Best energy-efficient Christmas lights for your garden

Here are the best Christmas lights to save on energy costs this season.

energy-efficient Christmas lights

by Angela Kenny |
Updated on

Get up the learning curve of the latest technology so you can splurge on stylish Christmas lights, but save on energy costs; already strung up your Christmas garden lights? Us too! But now’s a great time to think about upgrading your festive illuminations, and not just to achieve a more stylish or spectacular display – investing in the latest products can save on energy costs too.

Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be ready to pounce on the very best energy-efficient Christmas lights as soon as the festive sales start – and along with an outdoor artificial Christmas tree – bag yourself a future-proof bargain.

Best energy-efficient Christmas lights at a glance

Best path lights: Habitat Set of 4 Christmas Tree Path Finder Lights – View on Argos
Best energy-efficient firework lights: CCILAND 4 Pack Fireworks Lights Multicolour LED – View on Amazon UK
Best contemporary light: Marco Paul Interiors Traditional Sliver Light Up Christmas Tree Set – View on Amazon UK

Thanks to the latest tech, today’s lights are clearer and brighter than previous products and come in a wider choice of colours and effects. With ultra-fine wiring and tiny LEDs, light strings can be wrapped and woven through foliage and garden features with ease, built into finely detailed 3D figures and enclosed in vibrant tubing for modern retro neon motifs. And connectable strings, smart controls and multi-function modes help take the faff out of creating your dream light show.

Best energy-efficient Christmas lights

Best path lights

Chic and bright, let these star-topped LED spiral trees lead guests to your front door. Mains-powered, they come with a handy base spike so they can be easily pushed into soil, lawn or planters.

Customer review: "I love these lights so much, I bought a second set. They are easily fitted, just poke them in the ground, and plug them in. They're a lovely bright white and wobble in the wind, but easy to put back in box afterwards as they entwine together. Shame they're not on an attached timer."


  • Nice and bright
  • Easy to set up and put away


  • They are on the small side

Best energy-efficient firework lights

CCILAND 4 Pack Fireworks Lights Multicolour LEDs are versatile as the flexible copper wire branches can be arranged into different shapes. Also, these waterproof lights are dimmable, on a timer and are powered by a USB plug. Purchasing as a pack of four offers great value for money and they effortlessly create a magical ambience.

Customer review: "These lights are brilliant. You can bend them into any style that you wish and are very bright. There are quite a few styles of lighting you can operate from the remote control. They do really look like fireworks. There are four sets of lights on quite long leads which are transparent and can be spaced either close or far apart. Very happy with these and fully recommended."


  • Versatile
  • Style how you wish
  • On a timer


  • Some customers comment on faults with the timer

Best contemporary light

 Marco Paul Interiors Traditional Sliver Light Up Christmas Tree Set
Price: £39.99

Giving off a soft white light, these Christmassy cones made from soft spun cotton are a contemporary statement, with the tallest of the trio standing at 80cm tall. They need 8 x AA batteries per set (not included) for generating and have an automatic timer of 4 hours on and 20 hours off. 

Customer review: "I really love these made my decorations. So minimalist just how I like it."


  • Stunning look
  • Great price for all three
  • Battery powered


  • Only suitable for indoors or porches

Best neon light

Neon Star Outdoor Christmas Light Decoration
Price: £15 (was £30)

Neons are super popular and we just love this star. Let it glow with the Neon Star Outdoor Christmas Light Decoration from Hombase. It features eight colour-changing functions and has a timeless design that could be used beyond Christmas.


  • Eye-catching
  • Use for occasions other than Christmas
  • Great value


  • No customer review

Best fun light

Acrylic Gonk 3D with Lantern Outdoor Christmas Light Decoration
Price: £22.50 (was £45)

We love the kitsch charm of this moulded acrylic gonk, and with 60 internal lights, he’ll shine brightly in your garden. Features a bright white light and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Customer review: "It's amazing, great quality and lights up amazing. I'm so pleased with it it makes everyone smile who sees it."


  • Suitable for indoors and outdoors
  • Great for kids


  • May not suit some decor choices

Best energy-efficient outdoor multicoloured lights

Bring some joy this festive season with 2000 multi-coloured beaming bright LED lights. These energy-efficient, low-voltage ANSIO Christmas Lights Fairy Lights feature eight lighting modes. Also, they fully extend to 50-metre lit length, plus there's a 10-metre power cable. With the timer, the lights are illuminated for eight hours on and 16 hours off.

