The 10 Best Outdoor String Lights of 2022 to Illuminate Your Backyard

The Addlon LED Outdoor String Lights earned our No. 1 spot because of their durable design and decorative appearance.

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Best Outdoor String Lights

Amazon

One of the easiest ways to add some magic to your outdoor space is to decorate with string lights. Whether your patio design style is reminiscent of a French bistro or a winter wonderland, there are plenty of string light styles, colors, and bulbs to help you create the perfect twinkling outdoor ambiance. 

When shopping for the best outdoor string lights, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Since the lights will be outdoors, they’ll be exposed to all kinds of weather, so look for ones that meet waterproof certification standards (denoted with a UL listing or IP rating).

Douglas Dedrick, landscaper and founder of Natural Landscape Designs in Woodstock, New York, recommends looking for lights labeled for commercial use for extra durability. You’ll also want to consider the number of bulbs per strand and their lumen output to determine how bright they’ll be.

“Another important thing to keep in mind while purchasing string lighting is to be sure that they are exterior lights,” says Sierra Fallon, lead designer at Rumor Designs. “If they are only rated for interiors they can burn out or, worse, cause a fire.” 

Here are the best outdoor string lights.

Best Overall: Addlon Outdoor String Lights

Outdoor Lights

addlon

Why You Should Get It:

  • These lights are extremely durable.
  • They have an attractive, market-style design. 
  • The strand is 48 feet long.

Keep in Mind:

  • The lights require an outdoor outlet.

There are a lot of reasons to love the Addlon LED outdoor string lights, which met all of our criteria when creating our list of the best overall outdoor string lights. They’re certified weatherproof by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), so you don’t need to worry about harsh weather causing damage or creating a safety hazard. The heavy-duty cord and waterproof housing keep the interior parts safe while the durable bulbs prevent shattering. 

Each bulb has its own hanging hook above it, making for easy support and installation on patios, trellises, and more. They’re also compatible with dimmers, should you choose to add your own dimmer switch for extra ambiance control. The E17 bulb option has an extra umbrella-shaped addition to the housing that adds both charm and extra waterproofing. 

Even if you have a large area you want to light, the Addlon outdoor string lights can be linked together for added length and ambience. In fact, you can link up to 30 strands together without issue, according to the manufacturer. The Addlon outdoor string lights even come in an incandescent option as well, if you prefer that over LED. 

Price at time of publish: $40

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Corded
  • Number of Light Patterns: One; dimmer compatible
  • Length: 48 feet

Best Budget: Yiqu Extra-Long Crystal Globe Solar String Lights

Yiqu Extra-Long Crystal Globe Solar String Lights

Courtesy of Amazon

Why You Should Get It:

  • It includes a two-pack of string lights. 
  • There are eight different lighting modes.
  • It’s solar-powered.

Keep in Mind:

  • The lights automatically shut off in bright light, so you won’t be able to use them during the daytime.

These ethereal round lights come with more lighting options than their price point would suggest. Unlike other outdoor string lights, this set of 46-foot lights has eight different light settings to create the perfect brightness level and color tone. The pleasing bubble shape is complemented by the crystallized texture on the glass, which adds a little bit of extra sparkle. 

After fully charging, which takes about six to eight hours, the lights can be used for 10 to 12 hours before needing to recharge—which requires no effort on your part since the lights are solar-powered. There are eight different flashing light patterns to choose from, and once you’ve picked your favorite, the lights will remember your selection and turn on in that mode next time.

Because the lights are solar powered, they’ll automatically stay on all night long and turn off when it becomes bright outside. However, shoppers who want more personalized control over when their lights are on or off may be disappointed with this feature.

Price at time of publish: $17

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Solar; 10 to 12 hours on full charge
  • Number of Light Patterns: Eight
  • Length: 46 feet each

Best Splurge: Pottery Barn Brass Heavy Duty Hanging String Lights

Pottery Barn Brass Heavy Duty Hanging String Lights

Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Why You Should Get It: 

  • The brass accents and exposed double filament add an elegant touch.
  • The commercial-grade cables are durable against the elements.

