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Decorative String Lights: Rope Lights, Designs, and Applications

String lights are just everywhere! Everyone comes into contact with strings lights at one time or another. This can be ranged from the festive, decorative strings lights found in homes and around town during any special moments like the winter holiday seasons up to plenty creative lighting at some restaurants, and other commercial places. The reason is because string lights help to create attractive settings.

By definition, strings lights are small white or multi-colored electric lights spaced evenly along a cable and used mainly for decoration purposes. In more detailed description, they are composed of think electrical wiring encased in durable plastic and featuring a number of small sockets for bulbs. String lights are available in various sizes from the very petite to the large and even grand ones.

Rope Lights

Rope lights will be defined as a sort of decorative lighting fixture, that are featured with attached small light bulbs linked together and wrapped in a PVC jacket to make up a string of lights. These lighting fixtures are applicable in numerous applications, both indoors and outdoors. As an example, rope lights which are used in place of neon signs are occasionally named soft neon.

Rope Lights


Decorative string lights can be found in countless different designs that will highly depend on the end use of the product themselves.


The basic design will compose of stringing together bulbs on a wire and then coating the wire in a clear plastic jacket. The number of wires will rely on the function or purpose for using these lighting fixtures. You may find a rope light with two or three wires which are going to offer you with some features of chasing, dimming and flashing.


A string light with comparatively wider plastic tubing undoubtedly will be more durable to external elements but less flexible. On the other hand, thinner plastic tubing of course is far more flexible but otherwise less robust.


More particularly in the United States, string lights are widely sold in three different voltages: 12 volts, 24 volts and 120 volts. Commonly, the 12 volts and 24 volts variants are better suited for situations where a battery is used to power the lights. Therefore, they are can be the ideal option for cars, boats, etc. Meanwhile, the 120-volt version is more applicable for household or industrial lighting requirements.

LED String Lights vs. Incandescent String Lights


LED string lights are attached with bulbs that are available in different colors and the bulbs themselves produce the colors. On the contrary, incandescent string lights typically compose of bulbs that are featured a colored filter which is applied around the bulb. Therefore, when you switch off an LED string light, it will appear colorless. Meanwhile, when you turn off an incandescent string lights, their bulbs will still appear colored.

Incandescent Mini Multicolor Christmas String Lights


Power consumption and performance

LED string lights demand far less energy compared to incandescent string lights and produce relatively less heat. LED bulbs consume about 1 watt per foot in power, whereas a traditional string requires almost 3 watts of light per foot. Generally, LED rope lights are graded for 100,000 hours, while a counterpart incandescent rope light is graded for 25,000 hours.


LED string lights are mostly more costly than incandescent rope lights.


Due to the versatility of their lighting technology, countless brands of string lights can be used in great variations of different environment, for either or both indoor and outdoor purposes. 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.

Indoor lighting

You may use rope lights for both ornamental and functional lighting devotions. To name some of common indoor applications are outlining the edge of a kitchen counter or bar, wide-ranging ceiling lighting, and under-lighting the baseboards in a movie theatre.

These sorts of string lights are able to offer such a comprehensive illumination throughout the entire room irrespective of how things are arranged.  They also fit into a room with no permanent arrangement like a garage, attic or kid’s rooms. Furthermore, these rope lighting ideas are also great for creating particular ambient lighting, more especially in some interiors like the TV/gaming room, bedroom and bathroom.

Outdoor lighting

For outdoor purposes, rope lights can be found embellished as staircase lighting, exterior patio or deck lighting, as well as many other open-air artistic displays. It can be attributed to their durable feature; thereby they can be suitable for applications around the garden, pool, driveway, shed, etc. Moreover, during certain special holiday seasons, you can use these string lights to decorate your personal or public spaces to deliver messages, greetings or designs with different colors and patterns.

Other Decorative and Creative Applications

Perhaps the most common of all string lights are the strands of Christmas lights that ornament and beautify homes, yards, and businesses during the month of December. They usually come in strands of clear, solid, and multicolor combinations. Some people favor the simple beauty of the clear lights, while others prefer the symmetry of string lights in merely single color. Still others love the multiplicity of random colored lights, and the outcome they create to the young and the young at heart.

For decorative purposes, these special holiday lights frequently offer the option of varied lighting patterns – such as remaining on, twinkling, or being set to a chaser.

Increasingly, strands of string lights for indoor and outdoor parties are getting more popular as they offer countless lighting and mood setting choices. They are usually manufactured to meet the similar specifications employed for the holiday string lights, yet they have a little additional feature. In this case, bulbs or bulb covers are made into shapes of different object to pursue more fun effect.

Some examples can be found in string lights for a St. Patrick’s Day party which is featured with bulb covers in clover shape; string lights for Valentine’s Day may display such a sweet heart shaped bulb covers.

Many public or commercial settings are also increasingly using string lights as part of their interior or exterior decorative design ideas. For instance, many restaurants turn to string lights in order to evoke the touch of atmosphere. It is said that the presence of the string lights helps to enrich the look and feel that the restaurant wants to create for the enjoyment of their customers.

Their wonderful applications can be seen 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 in countless cozy little bistros or even coffee shops.