The 9 Best Outdoor String Lights For Your Backyard, Porch, Or Patio

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by Shayna Murphy and BDG Commerce
Originally Published: 
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Craving some extra illumination, especially in your home's most serene areas like on your porch or garden? If so, you'll want to pick up some of the best outdoor string lights, which will add some magic to any backyard (or any outdoor space — you could even use the string lights while camping!). There are tons of different types of outdoor lights to choose from, but the best ones are durable, weather resistant, and meet your specific needs when it comes to brightness, the power source they use, and their general aesthetic. You’ll also want to consider how long you’d like your string lights to be before you make a purchase.

To choose lights with the brightness you need, consider the lumens listed. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the lights — 1 to 30 lumens is ideal for mood lighting, while higher numbers will get you more illumination (as will bigger bulbs). If you plan to set your lights up near an outlet or don’t get much sunlight in your yard, plug-in string lights are your best bet, but solar-powered outdoor lights are a great choice for sunny areas that aren’t outlet-adjacent. Lights that run on batteries can be placed just about anywhere, regardless of outlet location or sunshine. In terms of style, your options range from fairy lights, to string lights with larger bulbs, to beautifully atmospheric lanterns, so pick the type of light that works best for your space. Finally, price range is always a consideration; if you’re on a budget, many cheap string lights are actually really good.

If you're shopping for outdoor string lights and want an inside look at some of the most well-reviewed options on the market, this round-up dives into nine of the most popular lighting options you can find on Amazon, and get this: they're all just a click away — no annoying Home Depot trips required. Plus, buying on Amazon gives you the opportunity to hear what real people are actually saying in user reviews, because knowing what other shoppers think is always a bright idea before you buy.


Best For Most Spaces: These Elegant Black String Lights

Looking for the best bang for your buck when it comes to outdoor lights? While this set of string lights from Brightown might seem pricier than some models, hundreds of reviewers on Amazon say they're really worth the investment. Among the big perks that come with these cute, classic string lights? They're durable and sturdy AF, made from an 18 AWG black cable, and hold up in pretty much every kind of weather. The cable itself is 25 feet long (though the lights also come in 50- and 100-foot lengths), so you'll have more than enough string to cover most outdoor areas. The bulbs themselves, of which there are 25 plus two extras for easy replacement, have 23 lumens to emit a warm glow that'll softly illuminate dark evenings.

According to fans: “The lights are beautiful, warm and bright without being garish. They put off the most beautiful golden glow. [...] Our set came with a few spare bulbs, which we appreciate. I’m really happy with our purchase and would definitely recommend these beautiful lights. They add a lovely ambiance to an evening outdoor space.”


Best Solar Option: These Edison-Style Bulbs That'll Give Your Space A Vintage Feel

Turn your backyard into the kind of retreat you can go to recharge with these incredibly resilient solar-powered string lights. "Well made and they have a nice warm glow. Brighter light output than other solar lights I have had," described one reviewer of the lights, which come with a 27-foot cord and keep spaces illuminated for up to six hours at a time. Designed to last for up to 20,000 hours over the course of their lifetime, these are totally weather-resistant (they’re IP44 waterproof), and the best part is, you don't need an outlet or an extension cord to run them since they charge through exposure to direct sunlight (for 6 hours at a time). Choose from soft or warm white light.

The brand doesn’t specify the brightness of these bulbs in lumens, but one Amazon user wrote, “I have not found a lumen rating on any literature, but feel the lights put off about the same light as a plug in night light.”

According to fans: “These lights work very well! We have them in a tree in our front yard and they have a lovely soft yellow glow that's just bright enough to light up the tree and cast a light below it. They stay on all night even on days when there was not a ton of sunlight. They seem to be holding up in the weather even though some of the the bulbs have water in them after it rains. The filament is not submerged and appears to be staying dry so I think they are unaffected by it. One year later Im buying a second string for my backyard.”


Best Fairy Lights: These Battery-Operated Bulbs That'll Give Your Space A Magical Twinkle

One of the great things about string lights, especially when you use them outdoors, is that they can make a space feel literally enchanted. When it comes to casting a magical glow, these string fairy lights will give you the lighting effect dreams are made of. Made from 20 feet of moldable copper wire with 60 glowing LED lights, they come with a battery box that uses three AA batteries. Essentially, whatever way you want to run these lights, you can. While the copper isn't as heavy-duty as other most other string light materials, it's aesthetically eye-catching and bendy enough so you can customize the look. They also come with eight lighting and flashing modes and are totally waterproof with a rating of IP67.

Choose from strands with four different colors of light: warm white, white, orange, and multicolor. The number of lumens isn’t listed, but fairy lights are typically more for ambiance than illumination.

According to fans: "Have had one string of lights up for 2 weeks and I am very pleased with them. The wire is a copper color is flexible enough to help attach to greenery. The color is a warm white, not too bright but not yellow or golden. The remote control is a real convenience.”


Best For Color-Lovers: These Vibrant Lights That'll Make Every Night More Fun

Add a pop of color to your house or garden with these eye-catching LED lights, which shine in hues of red, green, blue, and yellow. These are advertised as indoor lights that are meant for decorating — but according to the brand, they are IP65 waterproof any many reviewers have used them outside. "Easy to setup," one person wrote. Used them as outside decorations." They come with 120 small bulbs that are spaced out on a silver wire. They also come with a 12-month warranty.

If you love the lights but not the color, these also come in a warm white. The number of lumens isn’t listed, but fairy lights are typically primarily for ambiance.

