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String lights are a quintessential holiday decoration, and if you want to decorate your yard or your home’s exterior, you’re going to need outdoor Christmas lights that can stand up to the weather. Today, outdoor holiday lights come in all sizes, shapes, and colors, allowing you to customize your display however you’d like.
Whether you want traditional white string lights, oversized retro-style lights, or something completely different, like color-changing LEDs, you can find it all online. Just be sure to double-check that the lights you buy are approved for outdoor use and are long enough to span the area you’re decorating!
Find all the best outdoor Christmas lights to illuminate your space below.
Best Overall: Prextex 100-Count Clear Green Wire Christmas Light Set
Bulb Type: Not listed | Power Source: Corded electric | Length: 18-inches | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
Great for your tree or porch
Can add up to five strands for more length
Reviews say they're robust, bright, and clear
Don't last as long as other options
For a classic, well-priced set of outdoor Christmas lights, you can’t go wrong with the Prextex 100-Count Christmas Light Set. This strand of outdoor lights has 100 warm white bulbs on a green wire, and the whole thing is around 20 feet in length, making it perfect for decorating a tree or your home's porch. Plus, if you want more length, you can connect up to five of these strands together.
These Christmas lights come with two flasher bulbs, two replacement bulbs, and two spare fuses. They have an 18-inch lead wire and a 3-inch end connector, and reviewers say the strands are robust with bright, clear lights. It should be noted, however, that a few other reviews say they don't last long.
Best Splurge: Frontgate 3-Pack Controllable RGB LED Kit
Bulb Type: Smart LED | Power Source: Corded electric | Length: 11 x 9.5 x 6.5-inches | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
Smart LED lights
Up to 16 million color combinations
10 lighting effects to choose from
For the ultimate outdoor Christmas display, you might need to splurge on the Frontgate Controllable RGB LED Kit, which includes three strands of “smart” LED lights. These holiday lights can be controlled from any iOS device, and you can adjust their color and brightness, as well as control the different effects. There are up to 16 million color combinations, so you can accomplish just about anything with these splurge-worthy string lights!
There are 25 LED lights on each of the three 16-foot strands, and each section includes a lead cord that’s just over 1 foot. You can choose from 10 lighting effects, including tri-color, single fade, rainbow fade, twinkle, and more, and the app even lets you adjust the speed and direction of the lighting pattern. Cool, right?
Best Solar: The Holiday Aisle Fairy 100-Light Solar String Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Power Source: Corded electric | Length: 17 meters | Intended Use: Outdoor
Six to eight hours of runtime per day
Automatically turn on at dusk
Need a full day of daylight to charge or they don't work for long
You can save on energy costs with The Holiday Aisle Fairy Solar String Lights. These quaint outdoor lights feature a ground-mounted solar panel, which provides them with six to eight hours of runtime per day. The fairy-style lights come on a 55-foot strand with 100 LED bulbs, and you can choose from a variety of colors, including warm white, regular white, red, and blue.
According to buyers, these solar-powered Christmas lights are perfect for wrapping around trees in your yard, and they automatically turn on at dusk, saving you from having to manually switch them on. Plus, reviewers say the lights will even work on gloomy days—ideal for winter. On the other hand, however, some reviews report that the lights need a full day of daylight to charge, or they don't work for long at night.
Best Budget: Holiday Time Indoor and Outdoor Clear Mini Christmas Lights
Bulb Type: Incandescent | Power Source: Corded electric | Length: 59-ft. | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
Includes 59 feet of lights
Stay lit even if a bulb has burned out somewhere
Some longevity issues
To get the most bang for your buck, consider the Holiday Time Indoor and Outdoor Clear Mini Christmas Lights, which include a whopping 59 feet of lights! The package comes with two stands of 150 clear incandescent lights on green wire, and you can connect up to three strands end-to-end if you need to decorate a large outdoor area.
What’s nice about these Christmas lights is that the bulbs stay lit even if one burns out, and you can also make the strands blink by swapping in a twinkle bulb. Overall, you can’t beat the low price of these outdoor holiday lights, but some reviewers have experienced issues with longevity.
Best Shape: Home Accents Holiday 300-Light Clear Icicle Lights
Bulb Type: White | Power Source: Corded electric | Length: 14-ft. | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
Feature hanging icicles
Work well with colder environments
Will still stay lit if one burns out
No additional lighting speeds or modes
Icicle lights are a popular choice for decorating the trim of houses during the winter, and the Home Accents Holiday Clear Icicle Lights are both reliable and affordable. These strands of outdoor Christmas lights are over 14 feet long, and they feature hanging “icicles” of varying lengths for a pretty display. Each string has 300 white bulbs on a white wire, and you can connect up to three sets per outlet.
These icicle lights come with spare bulbs and fuses, and if one light burns out, the others will still stay lit. The lights are UL-approved for outdoor use, and reviewers love the affordable price, writing that the lights look stunning when lit up on your porch against the snow.
