Are Outdoor String Lights Waterproof

Are Outdoor String Lights Waterproof

Outdoor string lights are an easy and affordable way to add ambiance to an outdoor seating area or walkway. But are all outdoor string lights waterproof and, if so, what degree of weatherproofing is it reasonable to expect?

Most outdoor string lights can tolerate light to medium rain exposure; however, they are not all waterproof. String lights with a low IP (Ingress Protection) rating between 1 and 3 will state they are “Suitable For Outdoor Use” but they are not fully waterproof. String lights with a higher IP rating between 4 and 8 would be classified as waterproof.

It’s safe to assume your outdoor string lights can handle a little bit of moisture. But to find out if they’re weatherproof, you can check manufacturers guide for their IP (ingress protection) rating. I will discuss this in more detail later.

Can Outdoor String Lights Get Wet

The degree of moisture your outdoor string lights can tolerate is shown by their IP (ingress protection) rating.

Specifically, the second number in the IP rating. It ranges from 1 to 8 with eight denoting the highest possible level of waterproof protection. String lights with an IP48 rating are safe to use outdoors even if you live in an extremely wet climate.

Conversely, an IP42 rating means the string lights can tolerate small amounts of rain occasionally but not heavy, persistent downpours.

An IP41 rating denotes the lowest possible level of waterproofing. These outdoor lights can tolerate humidity and very light drizzle but they’re the least waterproof of all.

Remember, it’s the second number in the IP rating that relates to waterproofing. The first number represents a product’s level of dustproofing.

If you’re willing to spend more for top quality outdoor string lights, look for a product with an IP68 rating to get the highest level of water and dust protection.

Whether or not the highest level of water protection is something you need depends on what type of climate your home is in.

If it’s hot and dry year-round, with rain falling just a handful of times per year, it doesn’t matter so much if your lights lack waterproofing. Match their IP rating to the needs of the environment.

Are All String Lights Waterproof

It depends on the type of string lights you choose to buy. The majority of products are waterproof, as having this quality makes them safer whether they’re installed indoors or outdoors.

Don’t forget, there are water hazards inside the home too. It’s useful for all plug-in lights to have some degree of waterproofing.

If you plan to install colorful string lights outside, look for a product that specifically mentions ‘outdoor’ use. These products have outdoor rated LED bulbs that are safe for use in moist and/or wet environments.

Depending on the strength of their waterproofing and the type of weather you’re used to, it may be safe to leave them outdoors indefinitely.

LED bulbs are by far the best choice for outdoor lights. Incandescent bulbs can be used outdoors but only in dry conditions. These bulbs shouldn’t be left outdoors permanently unless the climate is very dry and exposure to rain is unlikely.

Here are some common types of waterproof outdoor string lights:

1 – LED Waterproof Festoon Globe Lights

Svater Outdoor String Lights - 100ft with 50 Dimmable Waterproof G40 LED Globe Bulbs
  • Outdoor String Lights 100 FT: Each strand contains 50 E12 based hanging sockets, provided with 52pcs 1W clear Edison G40 LED bulbs. This 100FT patio led light is bright enough and create a magical ambiance in your outdoor garden, pool area, gazebo, porch, deck, pergola, wedding, bar, balcony, Halloween party, trees, or any outdoor party or event.
  • Waterproof & Shatterproof: With fully sealed and self-gasketed sockets design, This G40 globe patio lights can withstand the extremely weather conditions, No matter rainy, windy or snowy, suitable for years around at outside. Plastic bulbs assured you and your family safe while hanging the string lights for the patio, no worry from glass shards.
  • ETL certified & Energy Saving: The ETL certified safe and durable electric bistro lights either with a built-in spare fuse for easy replacement. Svater outside lights are equipped with 1w plastic globe bulbs, brightness equivalent to 10w traditional bulbs, but saving up to 90% on your electricity bill.
  • Dimmable Patio String Lights: This 100ft patio led lights emits a vintage warm glow which makes you feel cozy and ideal for family reunions, holiday celebrations, weddings, get-togethers, parties, etc. You can also adjust the brightness with a compatible outdoor lights string dimmer.(The dimmer is not included)
  • Connectable & Warranty: Svater string lights are end to end connectable up to 8 strands (800ft ) to customize your space. Each bulb works individually, if one goes out, the rest will work fine. Please contact the seller directly if you have any quality problems. For Bulbs replacement, please search B07F12SS76

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Festoon lights, sometimes called cafe lights, are those big bulb garlands often seen at fairgrounds or hanging above outdoor terraces.

They’ve got a classic, almost vintage look and turn up in lots of Hollywood movies to signify old world magic and romance.

Festoon bulbs tend to be quite large so there are fewer to a string than you’d get with contemporary fairy lights. They have a clean, classic aesthetic.

2 – Solar LED Waterproof Lantern String Lights

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lantern string lights are popular because they combine traditional designs with modern technologies. It’s quite common these days for lantern string lights to be solar powered.

