Best Curtain String Lights

Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for Best curtain string lights

The right lighting isn’t just about illuminating a space for reading or writing. With the proper lights, you can also effectively set a mood and make a space feel cozier. Curtain string lights add a soft, warm glow to create the perfect ambience for a bedroom, living room, or patio.

Curtain string lights are like standard string lights — small LED bulbs connected to a cord. However, curtain string lights have several vertical strands of lights that hang off a central horizontal cable, making it easy to hang the lights over a window like a curtain. Some curtain string lights aren’t just for indoor use, though. You can hang them from the overhang above your patio or deck for lovely mood lighting outside, too.

But you first have to be sure to choose a quality set of curtain string lights, which can be a challenge because there are so many options on the market. Our buying guide includes all the tips you need to find the best curtain string lights for your home.

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Hang a set of curtain string lights on a wall over or under a sheer fabric panel for an excellent photo backdrop for parties or family photo shoots.

Key considerations

Installation

Curtain string lights have a central strand that sits horizontally against a window or wall or from the ceiling. Some models feature hooks at the top that allow you to easily attach the lights to a curtain rod or hardware on the wall or ceiling. Others don’t have hooks, so you’ll have to attach the lights to the rod, wall, or ceiling with zip ties or some other type of fastener.

The individual strings of lights hang vertically from the central strand. In most cases, these strings are separated and held with twist ties in the packaging so they don’t get tangled. Don’t remove the twist ties from the lights until you hang the horizontal strand or you’ll wind up with tangled lights.

Lighting modes

Modes: Some curtain string lights offer multiple lighting modes, so the lights don’t shine in the usual steady fashion. You can find curtain string lights with as many as ten lighting modes that include flash, twinkle, wave, and slow fade.

Colors: Most curtain string lights have white lights, but some may also change color to multiple colors at once or a single shade like blue, red, green, yellow, or purple. If you want your curtain string lights to shine with a steady white light, you can pick nearly any model. However, if you prefer other lighting modes or colors, make sure to read the product description carefully so you choose the lights that offer the settings you want.

Cord

Most curtain string lights have a standard power cord that plugs into a 110-volt outlet for operation. That means you have to be sure that there’s an outlet near the location where you hang the lights, which can limit where you can use them.

Curtain string lights with a longer cord give you more flexibility and more options for where you can hang the lights. If you can’t find the lights you want with a longer cord, you might need to attach the string lights to an extension cord.

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Did You Know?
Hanging outdoor curtain string lights on an exterior wall of your home makes decorating for the holidays quick and easy.
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Features

Length

Curtain string lights are available in various lengths. Most range from 6 to 10 feet, but you can find some sets that are as long as 20 feet. Some curtain string light sections can be connected to one another if you need to cover an extremely large area for a party or event. In terms of the individual strings, most are about 10 feet long. You can find some that are a bit shorter, too.

Controls

Remote: Many curtain string lights come with a remote control that allows you to turn the lights on and off or adjust the lighting mode from across the room. A remote makes it much easier to operate your lights and is particularly helpful if you like to change the settings periodically while using the lights.

Sets without a remote often require you to plug the lights in to turn them on and unplug them to turn them off. Other models may have an on/off button on the central strand that you have to press for operation.

Dimming: Depending on the mood you’re trying to create, you may find that some curtain string lights are a little too bright on their normal setting. Some lights can be dimmed, so you can turn down the lights to give them a warmer, softer glow.  This feature can help you save energy, too.

Color temperature: Some curtain string lights allow you to choose from multiple light colors, but if you opt for white lights only, you might prefer a set that offers two light temperature colors. That means the lights can provide bright white illumination or a warm yellow glow for the perfect lighting for any occasion.

Timer: If you don’t want to have to remember to turn your curtain string lights on and off, it helps to choose a set with a timer. A timer usually provides an automatic 6 hours on, 18 hours off rotation, so the lights are always on for the period that you want them.

Memory: Some curtain string lights allow you to program your favorite settings, which means you don’t have to manually select the right setting every time you turn on the lights.

Indoor/outdoor

Curtain string lights may be suitable for indoor use only or indoor/outdoor use. If you want to use the lights in your yard or on your patio or deck, you’ll need a set with waterproof wiring. The lights themselves should be marked IP44 or IP54, which means they’re rated for use where they might be subjected to splashing water. The plug and controls should be IP rated, too. 

Power

Most curtain string lights must be plugged into an outlet, but some are battery powered so you can place them nearly anywhere. Some sets use replaceable AA or AAA batteries, while others include a rechargeable battery that can be charged via a USB cable.

You can hang curtain string lights horizontally over a patio or deck to create a ceiling-like effect.

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Accessories

Extension cord: Iron Forge Cable Outdoor Lighted Extension Cord
If you want to use your curtain string lights in a spot without a nearby outlet, you need an extension cord. This heavy-duty 100-foot cord from Iron Forge is durable and rated for outdoor use.

String lights: Brightown Globe Outdoor Patio String Lights
You might want to pair your curtain string lights with other string lights to create the perfect mood for an event. We love this set from Brightown because it features attractive round bulbs and offers a soft, subtle glow.

Curtain string light prices

Curtain string lights vary in price based on size, modes, installation, and other features. Most sets cost between $9 and $100.

Inexpensive: The most affordable curtain string lights are generally small sets that are 6 feet or shorter. These usually only have one or two lighting modes and lack a remote or other special features. They are often only suitable for indoor use. You’ll typically pay between $9 and $19 for these curtain string lights.

Mid-range: These curtain string lights are usually between 6 and 10 feet long. They offer several lighting modes, come with a remote, and may be suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Some are battery powered, too. You’ll typically pay between $14 and $35 for these curtain string lights.

Expensive: The most expensive curtain string lights are longer than 10 feet and offer eight or more lighting modes, include a remote, and are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Some sets are also battery powered. You’ll typically pay between $32 and $100 for these curtain string lights.

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For Your Safety
For safety reasons, plug your curtain string lights into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet to prevent electrical shocks.
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Tips

  • Measure carefully. If you plan to use your curtain string lights in a window, make sure to measure your window carefully. Purchase a set that’s at least as wide as the window to ensure that you have complete coverage. For a large window, you might need two sets of lights.
  • Try the lights with sheers. You can hang curtain string lights over or behind drapes. If you have sheer curtains, the lights shining through the transparent material creates a soft, romantic look.
  • Create a statement wall or faux headboard. Hang a set of curtain string lights on an empty wall in your bedroom.
  • Brighten up a backyard. Hang curtain string lights from a fence for an outdoor party.
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You might want to plug your curtain string lights into a power strip with surge protection to protect them from damage.

FAQ

Q. What are the most common ways to use curtain string lights?

A. Many homeowners hang them over a window or on a wall inside the home. Outside, you can hang them from the roof over a patio or deck. Curtain string lights also make great decorations for a special event like a wedding, holiday party, or other festive gathering.

Q. Are curtain string lights safe to use?

A. If you buy a set of quality lights and use them properly, they’re usually perfectly safe. Make sure that the lights you buy are Underwriter Laboratories (UL) certified, which means they’ve passed certain safety tests. If you plan to use the curtain lights outside, check that they’re waterproof and rated for outdoor use.

Q. How can I hang curtain string lights from a wall?

A. If there are nails on the wall, you hang the lights on those. However, if you don’t want to damage the wall, opt for adhesive hooks that you can apply to the wall without making any holes.

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