Types of String Lights and What You Should Know - Backyard Boss
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Types of String Lights and What You Should Know

Accompanied by a very suggestive name, string lights are exactly what they appear to be. With multiple lights that are all attached to the same wires and cables, these lights are excellent for creating a special atmosphere and they are often used as decorative lights that are available in a wide variety of colors and shapes.

Because more and more people have started to use these kinds of lights for more than just decorating the Christmas tree, manufacturers took advantage of this new trend and began to come up with more interesting and more diversified lights. In the following paragraphs, we are going to examine some different types of string lights and understand how they can be used to transform even the dullest-looking setting into a beautiful one.

Common Types of String Lights

Whenever you are ready to add some decorative lighting to your home’s surroundings, you can choose between many different types of string lights that are currently available on the market. With string lights, you can achieve many different setups and you are only limited by your imagination (and perhaps your budget).

If you’ve been pondering the idea of buying some hanging lights to decorate your home, here are some of the most common types that you can find. Note that all of the following types of string lights can be installed both indoors and outdoors, depending on what type of ambiance you’re looking to obtain.

Vintage lights

Vintage string lights
Image credits: xegxef via Pixabay

Vintage hanging lights are fairly easy to recognize, and a lot of people use them because of the retro ambiance they can create. You will often see them in bars that are looking to get a timeless atmosphere, even though people are now using them in their own backyard.

Some people refer to them as Edison light bulbs, as they are a decorative item with an antique appearance. They are easy to recognize because of their simplistic light bulb design but also thanks to the warm glow.

The wires that are inside vintage string light bulbs will produce a warm golden light which creates a very intimate atmosphere, unlike modern bright lights. They’re excellent for obtaining a romantic ambiance and because they are not that bright, they tend to be more durable. If you want to make the best out of your vintage string light experience, try to opt for lights with LED filament bulbs.

Rope lights

Rope lights in black background
Image credits: Hans Braxmeier via Pixabay

For a very long time, rope lights have been used to decorate the exterior of homes during the festive winter holidays. That’s because these bulbs are enclosed in a protective PVC jacket, making them more weather-resistant and protecting them from frost.

Even if a lot of people use them outdoors, that doesn’t mean they can’t be used inside the house as well. In fact, there are plenty of people who use rope lights to light up the staircase but also to showcase different art objects they may have around the house.

Rope lights are generally of two different varieties. Some of them are LED lights that can be available with either colored light bulbs, as well as in a simple version, with a soft glow or a cold white. These types of rope lights have become popular because of the bulbs that consume less energy. However, as with most other LED bulbs, buying these lights would require a bigger upfront investment as they tend to be rather costly. Make no mistake; this investment really is worth it because they are durable and reliable.

Another type of rope light may consist of a light bulb with the wiring covered in rope. These are, in fact, incandescent lights that are known for the higher energy consumption and higher heat output. These lights can consume twice as much energy compared to LED lights. However, they are less expensive to purchase, which is why some people prefer them over the alternative.

Lantern lights

colorful Lantern lights during night time
Image credits: Free-Photos via Pixabay

Fascinated with Eastern culture, some people will fall in love with lantern hanging lights at first sight. As you can imagine, this particular light type consists of a long wire with bulbs attached to it and lanterns surrounding each bulb.

Even if the cover of the lights is designed to resemble traditional paper lanterns, it is in fact made from tarpaulin, which is a type of cloth known for its durability, being suitable for outdoor use even during the winter.

You can find lantern hanging lights that come with solar-powered mechanisms, meaning that you don’t have to consume any electricity to enjoy their beautiful glow. If you buy a good product, you could end up having even up to 15 hours of runtime on a single solar charge.

Colored lights

multicolored link light decor
Image credits: Adonyi Gábor via Pexels

Colored string lights are probably the ones that you are most familiar with. Many of you have been using them to decorate the Christmas tree for decades, which is why when you see colored hanging lights, you will often associate them with the spirit of Christmas.

However, you shouldn’t try to limit yourself to using these just during the holidays. Colored string lights are available in a wide variety of colors and you can use them to decorate a teenager’s bedrooms, attics, and even backyards.

The beauty of colored string lights is that you can opt for all of them to have the same color, or you can mix and match different colors in order to achieve the atmosphere that you want. Even if they are considered to be an intimate decorative item, colored string lights can also be very joyful, creating a playful ambiance whatever they’re set up.