The bulbs are large so there are fewer lights per string. However, their size means they can house the components necessary to store and convert solar energy.

The big advantage of this is they don’t need to be plugged in. While it’s still important to make sure your lantern lights are waterproof, rain will damage paper and some canvas products, issues of safety are a moot point with these.

3 – Colorful Waterproof String Lights

Fairy String Lights Plug in - 33 FT 100 LED Globe Ball String Lights 8 Modes with Remote Control
  • 【Plug in Fairy Lights】: Come with low voltage(30V) power adapter, UL listed, cool to touch and not heat when using,it’s safe to use. Total 33ft length of string lights add 10ft of lead cable can decorate your indoor and outdoor space, Multicolor lighting is ideal for your Christmas, festival, parties, home decoration.
  • 【8 Lighting Mode & Dimmer/Timer/Remote Control】: More choice and more beautiful with 8 different Lighting functions. Up to 7 meters remote control distance, you can adjust the light from dimmer to bright as you like, and Daily 6 hours on timer can avoid forgetting to turn off the lights.
  • 【Waterproof and Widely Application】: with water proof design, you can easily set up your fairy string lights anywhere, for indoor and outdoor use, Ideal for you Christmas, Birthday party ,garden, wedding ceremony or girls bedroom, camping tent, wall decoration, bedroom, Creating a sweet and cosy ambiance.
  • 【Easy to Install 】: high-quality long Flexible wire lights can be easily bent and shaped around plants, curtains, wall decoration, furniture and is quite flexible for wrapping around shrubs outside or banister rails, wall indoors.
  • 【Safe and After Sales Service】: UL certification approved, the lights can last up to 30,000 hours .And if you have any questions about the product, Please don't hesitate to contact us ,We will response within 12 hours.

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

These are the type of low-duty lights you’re used to hanging around your Christmas tree in winter. They come in a huge variety of colors and styles but they’re relatively cheap and not designed for year-round illumination.

Some of the more expensive fairy lights will last a surprisingly long time but, generally, they’re a low use product.

There are lots of small bulbs per string because each individual bulb has a low wattage. You might need several strings of fairy lights to illuminate even a relatively compact space.

I recommend buying something a little more robust if you plan to use your outdoor string lights year-round.

4 – Vintage Waterproof String Lights

Brightech Ambience Pro - Waterproof Solar LED Outdoor String Lights – 1W Retro Edison Globe Bulbs - 27 Ft Bistro Lights
  • Ideal Solar Outdoor Lights: 27 ft long durable Christmas string lights with 12 LED lights and detachable solar panel with on/off switch located on the back. 20" between bulbs, 6' from solar panel to the first bulb. The lighted portion is 20 feet. LED bulbs last 20,000 hours and solar panel is rated at 1,000 charge lifespan (can last approximately 2.5 years). Direct sunlight is best for a full charge, though you can get some use from charging in indirect light.
  • Commercial Grade WeatherProof Patio Lights with Shatterproof G40 Bulbs: Brightech’s Ambience Pros hanging string light has our WeatherTite technology - withstood winds up to 50MPH, rain & snow. The bulbs are shatterproof plastic shells, with heat resistance up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Flexible heavy-duty cord withstands the wear of indoor and outdoor use. Make your pergola, porch or other space to be an enticing, relaxing and soothing winter holiday retreat with Brightech LED outdoor lights.
  • Flexible Installation & Widely used Patio Lights: Solar patio lights string don't need an outlet, place the solar panel almost anywhere with the included stake and clip. Brightech outdoor decorative bistro lights are the perfect decoration for balcony terrace, garden, Bistro, pergola, gazebo, tent, barbecue, city roof, market, cafe, umbrella, dinner, wedding, birthday, party, Xmas, etc.
  • Elegant Romantic Ambience: Brightech outdoor LED string lights use vintage Edison Globe Bulbs. Install this hanging lights string as a canopy over your porch or gazebo for a retro bistro look and a pleasant party ambience. Enjoy until late with Brightech 3000K soft white outdoor lights: They last 5-6 hours on a full charge, i.e. 6 hours of direct sunlight.
  • A Thoughtful Present for Every Stage of Life: Searching for a remarkable gift? Look no further! Our commercial grade string lights are the ideal gift for students, mothers, fathers, partners, spouses, children, kids, or parents for Back to School, Off to College, Graduation, Halloween, Christmas, Birthday, Winter Holiday, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Wedding, Anniversary and Business Achievement

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Also known as “Edison Bulb Lights”, these retro string lights feature antique-style bulbs that produce a soft, golden glow. They’re similar to festoon globe lights insofar as they have a deliberately sparse, minimalist aesthetic.

Like festoon globe lights, they tend to be designed for heavy-duty outdoor use, so most are robustly weatherproofed.

