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It may be only the beginning of 2023, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about your backyard plans for the year. Whether you’re starting fresh or building on, one of the most important elements to add is lighting. One popular way to do this is by hanging string lights. This is because their soft glow helps create an inviting atmosphere. They’re also useful for covering large areas. For example, many people install them between trees or outdoor structures. Below, we’ll talk about which features the best outdoor string lights have and the different varieties.  

Choosing the Best Outdoor String Lights

With all the products available, it’s important to know what to look for. First, you want to see how weather-resistant the materials are. For example, most string lights rated for outdoor use will have IP44 or (preferably) IP65 listed in the description. A higher number means better protection. A second factor is whether the bulbs are LED or incandescent (which we’ll go into more detail about below). Third is price and finding the best value for your money. Finally, you’ll want to consider your personal preferences. For example, would a warmer or cooler color temperature look best for your backyard? Do you prefer globe shaped bulbs or pendant shaped? Keep reading to learn more and discover our favorite picks for each. 


If you search for the best outdoor string lights online, you’ll often see two different types appear; LED and incandescent. This refers to the type of bulb that they use. LEDs tend to cost more upfront, but they have benefits that can make them a more worthwhile choice over time. For example, in a previous post, I compared each using two specific products. In the comparison, the LED bulbs had a lifespan of at least 15,000 hours compared to only 2,000 for the incandescent. They also differ greatly when it comes to energy usage. The LED used only 0.6 Watts of power versus 11 for the incandescent. Though incandescent bulbs aren’t as popular as they used to be, some people still opt for them. This is partly because LEDs are associated with harsh, bright lighting. But, in truth, LEDs come in several different temperatures. This includes the most common warm hue, 2700 Kelvin.

Best LED Outdoor String Lights


Lightdot LED String Lights

At $29.99 for 48ft, these pendant-shaped string lights by Lightdot are $0.62 per foot. They’re rated as IP65 and have plastic bulbs (making them unlikely to shatter or break if dropped). They’re also 2700K and dimmable.  


Lightdot Globe String Lights

Lightdot also offers a great option for the best outdoor string lights with round bulbs, if you prefer those. At $39.99 for 100ft ($0.40 per foot), they are one of the best value options. Similar to the pendant lights, they are IP65, 2700K, and have dimmable, plastic bulbs. 


In some cases, incandescent bulbs are cheaper than LEDs. Some people also believe they emit warmer light. 

Best LED Outdoor String Lights


Mlambert Bistro String Lights

If you prefer incandescent, the Mlambert Bistro lights are some of the best outdoor string lights to buy. At the time of this article, this set costs $49.99 for 96ft ($0.52 per foot). They’re IP65 weatherproof but use dimmable, glass bulbs. Their color temperature is 2200K (which is more of an amber color).  

SUNTHIN Outdoor String Lights

If you want 2700K, these lights are also IP65 and have dimmable glass bulbs. But they’re slightly more expensive ($56.99 for 48 ft or $0.59/ft).  


Brightown Globe String Lights

At $0.48/ft ($23.79 for 50ft), these lights are the cheapest option for incandescent. Like the pendant-shaped lights, these have dimmable, glass bulbs and emit a similar color. But they are only IP44 weatherproof.

Solar Powered

So far, we’ve only mentioned traditional string lights. But another option for the best outdoor string lights is solar-powered, which comes in both incandescent and LED. This could be a good solution if you don’t have access to an exterior outlet. Or if you don’t want to add another charge to your electric bill.  In this case, you’ll need to have an area to install the rechargeable panel where it can receive full sun. It’s important to note that while you won’t pay extra for electricity, there may be other costs. For example, you may need to replace the battery in the solar panel or even the whole panel itself at some point. Depending on the weather in your location, the output of light might not be consistent either. 

Best Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights


KYY Solar String Lights 

These lights are IP65 and come with 2700K, plastic bulbs. They require 4 hours of direct sun for a full charge and can last at least 30 hours. They also come with a USB port to charge electrically, if needed. At the time of this article, they cost around a dollar per foot ($49.99 for 54ft).   


Minetom Solar Lights 

These lights are IP44, 2700K, and use plastic bulbs. They require a longer charge time (8 hours), but they’re also currently less expensive ($34.99 for 29 ft, or $0.83/ft).  

Dimmable Outdoor String Lights

Another feature to consider is dimmable outdoor string lights. These allow you to create a range of outputs without buying multiple sets of lights. Many options also allow you to change modes (blinking, for example) using either a remote or an app on your phone. While some of the options already listed are dimmable, you have to buy the dimmer separately. 

Best Dimmable Outdoor String Lights


Mlambert 3 Color Dimmable String Lights

Using the remote included with these lights, you can change the color temperature from 2700K, 4000K, and 5000K. They’re currently $39.99 for 48 ft ($0.83/ft).  


XMCOSY+ Smart Outdoor String Lights 

These lights are controlled using an app on your phone or through voice commands using an Alexa device (if you already have one). They’re rated IP65, have plastic bulbs, and emit 2700K light. If you buy the 50ft option, they’re $0.80/ft.   

Color Changing Outdoor String Lights

You can also buy lights that change colors, such as green and red. These make a great option if you plan to leave them up year-round and use them for different holidays or events.

Best Color Changing Outdoor String Lights


Aveva Color Changing Lights 

In addition to being IP65 weatherproof and having plastic LED bulbs, these lights come with a variety of options. For example, the remote (included) has 8 different modes, a dimmable control, and several colors. It also has a music-syncing option. They’re $34.99 for 24ft or $1.46/ft.   


OMIKA Color Changing String Lights 

If you want something more basic and less expensive, these string lights are $1.20/ft ($17.99 for 15ft). Like the Aveva lights, they’re IP65, have plastic bulbs, and come with a remote. Although there aren’t as many custom options, they still offer 7 different modes and 16 different colors. 


With the number of options available, it can be difficult to choose which are the best outdoor string lights. Some criteria you can use to narrow your search include the weatherproof rating (opting for IP44 or above) and whether the bulbs are plastic or glass (more fragile). There are also two different types of bulbs to consider (LED and incandescent) and a few personal preferences. For example, the shape of the bulb (pendant or globe), the power source (electrical or solar), the color, and whether dimmable or color-changing lights might suit your needs best. Whichever your preference, we have linked some of the best options for each.   

Which string lights are your favorite? Leave us a comment below and share this article. 

Want to learn about other outdoor lighting ideas? Check out these 7 pergola lighting inspirations.


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