The 11 Best Outdoor Christmas Lights of 2022 | Real Simple

2022-11-27 02:02:18 By : Mr. Henry Lee

L. Daniela Alvarez has been writing about plant care, home organization, cleaning, lifestyle, and culture since 2018. With more than 70 houseplants, she has become an expert on plant care and home organization and decor. Highlights: * 10 years of experience as a freelance writer and editor * Contributor to national publications, including The Kitchn, INSIDER, and Apartment Therapy * Contributor to "The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person" by Frederick Joseph

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The 11 Best Outdoor Christmas Lights of 2022 | Real Simple

For many people, decorating the front lawn for Christmas is the best way to kick off the holiday season. Whether you prefer simple decorations or the biggest and brightest adornments, outdoor Christmas lights can transform your home’s exterior into a festive illuminated display. But with so many options, choosing the right Christmas lights can be pretty overwhelming. 

To find the best outdoor Christmas lights, we spent hours researching the options on the market while considering factors like bulb type, power source, safety testing, and length. We also received tips from Stefan Bucur, home decor expert and founder of Rhythm of the Home, on how to shop for outdoor lights.

“Outdoor Christmas lights are generally more durable and waterproof so they can be considered better, especially if the manufacturer confirms that they can be also safely used indoors,” says Bucur. 

 Our top pick is the Yiqu LED Christmas String Lights for their generous length, safety testing, and variety of color options. They also come at a very reasonable price that makes it easy to decorate your entire outdoor space.

Here are the best outdoor Christmas lights to keep your home looking merry and bright throughout the holidays.

Who it's for: People who want a long string of Christmas lights that come in an array of colors.

Who it isn't for: People who want large bulb Christmas lights.

When shopping for Christmas lights, you might feel like you have to compromise on a certain factor, like length or color options. With the Yiqu LED Christmas String Lights, however, you can have it all. They have a generous length of 82 feet (16 of which is leading wire), eight lighting modes with a timer, and nine color options, these outdoor string lights are our best overall pick. These lights can be used both indoors and outdoors, and they’re also waterproof, according to the brand. This makes them perfect for decorating everything from the exterior of your home to your Christmas tree.

The lights come with a 29V low voltage plug that is Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL)-certified, meaning they have been tested for safety and compliance. They can also be safely extended up to five end-to-end light chains or 100 LED lights. 

Price at time of publish: $23

Who it's for: People who don’t want to spend much on their holiday decor.

Who it isn't for: People who are looking for LED lights.

Whether you like to keep your holiday decor simple or you just don’t want to spend too much on lights you only use once a year, we recommend the Sewanta Mini Christmas Lights. These budget-friendly lights are a fraction of the cost of some other options, but they still come in two lengths and 10 color options. Plus, you can connect up to five sets (aka up to 114 feet!). The average light life is 2,500 hours, and while the lights are weather-resistant, the plug should be kept covered or indoors. These mini lights are also UL-certified.

The bulbs are rated at 120 volts and the fuse is rated at 125 volts, which means they are in a safe range but still bright and long-lasting even though they are not LED lights. While these string lights don’t have various modes and are on the shorter side, they’re still worth it for anyone looking for simple yet affordable lights that can still add a holiday glow. 

Price at time of publish: From $9

Who it's for: People who prefer the versatility of white string lights.

Who it isn't for: People who want white lights with a white wire.

White lights are an essential part of Christmas decor, acting as a neutral base or companion to colorful lights and ornaments. We love the Prextex White Christmas Lights for their high quality, long-lasting bulbs, and versatility that’s suitable for year-round use. Bucur uses these indoor-outdoor lights in his own home and recommends them for their warm brightness. These UL-certified lights come in three lengths, can connect to three to five sets, and last for an average of 2,500 hours. 

One unique aspect of these lights is that they include one red-coated flasher bulb for every 50 lights. Simply replace a regular bulb with a flasher bulb when you want to make your lights twinkle or flash. These are incandescent lights, so they give off a glow that will make your space feel warm and cozy. It’s also worth noting that they have a green wire that will easily blend in with trees and bushes.  

Price at time of publish: From $14

Who it's for: People who want to decorate their yard with colorful string lights.

Who it isn't for: People who want lights with LED bulbs.

Colorful Christmas lights can make all the difference between a festive and boring home exterior. Just like the white lights above, we recommend Prextex’s Multicolor Christmas Lights for all the same reasons plus one: colors! You can use these colorful lights to decorate trees and bushes, or you can outline your windows and the edge of your rooftop for a flashy and vibrant pop of color. These lights also come with two flasher bulbs, two extra bulbs, and two replacement fuses. 

Price at time of publish: From $17

Who it's for: People who want long icicle lights to hang over windows, garages, roofs, and more.

Who it isn't for: People who only need lights for a small area, since these lights start at 29.5 feet long.