Just make sure to buy string lights with LED bulbs rather than authentic Edison bulbs because they’re much more durable.

5 – Outdoor Waterproof Fairy String Lights

myCozyLite LED String Lights - Plug in String Lights, 49Ft 100 LED Warm White Globe Lights with Timer, Waterproof
  • Globe ball string lights - Premium quality Globe LED light chain with timer and plug, 15m long(10m String Lights, 5m Lead Wire), 30V low voltage transformer with 7.2W Rated Power. 8 Functions plus timer and memory(Bulb Outer Diameter Approx. 17.5 mm/0.7 inch).
  • Timer & Memory - Auto Timer Allows a Simple Press and Go, 6 Hours Running and 18 Hours Off Following by another 6 Hours Running, 24 Hours Cycling. Built-in Memory Chip will save the function till the next time light up.
  • Extension - Linkable LED String Lights with Male and Female Safe Plug to fit different size Christmas trees and garlands.
  • Waterproof & Decorate - IP44 Waterproof and small mini LED heads. Bright, perfect for indoor and outdoor use, Ideal for Christmas, Wedding, Party, House Decoration, Bedroom, Living room, Wall, Garden, Backyard, Back Porch or Balcony etc.
  • Customer Service - myCozyLite Preferred Customer Service offers 12 hours Fast Email Reply, 15 Months Warranty and 45 Days Return Service

Last update on 2024-07-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Outdoor fairy string lights are perfect for adding romance and ambience to outdoor spaces of all varieties. They work in the same way as standard fairy lights but tend to have much more dramatic and eye-catching designs.

Each bulb is still small and relatively low wattage. However, fairy lights designed for outdoor spaces pack hundreds of tiny bulbs very close together.

Some of the most popular designs create an enchanting “shower” of light and can be draped over tree branches, fences and furniture to add lots of flair and sparkle.

Are Outdoor String Lights Safe In the Rain

The IP rating on your outdoor string lights will tell you if they can be safely used in the rain. Remember, IP ratings vary from not suitable at all (1) to completely suitable and tolerant of intense moisture (8).

Your outdoor string lights don’t need to have the highest rating to be suitable for wet weather conditions.

Make a judgment call based on your location’s climate and weather patterns and how often you think you’ll use the lights.

If you want to install them outdoors and leave them up all year, spending more on a heavy-duty set is a really good idea.

Provided the outdoor string lights are designed for wet weather use, you should have no problems installing and using them even in the rain.

But there are some other factors to consider:

  • Outdoor lights (unless they’re solar powered) will need to be hooked up to a power socket or a generator. If you’re using an extension cable, it must be rated for outdoor applications. If there’s even a slight chance of rain, you need a cord with a weatherproofed exterior. Look for a ‘W’ stamp.
  • Any bulbs included with wet weather suitable string lights will be robustly weatherproofed. When replacing broken bulbs, you’ll need to check the ratings and capabilities for yourself. Damp rated LEDs can be used in moist and/or humid environments. Wet rated LEDs are safe for use in extremely wet conditions and can tolerate direct exposure to water.
  • Individual bulbs will break or burn out from time to time. It’s always best to leave non-functioning bulbs in their sockets until you’re ready to swap them for new ones. Leaving the sockets open exposes the wiring and other components that are more sensitive to dust and moisture.
  • Where possible, use plastic mounting clips, hooks or screws to install outdoor string lights. Metal hooks will hold the string lights up securely, but they will also conduct too much heat unless they’ve got an insulated coating. Overheating will melt the light fixture’s protective exterior and expose its sensitive wiring to the elements.

Helpful Tips To Know About Leaving Outdoor String Lights In the Rain

It’s easy to find outdoor string lights that are safe for use in wet weather. Waterproofing is a common feature of all electric products so even indoor rated lights will have some degree of weatherproofing.

To keep yourself and your garden guests safe, remember these tips when installing outdoor string lights:

  • Check the IP rating. The second number tells you how much tolerance the lights have for wet conditions.
  • Where possible, replace broken bulbs with the same brand. Leave the broken bulbs inside the sockets until you’re ready to swap them out for new ones.
  • Make sure any power cords you’re using are robustly weatherproofed and have a waterproof exterior.
  • Spend a little more for outdoor string lights that last no matter the weather. Value and budget lights can be safe for use outdoors, but they tend not to last as long. Consider whether you’ll leave your lights up all year round, for half the year or just for a couple of months in the summer.

Final Thoughts

Outdoor string lights are an easy and affordable way to add interest to an outdoor space. Whether you want to liven up a patio or add sparkle to a backyard water feature, they’re a versatile and striking way to do it.

To make sure your string lights are truly waterproof, take some time to check their IP rating. The higher the number, the stronger the weatherproofing.

Drew Thomas

My name is Drew Thomas and I’m the creator of Fun In the Yard, your one stop site for all your outdoor games, sports, party activities, outdoor gear, and lawn & gardening tips.

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