The 9 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Switch up your outdoor ambiance instantly with the best outdoor string lights

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Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

Spruce / Dera Burreson

With the right design, outdoor string lights can provide both lighting and ambiance to your backyard or patio.

You may be familiar with the two common bulb types often seen on decks and patios. "There are either round string lights or an Edison bulb, which has a more vintage tear-drop look to it, and a thicker looking, more industrial cord," says Amber Freda, a custom landscape and garden designer in NYC.

To help you find the best lights for your space, we researched dozens of options to find the best ones, evaluating them on durability, brightness, and ease of use. We then tested several of our selects in our labs and in our homes to see how they performed over time.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Pottery Barn Indoor/Outdoor LED String Lights

Pottery Barn Indoor/Outdoor LED String Lights

Pottery Barn

What We Like
  • Several string lengths available

  • LED bulbs use less energy

  • Appropriate for permanent outdoor installation

  • Able to connect several strands

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • No replacement bulbs available

LED lights come in many varieties, and they are popular for many reasons: their longer life span, efficient operation, and cool-to-the-touch exterior. These features make the Pottery Barn LED String Lights our top pick that we tested—and it doesn't hurt that they're beautiful, drape nicely, and even look stylish when they're not on. In short, they are the perfect outdoor lights if you want something you can install once and leave up all year long.

The strands are available in three lengths—12, 24, and 48 feet—and strung with LED bulbs, which use less electricity than standard bulbs and last a lifetime. They're also impact-resistant, and UL listed for permanent outdoor installation, so there's no need to take them down in the winter. You can link up to 750 feet of these lights to one outlet, giving you enough length to decorate a large outdoor space.

During testing, we left these lights up in one of the rainiest, windiest springs we’ve had in the Pacific Northwest. The lights weren’t under a cover so they got the full effect of whatever Mother Nature chose to throw at them. On a particularly sunny evening after a nasty week of rain and wind, we them in again. Voila, gorgeous lights with no problems.

We also found that the lights were heavier than expected, with the setup process requiring more than one person. Once hung, they had a lovely drape effect and exceptional light quality—bright enough to illuminate the space while still providing just the right ambiance for watching a movie on an outdoor screen. These string lights are one of the priciest picks on our list, but given that LED bulbs use less electricity, are impact-resistant, and can be left outside year-round, we think they are well worth the investment.

Price at time of publish: $89

Bulb Type: LED | Number of Bulbs: 12 | Cord Length: 24 | Wattage: Not listed | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Budget

Home Accents Holiday 300 Mini Lights Set

Home Accents Holiday 300 Mini Lights Set


What We Like
  • Extra-long length

  • Simple enough to be used year-round

  • Affordable price

What We Don't Like
  • Incandescent bulbs use more energy

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 or to decorate Christmas trees, these clear white lights can easily be used year-round to decorate your yard. 

These inexpensive string lights provide 68 feet of lighted length with 300 mini glass bulbs, all attached to a 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, which is especially convenient for decorating outdoors.

Price at time of publish: $17

Bulb Type: Mini incandescent | Number of Bulbs: 300 | Cord Length: 68 feet | Wattage: 72 | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Solar

Brightech Ambiance Pro Solar String Lights

What We Like
  • Weather-resistant and shatterproof

  • Versatile placement

  • No electricity needed

  • Easy installation

What We Don't Like
  • Not as bright as other options

  • Can't connect multiple strings

After testing dozens of solar lights, these are our favorite. The 17 vintage-style, Edison bulbs are as practical as they are pretty, and are made of shatterproof plastic. In fact, they held up well during our lab testing, even when we froze, poured water, or dropped a golf ball on the solar panel. Plus, they are backed by a full 2-year warranty and have a 1,000-charge lifespan (around 2.5 years according to the manufacturer). Although you can't connect multiple strands, they are available in a longer, 48-foot strand.

We love that these string lights don't require any electricity, so you can place them just about anywhere. In fact, the solar panel has a versatile design and can either be clipped to a fence or balcony, or staked in the ground. We appreciate the "moody lighting" these lights emit, and although they weren't bright enough to read under, we think that they are great for decor or entertaining purposes.

