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What are String Lights?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Just about everyone has come into contact with strings lights at one time or another. From the festive strings of lights found in homes and around town during the winter holiday seasons all the way through to creative lighting at some restaurants, string lights help to create attractive settings. Composed of think electrical wiring encased in durable plastic and featuring a number of small sockets for bulbs, string lights come in sizes from the very petite to the large and grand. Here are some examples of different types of string lights, including how they can be used all year long.

Perhaps the most common of all string lights are the strands of Christmas lights that adorn homes, yards, and businesses during the month of December. Available in strands of clear, solid, and multicolor combinations, these special holiday lights often include the option of remaining on, twinkling, or being set to a chaser pattern. Some people prefer the simple beauty of the clear lights, while others like the symmetry of string lights in one color. Still others love the diversity of random colored lights, and the effect they have on the young and the young at heart.

Increasingly, strands of string lights for indoor and outdoor parties are popular lighting and mood setting options. Manufactured to meet the same specifications used for the holiday string lights, these party lights sometimes have something a little extra. Bulbs or bulb covers shaped like different object can add to the fun. For example, string lights for a St. Patrick’s Day party may feature bulb covers in the form of clovers. String lights for Valentine’s Day may sport heart shaped bulb covers. Whatever the theme of the party, there is a good chance that bulb covers can be located to match the occasion.

Restaurants also are turning to string lights to add a touch of atmosphere. From the fun strands of red pepper shaped string lights in Mexican restaurants to simple clear lights that are intertwined in the branches of potted trees, there is a design idea for just about every type of restaurant. The presence of the string lights helps to enhance the look and feel that the restaurant wants to create for the enjoyment of their customers.

While all string lights are UL tested for safety, it is important to note that not every string light set is right for every condition. Some are made for indoor use only. Others are manufactured for both indoor and outdoor use. Many string lights come with the ability to easily attach to other strands of lights. However, most manufacturers do not recommend attaching more than three strands of string lights together, since the current flow may become more than the wiring is intended to carry. Always observe any safety guidelines when using string lights, and you will be able to enjoy your lights for many years to come.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including HomeQuestionsAnswered, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon320400 — On Feb 17, 2013

I had to look this up because someone kept telling me they were called Christmas lights.

By patrpatr0919 — On Nov 13, 2010

This is an excellent article. I would add that to safely hang string lights consider using a decorating framer. No nails, or staple please! Suction cups are not reliable. Search the web for suppliers of window decorating framers.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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