Best Fairy Lights

Updated September 2021
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Buying guide for Best fairy lights

Fairy lights are a must for holiday decorating, but that is not their only use. With fairy lights, you can add a bit of ambiance to everything from parties and places of business to dorms and bedrooms. Functional, affordable, and charming, fairy lights are an easy and creative way to breathe life — and a bit of sparkle — into your space.

When shopping for fairy lights, you will need to make some decisions about bulb size, string length, color, and power. Sorting through these considerations can make the task of choosing fairy lights arduous rather than fun. That’s where we come in. In this guide, we present you with the important factors to consider and reveal what you can expect at various price points so you can make a quick decision.

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If you opt for solar fairy lights, position the string so the solar panel that runs them gets full sun exposure during the day.

Key considerations

Number of bulbs

The more bulbs you have, the more illumination you will have. The number of bulbs on a string of fairy lights can vary greatly, from 20 bulbs on a short string to 240 or more bulbs on a long string.

String length

String length closely correlates with bulb quantity, although some variation exists in terms of how far apart the bulbs are spaced.

A basic string of fairy lights may be less than 10 feet long. Longer strings may stretch 100 feet or more. The size you need depends on your intended use. Consider measuring the area you intend to decorate to get a rough idea of the string length you need.

Number of strings

The majority of fairy light products ship as one string. However, some products feature multiple strings, sometimes up to a dozen. With these, you can easily decorate a variety of rooms or other areas.

The length of each string, as well as how many bulbs are on each string, is an equally important consideration. A dozen strings of fairy lights for a low price may sound like a bargain, but you’ll want to make sure that each string isn’t just a yard long.

Bulb power

Wall outlet

The traditional light string that plugs into a wall outlet is still popular. The only catch is that you need access to a socket. Nowadays, there are other options that allow more flexibility in where you place the lights.

USB

USB ports are common these days. If you are running your lights near one — say you’re decorating an office with a computer — this powering method is a good option.

Batteries

Some fairy light strings run on battery power. This really opens up your placement options. For example, you can hang battery-operated fairly lights at a remote campsite for gentle fireside ambiance. On the downside, you will need to periodically change the batteries.

Solar

Some outdoor fairy lights run on solar power, saving you money on batteries or electricity. Solar powering requires that you locate the string in strong sunlight for a large part of the day.

Indoor vs. outdoor

Some fairy lights are intended for indoor use only. These lights should never be used outdoors. However, there are other fairy light products that could safely be used outside or inside.

Lights that can be used outdoors are typically waterproof with a rugged build that can hold up to weather and other outdoor elements. Some are powered by compact solar panels, so you need no electricity to run them.

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Did You Know?
The term “fairy lights” dates back to London’s Savoy Theatre in 1882, where the dresses of actresses were adorned with battery-powered electric lights for a performance of Iolanthe.
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Features

Bulb type

Fairy lights used to be made only from incandescent bulbs. Today, LED fairy lights are much more common.

LED bulbs: LED lights are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs and typically last two to three times longer. They give off less heat and hold up better over time.

Incandescent bulbs: While they can burn out fairly quickly, incandescent bulbs emit a warm glow and are more affordable than LEDs.

Bulb size and shape

Fairy light strings typically employ very tiny light bulbs. If you’re looking for something larger — or something with a unique shape, such as snowflakes or butterflies — you may be looking for string lights. These fall in a slightly different, yet also delightful, category of ambient lighting.

Form

Fairy lights come in a variety of forms. There are single strings of fairy lights, which can be used in a variety of decorative ways. There are complex net or grid patterns that can be thrown over a bush or hung on a wall. There are other creative iterations as well: fairy lights shaped like moons, trees, flowers, fireworks, and more.

Color

Do you want just one color, or do you want multiple colors? LED fairy lights often come in a range of colors. If you have a specific hue in mind, shop accordingly. If you are more interested in changing colors regularly, search for an LED fairy light string that offers this feature.

Light settings

Some fairy lights are quite basic in functionality: you plug them in, they light up. More often than not, however, you can choose from a variety of settings to cue the mood: changing colors, light patterns, flashing speed, fluctuating brightness. Some fairy lights even play music and “pulse” to the beat.

Remote control

A remote control allows you to easily turn a string of fairy lights on and off. What’s more, with multifunctional lights, you can use the remote to change pattern, color, speed, and other elements with the push of a button.

Some fairy light strings are labeled as lightweight. This is a plus if you need your lights to be portable or if you plan to drape them on an object that cannot bear a lot of weight.

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Fairy light prices

Inexpensive: Strings of fairy lights that cost less than $10 tend to be shorter in length with a less-durable build. Fairy lights in this range usually have fewer bulbs and little in the way of advanced features.

Mid-range: For $10 to $15, you will find strings of fairy lights that are longer and more durable. These lights usually stretch between 33 and 66 feet. Some include advanced features, such as remote control operation and a couple of lighting patterns.

Expensive: Fairy lights that cost more than $15 may stretch up to 100 feet long. You will find more specialized fairy lights here, such as window curtains, and a variety of advanced features such as solar panels and intricate lighting patterns. For the greatest longevity, we recommend buying in this range.

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Did You Know?
LED fairy lights can be found in warm and cool hues, each of which creates a different type of mood.
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Tips

  • If your chosen fairy lights run on battery power, remember to budget for batteries. Your purchase may come with starter batteries, but you will likely need to replace them.
  • If you want a more eco-friendly option, go with LED fairy lights. While more expensive than incandescent bulbs, LEDs use less power and last two to three times longer.
  • If the price of a string of fairy lights sounds too good to be true, note the length and number of bulbs. The string could be of minimal length with little illumination.
  • If you want to link strings of fairy lights together to achieve a desired effect, choose strings that all have the same type and size of bulb. Attempting to connect two different types of lights, such as mini lights and jumbo lights, could overload one or more of the strings and start a fire.
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In addition to string length and number of lights, take note of bulb spacing, or the distance between bulbs on the string. Bulbs that are closer together can provide a fuller illumination than those spaced further apart.

FAQ

Q. How safe are fairy lights?

A. We are talking electricity here, so you should treat a string of fairy lights like you would any electrical cord. Take care not to have the string plugged in when you change a bulb. Make sure you’re using your lights for their intended purpose. Never use indoor lights outside, as they could short out when they become wet and create a fire hazard.

You should also pay attention to any warnings on the packaging pertaining to string use. For example, it is important to note the number of strings you can safely plug together at a time.

Q. How can I prevent my cat or dog from chewing on my fairy lights?

A. Chewing electrical cords is a safety hazard many pet owners are familiar with. Situate your fairy lights up and out of your pets’ reach, if possible. Blocking access is the best way to prevent a pet from chewing electrical cords. Try covering any accessible cord with tape or tubing and consider investing in a taste deterrent spray if you’ve got a determined canine or feline at home.

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