Build Your Own String Lights

Build Your Own String Lights

Looking for a DIY solution to finding the right set of string lights? We carry a wide variety of cord and bulb options, but not every possible combination is represented in our String Lights category.

If you already know some or all of what you're looking for, see the steps below or go directly to our Cords Only and Bulbs Only categories to make your selections to start building your own.

If you need some help figuring out what's the right string light for you, scroll further below for some guidelines to help you through the process of Choosing Your Cord and Choosing Your Bulbs!


Already know the cord style and length you'd like?

  1. Check the cord detailed description for the quantity of bulbs you need.
  2. Note the socket size of your cord: medium, C9, or C7.
  3. Browse all our bulb options based on your socket size (buttons below).
  4. Use the filters on the left side of the bulbs category page to choose preferences and narrow your options.
  5. Add the quantity of the bulbs to your cart that equal the number of sockets for each cord.

Already have a bulb picked out?

  1. Note the socket size of your bulb: medium, C9, or C7.
  2. Browse all our cord options based on your socket size (buttons below).
  3. Use the filters on the left side of the bulbs category page to choose preferences and narrow your options.
  4. Check the cord detailed description for the number of sockets.
  5. Add the quantity of the bulbs to your cart that equal the number of sockets for each cord.

Choosing Your Cord

Which cord grade should I choose for my string lights?

When you hear commercial grade, it is the actual stringer, not the light bulbs, that make string lights "commercial grade". Light bulbs can be used interchangeably between standard and commercial grade stringers, as long as the base size of the bulb matches the socket size of the cord. Choosing between our cord grades depends on your application and preference. Here we've outlined the key differences to help you decide.

Commercial Grade

Our commercial grade cords are suitable for outdoor, year-round use and ideal for permanent installations. They are perfect for that high-end, professional look around patios, backyards, bars, restaurants, weddings, events, and more. Additional features of our commercial grade string lights include:

  • High quality PVC sockets form a snug, weather‐resistant seal around the bulb.
  • Heavier gauge wire (14- or 16-gauge depending on socket size).
  • Ability to safely have longer runs (total wattage allowed per cord).
  • Cord lengths: 25 to 330 feet (varies by socket size).
  • Cord colors: black, white, and green.
  • Socket sizes: medium/E26, C9/intermediate/E17, and C7/candelabra/E12 (see comparison below).

Standard Grade

Globe String Lights

Our standard grade stringers still have a time and a place in the world of decorative string lights. Not every application calls for the heavier outdoor stringers. Below are some key points when deciding if our globe patio lights are perfect for your space:

  • Cost-effective.
  • Suitable for outdoor use but may not last as long.
  • Great for indoor lighting for events, holidays and room decor.
  • Good option for temporary lighting needs like smaller events or weddings.
  • Cord lengths: 14 to 100 feet (varies by socket size).
  • Cord colors: black, white, and green.
  • Socket sizes: medium/E26, C9/intermediate/E17, and C7/candelabra/E12 (see comparison below).

Which socket size is right for me?

There are enough variables between the socket size options when it comes to string lights, so one may want to pick based on socket size first, then decide the cord grade (see above). Thinking through these details will help ensure you have the right amount and style of string lighting you're trying to achieve. Review the key differences below.

Medium / E26 Socket Size

Our medium / E26 cords have a socket that is the same size as a standard household bulb. They are ideal for larger patios and backyard spaces, as well as bars and restaurants or large events. Some of the key features of this socket size include:

  • High-quality PVC sockets form a snug, weather‐resistant seal around the bulb.
  • Heavier 14-gauge insulated wire.
  • Socket spacing: 24 inches
  • Cord lengths: 48, 100, and 330 feet
  • Cord colors: black, white, and green

C9 / Intermediate / E17 Socket Size

The slightly smaller C9 / intermediate / E17 socket and shorter socket spacing provides a lighter weight solution for smaller patio areas. Shorter lengths are available to accommodate smaller spaces. Available in both commercial and standard grade options, below are the specifications specific to the C9 socket size:

Commercial Grade C9 Cords

  • High-quality PVC sockets form a snug, weather-resistant seal.
  • Heavier 16-gauge wire.
  • Socket spacing: 15 inches
  • Cord lengths: 56 and 330 feet
  • Cord colors: black and white

Standard Grade C9 Cords

  • 18-gauge wire.
  • Socket spacing: 12, 24 and 36 inches
  • Cord lengths: 14, 25, 30, 50 and 100 feet
  • Cord colors: black, white, and green

C7 / Candelabra / Socket Size

Although quite similar to C9, the C7 / candelabra / E12 socket provides not only a commercial grade option, but also an inexpensive solution for smaller patio areas and one-time events. Compare the options below along with the C9 options above to find the right cord for your new string lights.

Commercial Grade C7 Cords

  • High-quality PVC sockets form a snug, weather-resistant seal.
  • Heavier 16-gauge wire.
  • Socket spacing: 12 inches
  • Cord lengths: 25 and 330 feet
  • Cord colors: black

Standard Grade C7 Cords

  • 18-gauge wire.
  • Socket spacing: 12 inches
  • Cord lengths: 25 and 100 feet
  • Cord colors: black, white, and green

Choosing Your Bulb

Should I go with LED or incandescent bulbs?

