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The Best Outdoor String Lights And How To Use Them

A super-easy way to make your patio, backyard or any outdoor area look beautiful and magical at night is by hanging string lights. There are lots of ways to do it and lots of different types of outdoor string lights to choose from. We’re going to have a look at a few projects and a bunch of different products right now. Pick your favorite ideas, adapt them or improve them, and get ready to transform the great outdoors.

The quick best outdoor string lights

Amazon's Choice
Outdoor String Lights with 15 Hanging Sockets
Outdoor String Lights with 15 Hanging Sockets

You can combine multiple strands to light up larger areas.

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E12 Socket Base
Globe Patio Lights with 26 Edison Glass Bulbs
Globe Patio Lights with 26 Edison Glass Bulbs

They're waterproof and can withstand extreme temperatures, rain and winds and they're also very flexible, practical and versatile.

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Amazon's Choice
50ft Black String Lights
50ft Black String Lights

Plus, if one bulb goes out, the rest stay lit, so you won't have to replace the whole light string

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Solar LED
Waterproof Solar LED Outdoor String Lights
Waterproof Solar LED Outdoor String Lights

Install by attaching with a clip (e.g. to pergola roof) or a stake in the ground.

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lifetime warranty
Lampat 25Ft G40 Globe String Lights
Lampat 25Ft G40 Globe String Lights

The bulbs can be replaced individually and if one gets damaged the others ones remain functional.

View Deal
Amazon's Choice
2 Pack Globe String Lights with 100+20 Clear G40 Bulbs
2 Pack Globe String Lights with 100+20 Clear G40 Bulbs

Thanks to its IP44 water-resistant capability, the patio string lights are perfect for outdoor and indoor use

View Deal
Waterproof
50 LED 24ft 8 Modes Waterproof String Lights
50 LED 24ft 8 Modes Waterproof String Lights

Another cool feature is the built-in light sensor which turns the light on automatically when it gets dark and keeps them turned off when it's daytime.

View Deal
bistro style
20 Edison Bulbs Vintage Bistro String Lights
20 Edison Bulbs Vintage Bistro String Lights

Each bulb functions independently and is easy to replace.

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led
Novtech LED Outdoor String Lights
Novtech LED Outdoor String Lights

They're not dimmable and you can't connect two or more strands together.

View Deal
warm light
50ft Solar Copper Wire Fairy String Light
50ft Solar Copper Wire Fairy String Light

You can choose between 8 different modes such as flickering lights, slow fade, quick flicker, slow glow and others.

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DIY ideas

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A cool way to display string lights outside is by placing them on poles. You can use them to surround a patio or a backyard seating area and create a really nice and pleasant ambiance. At the same time you’ll light up the space so it’s really a great combo. The poles can be inserted into the ground which would be a fixed and more permanent solution but if you prefer something pretties and more interesting you can make some boxes similar to planters. The idea comes from h2obungalow so check out all the details there if you’re interested.

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If you have a beautiful tree in your garden or your yard it could be nice to decorate it with some string lights. You can turn one of the branches into an actual light fixture and have a small table and some chairs placed underneath to fully take advantage of the ambiance. In addition to the string lights which you can simply wrap around the branches you can also add some hanging pendants. You can make these with some glass jars and solar lights. If you’re interested, there’s a tutorial on homestoriesatoz explaining the whole project.

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Decorating a covered deck or a patio with string lights is quite easy. You can wrap the lights around the poles if there are any and you can also hang them from the roof or the walls. The simplest strategies usually work best so examine your surroundings and come up with a plan. Check out zevyjoy if you’re in need of some inspiration. This beautiful patio could definitely spark some great ideas.

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Hanging some string lights outside can really change the look of a house. Take this small patio for example. It definitely seemed like something was missing. The string lights form a nice border around it, giving it more structure and making it seem more cozy and inviting. The lights are attached to poles which are inserted into a series of barrel-style planters. If you want to find out more details about this beautiful transformation you can check out blesserhouse.

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If you’re going for a more organic look and a sort of magical and bohemian decor, a cool idea is to use tree thinks or branches as posts for the string lights. You can secure each post to a sturdy concrete base and arrange them all in a circular pattern around a fire pit, leaving room for some seating and furniture.  This magnificent setup can be found on brooklynlimestone.

Related: How To Use String Lights To Create Fantastic Outdoor Setups

Common types of outdoor string lights

Depending on how you want to display the lights, where you want to place them and what you actually want to use them for, there are quite a few different types and styles to choose from. Each is special in its own distinct way. Here are some of the most common types of string lights designed for outdoor use:

Festoon lights

These are also referred to as café lights because they’re commonly used as accent lights and decorations in such spaces. They’re the traditional garland lights with big bulbs and they’re really versatile. They’re great for porches, patios, pergolas and you can connect several strands together to cover large areas.