Keep in Mind: 

  • You’ll have to make sure the lights can reach an outlet or use an extension cord.

If you want your lights to look just a little bit sleeker without sacrificing durability, we recommend the Pottery Barn Brass Heavy Duty outdoor string lights.

They’re wet UL-listed, so they’re safe to be used indoors or outside. Plus, they’re made with commercial-grade cables to stand up to the elements, making them extra durable against rain, wind, and even snow. Each bulb has its own hanging loop to make them easy to set up on your deck, garden trellis, pergola, or elsewhere. 

The brass light bulb bases add sophisticated contrast to the sleek black cables, and we like the industrial appearance of the exposed double filaments. With 48 feet of lighting to work with, you’ll be able to illuminate a large portion of your patio with just one set of lights. They also come in a solar globe model if you prefer a round bulb or a more renewable power source.

These outdoor string lights run on electricity, so you’ll need to make sure you have an outlet nearby or an extension cord on hand. Since these lights won’t turn off with the sunrise the way solar-powered models will, you’ll need to remember to unplug them at the end of the night, too.

Price at time of publish: $99

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Corded
  • Number of Light Patterns: One
  • Length: 48 feet

Best Multicolor: Westinghouse Outdoor Solar-Powered String Light

Westinghouse Outdoor Solar-Powered String Light

Courtesy of Lowe's

Why You Should Get It: 

  • These colored lights have multiple patterns and an included remote for swapping between settings.
  • You can increase or decrease the brightness of the lights. 
  • They’re solar-powered, so you don’t need to be near an outlet to use them. 

Keep in Mind: 

  • They aren’t certified waterproof and may not be able to stand up to the elements as well as others.
  • The lights can only change colors using the remote, which will need to be stored separately.

The best outdoor string lights don’t just provide illumination to your backyard, they also create an inviting ambience. That’s why we like the multi-color settings on this Westinghouse outdoor string light set, which can switch between multiple color-changing modes with the help of the included remote. 

Stake, mount, or clamp the solar panel somewhere with sufficient sun exposure and let it charge during the daytime, and it’ll power the multicolor lights for up to eight hours every night. You’ll be able to change between six different color settings and six flickering light patterns, or you can switch them over to a soft white glow when the party’s winding down.

It’s important to note that the remote is the only way to change the mode, so don’t lose or break it, or you’ll be stuck on the last light and color settings forever. And while these lights are labeled water-resistant, they aren’t UL-certified waterproof, so they may not last as long as other lights on this list when exposed to moisture.  

Price at time of publish: $55

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Solar; up to eight hours on a full charge
  • Number of Light Patterns: Six colors, six light settings
  • Length: 48 feet

Best Indoor/Outdoor: Brightown Outdoor Globe Patio Lights

Brightown Outdoor Globe Patio Lights

Courtesy of Amazon

Why You Should Get It: 

  • These lights come in multiple colors and lengths to give you the best array of options.

Keep in Mind: 

  • Incandescent bulbs have a shorter lifespan and run hotter than LEDs.

These warm white incandescent bulbs look good both on your patio and inside your home, depending on where you plan to decorate. The lights are IP44 waterproof, which means they won’t be damaged if it rains. We also like that the lights are wired in a parallel circuit, so even if one bulb burns out, the others will remain unaffected. 

There’s also a slew of color and length options available. Choose between 25-, 50-, and 100-foot cords, white or multicolor bulbs, and green, black, or white cords (though all options may not be available in all combinations). If you need even more length to reach the next pesky tree or post, you can connect up to three strands.

The vintage appearance of these outdoor string lights makes them attractive enough to be left hanging even during daylight hours, so your patio will look just as stunning when the sun is up. However, keep in mind that incandescent bulbs get hotter than LED lights, so you’ll need to be extra careful that the lights don’t leave burn marks on any of your patio furniture. You’ll also need to replace the bulbs more frequently, since they have a shorter lifespan than LED bulbs. 

