The 8 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2020

Brighten up your backyard with these pretty picks

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Our Top Picks
"You can connect up to 11 sets of these Edison-style LED bulbs together to illuminate larger spaces."
"The green wire easily blends in with trees, bushes, and shrubbery, making them a great option for decorating your front or back yard."
"With their soft white glow and elegant appearance, these bistro lights will transform your outdoor (or indoor!) space."
"The impact-resistant bulbs are made to stand up to the elements, so you can keep these efficient bulbs outside year-long."
"Every solar panel charge provides seven to hours of light, allowing you to get the light that you want with little-to-no cost."
"Available in white, black, green, and multicolor, these festive globe lights are versatile and easy to hang."
"Their thin copper wiring and smaller sized LED bulbs will add a delicate and cozy touch to your outdoor space."
"If you don't have an electrical outlet nearby, these battery-operated string lights are a convenient option."

Pretty string lights are the cherry on top of a perfectly decorated patio. With outdoor string lights, you can provide ambient lighting in your yard, creating a relaxing space for your family and friends to hang out. You can wrap them around trees, string them along fences, and so much more!

No matter your needs, there are plenty of outdoor string lights to choose from today. You can choose from a regular plug-in, battery-operated, or solar-power models, as well as different styles of bulbs, from large globes to twinkling fairy lights and everything in between. Plus, many outdoor string lights are incredibly affordable, making them a fun and budget-friendly way to spruce up your home.

Here, the best outdoor string lights to brighten up your space.

Best Overall: Hampton Bay 24-Light Indoor/Outdoor 48 ft. String Light

The Hampton Bay 24-Light Indoor/Outdoor String Lights feature pretty Edison-style LED bulbs that will illuminate your outdoor space, turning it into your favorite nighttime lounge spot. The light set has 24 bulbs on a 48-foot string, and you can connect up to 11 strands end-to-end to decorate a larger area. 

There’s so much to love about these outdoor string lights. First, they give off a warm white glow that’s comfortable and welcoming, and the LED bulbs will never need replacing. Additionally, the bulbs are impact-resistant, so they won’t shatter if they’re ever dropped. The whole string is also weather-resistant, so you can use it to decorate your deck, pergola, fence, and much more.

Best Budget: Home Accents 300 Clear Incandescent Light Set

Excellent

Get the most bang for your buck with the Home Accents Holiday 300-Light Clear Incandescent Light Set. While often used as outdoor Christmas lights, these clear white lights can easily be used year-round to decorate your yard. 

These inexpensive string lights provide 68-1/2 feet of lighted length with 300 mini bulbs, all attached to green wire. They can be used both indoors and outside, and if one bulb burns out, the others stay lit (saving you from having a half-lit strand). You can connect up to three sets of these lights end-to-end, and they get top marks from buyers thanks to their generous length and low price.

Best Splurge: Addlon Outdoor String Lights, 2 Pack

If you want to light up your entire yard with beautiful lights, consider the Addlon Outdoor String Lights, which come in a pack of two. These bistro-style lights are totally weatherproof, and each strand is 48 feet long with 15 bulbs connected to hanging sockets. Plus, each socket has a hanging hook above it, making it easier to install these lights around your space.

These commercial-grade lights are mounted on a heavy-duty wire and give off a soft white glow—perfect for creating your own little outdoor paradise. You can connect up to five strands together for more coverage, and while they’re on the more expensive side, you’ll love how these lights look in your yard.

Best LED: Pottery Barn Indoor/Outdoor LED String Lights

LED bulbs are a popular choice for several reasons, including their longer life span, efficient operation, and cool-to-the-touch exterior. All these features make the Pottery Barn LED String Lights a worthwhile purchase—and it doesn’t hurt that they’re extremely pretty, too! 

You can choose from several string lengths, including 12-, 24-, and 48-feet long, all of which feature hanging LED bulbs that use 95 percent less electricity than standard bulbs and last a lifetime. The acrylic bulbs are impact resistant, so they won’t break if they fall, and they’re approved for permanent outdoor installation—there's no need to take them down in the winter. Plus, you can link up to 750 feet of these lights on one outlet, giving you enough length to decorate your whole home or outdoor space.

