Durable and weatherproof
Shatterproof plastic bulbs
More affordable than similar options
Not as bright as other options
Dimmer control sold separately
Sunthin is a global Chinese LED lighting subsidiary company that specializes in a wide variety of LED lighting products sold through large retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. The Sunthin 48-Foot Outdoor LED String Lights are an Edison-style bulb housed in a sturdy, weatherproof socket and string. We put the outdoor lights to the test over several weeks at our Colorado home to see if they could light up the dark nights on our deck.
Setup: Best when wrapped or covering a long distance
The string light set comes mostly ready to go, though you do need to screw in the bulbs. The brief included instructions suggest screwing the bulbs in before stringing up the set. We weren’t sure why that would be better and might put the bulbs in unnecessary danger, but we followed the directions, and the plastic bulbs survived being knocked into each together and onto concrete here and there.
The directions also emphasize making sure the bulbs are screwed in all the way. After plugging in the string, we found that a few bulbs had to be screwed a bit tighter to make contact and light up. This is likely a result of the rubber housing around the socket, which presses right up against the bulb, thus providing a waterproof seal around the bulb but also resisting being screwed in a bit.
The 3-foot spacing of the lights was about perfect for wrapping the beam, as a bulb fell pretty much at the base of the beam every time without much adjusting required.
There are a number of ways to employ these string lights, and we tried two of them: wrapping an 8 x 8-inch beam to encircle a back patio area as well as simply draping them along a wooden fence.
The 3-foot spacing of the lights was about perfect for wrapping the beam, as a bulb fell pretty much at the base of the beam every time without much adjusting required. These are not Christmas light-style strings. They’re bigger bulbs spaced farther apart, and we enjoyed the change from the cheap white Christmas lights we had previously. Strung along the fence, the 3-foot spacing felt wider, but it was also farther from our patio hang-out zone, so it seemed appropriate.
Other options include using hooks, nails, screws, or some other separately purchased hardware to more securely hang the string than simply draping it around fence posts as we did. Each bulb has a loop built into the plastic above it for this purpose. This seems like a wise option to employ if your lights are particularly exposed or in a windy area. That said, we didn’t have any concerns about the weighty strand going anywhere, even when high winds came through, and we didn’t experience any issues during our testing.
Design: Edison-style LED bulbs class up the non-descript cabling
The wiring of the Sunthin 48-Foot Outdoor LED String Lights is substantial, and upon pulling it out of the box, the most obvious comparison was to an outdoor-grade extension cord. The gauge and black rubber coating are remarkably similar and for good reason, given their application.
The 15 bulb sockets are spaced every 3 feet or so and dangle about 6 inches down from the main cable. Wisely, that junction is capped with a hard black plastic to prevent wear and tear on the joint over time, especially since the dangling sockets can blow in the wind if located in an exposed area.
The light felt warm and wasn’t so bright that we felt like we had to look away.
Naturally, where the aesthetic of this and most string light sets really shines (get it?) is at night. There’s nothing hideous about these very functional and durable string lights, but wrapped around wood beams or hung along a wooden fence, the black string is fairly obvious in daylight and looks, as mentioned, like an extension cord.
Like an extension cord, the end of this string has a jack, so it can be easily connected with another length of lights (up to 12 strands).
At night, all you notice is the light and the bulbs, and that’s as it should be. The Edison-style bulbs don’t have that old-timey filament, but that’s not a detail you can notice when the bulbs are illuminated anyway.
Operation: Dimming possible with additional purchase
Operating these string lights doesn’t involve much more than plugging them in once strung up. That said, you might wish you could adjust the light intensity depending on where you install them and for what purpose.
Overhead on our patio, we did wish they were just a hair brighter.
Strung along the fence above landscaping beds, we enjoyed the warm light as just a touch of illumination and ambiance. Overhead on our patio, we did wish they were just a hair brighter so we didn’t feel the need to also use the less warm exterior light to be able to see.
There is an optional dimmer switch (with remote!) add-on sold by the same company for $30 (which we did not buy) that could be an option. Keep in mind, however, that dimmer switches usually can only reduce the lights’ power.
Performance: Warm, tasteful ambient lighting
As mentioned above, these .9-watt bulbs aren’t exactly spotlights, and that’s mostly a great thing. However, if you’re hoping to use the lights for a specific purpose such as lighting an event and you want them to really illuminate an area, you may want to buy extra strand or look into a higher-wattage set.
That said, these lights are not dim by any means, and we found their intensity and color temperature (especially for energy-saving LEDs) just about perfect for hanging outside in the evening by the grill. Objectively, the color temperature registered around 3,400K, which if you’re not familiar with color temperature scales, just means that the light is in the yellower end of the yellow-orange color spectrum. Subjectively, the light felt warm and wasn’t so bright that we felt like we had to look away.
The apparent durability went beyond looks; we had no blown bulbs in our two-week testing period despite occasional heavy winds.
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.
At around $40 for the single string of lights we tested, the Sunthins are priced very competitively. If you know you want multiple strings, you can also get a two-pack for around $75, making them one of the most affordable outdoor lights in this style.
If you value a higher wattage bulb, you can spend a few bucks more (see below), but for most, the Sunthins are a great light set at some of the lowest prices in this category of string lights.
Sunthin 48-Foot Outdoor LED String Lights vs. Mpow 49ft Led Outdoor String Lights
These two light sets look so similar, it’s not unreasonable to think they might be made in the same factory. The cabling on both is almost identical save for a few minor details, and the bulbs are similar but distinct in a few important ways. The Mpow bulbs are the same Edison style, but 1.5 watts each instead of the .9 watts of the Sunthins. If you intend to buy a dimmer switch, the Mpow set will give you a broader range of light intensity to play with. If you know you want a warm ambient light and don’t need it particularly bright, the Sunthins are a great choice.
The additional wattage doesn’t come for free though, so expect to pay around $10 more per string. That can add up quickly if you’re doing multiple strings, so if you’re just looking for decent lighting and ambience, you can safely save by going with the Sunthin strings.
- Product Name 48-Foot Outdoor LED String Lights
- Product Brand Sunthin
- Price $40.99
- Length 48 ft.
- Total Bulbs 15
- Multiple strands Yes, up to 12 strands
- Bulb Type LED S14 bulbs, E26 sockets
- Power Consumption 9W each