We put 11 outdoor garden lights, including icicle lights and fairy lights, through our tough durability tests to find out which are the most robust
Over the course of a couple of months we put 11 outdoor lights through an assault of durability tests to find the ones you’ll be able to rely on all year round for many years to come. The lights we tested range in price from £10 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 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.
The best outdoor lights
ConnectPro Outdoor LED String Lights
Cheapest price: from £26.98 for five metres (including starter cable), 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’.
Corst Outdoor Icicle Lights
Cheapest price: £21.99 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: £12 for 300 lights 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.
Koopower Battery Operated Fairy Lights
Cheapest price: £7.99 available at Amazon These battery-powered lights are one of the biggest-selling outdoor lights on Amazon. They’re 10 metres in length and there’s 100 lights on the string, but will they survive the great outdoors?
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.
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.
Premier 200 LED Supabrights With Timer
Cheapest price: £12.99 available at the Christmas decorations outlet (out of stock) 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?
Pro Connect 200 Traditional Warm White Connectable Icicle 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 outdoor lights to make your home or garden look fabulous all year round. 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: £19.99 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 (out of stock) These bright white lights are almost 20 metres long, have eight light modes and 200 lights in total.
How to pack up your lights after use To keep long-lasting lights it’s essential to store them correctly in any months when you might not be 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 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 light storage reels to help keep the lights tidy and stored correctly. We’ve seen them at a number of retailers, including Amazon, and retailers such as UKChristmasWorld or Festive-Lights, which will help keep the lights tidy and stored correctly.