According to fans: "The string of lights was bright and colorful had quite a number of LED lights on it. It is waterproof we are using it outside and once deployed was easy enough to hang up!”


Best Lanterns: These Cute Mini Lantern Lights For When You're Craving Extra Ambiance

Lanterns are great for most types of decor and especially BBQs and parties, and this 10-foot long strand of mini lanterns is perfect because not only is it great for indoor and outdoor use, but reviewers say they really last, too. The water-resistant lanterns each come with one bulb, which emits incandescent light, and you can connect up to 25 strands. The downsides? According to reviewers, the 10-foot long cord doesn't cover a ton of space, so these are better off being used as an accent in a space where there's an outlet close by. They also don't come with an automatic timer, but if you only plan to turn these lights on sporadically, it's never going to be an issue.

Choose from a few different varieties, including white, multicolored, and mini jack-o’-lanterns. These are incandescent bulbs, so their brightness is given in watts. The lights give off 8.4 watts, which is more for ambiance than truly illuminating the whole space.

According to fans: "We used these lights on our deck and the lights look beautiful out there. It really brightens up and give a nice feeling while sitting out there.”


Some Gorgeous Curtain-Style String Lights

These curtain-style string lights will make any old space look cozy and magical. They come with 300 warm LED lights and eight mode settings (including twinkle/flash, slow fade, and steady on), so you can switch things up, depending on your mood. Since these work with a standard outlet, you can use them all over: in a garden, over windows or doors, and so much more. But since the power and controller aren't waterproof (though the rest of the lights have a waterproof rating of IP44), you may want to limit their use to supervised sessions. Another downside that reviewers note is that these lovely light tendrils get tangled easily, so be careful while you're unpacking them. But don't let that deter you — they have a near-perfect 4.7-star rating with over 71,000 reviews. Choose from elegant warm white light or multicolored light. No brightness is given, but these will be mostly for decorative ambiance.

According to fans: "I first used this curtain of lights indoors for the holidays. I put them away once the holidays were over. In June, I decided to use them on the rear wall of my garden to make my daughter's birthday more festive since we could not have friends over due to the Pandemic. The garden looked so beautiful that I have kept them out all summer and Fall. I am now purchasing a second curtain for the front of the house. This is an amazing product. I purchased a remote control devise that allows me to turn the lights on at dusk and off at dawn from my kitchen window.”


A Set Of String Lights With Fun Bonus Features

These versatile string lights have faceted, shatterproof plastic bulbs that switch between 10 colors using a remote control or app. You can also adjust brightness, display modes, and run time according to your needs. It even syncs with music for a dynamic light show—perfect for entertaining. The 5-lumen lights are 49 feet long, have 25 bulbs, and operate using a standard plug. They also have a rating of IP66, which means they can withstand rain, wind, and snow. With a lifespan of more than 25,000 hours, they last up to 20 times longer than standard tungsten glass bulbs. Buy them in packs of one or two.

According to fans: “These lights are perfect for my patio. Remote is awesome. Anyone who sees them compliments all the color changing.”


These Outdoor String Lights With Unique Bulbs

These solar-powered LED string lights have durable plastic bulbs with a unique finish that resembles hand-blown glass. The warm white light that’s emitted can be displayed in eight modes: waves, combination, sequential, gradual, chasing flash, slow fade, twinkle flash, and steady on. The lights are 35.6 feet long, have 60 5-lumen bulbs, and run for up to 10 hours on an eight-hour charge. The solar panel is made of monocrystalline, which is more effective at converting energy than polycrystalline panels used on other brands of solar lights. Rated IP65, they are waterproof and suitable for outdoor use. They come in a bunch of different colors.

According to fans: “I absolutely love these little solar powered lights so much that I bought more! They are great for summer parties and my friends adore them. They light up the area with this soft glow that is super romantic when we have our outdoor dates.”


The Longest LED String Lights

Holidays are not the only occasion for using these ultra-long LED bead lights. With 500 bulbs and a total length of 175 feet, they can light up an entire patio or backyard. The lights include a UL plug-in transformer and have a low output of 30 Volts to protect against shock. Choose between eight display modes — waves, combination, sequential, gradual, chasing flash, slow fade, twinkle flash, and steady on — and enjoy an estimated lifespan of 50,000 hours. They’re rated IP44, which means they can be used outdoors but in covered spaces like gazebos and porches. The brand doesn’t provide a brightness rating, but this type of string light should primarily offer ambiance. It comes in a handful of colors, in strands with 100, 200, or 500 LEDs.

According to fans: “Very pretty lights! They're going on our back porch for lighting...its not too bright, but bright enough so we can see!”


Also Great: A Portable Lantern That Changes Colors

This tabletop LED lantern emits 250 lumens of light, equivalent to a conventional 25-Watt lightbulb. Users can choose between warm and cool white light as well as multiple color options. Dimmer, candle flicker, and color cycling modes are also available. The lamp features ChromaReal technology, releasing a full-spectrum light and illuminating objects in a way that makes colors pop. The light runs for up to five hours on high and 200 hours on low using a rechargeable battery. It even doubles a USB charging bank, saving you a trip to the nearest outlet when your phone runs out of juice. The lantern is also available in a brighter 500-lumen version if 250 isn’t enough light for you.

According to fans: “I love this little light! They thought of everything with this one. Not that I use all the colored and strobe features but it’s kind of cool to have. Who knows when an impromptu rave just might happen? The dimming features and the shake to change modes works great. With all the random power outages in California it’s nice to have this little guy.”

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