Best Solar: Sol 72 Outdoor Santorini Solar-Powered LED Mini String Light

No need to worry about finding an outlet when you have the Santorini Outdoor Solar-Powered String Lights. Not only is this set of mini LED lights an impressive 68 feet long, but it includes a small solar panel that you can stake into the ground—using the power of the sun, the panel will provide seven or eight hours of light per charge. Basically, you get the ambiance you want without spending a dime on electricity

There are 200 warm white mini LED bulbs on this strand, but the product comes in blue, green, red, or regular white colors, as well. These outdoor string lights also feature two modes, so you can choose between constant light or flashing. Reviewers say these solar-powered lights work great and give off a gentle, welcoming glow at night.

Best Globe: Brightown Outdoor String Lights

The Brightown Outdoor String Lights have cute globe-shaped bulbs that would look perfect strung up around a patio or other outdoor space. The lights come in four colors, and you can select between 25-, 50-, and 100-foot lengths, depending on your needs. 

These inexpensive outdoor string lights give off a warm white light, and there are 12 inches between bulbs, which means the 25-foot strand will have 25 lights on it. The lights are weatherproof for year-round use, and you can connect up to three strands end-to-end. These globe lights come with one replacement bulb, and reviewers say they look stunning at night.

Best Fairy Lights: ZAECANY LED String Lights

Fairy lights have small bulbs on a thin wire, and some of the best outdoor ones are the ZAECANY LED String Lights. You can get these lights in warm white, cool white, or blue, and each strand includes 99 feet of lighting with 300 micro LED bulbs—perfect for decorating large outdoor areas. 

These lights are weatherproof, but because they’re mounted on copper wires, the manufacturer recommends not hanging them with any type of metal hook. Overall, these fairy lights are a delicate decoration for any space and an unbeatable value. Reviewers love that the wiring is extremely thin, making them appear as though they're floating.

Best Battery Operated: Koopower 36ft 100 LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights

No electrical outlet nearby? No problem! The Koopower LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights are powered by three AA batteries (not included), allowing you to display them anywhere—inside or out! These battery-operated string lights are 36 feet long with 100 LED bulbs, and the control box allows you to select between eight modes for different lighting effects. 

The battery console for the Koopower lights in water- and dust-proof, allowing you to place it outdoors, and the strand also comes with a remote control so you can easily turn the lights on and off. Or, f you want to make things even easier for yourself, you can use the unit’s built-in timer, which automatically shuts the lights off after six hours. 

Reviewers love the different lighting effects that the Koopower Fairy Lights offer, and people use them for both everyday decorations and holiday decor. They’re just that versatile!

Final Verdict

The best outdoor string lights are the Hampton Bay 24-Light Indoor/Outdoor 48 ft. String Lights (view at Home Depot). These lights give off a warm white glow that’s comfortable and welcoming, and the LED bulbs are impact-resistant. If you’re looking for a less expensive strand, go with the Home Accents 300 Clear Incandescent Light Set, which looks classic and comes with spare bulbs.

What to Look for in Outdoor String Lights

Power source To make your outdoor lights twinkle, you’ll need a readily accessible power source that’s compatible with the type of string lights you buy. Many string lights on the market are designed to be plugged into an electrical outlet; the most durable ones also feature protected sockets to keep out moisture. But if you don’t have an outlet available for your outdoor lighting, look for USB-powered or solar string lights.

Bulb type String lights come with a wide variety of bulb types and shapes, but LED bulbs are the most common. These bulbs offer the longest lifespan and best energy savings of any bulb type. However, you’ll still need to decide if you want a bright, vintage light from an Edison-style light bulb or the softer glow of string lights with a globe bulb. For extra durability, some string light bulbs are made of plastic, while others are made of glass and may require a little more cautious care.

Lighting effects You don’t have to settle for a steady glow when it comes to outdoor lighting. Many string lights can be used with a dimmer, or include a remote control that allows you to control various lighting effects. Some strings lights are capable of strobing or flashing effects, and others can twinkle or fade in and out.

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