Customer review: "Beautiful Christmas lights that fit perfectly our 3m/ 10 ft tree in the front garden. 🎄🎄🎄
Very happy with purchase and quick delivery."


  • Safe to touch
  • Long-lasting LED bulbs
  • Bright


  • Hurry, or might not arrive in time for Christmas!

Best energy-efficient outdoor icicle lights

Icicle Lights Outdoor Christmas 480 LED
Price: £35.99

These enchanting icicle lights can dangle from your guttering, glowing, flashing, twinkling and more as you set your desired lighting mode. The Icicle Lights Outdoor Christmas 480 LED are blue and white, with eight lighting modes and a memory function. The timer saves electricity, as they're only on when you want to admire them. They are 15 metres lit length with a five-metre power cable. In addition, the lights are operated by a mains-power plug.

Customer review: "Great settings and look amazing good value price. Only problem is when you take them out of box took ages to unravel, but worth it when switched on and around your house. Had lots of comments of how lovely they are."


  • Long-lasting LED bulbs
  • Low voltage and energy-efficient
  • Safe to touch


  • A customer commented that their lights had a short lifespan

Best energy-efficient Christmas tree light

Argos Home Iron Frame Tree Christmas Light
Price: £25 (was £33.33)

Argos Home Iron Frame Tree Christmas Light is a contemporary outdoor decoration that's bound to get lots of admiring comments. It's freestanding, easy to set up and has a timer feature.

Customer review: "A really lovely alternative to the traditional Christmas tree that's both classy in appearance and stunning visually. Easy to set up straight out of the box. Simply screw the corresponding pole into the base then push in the bolt at the back, turning to secure."


  • Two speed settings
  • Freestanding
  • Fixings included


  • Last chance to get before Christmas

Best string lights

Proxima Direct Indoor and Outdoor Fairy Lights
Price: £25.95

Why settle for one row of lights when you can dazzle with masses with warm white LEDS for a magical glow? At over 40 metres long, this string of warm white micro-LEDs looks stunning woven in among foliage or tucked around a door or gateway. With eight twinkle functions, these lights create an enchanting ambience for any occasion.
Available in 40-metre, 50-metre and 80-metre lengths.

Customer review: "These are really long, if you are buying for indoor use, check if you have the space first ! We hung them outdoors and these functioned quite well. The aesthetic looked very nice and bright. Also beware these are eye catching and so people will notice the lights."


  • Versatile
  • Stays cool to touch
  • A lot of lights


  • Customer comments that they are not long-lasting

Need an outdoor plug socket?

When plugging in any kind of mains-powered outdoor light, it’s vital that the socket is kept dry and protected from the elements. While you can use an indoor socket and trail power leads through open windows, a neater and safer option is to have an outdoor socket professionally installed. Costing around £145, it’s a quick and easy job for a registered electrician. Designed to take one, two or three plugs, these units have weatherproof and dust-tight covers. Many also come with a built-in residual current device (RCD), which is a safety mechanism designed to automatically shut off power if any part of the power supply or item is damaged.

Here are some handy extras to make life easier

Best extension lead

The Weatherproof Box provides a safe and convenient wall-mounted housing for power supplies for outdoor equipment such as garden lighting. The box keeps plugs and electrics safe from the elements and can accommodate four plugs.

Customer review: "No fuss installation and really easy to use. Seems to be water tight. Great for extending power to the bottom of your garden."


  • Well-thought-out design
  • Safe, sturdy and compact


  • Some said they wished it was bigger for the price

Best battery charger

This Compact universal charger is suitable for all sizes of rechargeable batteries. It can recharge batteries in five hours and automatically switches off. Batteries are sold separately.

Customer review: "It can charge a number of different rechargeable battery cells, its compact, easy to setup and use, safety circuit to stop you overcharging battery cells is very important, excellent item."


  • Charges AA, AAA, C, D & 9V Batteries
  • Safety timer


  • Take a while to charge

FAQs: Energy-Efficient Christmas lights

What if the cable isn’t long enough to reach?

