Reviews You Can Rely On

The 4 Best Outdoor String Lights

We tested a variety of outdoor string lights to find the best and brightest for your space
Best Outdoor String Lights
Credit: Eric Bissell

Our Top Picks

By Eric Bissell ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 10, 2022

Looking to add pleasant lighting to your outdoor space? We researched over 40 sets of outdoor string lights before purchasing nine of the best to test head-to-head. We compared quality of light, assessed features and ease of installation, and tested durability. If you've ever stayed late at an outdoor beer garden or enjoyed a café meal at dusk, there's a good chance string lights provided the soft overhead ambiance. They can spruce up your space on the cheap, offering an excellent value as a design accessory, and we've included a variety of models for different applications.

If you're looking to transform your outdoor space, you've come to the right place. Our broad-ranging reviews cover everything from our favorite patio umbrellas and lawn chairs to the best charcoal grills and outdoor solar lights so you can hang out day or night.


Best Overall String Lights

Solatec LED

Length: 48 feet | Number of Bulbs: 15
Large Edison bulb
Shatterproof plastic bulb
Low energy LED
Durable cord is heavy
Bulbs not preinstalled

The Solatec LED represents the best of modern outdoor design and construction. A tasteful Edison bulb encases a double filament 2W LED. The LED is a brighter white than an incandescent bulb, but not the glaring white of early generation LEDs. The cable is durable and weather resistant and will perform well in difficult outdoor settings. Each bulb screws into a flexible rubber skirt that seals around the bulb, blocking out inclement weather. We liked the design of the hanging "T" junction for each bulb, as it made installation a breeze and allowed the main cable and each light to have a little visual separation.

Our only real criticism of the Solatec is that the commercial-grade construction may be overkill for some people's desired use. However, we appreciated this added durability and the fact that they could be set up once and never taken down. We also liked the weatherproof consideration given to the male and female plug ends. The female end featured a cover that could close off the socket from outside moisture. The male plug was designed to create a weatherproof seal when stringing multiple strands together. Our set only arrived with one spare bulb, but since the bulbs themselves are made of durable plastic, we expect the extra to sit on the shelf for a long time before being put to use.

best overall string lights
An excellent bright yet low energy LED string light with weatherproof considerations.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Best Bang for the Buck

Brightown Outdoor G40

Length: 25 feet | Number of Bulbs: 25
Delicate globe-style bulb
Warm incandescent glow
Glass bulbs are fragile
Incandescent has a shorter lifespan than LED

The Brightown Outdoor G40 is the quintessential set of globe-style outdoor string lights. The tight, one-foot spacing of the bulbs (25 in 25 feet), warm and cozy incandescent light, and easy hanging clips make this the tried-and-true outdoor lighting staple. Although not as long as some of the other strings we tested, the bulb spacing makes this a very satisfying installation. Each bulb is soft and has low enough power that you can look directly at them without a blinding effect. In our light meter test, these were some of the dimmest lights, which can be a plus or a minus depending on your intended application. Overhead in a pergola, they create a curtain of warm light that permeates the space. The hanging clips make gutter installation a breeze. Be gentle with their glass bulbs and try not to handle them too much once they've warmed up, as the incandescent filaments become more fragile when hot.

Little innovation has been applied to the Brightown, but that doesn't negate the fact that these string lights are a great value. Many people want the low, warm glow of the incandescent and the familiar diffraction of the glass bulb, which these lights offer for a low price. Although the Styrofoam egg crate and cardboard packaging kept every bulb safe in transit, our package did come with two replacement bulbs. The glass bulbs are very delicate, and while we never broke any during testing, we know others haven't been as lucky in their installations. One of the main considerations with this model is whether you will need more than 75 feet of overall length. Brightown recommends only connecting up to three strands in a chain to avoid overloading the wiring.

string lights - best bang for the buck
The quintessential patio light at an affordable price with warm incandescent bulbs.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Best Incandescent Edison Style

Lemontec Commercial Grade Lights

Length: 48 feet | Number of Bulbs: 15
Heavy-duty wiring
Warm incandescent, Edison style
Wide bulb spacing not ideal for some spaces
Glass bulbs can break

The Lemontec Commercial Grade Lights are a more substantial offering in the incandescent glass string light category. The Edison bulb is larger than its globe-style counterparts, and the heavy wiring between each bulb has much more of a permanent installation feel. The bulb-to-socket junction is sealed nicely, and the plug is weather-sealed like the Solatec. In fact, they seem to be almost identical cords. The lights were a nice middle range of brightness; they are less bright than their LED comparable and brighter than their globe incandescent neighbors. The cord is long enough to string across large spaces, but the spacing is a bit wider, too, with three feet of spacing between bulbs.