Icicle lights are some of the best winter-themed decorations because they create a soft, dreamy look that mimics the look of real icicles. Even though the Toodour Icicle Christmas Lights are the most expensive option on our list, they’re worth the cost for people who want lights to hang along the edge of their roof, garage, or windows. They come in four lengths ranging from 29.5 to 100 feet and nine color options (including some with a two-in-one color-changing feature). Plus, each set of lights has four brightness levels, multiple settings, and three timer options that you can adjust with the included remote.

These low-voltage LED lights are waterproof, although the adapter should be covered or kept indoors. They can also be connected to up to three more sets of lights and have 16.4 feet of leading wire. To give your icicle lights an even more unique look, place colorful lights above them when lining the edge of your roof. 

Price at time of publish: $61

Who it's for: People who want large outdoor Christmas lights that make a statement.

Who it isn't for: People who want subtle lights for smaller areas.

The shape of a colorful Christmas light bulb is just as recognizable and nostalgic as the outline of a Christmas tree. To give your home’s exterior a bold and dynamic look this holiday season, we recommend the Twinkle Star Christmas String Lights. These bulbs are nearly double the size of standard Christmas lights and have a textured plastic exterior and a slight twinkle effect. 

Each 33-foot string has 16 feet of leading wire and comes with 50 LED bulbs. The end-to-end connector allows up to four sets of lights to connect, which is a plus considering the three size options and seven festive color options. We also love that they come with pre-attached hanging clips to easily place them onto surfaces like trees, branches, bushes, roof edges, and porch handrails. 

Price at time of publish: $27

Who it's for: People who want the most energy-efficient Christmas lights.

Who it isn't for: People who don’t get a lot of sunlight during the winter.

The holidays don’t have to entail a spike in your electric bill from the lighted decorations around your home. With solar-powered lights, you can decorate your yard without increasing your electric bill. The Joomer Solar Christmas Lights are not only our recommendation for the best solar lights, but they are one of Bucur’s favorite Christmas lights. These LED lights, which have a 6.5-foot leading wire, come with eight lighting modes and are available in three sizes and 12 color options—the most of any product on this list. 

These lights work both indoors and outdoors, withstanding all kinds of weather including heavy rain and snow. However, the solar panel must be placed outdoors so it can absorb solar power and keep your lights working throughout the holidays. The sensor on the panel also allows for your lights to automatically turn off at dawn and turn on at dusk. 

Price at time of publish: $16

Who it's for: People who want to easily decorate bushes and hedges with lights.

Who it isn't for: People who want to wrap sturdy lights around poles or along the edges of their homes.

If your front yard needs some holiday cheer, net lights are a quick and easy way to decorate all types of bushes and hedges. You can even drape or wrap them over pine trees. At 12 x 5 feet, the Lyhope Christmas Net Lights are generously sized to cover any piece of greenery. They have eight lighting modes and seven festive color options, so you can customize these net lights to your decor preferences. These lights have a low voltage of 36 volts, and they also have the Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL) seal, which is an equipment safety certification program operated by the laboratory Intertek. 

While the adapter should be covered when used outdoors, these lights are waterproof and capable of connecting up to three additional string lights. Since the structure of the net can be fragile, the brand cautions against cutting or pulling the wire since this will break the circuit. Despite their delicate nature, these net lights will still turn your yard into a festive display during the holidays. 

Price at time of publish: $25

Who it's for: People who want to light up an outdoor pathway. 

Who it isn't for: People who live in apartments.

Decorating the exterior of your home for the holidays doesn’t just have to involve hanging string lights. To switch things up, you can get the GE StayBright Christmas Tree Pathway Markers, which come recommended by the expert we spoke to. These decorative pathway lights are the perfect way to illuminate your walk inside while adding some holiday cheer to your yard. 

These four-marker lights with stakes are designed in the shape of Christmas trees topped with a gold star, making them a pleasant change from the typical candy cane-shaped pathway lights. Each marker has one gold and seven green LED lights. The entire set has 5 feet of lighted markers and 24 inches of lead wire. And since you can connect up to 25 sets, they can work on long pathways, too.  

Price at time of publish: $35

Who it's for: People who want to add Christmas lights and a bit of greenery to any outdoor space. 

Who it isn't for: People who want to be able to connect multiple pieces of garland.

Whether faux or real, garlands are a great way to add a lush and verdant factor to your holiday decor. Joss & Main’s Lighted Faux Garland can hold up to rain and snow, making it perfect for outdoor and indoor use alike. It comes pre-lit with 60 LED warm white LED bulbs and has pinecone and berry details. 

We also like that this lighted garland has a cordless design that only requires two D batteries. There’s even a timer feature that will keep the lights on for six hours and off for 18 hours. You can wrap the garland around your porch handrails or use it as a trim for a front door or window. Just keep in mind that since it’s battery-operated, it can’t be connected to another piece of garland. 

Price at time of publish: $115

Who it's for: People who want to string lights to drape over gazebos, pergolas, and more.

Who it isn't for: People who want a long string of lights to wrap around a tree.