Price at time of publish: From $17

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Corded
  • Number of Patterns: One
  • Length: 25 to 100 feet

Best Smart Lights: XMCosy+ Outdoor String Lights

XMCosy+ Outdoor String Lights

Courtesy of Amazon

Why You Should Get It: 

  • There are tons of preset and customizable color patterns to choose from. 
  • It’s compatible with your phone, Alexa, or Google Voice Assistant. 

Keep in Mind: 

  • You need to be connected to WiFi to control the lights.
  • The lights run on electricity, so you’ll need to plug them into an outlet.

Skim your way along the whole RGB spectrum with the XMCosy+ outdoor string lights, which let you adjust the color, brightness, and saturation levels of your lights via your phone, your Alexa, or Google Voice Assistant.

There are eight preset color patterns as well as a customizable one that allows you to select any color you want within the app. You can also set a timer schedule, allow for device sharing between family members so anyone can change the light settings, and set up group control if you want to operate multiple smart devices at once, so you’ll be able to fine-tune the atmosphere you want. 

These outdoor string lights are UL-listed and IP65-rated to stay safe in wet conditions, so you’ll be able to leave them up no matter the weather. Plus, the shatter-proof bulbs won’t be damaged by high winds knocking them around. For those with an extra-large outdoor space, you can also purchase a 98-foot strand instead.

Since they require a WiFi connection to operate, the XMCosy+ lights aren’t going to be the best outdoor string lights for travel, such as on camping or RV trips. They also run on electricity, so you’ll need to plug them into a nearby outlet to use them.  

Price at time of publish: From $76

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Corded
  • Number of Light Patterns: Eight built in, one customizable
  • Length: 49 to 98 feet

Best Solar: Brightech Solar LED String Lights

4.6
Brightech Ambiance Pro Solar String Lights

Amazon

Why You Should Get It: 

  • These fast-charging solar lights are easy to hang.
  • They can withstand high winds and extreme heat.
  • They’re backed by a two-year warranty.

Keep in Mind: 

  • They turn on automatically at night; if you don’t want them to do that, you’ll have to manually turn them off.
  • They aren’t UL or IP rated.

We named the Brightech outdoor string lights our favorite solar string lights earlier this summer, and we’re still obsessed with their antique look that instantly adds charm to any outdoor space. These lights have included bulb loops for easy hanging on your patio railing, your home’s eaves, or outdoor trellises. 

Brightech claims that the lights have commercial-grade weatherproofing, though they aren’t UL or IP rated, and that their WeatherTite technology can withstand moisture as well as winds up to 50 miles per hour and heat up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. They even come with a two-year warranty for additional peace of mind.

If you need a longer string of outdoor lights, you can purchase the Brightech Ambience Pro lights in a 48-foot version as well, which also operates via a solar panel that you stake into the ground. Six hours of charging the solar panel in direct sunlight gets you six hours of light-up time. These lights will automatically turn on when it’s dark, so if you don't want them on, you’ll have to manually shut them off. However, this also prevents them from charging again the next morning.  

Price at time of publish: From $30

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Solar; up to six hours of light on a full charge
  • Number of Light Patterns: One
  • Length: From 27 feet

Best LED: Portfolio Indoor/Outdoor LED Edison String Lights

Portfolio Indoor/Outdoor LED Edison String Lights

Courtesy of Lowe's

Why You Should Get It: 

  • There are three different color options to choose from. 
  • They’re UL listed, so they won’t be damaged by water. 

Keep in Mind: 

  • The glass bulbs may break.

While most of our picks on this list of the best outdoor string lights are LED lights, we’re especially fond of the options that come with the Portfolio Indoor/Outdoor LED Edison models. You can choose between a black or white cord and white or colored bulbs to match your design vision.

The colored bulbs can light up with your choice of a smooth gradual fade, a twinkly multi-flash, or a simple solid white glow, which allows you to create the ambience you’d like.  

These string lights are also UL listed, so no need to worry about rain, snow, or humid conditions damaging them. You can also purchase them in strings up to 96 feet. If you want to cover an entire patio, it’s possible to link up to four strands together, and the set comes with two replacement bulbs just in case something goes awry. 

