Best outdoor string lights: 5 top buys for brightening up your patio

The best outdoor string lights for Christmas, garden parties, and more

Outdoor string lights from Walmart
(Image credit: Wamart)

Outdoor string lights are easily the simplest way to make your outdoor area more appealing in the evening. Hang them over your porch, wrap them around a tree, or decorate you whole house with them come Christmas time – the possibilities are endless, as are string light designs. We've chosen our top picks based on their visual attractiveness, ease of use, and any nice extra features such as linkable strings and smartphone control. 

Want some festive ideas for indoor lighting? Check out our Christmas fairy lights ideas.

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Lumabase 30 LED Bulb Solar Ball String Lights

(Image credit: Walmart)
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Lumabase 30 LED Bulb Solar Ball String Lights

(Image credit: Walmart)

1. Sterno Home 25-Ft Connectable Clear Globe Outdoor String Lights

Best string lights for any patio: classic shape, and they're linkable

Specifications
Type: LED G40 globe bulbs
Length: 25 ft
Power: 26 bulbs at 4w each
Reasons to buy
+Bright, warm glow+can be linked together to form a string of up to 100 lights+Will suit any outdoor area
Reasons to avoid
-Packaging could be nicer for gifting

These globe-shaped lights will suit literally any patio, porch, or any other outdoor area you'd like cheering up in the evenings. The classic round shape will look equally nice in a contemporary or traditional-style garden, and the bulbs produce a bright, warm glow – plenty of light on even a very dark evening. What we really like about these is the opportunity to link up four strings together to form a string of 100 lights. The packaging they come in is a bit plain, so if you're buying as a gift, you'll need wrapping paper. 

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48 FT ADDLON Outdoor String Lights

(Image credit: Amazon)
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48 FT ADDLON Outdoor String Lights

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. 48 FT ADDLON Outdoor String Lights

Best weatherproof string lights: these will keep your garden bright no matter the warther

Specifications
Type: Incandescent
Length: 46ft
Power: 15 bulbs at 11w each
Reasons to buy
+Fully insulated and weatherproof+Pretty vintage style Edison bulbs
Reasons to avoid
-Not LED

These traditional style, Edison bulb string lights produce the most beautiful amber glow – perfect for creating a more atmospheric outdoor lighting style. Despite looking retro, these benefit from high-grade insulation that make them resistant to rain, wind, snow, hot sun, and just about anything the weather may throw at you. You can also buy a dimmer switch for these to experiment with different brightness levels. We do wish these were LED, but for incandescent bulbs, these are relatively low energy. 

Koopower 36ft 100 LED Battery Operated String Lights

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Koopower 36ft 100 LED Battery Operated String Lights

Best outdoor fairy string lights: create a fairytale glow in your outdoor area

Specifications
Type: LED fairy lights
Length: 11m
Power: 2xAA battery powered
Reasons to buy
+Pretty and easy to use+Clear string+Battery operated
Reasons to avoid
-Battery pack is a bit clumsy 

If it's fairy lights you're after, you can't go wrong with these pretty LEDs; they're mounted onto a clear string, which makes them blend in with whatever you'll be mounting them onto. They come with a battery pack that has a timer function and multiple light frequencies for you to have fun with. The battery pack itself is a bit clunky, but can easily be hidden behind a plant pot. 

Twinkly 56 LED String Lights

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. Twinkly 56 LED String Lights

Best smart outdoor string lights: discover the fabulous light display options of these app-controlled lights

Specifications
Type: LED
Length: 60"
Power: Mains
Reasons to buy
+Create endless beautiful effects+Controlled from your phone
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

If you want to take your festive lighting to the next level, look no further than Twinkly. The revolutionary string lights have bluetooth connectivity and can be controlled from an app on your smartphone, creating endless possibilities for multi-colored lighting display. These aren't cheap, but the effects are so pretty that they are worth it. Also, bear in mind that not all Twinkly lights are suitable for outdoors. 

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Lumabase 30 LED Bulb Solar Ball String Lights

(Image credit: Bed, bath & Beyond)
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Lumabase 30 LED Bulb Solar Ball String Lights

(Image credit: Bed, bath & Beyond)

5. Lumabase 30 LED Bulb Solar Ball String Lights

Best string lights for year-round use

Specifications
Type: LED
Length: 195"
Power: 30w, solar
Reasons to buy
+Pretty faceted light bulbs+Multi-color+Low energy
Reasons to avoid
-A bit small 

These bright and colorful lights can be used at any time of year and in any outdoor setting – wrap them around your Christmas tree in winter, or use them to accent beautiful foliage in summer. The faceted, crystal-glass effect bulbs are very nice, and they're solar powered, which means they won't cost you anything to operate. They are a bit small, though, so you may need to get more than one string. 

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

In 2018 Anna moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space and joined Realhomes.com as Staff Writer. She has a longterm interest in space-making and the evolution of interior style. She can also be found looking for the latest innovations in sustainable homewares or buying yet more bedding.

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