Most Christmas lights consist of one long string that you can wrap around trees or use to outline the roof or windows of your home. But curtain lights—like this pick from Twinkle Star—can be draped over a gazebo or along the edges of a pergola for a dreamy canopy effect. These curtain lights have a unique look that stands out even more for the variety of colors (7 total) and lighting modes (like twinkle, slow fade, and sequential). 

These curtain lights are available in two sizes—either 6.6 x 9.8 feet or 15.7 x 9.8 feet—so you can design the ultimate outdoor Christmas display. While the instructions say the plug must be indoors or covered, the lights can be used both indoors and outdoors—and we think they can even be used as a backdrop for holiday photos.

Price at time of publish: $30

Our top pick is the Yiqu LED Christmas String Lights for their multiple lighting modes, various color options, and generous length. For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend Sewanta Mini Christmas Lights, which come in a variety of colors and shorter lengths at a more affordable price.

When it comes to Christmas lights, there are two common bulb types: incandescent and LED. Incandescent lights, which are more common for indoor lights, produce heat and light when energy flows through them. LED bulbs, which stand for light-emitting diode, don’t have wire filaments like incandescent bulbs and are wrapped in plastic. 

 As for the difference between outdoor and indoor lights, Bucur explains that indoor lights don't use the same strobe and laser effects as outdoor ones. “Indoor lights are also usually smaller and less powerful and they offer more flexibility since they have to be suitable for smaller spaces and do not require the same intensity,” he says.

Christmas lights can have a variety of power sources, including electricity, solar panels, and batteries. To decide on the best type of power source for your needs, Bucur says it’s important to first decide how and where you want your lights to be used. Using electric lights outside might require an extension cable, while solar-powered lights require the panel to have direct access to sunlight. Battery-operated lights, on the other hand, require less wiring and electricity but can be finicky outdoors.

UL testing ensures that wire sizes are correct or that the outdoor Christmas lights can handle the amount of current they claim on the commercial packaging. And according to Bucur, a UL-certified set of outdoor Christmas lights will typically be extra reliable, safe to use, and energy efficient. 

“UL certifications are not generally required by law, especially when it comes to Christmas lights, but a product that comes with a UL certification is generally a good sign,” says Bucur. “If a product doesn't have a UL certification that doesn't automatically make it bad or unreliable, especially since the process to apply for and receive a certification can take up to one year.”

It can be hard to figure out how many feet of lights you need, especially when shopping for string lights. But the important thing is to not overcrowd your front yard (unless that’s the look you’re going for). “In terms of length, you do not want to wrap your space with too many Christmas lights,” says Bucur. “For outdoor spaces, the limit is generally confined by how large the patio, balcony, or lawn and garden area is. The range could easily be between 12 feet to 100 feet or more.”

Hanging Christmas lights may seem like a chore, especially when there is no convenient or cut-and-dry way to do it. For the quickest and most secure way to hang outdoor lights, Bucur recommends using flex clips, which are frequently included with Christmas light sets.

“Attach the clips onto the outdoor Christmas Lights at equal intervals. If the lights come with screw-in bulbs, it makes it even easier because you can add the flex clip under each bulb before you screw it into the installation,” he says. “After you have the flex clips all set up, you can start attaching them to your home's exterior from top to bottom.”

Bucur recommends using a ladder to gradually attach the flex clips onto your home's gutters and under the crevices of the roof and work your way down. In the areas of your home where there is no edge to attach the clips, such as a doorway or windows, he suggests using a hot glue gun to apply hot glue at the bottom of each Christmas light and attach them one by one in the configuration that you want.

LED lights have become commonly used in cars, street lights, and even refrigerators, so it’s no surprise there are plenty of LED Christmas light options. According to Bucur, LED lights are more efficient for their longer lifespan that doesn't strain the whole installation compared to regular incandescent lights. He also says LED Christmas lights in particular do not heat up too much, so they’re less likely to become a fire hazard.

According to Bucur, the rule of thumb for stringing Christmas lights on outdoor trees is that the bigger the tree, the more space you should leave between the lights. This will prevent it from looking overcrowded.

 “Unroll the string lights and, using a large stick/pole with a hook, start from the top of the tree and place the string lights on the upper branches,” Bucur says. “Using a circular motion, go around the tree multiple times and carefully place the string lights on every branch until the foliage is lit up uniformly. Do not overcomplicate it by spooling the string around the inner branches. When you get to the trunk of the tree, circle around it a couple times until you reach the ground and connect the lighting with the pathway.”

The 11 Best Outdoor Christmas Lights of 2022 | Real Simple

Camping Car Roof Tent This article was written by L. Daniela Alvarez, contributing writer for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing about lifestyle content and product reviews. To compile this list, she spent hours researching outdoor Christmas lights. She also received tips on how to shop for outdoor Christmas lights from Stefan Bucur, home decor expert and founder of Rhythm of the Home.