Solar lanterns

These string lights are really cool because they’re solar powered. They can last between 15 and 20 hours and they have a very distinctive look. They look like miniature paper lanterns but they’re not actually made of paper but of a durable cloth-like material that is suitable for outdoor use and can withstand typical weather conditions throughout the year.

Edison bulb lights

If you want to add a retro or vintage touch to your outdoor areas, hanging these Edison bulb lights is a great option. They have a beautiful and timeless look and a nice antique vibe. They give off a warm glow and they’re pleasing to the eyes.

Colorful lights

Colorful string lights are very common during holidays and for special occasions such as Christmas or Halloween. They’re used to create eye-catching displays and they’re bright and colorful but you can also find some that are more subtle. They’re easy to install and can be used in all sorts of interesting ways.

Fairy lights

Fairy lights are used to create magical, fairytale-inspired decors both indoor and outdoor. They’re commonly draped on trees and used to cover branches and trunks and from a distance, they resemble a bunch of fireflies in the night. They also look beautiful on terraces, patios and gazebos.

Rope lights

These lights are very distinctive and consists of tiny bulbs enclosed in a PVC tube, hence the rope-like look. They’re flexible and versatile and can be wrapped around poles, trees, staircases, garden sculptures and so on.

Other decorative string light options

There’s a wide variety of other styles of string lights, some more popular and versatile than others. For example, there are many different types of string lights where the little bulbs have decorative covers in all sorts of different shapes like stars, flowers, cats, butterflies and so on. Others are designed to look like tiny jars hanging from rope.

Tips for choosing the perfect string lights

Apart from the actual design and style of the string lights, there’s a lot more to think about before rushing to buy them. With so many different options to choose from, it helps to have a set of features to look for. Here are a few tips that might help:

Pick string lights with the right type of bulbs. LED bulbs are very bright and they’re also very energy-efficient compared to other types, incandescent bulbs in particular. They’re great if you want to cover large areas because you can connect multiple strands together without exceeding the capacity. Incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, are better suited for more traditional decors and they give off a soft and warm light.

Pay attention to light bulb sizes. Light bulbs come in many different sizes and compatibility can be an issue, especially if you’re planning to buy replacement bulbs. You might end up finding out the bulbs don’t fit the socket if you’re not careful. Think about that when purchasing string lights as well, in the event that you might need replacements in the future. The more common the size is the easier it will be to find suitable replacement bulbs.

Choose a common type of brand. As much as you might like a particular set of string lights with uniquely-shaped bulbs or an unusual design, that might not actually be the best option. If you choose something very unusual and unique you might have a lot of trouble in the future in case you realize you’ll need additional strands or replacement bulbs.

Pick the right finish. Depending on the type of atmosphere you want to create and the style you’re going with, you have a choice between a few different finishes: transparent, satin and opaque. Transparent bulbs are very versatile and great for party decors. Vintage bulbs falls into this category and they’re gorgeous. A satin finish can look very elegant and sophisticated, particularly in modern settings. They’re also great for bohemian and romantic decors. Opaque or frosted bulbs give off soft and diffuse light and can look really fun, especially in combination with vivid colors

The best 10 outdoor string lights

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There are plenty of different styles to choose from when it comes to string lights. These ones follow a more classic style, featuring 15 clear 11-watt incandescent light bulbs on a 48-foot long strand. They’re waterproof and very durable which makes them an excellent choice for outdoor areas such as open decks, patios, backyards, and gardens. You can hang them on poles, from a tree or arrange them in a cluster and place them at the center of the space to create a sort of casual chandelier.

Amazon's Choice
Outdoor String Lights with 15 Hanging Sockets
Outdoor String Lights with 15 Hanging Sockets

You can combine multiple strands to light up larger areas.

View Deal

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These adorable string lights are also perfect for outdoor use. this is a 25 foot long strand with 26 glass bulbs in total. These are 1.5” light bulbs with E12/C7 sockets and they give off warm white light. Also, they’re dimmable which allows you to create the perfect ambiance for every occasion. you can connect up to 3 strands in case you need  to make a longer one. Also, you can also get these string lights in 50 ft and 100 ft long strands.

E12 Socket Base
Globe Patio Lights with 26 Edison Glass Bulbs
Globe Patio Lights with 26 Edison Glass Bulbs

They're waterproof and can withstand extreme temperatures, rain and winds and they're also very flexible, practical and versatile.

