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String Lights Reviewed: Bistro and Tube Types

Evenings are the best time for many people to enjoy their patios. They may work during the day and only have later hours. Or maybe the daytime sun is just too strong to cook or even just sit outdoors. Whatever the reason, it’s also a time of day where artificial light becomes important.

String lights are one of the best and most popular ways to light up your patio area. They’re stylish and provide just enough light without being overpowering. They make a great addition to your yard and can be used season after season.

Let’s talk a bit about what to look for in patio string lights and then examine some of the best options on the market.

What to Look for in Patio String Lights

When choosing your patio string lights, there are a few qualities that you want to look for.

The first, of course, is safety. Be sure to choose lights that are certified by the Underwriter’s Laboratory (“UL certified”) or an equivalent agency in your country. And be sure that certification covers outdoor use. This helps show that the materials and design used are appropriate for hanging in your yard.

Part of that safety includes durability. While most light sets don’t involve a huge investment of money, you do want ones that will hold up through wind, rain, and sun. They should be able to be reused for several years. LED lights in particular have long lifetimes, so even replacing bulbs shouldn’t be a common occurrence. 

Learn how to hang your patio string lights!

The type and intensity of light you want is another consideration. This can be changed by changing bulbs, of course, but it’s always better to start with something you like. Do you prefer more natural light or something whiter? Do you prefer bright light or just enough to see by? 

The style of the bulbs and even the wire is likewise important. Along with the type of light, the style helps set the mood. There are many options available, from globe bulbs to tubular ones. Bulbs can be either glass or plastic. Plastic offers additional safety although the appearance is often inferior to glass, at least in our opinion.

Bulbs don’t only vary according to shape and material. They can also take on different designs. For instance, they could be colored and shaped in different forms to help set a theme and mood.

Bistro lights have bulbs and are reminiscent of sidewalk restaurants. Tube lights, on the other hand, contain all the LEDs within a narrow plastic tube. 

Of course, you also have to think about the length of lights you need. This depends on how you will hang them. You’ll want to minimize the number of connections and make sure you don’t have to try to run extension cords over the middle of an open area.

Looking for other ideas for decorating your patio? Check these out!

Our Picks for the Best Patio String Lights 

There are a lot of options out there when you start looking at string lights. We’ve looked at a few in both the bistro-style and the tube-style lights.

Best Bistro-style Lights

Brightech Ambience Pro Waterproof Outdoor Bistro Lights 48 Ft

brightech ambience patio lights
  • Length: 48 feet (also available in 24-foot length)
  • Bulbs: 15
  • Spacing between bulbs: 3
  • Watts: 11
  • End-to-end connection: Yes

These lights make a great addition to any yard! They’re advertised as commercial-grade, and they are designed to stand up to prolonged outdoor use.

You’ll enjoy a soft orange light with these 11-watt bulbs (equivalent to about 75 watts in an older incandescent bulb). They’ll provide enough light to see comfortably without being overpowering.

Considering the spacing of the bulbs and their intensity, these should provide good lighting for your table, sitting area, or cooking space when hanging overhead. 

The bulbs are about 3 ½” high and are made of glass. The bulb type is S14. You can change them out for others, but the manufacturer warns not to use higher wattage bulbs.

These do have end-to-end plugs, so you can string them together. The recommendation is not to string more than eight together. Also, you may end up with some long gaps between bulbs if you’re not careful in your placement; it’s about 3 feet from plug to the first bulb, which means you’d have a 6-foot gap.

There are loops above each bulb to help hang them, but these are not intended to be the main source of support. As with all patio lights, it’s best to use guide wires. 

Brightever LED Outdoor String Lights

100 ft patio string LED lights
  • Length:  100 feet 
  • Bulbs: 50 (plus 2 spare)
  • Spacing between bulbs: 1 foot 9 inches
  • Watts: 60
  • End-to-end connection: Yes

This lightweight but bright string of LED lights will help you light up a huge section of your yard! The single strand measures 100 feet long with bulbs that are relatively closely spaced.

At the same time, the whole strand uses just 60 watts, so it’s bright enough without overpowering you.

The bulbs are made with plastic, too, so they’re lightweight and less likely to break when you unpack or hang them.