Price at time of publish: $48

Bulb Type: Edison-style LED | Number of Bulbs: 12 | Cord Length: 27 feet | Wattage: 1 per bulb | Power Source: Solar

testing the Brightech Solar Lights

The Spruce / Dera Burreson

Best for Patios

SUNTHIN 48ft LED Outdoor String Lights

SUNTHIN 48ft LED Outdoor String Lights


What We Like
  • Warm light

  • Durable and weatherproof

  • Shatterproof plastic bulbs

  • More affordable than similar options

What We Don't Like
  • Not as bright as other options

  • Dimmer control sold separately

If you're looking to add more ambiance to your outdoor space, check out SUNTHIN's LED Outdoor String Lights that we tested in our own backyard. With shatterproof plastic bulbs and weatherproof construction, these commercial-grade lights are just as practical as your standard set. What sets them apart is their appearance, which will transform your patio or backyard into a cozy space perfect for outdoor dinner parties and other gatherings.

One factor to note is these bulbs are a bit dimmer than the others on this list, but we found this appealing. Each 48-foot-long set gives you 15 bulbs (spaced out appropriately), and you can connect up to 12 strands to cover more space. Opting for multiple sets is a great way to offset the brightness issue, giving you the same warm look with a bit more illumination. You can also purchase a separate dimmer from the brand to further customize the light output.

During testing, these lights withstood storms and installation. The apparent durability went beyond looks; we had no blown bulbs in our two-week testing period despite occasional heavy winds. The bulbs were probably in the most danger during installation when we clinked several on concrete with no damage—an action that would’ve certainly shattered a regular glass bulb.

Price at time of publish: $30

Bulb Type: Edison-style LED | Number of Bulbs: 15 | Cord Length: 48 feet | Wattage: 13.5 | Power Source: Plug-in

Sunthin 48-Foot Outdoor LED String Lights

The Spruce / Justin Park

Best Splurge

Addlon Outdoor String Lights, 2 Pack

Addlon Outdoor String Lights, 2 Pack


What We Like
  • Double insulation to withstand elements

  • Hanging hooks above each bulb

  • Compatible with dimmer

What We Don't Like
  • Not LED bulbs

  • Expensive

If you want to brighten your entire yard with beautiful lights, consider the Addlon Outdoor String Lights. These bistro-style lights are 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 for more coverage. And though they’re on the more expensive side, you’ll love how these lights look in your yard.

Price at time of publish: $90

Bulb Type: Incandescent | Number of Bulbs: 15 | Cord Length: 48 feet | Wattage: 11 | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Fairy Lights

ZAECANY LED String Lights

ZAECANY LED String Lights


What We Like
  • Delicate appearance and thin wires

  • Extra-long length

  • Several bulb colors available

What We Don't Like
  • Optional remote is finicky

  • Copper wire limits installation options

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. 

What gives these lights a fairy-like appearance is the thin wiring that makes them appear as if they're floating. These lights are weatherproof, but because they’re mounted on copper wires, you should avoid hanging them with any type of metal hook. Overall, these fairy lights are a delicate decoration for any space and an unbeatable value.

Price at time of publish: $22

Bulb Type: Micro LED | Number of Bulbs: 300 | Cord Length: 99 feet | Wattage: Not listed | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Battery Operated

Koopower 36ft 100 LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights

Koopower 36ft 100 LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights


What We Like
  • Battery-powered design can be installed anywhere

  • Eight lighting effects

  • Comes with remote control and built-in timer

What We Don't Like
  • Remote only works in close proximity

  • Lights are not very bright

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 is water- and dust-proof, allowing you to place it outdoors. And the strand comes with a remote control, so you can easily turn the lights on and off. Or, if 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. 

Price at time of publish: $19

Bulb Type: LED | Number of Bulbs: 100 | Cord Length: 36 feet | Wattage: 4.5 | Power Source: 3 AA batteries

Best LED

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

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

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Warm white light

  • Impact-resistant bulbs

  • Weather-resistant design

  • Ability to connect up to 11 strands

What We Don't Like
  • Condensation can form inside bulbs

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 are long-lasting. 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 more. They are also covered by a 2-year warranty in case any bulbs are damaged or broken.