View Deal

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These string lights are quite similar to the ones we just mentioned. They come in 50 ft long strands, each with a set of 50 clear globe bulbs and 10 extra ones. Each bulb measures 1.5” and uses a E12 socket base and 5 watts of power. If any bulb gets damaged or goes out, you can easily replace it and the other ones will remain functional. They give off bright, warm white light. The bulbs are spaced 12” apart and you can link 2 strands for a total of 100 ft in order to cover larger areas.

Amazon's Choice
50ft Black String Lights
50ft Black String Lights

Plus, if one bulb goes out, the rest stay lit, so you won't have to replace the whole light string

View Deal

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If you want to light up an area at the back of your garden or if you simply don’t want to worry about any cables and outlets, we suggest solar-powered string lights. These are are a great option. You can install the solar panel on the roof using a clip or you can insert it into the ground. The string lights give out warm white light which it bright enough to light up a patio or a backyard area but are also soft and subtle. They take 6 hours to fully charge and last for 5 hours. They’re waterproof and can withstand rain and winds of up to 50 mph which makes them really versatile and suitable for a variety of different climates.

Solar LED
Waterproof Solar LED Outdoor String Lights
Waterproof Solar LED Outdoor String Lights

Install by attaching with a clip (e.g. to pergola roof) or a stake in the ground.

View Deal

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If you want to light up a small outdoor area or to only add some accent lighting to a porch, a gazebo or a patio, this 25 ft long strand might be enough. It has 25 clear G40 bulbs with a E12 socket base. The bulbs are spaced 12” apart and each strand has end-to-end connections which allows you to attach up to 3 in order to cover a larger area if needed.

lifetime warranty
Lampat 25Ft G40 Globe String Lights
Lampat 25Ft G40 Globe String Lights

The bulbs can be replaced individually and if one gets damaged the others ones remain functional.

View Deal

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These string lights are great for large areas. They have 100 G40 tungsten glass bulbs with a E12 socket and you can connect two strands together if needed. They’re IP44 water-resistant, highly durable and capable to withstand lots of wear and tear and to last for years to come. You also get 20 spare light bulbs. They give off a warm white glow and each bulb works independently which means you can replace or remove each as needed. They’re great for backyards, patios, decks, pergolas, gazebos or terraces and they can also be displayed indoors.

Amazon's Choice
2 Pack Globe String Lights with 100+20 Clear G40 Bulbs
2 Pack Globe String Lights with 100+20 Clear G40 Bulbs

Thanks to its IP44 water-resistant capability, the patio string lights are perfect for outdoor and indoor use

View Deal

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Solar-powered string lights are very convenient and give you lots of freedom to hang them wherever you want outside. These ones need between 6 to 8 hours to fully charge and provide between 8 and 14 hours of light at night. You can choose between 8 different modes to create the perfect ambiance for every space and occasion. These lights are IP65 water-resistant and can withstand rain, wind and damp climates. They’re very easy to install and all you need to do is made sure the solar panel is facing the sun and is secure.

Waterproof
50 LED 24ft 8 Modes Waterproof String Lights
50 LED 24ft 8 Modes Waterproof String Lights

Another cool feature is the built-in light sensor which turns the light on automatically when it gets dark and keeps them turned off when it's daytime.

View Deal

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If you prefer a more vintage decor, check out these beautiful outdoor string lights with Edison light bulbs. They come in 20 ft long strands and you can connect up to 5 in order to cover large areas. Each strand had 20 bulbs and a E17 socket base. They’re waterproof , flexible, versatile and able to withstand typical outdoor weather conditions.

bistro style
20 Edison Bulbs Vintage Bistro String Lights
20 Edison Bulbs Vintage Bistro String Lights

Each bulb functions independently and is easy to replace.

View Deal

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These decorative string lights are perfect for creating a vintage bistro-inspired setting right in your own backyard. They’re IP65 commercial grade waterproof which makes them suitable for outdoor areas such as patios, porches, terraces and more and they can withstand all year round usage. These ones come in 35.5 ft long strands each with 30 3.3W LED bulbs.

led
Novtech LED Outdoor String Lights
Novtech LED Outdoor String Lights

They're not dimmable and you can't connect two or more strands together.

View Deal

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Fairy lights are quite special and can be used in lots of creative ways. You can place them inside jars to create lanterns or you can use them to decorate various items and spaces. These ones are solar-powered which makes them excellent for outdoor use. They turn on at night automatically and can provide light for up to 8 hours straight. They’re waterproof and very flexible, allowing you to twist and mold them into a variety of shapes.

warm light
50ft Solar Copper Wire Fairy String Light
50ft Solar Copper Wire Fairy String Light

You can choose between 8 different modes such as flickering lights, slow fade, quick flicker, slow glow and others.

View Deal