String lights are some of the most versatile items for decorating your home. Whether it is Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, a birthday, or even a graduation party, you can always find a use for them at home or office. Buying many of them can quickly become a costly venture for you, but DIY string lights present a cost-effective and fun resolution to this problem.
Whether you have a DIY bone or not, whether you know how to work with LED lights and bulbs, and whether this is your first DIY project, the beauty of making your string lights is that the process is relatively straightforward and doesn’t require much skill.
This article will discuss how you can make DIY string lights for virtually any occasion cost-effectively.
What are String Lights?
String lights include small warm, white, or multi-colored lights placed along a string or an electrical wire, each spaced evenly for decoration purposes. These lights may either stay on, blink, or have different patterns embedded into them.
It is important to note that fairy lights are sometimes mistaken with string lights because of a similar build. While they are both on strings, fairy lights aren’t usually as bright or as long as string lights and are used primarily for ambiance only.
DIY string lights give you much more freedom compared to what you will find in the market in the distance you want to keep between the lights, light color, design, intensity, overall string length, and more.
How to Make DIY String Lights
While making your DIY string lights is pretty straightforward, it is essential that you keep several things in mind, such as the wire you will need to use (commercial or standard), which bulb to use (color temperature and wattage), and most importantly, which sockets you will need.
Material You Will Need
- A spool of single-strand wire. You can choose a standard or commercial grade wire.
- Standard wires are suitable for indoor use. These wires are best-suited for dimmer bulbs or making fairy lights.
- Commercial grade wires are suited for virtually any use, even outdoors. If you are making string lights for your patio, roof, or garden, you should consider using commercial-grade wire.
- A plug. The plug you use will depend entirely on your geographical location. For example, the most common socket type A and type B in the US, while in Europe, Schuko plug is favored. Choose a pin that you know you can connect almost anywhere.
- Bulb holders.
- Bulbs. The number of the bulb and the length of wire you will need depends entirely on how long you want your strings to be. A string light can be anywhere between 20 feet to 30 feet. Any longer, and you may not be able to use it properly indoors without having to fold it. There are a few considerations to make when looking for bulbs for your DIY string lights.
- You have the option of choosing between LED and incandescent light bulbs.
- While incandescent bulbs may be more cost-effective and give off a more vintage outlook, it is essential to note that these bulbs may not last as long.
- LED lights have a much more comprehensive range of colors, are adjustable (dimmable and can change colors), and are more robust.
- String lights are usually 1 watt only.
- It is a good idea to place a 1-watt bulb after every 6 inches (½ foot)
Tools You Will Need
You will need:
- Pair of insulated pliers
- Electrical tape
- A multimeter (optional)
- A pair of screwdrivers
- Wire stripper.
Building Your DIY String Light
Before you begin making your DIY string lights, it is essential that you keep the basic electrical structure in mind.
You will need to connect all the light bulbs in parallel. After connecting all the light bulbs in parallel with a distance of 6 inches between each light, connect the neutral wire to the last bulb’s negative to complete the connection.
For the sake of this article, we went with a standard white wire with 1 watt warm LED bulbs. The string light we will make here are 20 feet in length and are best suited for indoor Christmas and Halloween decorations.
- Pull out 40 feet of wire. You may need a measuring tape for this. Make a mark on the 20 feet point and cut the wire about an inch after that. This gives you some room for error if you accidentally cut the wire at any point while peeling it.
- Start at the very beginning. Expose the two wires from the start point and decide which one you will turn into the hot wire and neutral. Red is usually used as the hot wire.
- Cut the hot wire after the 1-foot mark and connect it to the negative node of a bulb holder.
- Cut a 6-inch piece of hot wire. Connect one end to the positive node of the holder and the other end to the negative node of another holder. Make sure you tighten the connecting screws properly.
- Repeat the same step until you have connected ten bulbs in parallel.
- You will need to connect the hot wire to the negative node and the neutral wire to the positive node on the last bulb. You won’t need to make any cuts in the neutral wire.
- Tape the two wires together, ensuring that the connections are all covered.
- Connect the two wires to a plug at the end.
- You now have a basic DIY string light.
- Conduct a test run and make sure all the bulbs are on.
Because your DIY string lights are connected in parallel, it is essential to note that the whole light will turn off even if a single bulb gets damaged or isn’t working.
If you want to add some flair to your string lights, you can connect a dimmer in the hot wire between the plug and your first bulb. This will help you turn the light off or dim them, as needed. If you are installing a dimmer, you may need to install higher-wattage bulbs.
You can also install different colored lights or those that switch colors constantly. You will need to buy a light string chip that is programmed to blink automatically or change patterns for this – which you can easily find on Amazon or with your local electrical hardware shop.
We would recommend buying a single-strand wire that is malleable so that the wire can easily be twisted and turned as per the design you are looking to make. Cover your DIY string light with insulation before you start hanging them outdoors.