The Best Outdoor String Lights To Brighten Up Your Space

updated Jul 7, 2023
Apartment Therapy received compensation for this post, which was written and edited independently by our editorial team.
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Credit: Anna Spaller

Outdoor living season is here, so it’s time to prep your patio/balcony/backyard for some warm-weather enjoyment. Whether you’re hosting a long-awaited get-together or decorating for yourself, proper lighting is an essential part of creating the right vibe for your outdoor space. String lights are an easy solution that has a big impact, so we rounded up our favorites at all price points and styles that will make your outdoor space shine. But before we get to shopping, let’s go over some outdoor lighting tips:

Outdoor Lighting Tips

  • Weave string lights across a balcony or stair rails. If you need more light in your outdoor area but are lacking in space, weaving string lights on balcony railings or stair handrails is an easy way to add both light and character.
  • Accessorize with light. Aside from string-up lights, consider bunching up a small strand and putting it in a vase, lantern, or mason jar (if you really want to go all out with the shabby-chic look). Another option: Wrap string lights around a piece of decor to add some unexpected sparkle.
  • Use light as a space divider. If you have a large enough area, you can use string lights to create different “zones” of your space. String lights over a table to create an intimate entertaining area, or use them to transform a dark corner into a cozy nook. Feel free to do some experimenting to find a method that works for your space.
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Inspired by cafe settings, these globe string lights look equally appropriate indoors and outdoors. In fact, our team agreed that these are the most attractive of the bunch. There are three sizes to choose from, each with a corresponding number of bulbs: 25, 50, and 100 feet.

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I actually have these LED string lights in my bedroom, but they can be used just as safely outdoors, too. Minimalist and made of copper wire that's easy to bend, these lights cast a soft glow that's perfect for intimate gatherings and smaller spaces that don't need to be fully lit. This pick is also seriously low-priced, especially considering that you're getting 33 feet of lights for under $20.

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From our partner

Edison outdoor string lights are one of the most popular styles around when it comes to outdoor lighting, and this Terrain set is an extra special pick thanks to one thing: solar energy. Powered by the sun for an energy-efficient glow all season long, this light strand gives off a soft, ambient light, perfect for setting a cozy mood. Simply place the charging panel in direct sunlight and your lights will be ready to go all summer long!

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For more substantial and dramatic bulbs, check out these string lights from Walmart. Meant to mimic the outdoor lighting found in cafes and restaurants, this strand has a bit more flair than the usual suspects and will definitely add a decorative touch to your outdoor space. Each strand has 10 caged lights and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

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Home Depot

These string lights from Home Depot have a more sophisticated, contemporary vibe thanks to the glass globe shades, which also create a warmer glow than your average uncovered bulb. Each strand is 10 feet long and has eight lights, making it ideal for smaller spaces.

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If you need fun lights for a party, then Wintergreen Lighting is your answer. There's a seemingly endless supply of quirky, festive light options, from palm trees to flamingoes, and everything in between. These pineapple string lights are good for summer cookouts, pool parties, or simply for your patio if you just really like pineapples. One strand spans nine feet, includes 10 lights, and can be connected to other strands.

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Pottery Barn

Bring your love of rattan to your lighting with these gorgeous rattan string lights from Pottery Barn. Adorned with woven rattan spheres, this set instantly adds an organic feel to your patio, balcony, or backyard. While each strand contains 10 lights, up to five of them can be connected together, making this a customizable pick for any sized space, too.

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Home Depot

If you're looking for lights that truly stand out, these color-changing LED string lights might be for you. On their own, they produce a warm, amber light. With the Color Change option (controlled via the included remote), you can select every color of the rainbow for a personalized glow. Plus, at 48 feet in length, you have a lot of freedom to decorate how you want.

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If you have a whole lot of space to cover, consider this extra-long string light option from Wayfair. Perfect for lighting up larger patio areas, barns, and fences, this 100-foot find is a great addition to any summer party. The globe style is especially trendy, and you can choose between black, white, and even green wire colors.