Overall, the Lemontec was extremely similar to our best choice, but in an incandescent offering. Generally, this means a warmer, softer light, with a little less durability and higher energy use. The second effect of the higher energy use per bulb is that the overall number of cords that can be strung together is reduced. The Lemontec recommends connecting no more than three strings simultaneously. Some glass bulbs we tested felt extremely fragile. These bulbs, although glass, were much more confidence-inspiring and never broke in our testing process. If the wide spacing seems beneficial for your installation needs, we think these are a nice upgrade over your everyday incandescent model.

string lights - best incandescent edison style
Durable string lights with hanging bulbs in incandescent Edison style.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Excellent WiFi Option

XMCOSY+ Patio Lights

Length: 98 feet | Number of Bulbs: 30
Long cord
WiFi controllable
Can't replace individual bulbs

The XMCOSY+ Patio Lights are a unique model with an integrated WiFi interface that allows you to dim and control the lights from your phone. The lights were quality LED bulbs on a thinner single-strand cord. We liked the "T" hanging style for each light and appreciated that the thinner cord made the whole assembly less bulky overall. The WiFi functionality requires you to download the XMCOSY app on your smartphone. Once downloaded, enter your WiFi network and password to connect the lights to the same WiFi as the phone, and then pair the lights. This process took about 15 minutes to complete and worked satisfactorily from then on. The app promises different "scenes", but ultimately, we used it for the dimmer and remote on/off function. There is also a "timer" function that could be used to turn the lights on/off according to the time of day.

XMCOSY provides a substantial length of lights in this package, and the built-in remote dimmer is a nice addition. We could see the lights working even better in a setting where voice activation is used broadly, such as Amazon's Alexa. Some folks will appreciate the thinner cordage, as it makes installation a little easier than the thick commercial cord of the Solatec or Lemontec, but it also makes us wonder if the XMCOSY will be as durable. One big concern is that individual bulbs are not replaceable — the LED is built into the socket, and only its plastic surrounding bulb is removable. For the tech-savvy, the XMCOSY+ Patio Lights will be a cool and clean addition to a variable lighting system and smart home living.

string lights - excellent wifi option
A built-in WiFi controller allows you to turn on the lights and dim them to the correct brightness from your phone.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Great Solar Option

Brightech Ambience Pro

Length: 27 feet | Number of Bulbs: 12
Auto on in low light
No standard plug
Not the brightest

The Brightech Ambience Pro is a solar-powered alternative to the other plug-in lights we tested. The lights come with a compact solar panel with various mounting options — stake it in the ground, screw it to a wall, or clip it to an existing structure. The panel charges an internal battery that will power the lights for about five hours. A light-detecting feature built into the panel senses darkness and turns the lights on automatically at sunset. There is also a built-in "off" switch on the back of the panel that can override this if you would prefer your lights didn't come on each evening. However, the only way to force the lights on is to cover the panel, blocking ambient light, so the lights think it's time to power on. We like that the solar setup allows these lights to be used in locations without existing power, so there's no need to drag out an extension cord. For far corners of yards, camping trips, or rustic cabins, the Brightech adds a tasteful accent in a self-sufficient package.

While many lights that use LED encase the LED chip in a colored gel to imitate incandescent light, the Brightech LEDs are fully exposed. This yields a very "white" light. Generally, our testers preferred the warmer incandescent light quality or at least the LEDs that were on the warmer side. Because the Brightech is our only solar-powered patio light, it is the dimmest of the lights we tested. At only one watt per bulb, they were five times dimmer than our next softest light as measured with our light meter. For some installations, a cabled string light will be a better option, but for some niche uses — in a garden or an off-the-grid cabin, these will be a fun accessory.

string lights - a solar-powered string light that can be installed just about...
A solar-powered string light that can be installed just about anywhere.
Credit: Eric Bissell


A Great LED Edison


Length: 48 feet | Number of Bulbs: 16
Lower profile cord
Soft light for LED
Less durable
Nonstandard bulbs

We tested multiple lights in the LED Edison style, and the SUNTHIN Outdoor LED was a great alternative to the bulkier competition. For less harsh conditions, these could be a better option. The double-stranded cord is easier to handle and will hang more naturally right out of the box. The LED bulb is a different design than many of the others. A single LED "filament" is encased in a plastic tube, which is then surrounded by a plastic bulb. Overall, it was a softer light than many similar LED bulbs, which may be appreciated by those looking for lower lighting without having to employ a dimmer.