Wire rope lights

Wire rope lights on the ceiling
Image credits: Festoon Fairy Lights

Wire rope string lights have made an appearance in many different households because they are so easy to work with. These are basically tiny bulbs that are fixed on a flexible wire which allows you to bend them to your will.

They’re suitable for a multitude of both indoor and outdoor projects. Whether you choose to bend the wire to write certain words or create a certain shape, or you choose to simply hang them on the wall so they can serve as support for your Polaroids, wire rope string lights are a wonderful thing to work with when doing any kind of DIY lighting project.

They have slowly become part of plenty of wedding decorations setups, but they also serve as a permanent decoration item for people who are willing to use their creativity.

Fairy lights

fairy lights on a tree
Image credits: Jari Hytönen via Unsplash

Nobody could have chosen a better name for these types of lights. They are perfect for creating a magical atmosphere in your own backyard. Even if they were first used to decorate bedrooms, these string lights have now become a popular outdoor lighting option.

What makes these lights so special, you ask? It’s the fact that they create an optical illusion as if there were hundreds of fireflies all gathered in one spot. Because of that, a lot of people choose to pair their fairy hanging lights with trees or bushes in order to create something that’s really worth looking at.

If there’s not much “green” to serve as support for fairy string lights in your own yard, you can always hang them over your patio. A lot of people choose to do so because the setup mimics a starry sky, creating a wonderful romantic setup.

Jar lights

Hanging jar fairy lights
Image credits: Bonnie Kittle via Unsplash

One of the best things about jar hanging lights is that you can actually make them yourself. They are considered to be one of the fanciest outdoor lighting options, and you will often see them on special occasions such as wedding parties or outdoor anniversaries.

Jar string lights are basically normal lights that are each concealed in a jar, creating a stunning visual effect that will make your garden stand out from all of the others.

Globe lights

Globe string light
Image credits: chmyphotography via Unsplash

Globe string lights are very popular amongst people who are looking to add ambiance lighting to an outdoor space. They are typically well-made and cheaper compared to other types of string lights. They are also available in a wide variety of string lengths.

Their design also makes it easy for you to recognize them because every light resembles a small globe. They can either be found in a simple white color or in multicolored versions.

Choosing the Right Hanging Lights for You


Naturally, as with every other product, it’s important to do a little bit of research before actually buying it. String lights are no exception to this rule, as understanding the different features and specifications they have could lead you to opt for one type of string light over another.

With that in mind, let’s look over some of the features that string might have so that you can prioritize those that are most important to you. This way, you are less likely to spend money on fancy features that you don’t really need and increase your chances of buying a product you can actually enjoy using.

  • If you want to buy outdoor string lights but are also looking for an efficient way to save energy, you can always choose between the several different solar-powered string lights that are available on the market. If you’ve ever owned outdoor solar lights, you probably have a pretty good idea of how solar-powered string lights work. The end of the wire is connected to a small solar panel that captures the energy of the sun and converts it into power for the light bulbs. Needless to say, you’ll have to find the proper location to place the solar panel so that it can soak up as much energy from the sun as possible during the day, ensuring a longer runtime for the lights during the night.
  • Another feature that you may want to pay attention to is the flexibility of the wire. Having a flexible copper wire makes it easier for you to bend it into a specific shape. These lights are excellent for people looking for more customized decoration items, which is why those who are into arts and crafts prefer these types of hanging lights over others.


  • If you want to install these kinds of light fixtures outdoors, you need to consider the waterproof factor. Outdoor string lights should be at least weather-resistant, if not fully waterproof. If you plan to have your lights outside even during the winter, you need to make sure that the wires and light bulbs are insulated so they won’t freeze.
  • Another important buying consideration and something that you should pay attention to before you purchase your hanging lights is how they will be powered. The majority of string lights that you find on the market are operated by batteries, which means that you might have to do the math to see if it’s worth changing the batteries ever so often. You can also purchase hanging lights that can be plugged into a power outlet, but that isn’t always the best-case scenario as the cord itself would have to be very long.


Various types of hanging lights are an extremely versatile ambient item to go with which can really boost a certain room or outdoor setup from 0 to 100 with just a little effort on your part. Since the sky’s the limit, there are so many different things that you can do with string lights, opening up a world of possibilities as to where you can put up these lights.

When you understand the differences between the different types of hanging lights available, you will be able to make a more informed shopping decision and choose whatever option suits you best.