The best patio and outdoor string lights, according to experts – CNN Underscored
We all want our outdoor space — whether it’s an adorable city balcony or a sprawling suburban yard — to feel cozy, warm and inviting, like an extension of our home. Aside from adding some fresh outdoor furniture, if you really want to upgrade your al fresco space, you need to focus on lighting. In other words, plan for once the sun sets! Enter: string lights. “String lights make the backyard look more joyous,” says Sheva Knopfler, co-founder of Lights.com. “They automatically create a whimsical warm vibe in any space. They also help bring the eyes up, which will make the yard feel bigger if it is a small area.”
Sierra Fallon, lead designer at Rumor Designs, says, “String lighting is a great idea because they are easy to install, anyone can do it, and can cover a large expanse of space.” The lights can also subtly define conversation areas within your outdoor space. “String lights are an easy way to dress up a backyard and really anchor that entertainment zone, like over a dining setup or fire pit,” says Sarah Hart, senior designer at Brayton Interiors.
When it comes to shopping for string lights, you need to first brush up on the category’s ins and outs. Which brings us to LED lights. The longest-lasting, most energy-efficient lights to buy right now (versus old-school incandescent bulbs), LEDs are the only type of light we’ve included on this list because they’re just that good. And they come in multiple power-type formats such as plug-in, solar and battery-operated — each of which have their own pluses and minuses. “Plug-in are typically brighter, but make sure you’re close to a usable power source so that you don’t have an ugly extension cord hanging out,” says Hart. “And battery options are a great solution if you just want this temporarily for an outdoor dinner party.”
As for solar, Fallon says they tend to be better for temporary or season-long use, as “they aren’t as reliable and may dim if it’s a cloudy day or a long event. Solar is great for camping, or if there’s no access to electricity.” When considering solar you’ll also want to keep in mind the amount of sunshine your desired location gets throughout the day — if it’s a shady spot, solar lights aren’t a good fit, but if it gets all-day sun, you’re good to go.
While Edison- and globe-shaped bulbs are certainly the most popular styles …….