Most plug-in outdoor lights come with a generous cable length – usually between 5-10m – but sometimes this isn’t enough. Many of the latest light strings are connectable and are designed to link together simply and safely. The number of strings that can be daisy-chained in this way and run from a single socket can vary depending on product type so always double-check that the total wattage of the lights doesn’t exceed the wattage of your socket to avoid overloading the circuit. Some systems offer sections of blank cabling so you can tailor lighting to suit your garden layout, but it’s key to stick to the same lighting system to ensure that all the products are compatible.

Using an extension lead is another option but it must be suitable for outdoor use. Look for an IP rating of IP54 or higher and don’t plug multiple extension cords into one another as this can lead to overheating and overloading – buy one cord that’s the right length instead.

How can I reduce running costs over Christmas?

Thanks to new technical advances and the greater need use less electricity, the latest energy-efficient Christmas lights are much more economical to run. Practically all contemporary lights feature LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) which are low voltage, give out a crisp bright light and last way longer than a traditional incandescent filament bulb. Featuring an electrical circuit that passes across a microchip, these lights use 80-90% less power than a filament lamp.

Made from tiny components, they can be used to form intricate designs that look far more elegant than those on offer just a few years ago. They also remain cool to the touch so are safer to use around children and animals, and the plastic cases are more durable than trad glass.

Timer switches and smart plugs also reduce the amount of energy your lights use, plus they save on hassle and win approval of neighbours and local wildlife too. Plug into the socket before adding any outdoor lights and either set the hour dial to the duration you wish your display to be lit or pre-set or control remotely using the app. And it's not just for Christmas, these plugs and timer switches can be used all year round for any of your garden lighting ideas.

string of lights in the garden with garden bench and sheltered corner hidden by hedges in the evening.

What if I don’t want lights that have to be plugged in?

If you don’t have an outdoor socket or want to light hard-to-reach areas of your garden, battery or solar-powered lights are handy. The length of time these lights stay lit for depends on the type and size of bulb (LEDs will last at least 10 times more than traditional incandescent bulbs), the number of lights per string, and the size, quality and age of the batteries used. Rechargeable batteries are the most environmentally responsible solution, just check they offer the same power your product recommends.

Some products offer the dual option of mains or battery power, but most battery lights will appear dimmer than mains.

Which Christmas lights can I use outside?

All mains-powered electrical items have an IP rating (this stands for Ingress Protection), which notes how well protected the electrical components are from moisture and dust seeping in. For outdoor lights, you need a rating of IP44, IP65 or above and you’ll find this info on the packaging or in the online description.

Even if the lights are designed for outdoor use, do check that the plug and transformer are too – some product descriptions state these are for indoor use only. Even if you have an outdoor plug socket, you’ll likely need to use an indoor socket as the plug will be too big to fit within the socket’s weatherproof shield.

Table ready for dinner party at house backyard

What’s the best material for a lit figure?

Festive lit figures are a fun way to inject personality as well as light into your outside space. There’s a huge range of winter wonderland characters to choose from but before you settle on a style, have a think about which material is best for you.

Moulded acrylic characters have a hard outer casing, often with a frosted finish, that’s lit from within. They’re lightweight to move but this also means they’ll easily blow over so make sure yours comes with cable ties and stakes if your garden is at all exposed. Fairly expensive for their size, they will last as long as you store them indoors and treat them with care as some finer features such as antlers can become brittle with age.

Acrylic mesh has an open weave, constructed from a lightweight wire or fibreglass frame covered in spun acrylic with integrated LED lights. These are more affordable and more forgiving too. It’s worth reading the product spec to see if a figure is made from hard or soft spun acrylic: soft tends to yield slightly to the touch, making it less brittle and easier to transport and store; hard can break when knocked, and any damage is hard to disguise when lit.

Wicker or rattan figures have all the tactile beauty of a natural material but while they’re fine outside during the festive season, they’re not designed for long-term outside use. Some are pretty huge so do consider where you’ll store them for the other 11 months of the year before you buy!

Faux or resin rattan is similar to soft spun acrylic but has a neutral colouring and more uniform strands with a flatter rather than rounded profile. Mimicking the look of real rattan, these figures are far more durable.

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Angela Kenny is production editor of Modern Gardens magazine. She loves spending time in her garden with her husband Alan and their three cats Rupert, Darcy and Frankie.

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