Price at time of publish: $60

Bulb Type: Edison-style LED | Number of Bulbs: 24 | Cord Length: 48 feet | Wattage: 3 | Power Source: Plug-in

Best Smart

Govee H7020 RGBIC Warm White Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Smart Outdoor String Lights

Govee Smart String Lights


What We Like
  • Can change color with seasons and holidays

  • Controllable from phone or smart assistant

  • Weather and shatter-proof

  • Multiple brightness and light show modes

What We Don't Like
  • Adapter isn't weatherproof

  • Cannot combine multiple strings

Customize the color of your lights through your smartphone with ease with these smart outdoor string lights with Govee. Use the color wheel to pick the perfect hue for your celebration, or even upload a picture and the colors will match anything from your outdoor furniture to holiday decorations to your outfit of the night. Then, choose from 47 light show modes, including one that blinks to the music you are playing. You can even connect your smart lights to your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to control your ambiance with just your voice.

On top of the endless customization options these lights have, the bulbs are also water-, sun-, snow-, and shatter-proof, so they can withstand outdoor elements all year round. The 48-foot option comes with 15 dimmable LED bulbs, but there's also a 96-foot option for larger areas. We love this option because the lights easily change with each holiday and occasion and you can control your lights from anywhere with just your phone. Just note that the adapter isn't weatherproof like the rest of the lights, so be sure to keep that covered and protected.

Price at time of publish: $70

Bulb Type: Edison-style LED | Number of Bulbs: 15 | Cord Length: 48 feet | Wattage: 0.8 | Power Source: Plug-in

Final Verdict

The best outdoor string lights are the Pottery Barn LED String Lights. These indoor/outdoor lights give off a warm glow that’s comfortable and welcoming, and the acrylic bulbs are impact-resistant.  If you’re looking for a less expensive strand, go with the Home Accents 300-Light Clear Incandescent Set, which gives you almost 68 feet of length at an incredibly affordable price.

The Spruce / Hilary Allison

How We Tested Outdoor String Lights

After researching dozens of bestselling and highly-rated outdoor string lights, we tested dozens of outdoor lights in our lab and in our homes across the country including several of the string lights in this list. While testing we evaluated the string lights on durability, brightness, and overall value, while also noting how factors such as power source, length, and bulb type affect the buying process. For at-home tests, we used the outdoor string lights in our own backyards for weeks to see how they held up over time and in varying weather conditions. Using these testing insights from various tests, we compiled this list with our favorites that we tested and researched.

What to Look for in Outdoor String Lights

Power Source

"The first thing you will need to consider when purchasing string lights is the power source. If you have an outdoor electrical outlet that won’t present a tripping hazard for wires, then you can do regular electric string lights. However, if there is no outlet or if it’s placed awkwardly, then you will want to consider purchasing string lights that are solar or battery-operated," according to Amber Freda, a custom landscape and garden designer in NYC.

Freda also notes that the color of the chord may vary, so this may be something to consider when matching lights to your outdoor decor. "String light cords also come in a few different colors - black, green, or white are the most common options. You should consider what sort of backdrop they will be placed on when choosing the color of the cord," she shares.

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. Brightech LED Solar String Lights, tested in our lab, have a solar panel that can be clipped onto a balcony, or staked in the ground, so you can string them just about anywhere.

Bulb Type

String lights come with a wide variety of bulb types and shapes, but LED bulbs, seen in the Hampton Bay string lights, 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.

Other bulb types include battery-powered and solar lights. Both don't require electricity but may have a shorter life than an option that's always plugged in. The advantage of these bulb types is the absence of unattractive wires in your outdoor space. Also, plugs on string lights are often not weatherproof, so they must be covered at all times. For an option like our favorite battery-operated lights from koopower, the entirety of the lights are weatherproof and can be exposed to the elements.


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 they include a remote control that allows you to control various lighting effects. Some string lights are capable of strobing or flashing effects, and others can twinkle or fade in and out. With a smart light, like the Grovee Warm White Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Smart Outdoor String Lights, you can control everything from the color to the brightness to the strobing effect of your lights for a completely customized experience.

Weather Resistant

Perhaps the most important factor when choosing outdoor string lights is how weatherproof they are. You want to ensure that your string lights can withstand rain, sun, wind, and even snow depending on where you live. All of the options on this list are designed to be durable and weatherproof, so they'll last for a long time despite what Mother Nature throws at them. Our best overall pick, the Pottery Barn LED String Lights sustained high winds and rain during testing without any damage.


It's important to ensure that your string lights will fit your space. Always measure the patio or deck that you are trying to light before looking at options. Luckily, for many options on this list, including the SUNTHIN Outdoor String Lights, you can connect multiple strands of the lights to perfectly fit your outdoor area. Others come in multiple sizes so you're guaranteed to find something that works for you.

  • Where are the best places to hang outdoor string lights?

