As much as we love the sunshine, for us, summer is equally about long balmy evenings spent outdoors – preferably with an ice cold beer in hand. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, patio space or balcony, you can extend the enjoyment into the night with smart lighting.
Our gardens can transform into truly magical spaces with the flick of a switch, and while some products are priced like investment pieces – think lighting that doubles as sculptural art, or expensive pendants that mimic the best indoor chandeliers – others are surprisingly affordable.
The best outdoor lights are highly durable and weatherproof and can withstand being left outside.
Look for those with a minimum IP43 rating to protect against inclement weather – essentially the higher the number the more waterproof your light will be.
Think about your light source, too. Increasingly we’re seeing innovative garden lighting design that relies on solar power, which is better for both the environment and our electricity bills
Otherwise, consider where you are going to set up your lighting installation to keep plugs and cables safe from the rain.
Of course, exterior wall lights and pendants for porches will need a qualified electrician to install them.
We tested a range of garden lighting from ditsy fairy lights up to giant outdoor floor lamps, looking for the best in high quality and low-maintenance illumination for our exterior spaces.
Best outdoor lights:
Best multi-coloured lights: Lights 4 Fun multi coloured LED connectable festoon lights: £49.99, Lights4fun.co.uk
Best waterproof light: Industville Brooklyn outdoor and bathroom pendant, brass: £75, Industville.co.uk
Best wall light: Mullan Muara 140mm semi flush wall light: £137, Made-to-last.co.uk
Best floor lamp: Anglepoise original 1227 giant outdoor floor lamp: £3,300, Conranshop.co.uk
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Lights 4 Fun multi coloured LED connectable festoon lights
Best: Multi-coloured lights
You can always rely on festoon lights to add a theatrical element to your outside space. When draped the length of the garden, or alongside an exterior wall, they can create a cheerful line of light.
But they can be expensive, which is why we loved these versatile LED lights that come in configurations of 5m up to a whopping 150m in length – simply link up each 5m section to suit your needs. The durable round Perspex bulbs are supported by an inconspicuous, waxy rubber cable. Top quality and an instant party atmosphere.
Buy now £49.99, Lights 4 Fun
Industville Brooklyn outdoor and bathroom pendant, brass
Best: Waterproof light
Waterproof and weatherproof, this simple, industrial style pendant is made for bathrooms and exteriors alike – but we loved its glowing presence in our front porch. It’s a beautifully designed lamp that offers understated elegance.
Handmade, the glass shade is robust and artisanal in feel, while the brass holder offers a warm and inviting vintage look. It can take a classic shaped bulb, we recommend the T45 tube (available on the site) to echo the shaping of the shade.
Buy now £75.00, Industville
Mullan Muara 140mm semi flush wall light
Best: Wall light
Sticking with the industrial theme, but this time with an unmistakably nautical aesthetic, Mullan’s weatherproof Muara light makes a wonderfully warming addition to an exterior wall or porch.
The porthole shaped light comes in a variety of metallic finishes, from antique silver to polished brass, but we loved ours in soft satin brass. Team it with a 3W max LED bulb and experience the homely glow.
Buy now £137.00, Made to Last
Anglepoise original 1227 giant outdoor floor lamp
Best: Outdoor floor lamp
Adding a dramatic sculptural appeal to the modern patio, the original Anglepoise lamp, a design classic from 1932, has been reimagined for the outdoors. It’s also grown somewhat – this oversized desk lamp now reaches 230cm from base to shade.
Also available as an articulated wall-mounted lamp, the outside version boasts marine-grade stainless steel fittings, knurled adjuster wheels, a sealed waterproof light unit and a strong silicone rubber cable. One for design lovers with deep pockets.
Buy now £3300.00, Conranshop
Tribu monsieur tricot garden lights
Best: Hanging lights
If you’re serious about transforming your garden or patio into an extra living room, design-led lighting is the way to go. This pretty creation of outdoor lights designed by Ilia Eckardt for Belgian brand Tribu feature a removable knitted cover that’s made from polyolefin rope.
The lights cast beautiful shadows and patterns as they gently move in the breeze and best yet is that they’re dimmable, allowing you to control the mood. They do cost a lot of money, but they’re undeniably magical.
Buy now £815.00, Go Modern
Pooky portreath adjustable light
Best: Adjustable light
This is an elegant and versatile product from luxury lighting brand Pooky’s new outdoor range. It’s contemporary in form with a simple cylindrical shape that can be adjusted to allow for a soft, directional light, whether that’s illuminating the garden path or the entrance to the patio doors. The lamp comes in a range of metallic finishes including the vintage-look aged brass. Discreet, understated, and top quality.
Buy now £72.00, Pooky
Auraglow solar powered chrome outdoor garden LED ground deck decking lights
Best: Solar powered light
If you’re after low-maintenance lighting in your backyard, these recessed lights in brushed chrome will come on automatically when the sun goes down. Suited to slot into your decking, garden path, or directly into the ground with sturdy spikes, the set of four circular lights are an affordable way to bring both a decorative warmth and a practical lighting solution to your outside space.
Buy now £19.99, Mano Mano
The verdict: Outdoor lights
Lights 4 Fun’s multi coloured LED connectable festoon lights are user-friendly, high quality, versatile and affordable. Sold in 5m sections, this is a great way to buy string lights that can be easily added to, as and when you want to extend the illuminations. We loved that the power cable sits indoors and can be connected and disconnected to the festoon lights neatly and with ease.