How Long Do Outdoor String Lights Last

If you love to enjoy with your friends on your patio or in your backyard during the summer afternoons and evenings, to make late afternoons barbeques and dinners, outdoor string lights are the real cinch. Nothing can beat cafe-style string lights for their ability to improve the ambiance in the exterior of your home quickly. In the evening, their soft glow overhead can visually transform an ordinary patio into a party-ready spot for hosting friends or cheer up a dim walkway with an inviting luminescence but pay attention to what is the best color for outdoor string light. Some of the types of outdoor string lights can be dimmable, so they can make a great addition to vintage theme weddings, birthdays, and any other party. Not forget to mention, like a part of Christmas decoration, outdoor string lights for Christmas (aka fairy lights) are unreplaceable addon in the creation of holiday atmosphere.

But if you want the best performance combined with good price and quality, it would be a good idea to read this text and learn how long outdoor string lights can last and what it depends on. In some of our earlier blog posts, we covered the topic of types of lights and their pros and cons. You could read there about a few main types of lights/ light bulbs – incandescent, LED, CFL and others. The main two in use for outdoor string lights are incandescent and LED. While the incandescent is “the old school,” and with their basic shape giving to a lamp on which they are attached more vintage look, LEDs are more efficient, economical, and durable.

Today, the most popular are LED outdoor string lights, for the reasons stated above.

They use far less electricity than incandescents, providing brighter, sharper illumination with purer and richer colors than any other, and they last much longer.

That’s why LED technology is mostly used as a part of outdoor string lights, and we will focus mostly on their lifespan. If we talk about Christmas decoration light, a string of top quality, professional-grade light can reasonably be expected to last for roughly 6-7 seasons.

The basic life duration of LED lights is rated up to 50000 hours, which is 50 times longer than their incandescent opponent, 20-25 times longer than a typical halogen, and 8-10 times longer than a typical CFL. Used 12h a day, this type of light will last more than 11 years. Used 8 hours a day, it will last 17 years! In reality, it’s true, LED lights get high marks when it comes to durability. In tests, LED bulbs didn’t burn out after over 4000 hours of continuous use, while standard, incandescent bulbs burned out at a rate of one to two per strand before half that time. But it is not so simple because there are so many factors involved. For example, If you live close to the ocean, the expected lifespan of your outdoor lights can easily go down by 50%.

Also, if you use them for the whole year, you can expect they will last much less.

Light is roasted by the sun – UV exposure is the single largest cause of deterioration. They’re battered by wind and rain. They’re jostled and jiggled and bumped as they go through the cycle of installation, takedown, and storage each season. They’re sometimes stored in not so friendly environments, like hot attics. So though a light string may contain diodes capable of burning bright for 50000 hours, that light string isn’t going to last for nearly that long.

We must calculate the power supply, also. There are three main types of power supply for outdoor string lights – direct from AC, battery-powered, and solar-powered lights. All 3 have their own pros and cons, but the main advantage is on the side of the first, lights powered through AC adapter has a constant power supply, so you can use them almost infinitely. The other two depend on Sun, in case of solar powered outdoor string lights and from a duration of battery life, so you need to count that in a life span of your string light.

But don’t forget – safety first!

Always keep on mind the safety of yourself and other people in your personal space.  If you follow the following tips, not only will your light installation be done in the safest way possible, it will also last the longest possible time.

  • If you are not sure how to hang outdoor string lights and to perform their complete installation, it probably would be best to contact some professional electrician to do that job for you.
  • Use extension cords that have the label of an independent testing laboratory and are marked for outdoor use. Extension cords provide a temporary solution and should not be used long-term or permanently.
  • If an outlet will be exposed to the elements, it needs a special “in use” cover to keep it – and the plug itself – dry if it gets rained on. All outdoor outlets should be GFCI-protected to prevent electric shock.
  • Install bulbs with extended lifespans in hard-to-reach locations to limit the number of times you have to climb a ladder, move furniture, or engage in potentially dangerous activities.
  • Always use a bulb of the correct type and wattage. If you do not know the correct wattage, contact the manufacturer of the lamp or fixture. A bulb with excessive wattage will cause possible overheat and cause a fire.
  • Make sure every fixture and bulb is rated for outdoor use. Even places that are under a roof can still get damp and very cold, so the lighting needs to be able to handle that. Some fixtures are rated for wet locations, so If the fixture could get rained on, be sure it’s up to the task.

We hope these pieces of advice and tips will help you to decide which outdoor string light is best for you, as well as how to stay safe during its use.


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