    There are many different places where you can display outdoor string lights, but you’ll want to take into account their length, safety rating, and power source to find the best location. Be sure to check whether your lights are weather-proof before hanging them—some lights can withstand rain, snow, and more, while others should be kept out of direct exposure to the weather. You’ll also want to make sure your lights will be able to reach an outlet if needed. 

    With those logistics out of the way, you might want to hang outdoor string lights between trees or posts in your yard. Other popular options include wrapping lights around deck railings or tree branches or using them to decorate the beams of a deck or pergola. 

  • How can you determine how long of a set you need?

    It’s best to figure out how long your string lights should be before you purchase them—after all, it’s frustrating to realize your lights aren’t long enough when you’re midway through installation. You can avoid this by taking rough measurements of the location where you want your lights. For instance, if your patio is 20 feet wide and you want the lights to zigzag across it three times, you’ll need at least 60 feet of light. In general, it’s always best to give yourself an additional 5-foot buffer if possible. 

  • What’s the best way to hang and secure outdoor string lights?

    When putting up your string lights, there are several ways to anchor them. Many people like to use cup hooks to hold up string lights, as it’s easy to place the wire inside the loop yet it still holds the strand in place. However, you can also use a staple gun to anchor string lights into place—just be extra careful not to pierce the wire. No matter how you’re hanging your lights, it’s best to remove glass bulbs during installation, as there’s always a chance they’ll be bumped or even dropped.

  • Is it safe to leave outdoor string lights on overnight?

    Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to leave any lights on around the clock for the simple reason that all light bulbs, even LEDs, can heat up with extended use. This can become a fire hazard if they’re located near any flammable object. We recommend turning off your string lights when they’re not in use or at least overnight. If you don’t want to do it by hand, a light timer or smart plug can do it automatically. 

    Freda continues that leaving your string lights on overnight will also shorten their life span. "We usually recommend around a 3-5 hour window from sunset until whatever time the person chooses. The string light timers help make this process very automatic," she says.

  • How long do outdoor LED string lights last?

    The lifespan of your outdoor lights will depend on how often you use them and whether they’re properly maintained. In general, high-end LED string lights will last for around six to seven seasons—or two to three years if you use them year-round. Lower-quality products and incandescent bulbs will need to be replaced more frequently.

    "Outdoor string lights or bistro style lighting is made with thicker insulation and components to better withstand the prolonged exposure to the elements. When using a guide wire to support the weight of the lights, we can extend the useful life of the lighting system as well," says Hadley Hirt, president and founder of Patio Lights of Houston, who recommends consulting a professional when installing your lights to ensure they have the longest lifespan possible.

  • How bright should outdoor string lights be?

    Because string lights are normally low-voltage, they won't become bright enough to be harsh or irritating, says Freda. Luckily, many outdoor string lights come with a dimmer or a compatible app so you can choose the perfect brightness for your space.

    Hirt also recommends looking for string lights that come with a timer and an automatic shut-off feature. "Most of our customers elect to go with our dimmer that also has timer functions to effortlessly turn the lights off without mind after each evening of enjoyment," he shares.

  • Do outdoor string lights use a lot of electricity?

    According to Freda, "String lights are low-voltage and do not use much electricity, similar to a strand of Christmas lights." Therefore, they are meant to not use a lot of electricity, but you can double-check the voltage of your lights before purchasing if looking for an option that won't use up too much.

    Many modern string light options also use LED lights, according to Hirt. "Most bulbs compatible with string lights are 2-3 watts each," which is much less than incandescent bulbs that used to be much more popular.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Julia Fields, an associate editor for The Spruce, covering toys, gifts, and the holidays. She's also covered similar topics in other roles, including toy reviews, product round-ups, interviews with experts, and more.

For this article, she researched best-selling and highly-rated outdoor string lights on the market, considering customer reviews and reactions. Each string light was evaluated for bulb type, length, design, power source, and weatherproof qualities. Fields also took testing insights from our outdoor solar lights test for a few of the products listed, as well as several non-solar options we tested at home. While testing, we installed lights in our own homes or in the lab to see how they performed over time and in response to inclement weather. Expert advice was provided by Amber Freda, a custom landscape and garden designer in NYC, and Hadley Hirt, the president and founder of Patio Lights of Houston.

What Is The Spruce Approved?

Here at The Spruce, we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally, we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut.

Article Sources
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