As if the wide variety of styles (or shapes) of bulbs available isn't enough, now many of those styles come in both LED and incandescent options. Some may choose based on aesthetics, whereas others may choose for efficiency. For dimmable bulb consideration, see that referenced below. If you're undecided, read through the key differences to help decide which is right for your space.

LED

Benefits of LED Bulbs ...

  • Efficiency — lower energy usage where a 1W LED bulb can replace an 11W incandescent.
  • Cost — although a higher upfront cost, over the long term you can save not having to replace them as often.
  • Durability — small LED bulbs are less fragile than an incandescent filament and stand up to vibrations better.
  • Material — LEDs are available in both glass and plastic options. Because of the heat produced with incandescent, plastic shells are not an option. For example, if you are lighting around pool decking or edging a structure where bulbs may come in contact in the wind, you'd want plastic bulbs options.
  • Safety — they produce very little heat so they are safe to touch or be safely near sensitive materials.
  • Color — LEDs have the technology to make the small LED bulbs emit a range colors versus having the glass dipped in color.

Incandescent

Benefits of Incandescent Bulbs ...

  • Cost — An inexpensive option, especially if you just need them for a one-time party.
  • Color — For some, nothing beats the traditional warm glow of incandescent.
  • Style — This mainly refers to the various unique filament styling in vintage bulbs that you can get with incandescent and hard to mimic in LED (see vintage notes below).

What bulb options do I have with the different base sizes?

If you already know which cord you're getting or perhaps already have, then first and foremost you'll want to match the bulb base size below with the socket size of your string light cord. If you're not sure which socket size you have, refer to our Light Bulb & Socket Guide. If you're just starting out, perhaps review here the differences in the bulbs between the different socket sizes.

Medium / E26 Bulbs

String Lights with T14 Spiral Edison Bulbs

Medium / E26 bulbs have the same base size as a standard household socket. As the name implies, they are paired with our medium/E26 base cords. Bulb highlights include:

  • Largest selection of LED and incandescent options.
  • Provide the brightest options among the three socket sizes (range from 7W to 60W equivalents).
  • Available in 11 bulb styles and sizes (see graphic below).
  • Clear, opaque white, frosted and nine colors available in incandescent. Warm white, cool white and five colors available in LED.
  • Glass (incandescent and LED) and plastic (LED only) options available.

C9 / Intermediate / E17 Bulbs

C9 / Intermediate / E17 bulbs have a base size that's just over a half inch. As the name implies, they are paired with our C9/intermediate/E17 base cords. Bulb highlights include:

  • Wide selection of LED and incandescent options.
  • Brightness options range from 5W to 10W equivalents (with sockets closer together you don't typically need brighter for accent lighting).
  • Available in six bulb styles and sizes (see graphic below).
  • Clear, opaque white, and nine colors available in incandescent. Warm white, cool white and seven colors available in LED.
  • Several glass (incandescent and LED) and plastic (LED only) options available.

C7 / Candelabra / Socket Bulbs

C7 / Candelabra / E12 bulbs are the smallest size we have, and the base size is just under a half inch. As the name implies, they are paired with our C7/candelabra/E12 base cords. Bulb highlights include:

  • A nice selection of globe-shaped LED and incandescent options.
  • Brightness options range from 5W to 7W equivalents (with sockets closer together you don't typically need brighter for accent lighting).
  • Available in three globe bulb sizes (see graphic below).
  • Clear and multi colors available in incandescent. Warm white available in LED.
  • Glass (incandescent and LED) and plastic (LED only) options available.

Are all bulbs dimmable?

This is a commonly asked question. The quick answer is all incandescent bulbs are dimmable, but not all LED bulbs are dimmable. If you would like dimmable LED bulbs, we have a filter option on our website to narrow your search. Go to Bulbs Only, then select LED Bulbs. From there, the dimmable filter can be found in the "Refine by" section on the left side below the Shop Categories box. If you know the socket size you want/need, that filter option is the last of the filter options. As always, make sure your socket size of your cord and bulbs match.

Additionally if you have dimmable LED bulbs, be sure to use an LED-compatible dimmer to prevent flicker or not working at all.

What vintage bulb options are available?

Many people refer to "vintage" as regular incandescent bulbs. We, however, refer to vintage bulbs that have the style and look of old Edison-style bulbs. Incandescent has more unique filaments options, whereas LED bulbs take on the vintage look by means of mimicking the filament to look like an incandescent. Vintage string lighting adds a touch of modern nostalgia to backyards, patios, events and more!

Vintage Incandescent Bulbs

Vintage incandescent bulbs provide a wide variety of unique filament styles to get that warm glow and old world charm.

  • Brightness ranges from 7W to 25W depending on socket size.
  • Available in four styles/size.
  • Glass options only.

Vintage LED Bulbs

Vintage LED bulbs step away from the various LED bulbs and instead use vertical style filament to mimic traditional "vintage" incandescent bulbs.

  • Brightness ranges from 7W to 15W depending on socket size.
  • Available in seven styles/sizes.
  • Glass and plastic options available.

Final note ...

This is a lot of information and sometimes it's easier to talk over ideas with someone. Feel free to give us a call any time during our customer service hours (Mon-Fri 9-4 CST), and we'd be happy to answer all your questions and help you get the perfect lights for your space.

Read next

Light Bulb & Socket Guide

LED Bulb
Buying Guide

LED vs. Incandescent


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