The Edison-style bulbs add a nice vintage feel to the string lights, too!

Miambert 2-Pack Dimmable Outdoor String Lights

miambert patio string lights review
  • Length: 2 x 48 feet 
  • Bulbs: 2 x 15
  • Spacing between bulbs: 3 feet
  • Watts: 11
  • End-to-end connection: Yes

These bulbs are similar to the first ones listed here, but this includes two strings at a substantially lower price than buying two separately.

The recommendation is not to connect more than 5 of these. Still, that’s sufficient for most home users and even many commercial ones! The number you can string together depends on the wattage times the number of bulbs as compared to the type of wire used.

The bulbs are 11 watts and spaced 3 feet apart. 

They’re sturdy and weather-resistant, so you won’t have to worry even with strong rains.

These are incandescent bulbs, so they won’t last as long as LEDs. However, they will serve you well for a good while. The difficulty could be in getting replacements for them.

Best Tube String Lights

Tube lights are generally more designed for setting the mood. If you need a lot of light – for working, reading, or the like – they’re probably not for you. However, they’re great for providing what you need when you want to be able to move about and have a certain atmosphere.

HSicily Fairy Lights

hsicily usb powered string tube lights
  • Length: 33 feet 
  • Bulbs: 100
  • End-to-end connection: No

These lights sold by HSicily are the same size as those above, but they work off a different energy source. These pull power through a USB cable, which means you can connect them to a charger or even to your computer or another device capable of providing juice through a USB port. It’s unique but a good idea considering where we stand with power supplies nowadays!

There are three color options available and two lengths, all of which can be chosen at the link given here. You choose between 33 and 49 feet and among clear white, warm white (pictured) and multi-color options. You also have a handy remote control that lets you choose among the eight modes.

You can even set a timer to keep the lights on for 4, 6, or 8 hours.

The lights are made according to the IP65 standard. This is slightly better than IP64 in that the water resistance is even higher; however, either standard is acceptable for normal outdoor use.

There do seem to be problems at times with the wires. A small percentage of users report that the wires between the lights snap easily. While it is a relatively small group, it’s still something to be aware of.

GDEALER 2 Pack Fairy Lights  

remote controlled string tube lights battery powered
  • Length: 2 x 20 feet 
  • Bulbs: 2 x 60
  • End-to-end connection: No

This two-pack of string lights from Gdealer comes to a total of 120 lights and 120 feet, making it slightly longer than those above. They also run on batteries, although it’s one of those unusual battery sizes that may be slightly harder than normal to find.

Two CR2 batteries in a dust- and water-resistant battery box power this strip. These are similar to AA or AAA batteries, but shorter and fatter. It offers a timer and a remote. Like other models, there are 8 modes of blinking, chasing, or steady lights. This set, though, also offers 10 brightness settings, making it great for a wide variety of purposes.

These are great indoors or out. The pictured version is multicolored and may work best for a holiday or party theme. However, there are many solid-colored strings available at the same link. These can help you set whatever mood or provide for any celebration you’d like. 

The battery box is rated IP67 (highly resistant to dust and strong water sprays). We couldn’t find a rating for the lights, but they’re at least IP64, which makes them great for normal use. 

Oak Leaf Outdoor Solar String Lights

oak leaf solar string lights
  • Length: 41 feet 
  • Bulbs: 100
  • End-to-end connection: No

Another solar-powered light set, this tube of LEDs can be strung conveniently and offers good lighting for the price. There are only two modes – flashing and steady-on. For most general patio use, that’s fine; for parties or holidays, you might want to look at one of the other options.

The solar box is permanently fixed to the unit. It measures about 3 inches by 2.5 inches.

On a full charge, these can stay on all night. The company says they’ll work for up to 17 hours on an 8-hour charge, but that might be stretching it. But overnight, they seem to stay on easily for 10-12 hours.

The lights are rated IP 65 and the solar box IP44. While that’s lower, it’s good enough to resist the normal dirt and dust that could harm the unit.

Conclusion

Patio lights add beauty to your yard while also allowing greater use of the space. The wide variety of options available will help make it easier to find a style that fits your taste. Choose carefully to be sure they’re suited for the use and will hold up over time. Above all, enjoy the extra hours on your patio!