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Outdoor String Light Guide

  • 3 min read

Outdoor String Light Guide

Wondering how to choose the perfect string light for your outdoor location? Here at Paper Lantern Store you’re only limited by your imagination. We have so many options to choose from and it can be confusing. We’ve created this guide to help walk you through the product specifications in order to get you the best cord to fit your outdoor space.

String Light Cords

  • Non-Drop vs Suspended Socket Cords: Outdoor cord sockets come with two different socket looks for where your lights are on the cord. They are either directly attached to the main cord or suspended down 3 inches. Examples as pictured below.

    Multi-socket Suspended Black Outdoor String Light Cord by Paper Lantern Store                         Multi-socket Non-Suspended White Outdoor String Light Cord by Paper Lantern Store
  • Length: The next option to look at is the total length of  cord that you require for your space. Some cords have the ability to plug end-to-end for long distance spaces, but they do have limits based on wattage. Do you need 25 feet, 100 feet length of cord or 300 feet of cord?!? Once you narrow down how much length you need and how many cords that may be, you can then see what color cord is available in that length option.  

  • Spacing: The spacing between sockets is important because this will affect how it makes your space look and what size lanterns or lighting accessories you can choose from. If you’re not planning on adding any light shades then you may need to consider how much lighting you need for your space. If the light bulbs are too far apart, you may not have enough lighting. If you’re adding lanterns, patio covers or cages, then having spacing too close together may limit which lamp covers you can pick from. Generally spacing on cords goes from 12” to 36”.

    For example: Say you want to add 12” and 14” lanterns on to a light cord. You wouldn’t get the 12” spacing cord because the light bulb sockets would be too close together and the lantern sizes you picked would be crunched together and not hang correctly. What you should do is go up to a 24” spaced cord to allow freedom on either side of the paper lanterns. In this example, if you purchased a 24” spaced outdoor socket, you could get lanterns as big as a 20” lantern and still have enough space on either side of the light bulb on your cord. It gives you more options for colors, sizes and shapes of your lanterns!

    Socket Guide

  • The actual sockets on cords also have different sizes. We offer three sizes of sockets  - E12, E17 or E26.

  • E12 / C7 sockets are sometimes called “candelabra” sockets and are made for smaller decorative bulbs, night lights or chandelier type light fixtures. They tend to have lower wattages and are more of an ambiance light.

  • E17 / C9 sockets are an intermediate base. They’re commonly used for appliance lights or known as old Christmas bulb lights.

  • E26 sockets are “standard” or “medium” base bulbs – their bases are more than double the size of E12 base bulbs and tend to have greater bulb wattages that afford brighter light. These are the most common bulbs found in US houses. This is comparable to the E27 bulb base in Europe.

Light Bulb Socket Options at Paper Lantenr Store

Bulb Options

There are a lot of bulbs to choose from. We have bulbs sorted in multiple ways, but using socket size based on the cord you’ve already chosen will be the easiest way to see your options.

  • Size: Depending on your cord, you can go to E12, E17 or E26 and it will bring you to that collection of socket sized bulbs.

  • Color: Do you want a cooler white light or a warm white light? Would you rather go for a funky colored light bulbs like red, yellow, green, blue or pink? You can filter items on the left-side of your screen to show only the colors you’re interested in.

Colored Light Bulbs at Paper Lantern Store

Light Bulbs at Paper Lantern Store


Now that you’ve chosen the string light cord and light bulbs to suit your needs, you may need accessories such as extension cords, wire suspension kit, patio covers, light cages or paper lantern shades. There’s no right or wrong choice, just a matter of the atmosphere you’re looking to achieve. We have decorative paper lanterns in many sizes, shapes and colors which can create a truly unique look that’s specifically to your tastes.

Last but not least...Make sure you get enough bulbs and/or light bulb accessories for the number of sockets on your cord!