The easiest way to dress up any backyard, porch, or patio? Add some string lights. Though simple (and seemingly obvious), this design detail totally elevates your space, brightening it up and filling it with Instagram-worthy charm.
Somehow, string lights have a way of making any space feel more special, even if you end up bringing them indoors. Although their main function is to provide light, they won’t just do that—they’ll give you the kind of warm ambient light you’d expect to find at a party, a wedding, or a very romantic outdoor restaurant. And since there are tons of different string light styles out there, you can make sure the mood is set exactly the way you want it to be.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up the best outdoor string lights that'll turn your backyard into the cozy paradise of your dreams.
Best Overall: West Elm Simple String Lights
West Elm’s Simple String Lights live up to their name, making a classic option for anyone hoping to dress up their patio or backyard. Each 11-foot strand comes adorned with 10 globe lights, which are finished with a frosted coating to naturally diffuse light, and come in silver, gold, and dark bronze. They're suitable for use indoors or outside, but take note that they need to be plugged in, so access to an outlet is necessary.
Best Budget: Solatec Commercial LED String Lights
Budget-friendly string lights abound, but Solatec's Commercial String Lights manage to be inexpensive without looking cheap. Each strand is 48 feet long and comes adorned with 15 LED Edison light bulbs, which are shatterproof and encased in durable rubber to keep them secure. That resistance to the elements means you can hang them in any climate, whether you get a lot of rain, wind, snow, or sunshine.
Best Splurge: Terrain Stargazer Garden Lights Galaxy Bulbs
In order to be splurge-worthy, a strand of string lights has to be really special—and Terrain’s Stargazer Garden Lights absolutely are. At first glance, the round bulbs may look incredibly simple, but take a closer look and you’ll notice that each bulb is filled with a strand of gold fairy lights. This detail creates a vibe that's delicate, whimsical, and dreamy all at once.
The catch? Terrain sells the bulbs on their own. So you can snag a set of 21 and pop them into a socket strand you already own, or you can buy the strand that the bulbs are designed to go with, which is available at Terrain right now.
Best LED: Newhouse Lighting Weatherproof LED String Lights
If you’re looking for a classic set of LED lights, you can’t go wrong with Newhouse Lighting's Outdoor String Lights. Available in 25- and 48-foot lengths, this weatherproof option includes 15 LED bulbs in the 48-foot length, making it great for any type of outdoor space. No matter how many strands you use, the warm glow will add a super inviting vibe you can enjoy all year round.
Best Battery-Powered: LeadingStar Warm White String Fairy Lights
Searching for a set of outdoor string lights that don’t require a plug? Walmart has your back—or at least, its LeadingStar Warm White String Lights do. Each strand is 16-feet long and comes adorned with 50 frosted LED bulbs that look just as good indoors as they do outside. Each bulb has a diameter of just 0.7 inches, making them look daintier than globe lights but more formidable than fairy lights. If you want to make a subtler statement, these lights are a great pick.
Best Solar-Powered: Brightech Glow Solar String Lights
Brightech's Glow Solar String Lights are a show-stopping option that will look just as good during the day as they will at night. Measuring 28 feet long and complete with brass detailing, these sophisticated lights turn on automatically when it's dark, utilizing solar energy to keep your energy costs low. Not only that, but they're smart home compatible and come with a five-year warranty, so you don't have to worry about replacing them every year.
Best Colorful: Pottery Barn Solar-Powered Color-Changing Indoor/Outdoor LED String Lights
It can be hard to find colorful string lights that don’t feel too novelty. One of the best options out there is Pottery Barn’s Color-Changing LED String Lights, which put you in control of the palette. They're available in two lengths: a 12-foot option with 12 LED bulbs, and a 24-foot option with 24 LED bulbs.
Each strand ships with a remote, which you can use to activate 14 different color-changing modes. Toggle between monochromatic and analogous color palettes, and remember that you can default to classic warm white at any time. Since the lights are solar-powered and weather-resistant, they’re a great pick if you want to save on energy costs but still infuse some fun into your outdoor space.
Best Novelty: IKEA Solarvet LED String Lights
IKEA’s Solarvet LED String Lights are a novelty pick that don't feel terribly kitschy. Each strand comes adorned with 24 LED lights, which are enveloped by round white lanterns. These lanterns add visual texture without adding distraction, and thanks to their minimal palette they’ll dress up a space without demanding too much attention. And since they're durable and solar-powered, you can rest assured knowing they’re designed to withstand the wear and tear of the outdoors.
Best Fairy: Crate & Barrel Twinkle Gold String Lights
If you prefer a smaller, subtler shine, consider stocking up on a set of fairy lights, like Crate & Barrel’s Twinkle Gold String Lights. The 3-foot strand is rendered in shiny gold, and comes adorned with 90 tiny LED lights. Combined together, these elements form a sparkly strand of light fit for filling vases, wrapping around branches, or simply displaying on your table like a centerpiece. If you’d prefer a cooler color, you can snag the lights in silver, instead—or you can simply buy both and use them to create a twinkly, incandescent wonderland.
Overall, our top choice is West Elm's Simple String Lights (view at West Elm) because they're durable, stylish, and versatile. At $49 for 10 bulbs, they're on the higher end, but they're worth it if you're going for a sophisticated look. Our top budget pick is Solatec's LED String Lights (view at Amazon), which cost just under $30 for 48 feet of high quality Edison bulbs.
What to Look For in Outdoor String Lights
The most important consideration when choosing outdoor string lights is durability—after all, you don't want to go to the effort of hanging up lights only to have them ruined by the first rainfall. Make sure the lights you choose are "weather-resistant" or "weather-proof". Bulbs should be shatter-proof or at least more durable than regular indoor bulbs, and they should securely fit into the socket without falling off during windy days.
String lights typically fall into three categories: battery-operated, plug-in, or solar-powered. All three have their pros and cons, so it's up to you to decide what's best for your needs. Double check that your outdoor space has outlets before buying plug-in lights, or skip the hassle altogether and choose either battery- or solar-powered lights. Solar lights are the most energy-efficient and require zero maintenance on your part, unlike battery-powered lights which will need replacing on a regular basis.
The most popular outdoor string light type is the classic Edison bulb style. These lights are exceptionally durable and provide a great deal of light, so they're ideal for larger spaces. If they don't fit with your aesthetic or you want a more subtle ambiance, go for fairy lights or smaller globe styles—just be aware that you might need a few strands to get a powerful glow going.
Why Trust MyDomaine
MyDomaine writer Lindsey Lanquist has years of experience in the lifestyle space—and as an avid shopper, she knows how disappointing it can be to buy a bad product. That’s why she makes sure to recommend products that are stylish, reliable, and genuinely adored by those who’ve tried them.