Another difference is how each bulb intersects with the main power strand. Rather than hang the bulbs from a T junction, each bulb is spliced directly into the main strand. Visually this may be a detriment for some as the cable and light are much closer together, and you don't get the same chandelier effect of the Solatec or Addlon. The bulbs in this light strand are not the standard S14 bulb and socket, and replacing burnt-out lights will entail purchasing proprietary bulbs from the company at a higher price tag. For more protected use and softer light, the Sunthin Outdoor LED is a great option.

string lights - a slightly less bulky string light in the led edison style.
A slightly less bulky string light in the LED Edison style.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Another LED Edison

ADDLON LED Dimmable Plastic

Length: 48 feet | Number of Bulbs: 15
Quality construction
Durable bulbs
Very bright
Quality control

The ADDLON LED Dimmable Plastic is another great option in the LED Edison style. These lights are durable commercial-grade construction with very bright standard S14 LED bulbs. The plastic bulbs are durable and resist breaking, and the LED filament uses less electricity than the incandescent alternative. The lights are designed so that each light hangs below the main strand on a short piece of cord.

For some testers, these bulbs were too bright and would do better to be on an LED dimmer. The bulbs need to be installed one at a time, which adds a little overall time to installation. The Addlon LED was ultimately very similar to the other commercial-grade LED patio lights we tested, but we felt the weatherproof plug and cable to light junction was constructed better.

string lights - another commercial grade heavy duty led string light.
Another commercial grade heavy duty LED string light.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Notable Incandescent Edison

ADDLON Outdoor 48-Foot

Length: 48 feet | Number of Bulbs: 15
Warm light
More electricity than LED
Glass bulbs

Another Edison-style, commercial-grade, outdoor string light is the ADDLON Outdoor 48-foot incandescent option. For a much warmer light quality and softer intensity, Addlon uses the same cord system but offers incandescent bulbs instead of LEDs. Our light meter registered the incandescent bulb as three and a half times less bright than the LED Addlon. These plug-and-play lights without a dimmer are a decent choice for those seeking softer ambient lighting.

The Addlon arrives without the bulbs preinstalled. This adds a step but can make installation less stressful because you don't have to worry about breaking glass bulbs. Hang the cable first, and then install the bulbs after. These Addlon incandescent lights are suitable for year-round outdoor installation.

string lights - a heavy-duty outdoor-rated cord and individually hanging bulbs...
A heavy-duty outdoor-rated cord and individually hanging bulbs characterize this incandescent option.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Another Incandescent Globe

Lampat G40 25-Foot

Length: 25 feet | Number of Bulbs: 25
Warm, soft light
Indoor or temporary outdoor
Not weather sealed

The Lampat G40 25-Foot is another great option in the basic incandescent globe string light category. This string offers compact lighting in an affordable package. They are much more densely spaced than the larger Edison-style lights, offering 25 bulbs in 25 feet. This creates more even lighting and allows each bulb to be less bright while still putting out an overall equivalent ambient light.

For long-term or permanent installation, we recommend one of the heavier gauge string lights. The Lampat G40 is outdoor rated, but the wiring is not as weather-sealed as some of the others. The delicate glass bulbs are all preinstalled, and some care is needed when handling and installing them to avoid breaking any. For an affordable cozy option that can be used indoors or outdoors, the Lampat delivers.

string lights - simple construction and delicate bulbs make this a less durable...
Simple construction and delicate bulbs make this a less durable option but the light is warm and cozy.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Why You Should Trust Us

After researching and analyzing dozens of the best-selling string lights, we narrowed our selection to nine of the best contenders. We then put them through side-by-side testing, comparing them across a series of metrics. This testing allowed us to evaluate and determine which products stood out from the rest and which served specific purposes.

Our lead tester, Eric Bissell, examined so many outdoor string lights he's still seeing stars. With a background in sculpture and design, Eric thoroughly examined the form and function of each light in everyday use. We considered different installations and design needs in differentiating between the many options available.

Analysis and Test Results

Selection began by researching the types of outdoor string lights available online. Some were commercial-grade permanent outdoor installation worthy, while others were better suited to indoor use. Some were powered by standard outlets, while some were solar-powered or WiFi controllable. We used four metrics — durability, light quality, ease of installation, and features — to determine the best string lights currently available.


There was a wide range of durability in the lights we tested. We were impressed by the robust construction of the best-performing lights in this metric. Some were advertised as suitable for commercial use, and they delivered on that promise. The Solatec LED was very confidence-inspiring and is suited to withstand the full fury of uncovered outdoor installation. The 18AWG cord has weather-sealed plugs for linking strands. Each bulb screws into a socket with an extended gasket that seals off exterior moisture from the internal socket connections.

