpacked each strand and took note of how many (if any) spare bulbs and fuses were included in the packaging. From there, she sorted the lights into groups—white lights, colored lights, large bulbs, etc.—and set up the strands side-by-side. For some of the lighting products, she could simply plug them in, but other more high-tech options required syncing with her phone.
Once each group was set up, our tester compared the different lights, picking out which ones were the brightest and most colorful in each group. She left them plugged in for several hours during the day to see if they got warm to the touch at all. Next, she strung the lights up on an artificial Christmas tree, evaluating each product's brightness and overall appearance both during the day and at night. Once she selected the top products from each group, she then compared the "winners" to each other to further narrow down her favorites.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2017. While researching what makes the best indoor Christmas lights, she spoke with several experts, including Lance Allen, Decorative Holiday Merchant at The Home Depot, and Eddie Bello, owner of Illuminations Holiday Lighting. Using their guidance, she personally tested 15 different sets of Christmas lights, evaluating each on its quality, brightness, length, and ease of use, and she took all of these factors into account as she made her final selections.