Best with Timer: Novolink 200-Light Mini Globe Warm White LED Lights with Wireless Smart Control
Bulb Type: LED | Power Source: Battery-operated | Length: 50-ft. | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
Each strand is 50 feet long
Have multiple flashing modes
It’s inconvenient to have to turn outdoor lights on and off manually, especially if they’re set up in a hard-to-reach location. Luckily, the Novolink LED Lights have a built-in timer that lets you set a schedule. Each strand is 50 feet long with 200 cool mwhite LED lights, and you can connect up to three sets to cover larger areas. These lights are battery-operated, so they're perfect for use in locations without an outlet, but may not appeal to all.
These LED lights have six flashing modes, including steady on, twinkle, waves, slow fade, and more. You can control these settings, along with the brightness level and timer schedule, with the Novolink app.
Best Colored: Home Accents 300-Light Multicolor String Lights
Bulb Type: Incandescent | Power Source: Not listed | Length: 68-ft. | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
300 multi-colored mini lights
Comes with replacement bulbs
Only comes with a few replacement bulbs
If you prefer the look of multicolored holiday lights, the Home Accents Holiday Multi-Color String Lights are perfect for you. These top-rated string lights are 68-1/2 feet long, and they feature 300 multi-color mini lights with incandescent bulbs.
The strands are UL-approved for outdoor use, and they come with replacement bulbs just in case some burn out—don’t worry though, the strand will stay lit even if one light goes out. Reviewers give these string lights top marks for their length and brightness, and many write that they’ve successfully used the multicolored holiday lights to decorate their homes.
Best LED: Quwin White LED Christmas String Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Power Source: Not listed | Length: 115-ft. | Intended Use: Indoor
Average lifespan for bulbs is 50,000 hours
Waterproof and sturdy
Eight different lighting modes
Not harsh-weather friendly
If you prefer LED Christmas lights, which stay cool to the touch, and use less energy to operate, you’ll love the Quwin White LED Christmas String Lights. These strands are 115 feet with 300 LED lights (choose from cool white, warm white, or multicolored). The average lifespan for the bulbs is 50,000 hours, so they’ll last for many years to come.
These bulbs are waterproof and sturdy enough to use for hours on end, and provide up to 90 percent energy savings over standard super-bright string lights. To decorate larger areas, you can connect up to three strands end-to-end. Choose from eight different lighting modes (including slow fade, twinkle/flash, and combination) for an extra festive display.
Best Large Bulb: Home Accents Holiday 25 Multi-Colored Incandescent C9 Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Power Source: Corded electric | Length: 24-ft. | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
Fun and distinctly retro vibe
24 feet of multi-colored C9 bulbs
Durable and comes with an extra fuse
Retro design may not appeal to all
Large-bulb Christmas lights have a distinctly retro vibe, and the Home Accents Holiday Multi-Colored Incandescent C9 Lights would make a fun addition to your outdoor display. These strands feature 24 feet of multi-colored C9 bulbs, and you can connect two strands end-to-end if needed. The lights come with an extra fuse, and if one bulb burns out, the others will stay lit. Plus, reviewers say these Christmas lights are quite durable and look stunning when used to decorate the exterior of your home.
Best White: AmazonBasics 100 LED Commercial Grade Outdoor Christmas String Lights
Bulb Type: LED | Power Source: Not listed | Length: 33-ft. | Intended Use: Indoor/outdoor
Available in both bright white and warm champagne hues
White wire for a seamless look
UL- and wet-rated for outdoor use
Stay cool to the touch
Champagne-colored lights have a pink tint to them
White lights more your style? Then check out the AmazonBasics Commercial Grade Outdoor Christmas String Lights, which are available in both bright white and warm “Champagne” hues. You’ll get two 16-foot ropes of lights with 100 LED bulbs on each, and the wire is white, as well, for a seamless look.
These commercial-grade Christmas lights are both UL- and wet-rated for outdoor use, and you can connect up to three strands together for more coverage. Reviewers like that the strands are heavy-duty and stay cool to the touch, but several note that the "Champagne" colored lights have a pink tint to them.
The best outdoor Christmas lights are the Prextex 100-Count Clear Christmas Light Set (view at Amazon). These lights are great for both indoor and outdoor use, and the string is about 20 feet in length. If you’re specifically looking for LED lights, go with the Quwin White LED Christmas String Lights (view at Amazon). The average lifespan for the bulbs is 50,000 hours, so they’ll last for many years to come.
What to Look for in Outdoor Christmas Lights
Once upon a time, your choices for outdoor Christmas lights were limited, but today, there are dozens of styles to choose from. In addition to standard string lights, there are icicle lights, novelty lights, ground lights, and even light projectors. All you have to do is pick a style that’s right for your home.
Length and size
If you go with traditional string lights, be sure to check how long the strands are and measure the space where you want to put them. There’s nothing worse than buying beautiful lights, only to come up a few feet short! If you’re going the projection route, see how large the light’s projection area is and ensure it matches up with your surface of choice.
Don’t forget to consider how you’re going to power your outdoor Christmas lights. Most string lights need to be plugged into an outlet, and you might need an extension cord to help them reach. Other units are solar- or battery-powered, which can make setup a little easier.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance home writer who has been contributing to The Spruce since 2017. To make this list, she considered the style, power source, length, and size of each Christmas light.