The Lemontec Commercial Grade Lights looked to use the same cord as the Solatec but with incandescent bulbs. Even though the Lemontec used glass bulbs because of the incandescent heat consideration, the glass was sturdy and less prone to breaking than the cheaper globe-style lights.

string lights - the solatec had durable plugs with a weather-sealed connection for...
The Solatec had durable plugs with a weather-sealed connection for stringing multiple strands together.
Credit: Eric Bissell

As to be expected, the small glass globe-style lights were some of the least durable we tested. Gentle handling was necessary with these lights to avoid breaking bulbs. They also had some of the least inspiring cord construction. The Lampat G40 25-Foot was the cheapest set of lights we tested and could be suitable for indoor applications. There was no weather sealing around the sockets, and outdoor use would lead to moisture issues. Overall, a heavy-duty cord, plastic bulbs, LED lights, and weatherproof sockets will make the most durable lights.

string lights - the delicate glass globe lights had to be handled very carefully...
The delicate glass globe lights had to be handled very carefully when installing.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Light Quality

Light quality was most noticeable when comparing LED and incandescent bulbs. Many of the LEDs were very similar, and many of the incandescent lights were similar. We tested brightness with a light meter at a fixed distance away from a single bulb to get an idea of the brightest and dimmest bulbs. Additionally, we considered "warmer" (lower on the Kelvin scale) color temperature to be more pleasing than "bluer" (higher on the Kelvin scale) color temperature. The nicest lights were the incandescent bulbs in our testing. The Brightown Outdoor G40 was a soft, warm light that would be usable out of the box without a dimmer. The Lemontec Commercial Grade Lights were also a nice incandescent light but a little brighter than the Brightown.

string lights - on the left are incandescent bulbs and on the right are led bulbs.
On the left are incandescent bulbs and on the right are LED bulbs.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Our least favorite lights were either too bright or too blue. The exception to too bright was the very dim Brightech Ambience Pro. These lights were solar-powered with a built-in battery, but the lights were five times dimmer than even the lowest-powered globe lights. The XMCOSY+ Patio Lights were another light with extra features that lost points for its very white, somewhat harsh light quality. Adding a dimmer to the stronger LED lights would be a worthwhile investment. Additionally, aftermarket bulbs can be an option to change the color temperature.

string lights - we measured the relative light output of an individual bulb on each...
We measured the relative light output of an individual bulb on each string light using a multimeter with a built-in Lux meter.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Ease of Installation

There are three main hanging styles in the lights we tested. Lights like the Brightown Outdoor G40 come with a clip built into each bulb that makes for quick no-fuss installation. Use the clip to hook the lights onto existing gutters or install a hook that the lights can be attached to. Other lights have a "T" junction at every bulb so you can affix the cord to rafters or other structures and the bulbs will hang free below. The Solatec LED exemplifies this style and has a more elaborate, decorative look. And some lights have holes at each bulb, allowing a screw or piece of cord to be used for installation.

string lights - lights that hang down from the main power cord have a different...
Lights that hang down from the main power cord have a different aesthetic than those that are in-line with the main cord.
Credit: Eric Bissell

Our least favorite installation style was the lights that had the hole right at the bulb. For some cases, this may work well, but we felt it was cleaner to have some separation between the cord and the light. The Sunthin Outdoor LED has a hanging hole at each bulb. On another note, in the hundreds of bulbs that shipped to us, not a single one was broken on arrival.

string lights - almost any string light can be hung by a hook on the cable.
Almost any string light can be hung by a hook on the cable.
Credit: Eric Bissell


Although many of the lights we tested had similar features, a few stood out with unique offerings. The XMCOSY+ Patio Lights included a built-in WiFi controller that connected with our phone. It took a little while to download the app and get it all set up and paired with the lights, but once we were connected, we could turn the lights on and off or dim them to our desired brightness for mood lighting. Another light with a standout feature was the Brightech Ambience Pro. These lights came with a solar panel in place of the standard AC plug, so they can be installed almost anywhere. They were certainly not the brightest lights, but for an outdoor accent light, they were a fun option.

string lights - the xmcosy+ app connected easily and allowed wifi control of the...
The XMCOSY+ app connected easily and allowed WiFi control of the 98-foot strand.
Credit: Eric Bissell

All the strands came with at least one replacement bulb and an extra fuse for the power cable. And although a few lights stood out for having extra features, many of the other lights were quite similar. We docked points on the Sunthin Outdoor LED because the bulbs weren't standard socket type, which means when it's time to replace the burnt-out LEDs, you'll need to get your replacements specifically from Sunthin.

string lights - most models were standard bulb type with replacements already in the...
Most models were standard bulb type with replacements already in the box.
Credit: Eric Bissell


String lights are a fun and easy way to vastly improve the atmosphere of any outdoor (or indoor) hangout. They make taking the party onto backyard patios and under open-air pergolas bright and cozy. Many of the lights available are very similar, but we hope this test will allow you to find the right light for your space.

Eric Bissell

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