The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and your porch is darker than sin. Why not brighten things up with some fancy decorative lights? Here are our favorite outdoor lights for the patio, porch, or deck.
Update, 3/30/22: Verified text and links still good. Updated picks for Edison bulbs, solar-powered lights, and dimmable string lights.
What to Look for in Decorative Outdoor Lights
The Vintage Vibe: Addlon Dimmable Edison String Lights
Unique & Colorful: Exhart Solar Bubble Stake Lights
A Touch of Color: TONULAX Solar-Powered Flowers
The Classy Option: TomCare Solar-Powered Torch Lights
Cheap & Customizable: Homemory Color-Changing Fairy Lights
For Smart Homes: Philips Hue Ambiance Light Strip
Shopping for deck or patio lights can be kind of overwhelming. You could buy solar-powered lights, string lights, tiny lights that are shaped like flowers, or even a set of smart lights. And since you can’t see a set of lights in action before you buy them (most of the time, anyway), it’s hard to know which path to go down.
So, here are a few things to think about before buying decorative lights for your patio or deck:
- Brightness: Decorative lights can illuminate an entire porch or add a pop of color to a scene. Generally speaking, string lights will brighten up an area more than grounded lights. Be sure that whatever lights you buy actually fit your lighting needs.
- Price: An expensive set of lights will shine brighter and last longer than a cheap set of lights. That said, if you’re just looking for decorative lights that aren’t super bright, you might be better off going the cheap route.
- Solar-powered or plugged in: Some of the lights on this list are solar-powered, while others require the use of an outlet. Consider whether your deck or patio gets enough sunlight for solar-powered lights. If you’re using a light with an outlet, you might want to buy an outdoor timer.
- Controls: Do you want lights that come with a remote control? Maybe some smart home features? While controls aren’t necessary, they give you a bit of room to be creative with your outdoor lighting.
Let’s get right into it. Here are six of our favorite decorative lights for the deck, porch, or patio.
For the price, Addlon’s 96-foot-long set of heavy-duty Edison string lights is a steal. These are the kinds of lights you see at fancy restaurants and wedding venues. They’re durable, they’re bright, they have a warm homey feel, and they even work with dimmer switches (or outlet-based dimmer adapters).
As you might imagine, these lights plug into an outlet. They aren’t solar-powered. You’ll also need to replace these bulbs every once in a while, which isn’t a big deal seeing as outdoor incandescent bulbs are dummy cheap.
addlon 96 FT (2x48FT) Outdoor String Lights Commercial Grade Strand 36 Edison Vintage Bulbs 30 Hanging Sockets, ETL Listed Heavy-Duty Decorative Christmas Lights for Patio Garden
Addlon's 96-foot long set of Edison string lights is perfect for nailing that vintage vibe.
Looking for something unique? The Exhart Solar Bubble Stake Lights are super funky and futuristic. They’re color-changing LED lights with bubbly acrylic centers that look a bit like lightsabers if lightsabers had bubbles inside of them. Also, how fun would lightsabers with bubbles be? Way more fun than sabers without bubbles.
These lights look giant in photos, so keep in mind that their bubbly bulbs are only about 10-inches tall. Since they’re small solar-powered lights, they’ll work best as decorations, not serious sources of light. They come in an RGB option, a purple and green option, and in a simple clear option for those wanting something a little less dramatic and fabulous.
Exhart Solar Bubble Stake Lights, 2 Pack Acrylic Tube Light, RGB Color Changing Solar Garden Decor for Pathway, Patio, Yard, Driveway, Events & More (1” W Bubble Light 10" H, 28” Total)
The Exhart Solar Bubble Stake Lights use color changing LEDs and bubbly acrylic to achieve a weird and exciting futuristic effect. They're a great decoration for porches and patios that need a bit of color.
The TONULAX solar-powered flowers (2-pack) are great for adding a subtle pop of color to your porch, patio, or deck. They have stylish 17-inch bulbs, color-changing LEDs (which are surprisingly bright, by the way), and easily-replaceable batteries (so they’ll last a lifetime). Plus, these flowers have adjustable leaves and stems. What’s not to love?
Keep in mind that these solar-powered lights are great for decoration, and they’re not as bright as a full set of string lights.
Solar Lights Outdoor - New Upgraded Solar Garden Lights, Multi-Color Changing Lily Solar Flower Lights for Patio,Yard Decoration, Bigger Flower and Wider Solar Panel (2 Pack,Purple and Red)
The TONULAX solar-powered flower lights are stylish, bright, adjustable, and perfect for adding a pop of color to your deck or patio.
Torches are great and all, but they’re kind of a hassle to set up. If you want to avoid that messy process and sit by torchlight every night, then you’re better off with a set of TomCare solar-powered torch lights (4-pack).
These decorative solar lights are a bit expensive, but they’re bright, they look wonderful, and they’re built to last a lifetime. Plus, you can fasten them to bamboo poles and achieve the ultimate torch lighting experience without dealing with any oil or open flames.
TomCare Solar Lights Metal Flickering Flame Solar Torches Lights Waterproof Outdoor Heavy Duty Lighting Solar Pathway Lights Landscape Lighting Dusk to Dawn Auto On/Off for Garden Patio Yard, 4 Pack
The TomCare Flickering Flame Torch Lights are made of high-quality metal and LEDs. They're the perfect alternative to decorative torch lights.
If you’re looking to get a little customization out of your lights (without breaking the bank), then consider buying the Homemory remote-controlled fairy twinkle lights. These thin LED string lights are 20 feet long, bright enough to light the corner of a deck or patio, and extremely inexpensive. Oh, and of course, they come with a 21-button remote for changing the colors or toggling either the jump or fade effects.
These lights plug into an outlet—they’re not solar-powered. Since they feature so many colors, they’re a great option for anyone who wants to be able to control lighting to set the perfect mood. They even have an auto-timer feature that’ll automatically turn them on for six hours during the evening/night and off for 18 during the day. You can also opt for the Cool White or Warm White options if desired.
Homemory 2 Pack Color Changing Fairy Lights Battery Operated, 20Ft 60LEDs RGB Fairy String Twinkle Lights with Remote, Waterproof Silver Wire Christmas Lights for Bedroom, Holiday Decor-13 Colors
The Homemory remote controlled fairy twinkle lights are super cheap and great for anyone wanting subtle lighting decorations.
Dimmable lights aren’t enough for you, huh? The Philips Hue Ambiance Light Strip is a fantastic lighting option for anyone who wants to take decoration to the extremes. Like the other Philips Hue products, this smart lighting strip can be customized to shine at any color through the Philips app or a smart assistant (Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, etc.). You can even create pre-set lighting scenes, or choose to transition between colors over time.
Keep in mind that the Philips Hue Ambiance light strip is needier than most outdoor lighting solutions. It isn’t solar-powered, it only works if you have a Philips Hue Hub, and it needs to be installed with an adhesive (installation itself is easy, but reinstalling the light strip can be difficult).
Philips Hue White & Color Ambiance Outdoor LightStrip 2m/7ft (Requires Hue Hub, Works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant)
The Philips Hue Ambiance Light Strip is the ultimate decorative light. It can be set to any color imaginable through the Philips app or your smart assistant.