We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Home & garden.

When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission to help fund our not-for-profit mission.Find out more.

25 November 2021

Best outdoor Christmas lights

We put 11 outdoor Christmas lights, including icicle lights and fairy lights, through our tough durability tests to find out which are the most robust
Matthew Knight

Over the course of a couple of months we put eleven outdoor Christmas lights through an assault of durability tests to find the ones you'll be able to rely on for this Christmas and many more to come.

The lights we tested range in price from £10 all the way up to more than £60 (depending on how many metres you buy). We've tested mains-powered lights, battery-powered lights, icicle lights and fairy lights so that we can recommend the most durable sets, whatever your requirements. 

Surprisingly fewer than half of the outdoor Christmas lights completely survived our durability tests. Clear signs of corrosion and poor soldering were the most frequent causes of early failure. Find out which lights suffered this fate. 


Our recommended solar lights still work in winter conditions. Discover the best solar lights in our tests


The best outdoor Christmas lights

Only logged-in Which? members can view the outdoor Christmas light test results below.  If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the Christmas lights we tested. 

Join Which? now to get instant access to our Best Buy recommendations below.

ConnectPro Outdoor LED String Lights

Cheapest price: from £26.98 for five metres, available at Festive lights.

You can buy these lights in five-metre increments up to 100 metres in length. They're relatively pricey for outdoor lights, but it's claimed they can survive 'prolonged outdoor use'. 

Log in or join Which? to find out how they fared in our tough durability tests and whether they're worth the investment. 

Corst Outdoor Icicle Lights

Cheapest price: £29.99 available at Amazon

These outdoor icicle lights offer 10 metres of cable and 400 lights for your money. The lights also have eight modes and a remote control to switch them on and off.

Log in or join Which? to see if these lights survived rough treatment and severely wet conditions.

Homebase 300 LED string Christmas Tree Lights

Cheapest price: £9 for 100 lights, or £24 for 300 at Homebase

These lights are relatively cheap for a whopping 30 metres of cable if you buy the 300-light version. They also come with a built-in timer that turns the lights on for six hours and off for 18 hours. 

Log in or join Which? to see whether it's worth a trip to Homebase for these lights.

Koopower Battery Operated Fairy Lights

Cheapest price: £14.99 available at Amazon

These battery-powered lights are one of the biggest-selling Christmas lights on Amazon. 

They're 10 metres in length and there's 100 lights on the string, but will they survive the month of December in the great outdoors? Log in or join Which? to see if we recommend them.

Lights4fun 200 LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights

Cheapest price: £21.99 at Lights4fun

This string of 200 lights is almost 20 metres in length and powered by three D cell batteries. It also has a timer function. 

Log in or join Which? to find out if these lights can survive wet and freezing conditions, and how well they deal with rough treatment. 

Ollny Fairy Lights 200 LED

Cheapest price: £21.99 available at Amazon 

These mains-powered fairy lights are 20 metres in length and have 200 lights in the string. They also come with a remote control, so you can turn the lights on and off from the comfort of your sofa. 

Log in or join Which? to see what we made of them and if they survive sustained subzero temperatures and our other tough durability tests.

Premier 200 LED Supabrights With Timer

Cheapest price: £12.99 available at the Christmas decorations outlet 

It's a lot of lights for £12.99 and they're spread over 24 metres of cable, plus they have a timer as part of the package too. 

But has Premier cut corners on the durability and robustness of these lights? Log in or join Which? to find out.

Pro Connect 200 Traditional Warm White Connectable Icicle Lights

Cheapest price: £35.98 for two metres at Lights4fun

These lights are connectable so you can buy them in increments of two metres all the way up to 40 metres. You can buy them in white, warm white, or a mixture of colours. 

They're a bit light on different flashing modes, as you can only either have them on or off, but their main selling point is the claimed durability of the lights. Log in or join Which? to see if they lasted.

Pro Series Outdoor String Lights

Cheapest price: £23.99 for five metres available at Christmas direct

Available in eight colours with either green or white cabling, these could be the perfect Christmas fairy lights to make your home or garden look Christmassy. 

In our tests we put them in subzero temperatures for 12 hours, dunked them in buckets of water and gave them some severe rough treatment. Log in or join Which? to find out how they fared.

The Range 400 Light Chain LED Lights

Cheapest price: £14.99 available at The Range

You get more then 30 metres of lights with this set and 400 LEDs, which is impressive considering the price. 

But will they still be shining after a typical British winter? Log in or join Which? to see if they impressed or disappointed.

WerChristmas 200 LED Christmas Tree Lights

Cheapest price: £12.99 available at WerChristmas

These bright white lights are almost 20 metres long, have eight light modes and 200 lights in total. 

Log in or join Which? to find out if they have enough backbone to get through a tough winter.

How to pack up your lights after Christmas

If you want to enjoy putting your Christmas lights up next year, we'd advise following these tips when you take them down this year. 

To keep long-lasting Christmas lights it's essential to store them correctly in the 11 months you're not using them, making sure they aren't kept in a big tangled heap. 

  • Use a coat hanger: A spare coat hanger can be used to wrap your Christmas lights around. Not only does this stop them getting tangled up, but it minimises the space you need to store them as well. 
  • Wrapping paper tubes: You can recycle wrapping paper tubes and use them to wrap your lights around. Cut a slit in one end of the tube to grip one end of the lights, and then simply wrap them around the tube. 
  • Old cardboard box: If you don't have a wrapping paper tube, or a coat hanger, a similar method can be followed with a sheet of cardboard. Simply cut a notch at one end to attach the lights, and then wrap around the board. 
  • Light reels: If these homemade options don't appeal, you can buy Christmas light storage reels to help keep the lights tidy and stored correctly. We've seen them at a number of retailers, including Amazon, eBay and Christmas retailers such as UKChristmasWorld or Festive-Lights, which will help keep the lights tidy and stored correctly. 

How we tested outdoor Christmas lights

We know from our research that outdoor Christmas lights have an issue with longevity. They simply don't last for enough Christmasses, and many end up in landfill far too quickly. 

We set out to find out if there are Christmas lights that will survive tough British winters, and how much you need to pay for them. 

Of course we couldn't test these products over three or four years like we might like to - by the time we could publish the results you wouldn't be able to buy the lights anymore. 

So we designed a really tough set of tests to simulate the type of conditions these types of lights might endure over a harsh British winter. 

Waterproofing

Each set of lights was subjected to a sustained shower with a hose, and then also fully submerged in a bucket of water for an hour. 

Sub zero temperatures

Dripping wet, the lights were put into a freezer for 24 hours at -16 degrees. 

Weathering

Before we even started the durability tests the lights were all left outside in all weathers for three weeks. This was enough of a test for many of the lights to already show signs of corrosion. 

Rough treatment

We set up the lights, bashed them against fence posts and sharply tugged the wires repeatedly where they entered the plug socket and all along the cable. 

This tests simulated the type of rough treatment the lights might receive if they're being untangled, or put up without much care.