Since the bulbs are made of glass, you’ll want to be extra careful about where you hang them—high winds could knock them around and cause them to break. While the manufacturer claims these bulbs are shatter-resistant, we still recommend using extra caution.  

Price at time of publish: From $30

Product Details:

  • Battery Lifespan: Corded
  • Number of Light Patterns: One for white, three for colored lights
  • Length: From 24 feet

Best Decorative: Pottery Barn White Diamond Solar String Lights

Pottery Barn White Diamond Solar String Lights

Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Why You Should Get It: 

  • The swirled glass exterior adds visual charm to these lights even during the daytime.
  • They can run off solar power or batteries.

Keep in Mind: 

  • The outer globes are glass, so they’re more breakable than other options on this list. 
  • Each string only comes with six bulbs.

If you’re looking for outdoor string lights that add more visual interest than an exposed bulb, the White Diamond solar lights might be the ones for your backyard patio. These stunning glass string lights have a white marble effect on the outside that looks pretty even during the daytime, while they glow an inviting yellow-orange once the sun sets. 

They’re sensor-enabled and will automatically light up on their own once it’s dark, and they’re also solar-powered so you won’t need to worry about plugging them in. If you’re in a cloudy spot, you can also use a rechargeable AA battery to keep them lit. 

However, the lights only come with six bulbs per strand, so you may need a few sets to create your ideal setup if you’re working with a larger space. We also recommend being extra careful about where you hang the White Diamond solar lights, as they’re more breakable than other string lights on our list. Plan to take them down if high winds are expected in your area, as they may shatter.  

Price at time of publish: $89

Product Details:

  • Power Source: Solar; one to two years on one AA battery
  • Number of Light Patterns: One
  • Length: 25 feet

Best Draping: Frontgate Shimmering Meteor Light Strand

Frontgate Shimmering Meteor Light Strand

Courtesy of Frontgate

Why You Should Get It: 

  • These lights have twinkling strands of varying lengths. 
  • The set comes with three different strands to hang in your yard or inside your home. 

Keep in Mind: 

  • They’re not waterproof.

Transform your backyard into a twinkling oasis with the Frontgate Shimmering Meteor Light Strands. A total of 424 small LED lights, arranged in five vertical strands of varying lengths, make up this set of outdoor lights, and they’re designed to be hung from tree branches, pergolas, and other overhead fixtures.

The entire set comes with two 2-foot strands, two 3-foot strands, and one 4-foot strand per string for a layered look in your yard. 

A “random slow twinkle” pattern adds an air of fantasy to the arrangement as they shine in the background. They aren’t waterproof certified, so we don’t recommend leaving them out in the pouring rain. But the polyvinyl and copper construction should be relatively durable against humidity and normal wear and tear.

Price at time of publish: $210

Product Details:

  • Battery Lifespan: Corded
  • Number of Patterns: One
  • Length: 7.5 feet

The Bottom Line

Our choice for the best overall outdoor string lights are the Addlon LED Outdoor String Lights because they are UL-listed, making them durable against rain and moisture. We also like that you can combine them with up to 30 other strands to illuminate your whole outdoor space.

What to Know About Outdoor String Lights Before Shopping

Power Source 

The best outdoor string lights are often solar powered or run by electricity, but choosing between these two options can be important since it will impact where and when you can use your lights. While solar lights are convenient since they don’t require a power outlet or an extension cord to operate, they don’t always come on when you need them to. 

“If you’re looking to have your string lights up for a long period of time, I would not recommend solar lights,” Fallon says. “They aren't as reliable and may dim if it's a cloudy day or a long event. [However], solar is great for camping or if there is really no access to electricity.”

Plug-in outdoor string lights are great for use on patios and in backyards since you can plug them into an outlet and enjoy the warm glow whenever you want. You’ll just need to remember to unplug them at the end of the night. You’ll also be more restricted about where you can use them since they have to be within reach of a power source. 

Number of Light Patterns

The best outdoor string lights are great for parties, so you’ll likely want them to look and feel festive. Most string lights only have their single stable glow, but colored lights often have multiple settings that allow them to flash or twinkle. White lights may also be dimmable to fine-tune your ambiance level. 

