Durable and waterproof
Too bright for some applications
Thick cord is hard to hide during daytime
Mpow is an electronics company making everything from earbuds to selfie sticks and all at costs generally a bit lower than name brands. The Mpow 49ft LED Outdoor String Lights consist of a long string of Edison-style bulbs designed to be installed to light outdoor areas. We put the string lights to the test at our Colorado home to see if they could warm up the atmosphere on cool nights on our deck.
Setup: Great overhead, bright at eye level
The Mpow 49ft LED Outdoor String Lights are ready to go out of the box aside from needing to screw in the bulbs, which is a straightforward process. The included “user manual” (really just a postcard-sized sheet of paper) suggest placing the cabling before installing the bulbs and we took that advice. Screwing the bulbs didn’t present any challenges, though you do need to be sure you screw them in all the way or they won’t make a connection.
Location selection is your biggest choice when it comes to setup, and there are a few things to consider with this particular model of string lights. For one, they’re pretty bright and are probably best for overhead use, where you won’t be staring directly at them too often. We tried them on a waist-high deck railing and found them a bit bright, though still preferable to a flood light or other more industrial outdoor lighting options.
For the power of the lights and build quality, this is about the best deal you can find.
Because we wanted to try them in multiple locations, we didn’t use the built-in loops for hanging and simply draped them on our railings and fence lines or wrapped them around posts. However if you were placing them in a fairly permanent location, it might be worth the time to put screws into the holes to hold them in place on a railing, for example, or you could use separately purchased zipties or hooks to affix them to, say, a chain-link fence. We found that the weight of the strand was sufficient in most cases to hold them in place even when just draped on a fence, but it’s worth noting that you have lots of options for holding them in place with the included loops at each light.
Given their power, we enjoyed them most strung along a roofline above our deck. There, they were able to illuminate the outdoor space from above. Along our fenceline, they didn’t stick out as ugly or out-of-place during the day, but wrapped around a wooden pillar, we couldn’t help noticing that they seemed to be sticking out at a time of day when we’d prefer them to go unnoticed.
Another perhaps obvious concern with placement is proximity to an electrical outlet. If you want to use them in a location that doesn’t have an outlet (as we did when using them on our deck railing), you’ll need to employ an outdoor-grade extension cord to get the lights to start where you want.
Design: Attractive bulbs, functional black cordage
String lights aren’t meant to look great in daylight, but the bulbs on this Mpow 49ft LED Outdoor String Lights set are some of the coolest we’ve seen. Their Edison-style LEDs appear to have some yellow filaments that really harken back to another century while still being energy-efficient, with a touted lifespan of 15,000 hours.
String lights aren’t meant to look great in daylight, but the bulbs on this Mpow 49ft LED Outdoor String Lights set are some of the coolest we’ve seen.
The cabling, however, is more function than form. The black outdoor extension cord-type wiring is necessary to power these lights and stand up to the elements (they’re waterproof and insulated). However, it’s certainly not adding to your patio or deck during the daytime and the thick-gauge cordage makes it hard to hide.
Something to note is that the strands are connectable, meaning if you needed to light a larger area, you could hook up additional strands (up to 23).
Operation: Consider an add-on dimmer switch
Like many comparable outdoor string light sets, there is an available dimmer switch from the same company that gives you the option to control the light level of these lights. While we didn’t purchase and test the dimmer ourselves, it might be a good option with this particular set. Their max power is high, and you may find occasions where you want the light a bit softer.
At around $40, it is an additional cost, but it would allow you to turn the powerful max output of these lights into merely the upper range of their possibilities.
Performance: Powerful white light best for illuminating outdoor spaces
Compared to many other outdoor string light sets in this style, the Mpow 49t String Lights offer a brighter, whiter light that we found best for actual illumination versus just adding ambiance. We could see event managers using multiple strings of these lights to illuminate outdoor events, bar patios, wedding venues, and any place you want to see what you’re doing outdoors at night.
The color temperature of the bulbs is much further into the soft white range than, say, a more traditional incandescent bulb.
The apparent trade-off for the power of these lights is that, despite their old-timey look, the color temperature of the bulbs is much further into the soft white range than, say, a more traditional incandescent bulb. Our readings on the bulbs put them around 3,900K, which is squarely in the “white light” range, so keep that in mind if you are dreaming of a soft orange glow for your outdoor scene.
Price: On par with competitors
At about $50 for a single 49-foot strand, these certainly aren’t “cheap” lights, and if you simply want a little touch of ambiance, you can buy white Christmas light strings for less than $10 for a similar, if less classy, effect. There are also similar sets with a bit less power (see Sunthin comparison below) that can save you a few bucks but offer mostly the same look for a bit less.
However, for the power of the lights and build quality, this is about the best deal you can find for a durable, attractive set that generates this level of light.
Mpow 49ft Led Outdoor String Lights vs. Sunthin 48-Foot Outdoor LED String Lights
This Sunthin LED string light option, which we also tested, can save you around $10 versus the Mpow set. What you trade for that savings is a bit of power, with the Sunthins at .9 watts per bulb and the Mpows being 1.5 watts per bulb.
The Mpow bulbs are clearly the more attractive set, but the light from the Sunthins are dimmer and a bit more yellow and warm. This could be a better choice for less if you simply want the lights for some warming ambiance.
Get them, especially if you’re lighting a scene from above.
The Mpow Outdoor String Lights are a durable, serious solution for outdoor lighting with a touch of class. As mentioned, these lights are best overhead or off to the perimeter of an outdoor scene because of their brightness, but their quality and look should fit almost any home or event lighting situation if employed right.
- Product Name Mpow 49ft LED Outdoor String Lights
- Product Brand Mpow
- Price $50.00
- Wire Length 49 ft
- Bulb Spacing 3.2 ft.
- Total Bulbs 15
- Bulb Type LED, S14 bulbs, E26 sockets
- Power Consumption 1.5W each, 22.5W in total
- Input Voltage AC 120V 50/60HZ
- Rated Average Life 15,000 hours
- Warranty 18 months, limited