Color

When shopping for the best outdoor string lights, you’ll also want to consider the color and style of bulb you select. This can impact the appearance of your outdoor space both during the daytime and at night.

“The shape of the bulb and the color temperature … will have big impacts on the overall aesthetic [of your yard] in the end,” says Susanne Fox, founder of Susanne Fox Design. “Do you want a globe shape, Edison bulb shape, or something else? Will your lights be a bright cool white or soft yellow? For example, 3,000K color temperature is a nice, classic, warm white.”

Length

You need to know how much space your lights are going to cover. You want a length that’s sufficient to light your space but not so long that you have extra cable hanging about waiting to be tripped over. Our list of the best outdoor string lights includes options up to 98 feet in length, so you’ll have plenty of light to work with.

Durability

Purchasing durable string lights over a cheap, flimsy set will help ensure that they last you through multiple seasons without shattering or becoming damaged by moisture. 

“The most important factor is the quality of the cable,” Dedrick says. “A thin and flimsy cable is a sign the lights are cheap and will not last. The next thing to consider is whether or not the bulbs can be replaced. If available, you may want to consider LED lights that will last longer and use less energy.”

Your Questions, Answered

How do you hang string lights?

When hanging outdoor string lights in your yard, you’ll need a few additional tools to properly secure the lights into place. Plan to have at least a step ladder, some screws, a screwdriver, and an extension cord on hand. 

“Depending on what you are planning to use as your anchor points for the string lights, you may need special hardware to secure the lights,” Fox says. “There are lots of string light hanging kits out there with a variety of hardware types for this issue. If you do not have an existing tree, tall fence or wall to mount the lights to, consider purchasing string light poles, which come with a clip intended for holding string lights.”

How long should you keep string lights on?

The amount of time you should keep your string lights on depends on the type of lights that you have, says Linda Haase, an NCIDQ-certified interior designer and advisory board member at The Project Girl. “If your string lights are LED, they can be left on for as long as 10 hours per day,” Haase says. “If your string lights are incandescent, they should be kept on for no more than two hours at a time.” 

This is because incandescent bulbs become hotter than an LED bulb, creating a potential fire hazard if left on indefinitely. In terms of broader lifespan, the temperature at which you store your lights and number of hours of use per day can also have an impact on how long the lightbulb lasts, according to Haase. Storing your string lights at warmer temperatures and longer hours of use will both shorten your lights’ lifespan. 

“It's a good idea to invest in an outdoor electric timer so that your lights will automatically come on at night and go off during the day,” Dedrick says. “If you go with solar-powered lights, they will come on and off automatically based on how much energy they can store.”

How long should your string lights be?

In order to answer this question, you need to know where the lights are going and how you’re planning to arrange them. 

“Will your lights follow the perimeter of your outdoor area, will they zig-zag over the area, or will you create a starburst pattern with them?” Fox says. “Once you determine how you'd like them to be laid out, then you can measure the length you need.”

We also recommend buying about 20 to 30% more length than you think you’ll actually need, allowing for a little extra give in the string when you go to hang them.

How can you hide the string light cord?

Hiding your outdoor string lights’ power cord can be a challenge, but according to Dedrick, the easiest way to conceal it is to hang the lights as close to the outlet as possible. 

“This is the most difficult part,” says Dedrick. “It really depends on where the outlet is. The best way to hide the cable is to have an electrician install an outlet as close to where the lights will be as possible. The next best thing is to bury it where possible. And use green cords that are labeled for outdoor use if you need to run power on the ground.”

Who We Are

Rena Behar has been investigating the best products for nearly everything as a writer for Better Homes & Gardens and other brands since 2014. To write this story, she researched important features to consider when shopping for the best outdoor string lights and interviewed multiple design experts for their expertise on this subject. 

She spoke with Douglas Dedrick, landscaper and founder of Natural Landscape Designs; Sierra Fallon, lead designer at Rumor Designs; luxury interior designer Susanne Fox of Susanne Fox Design; and Linda Haase, an NCIDQ-certified interior designer and advisory board member at The Project Girl.

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