Ultimate Patio Light String Showdown – PLT vs Addlon

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Ultimate Patio Light String Showdown - PLT vs Addlon

Patio lights used as outdoor lighting.

It’s time for Part 2 of our showdown between our commercial-grade PLT outdoor string lights and ones from other brands. As a quick reminder, we looked online and in stores for patio sting lights similar to the commercial-grade PLT patio lights we offer. We purchased lights from a variety of retailers, comparing wire type, sockets, bulbs, and end plugs, as well as customer reviews. 

In the first post, we took at look at a set of Better Homes & Gardens patio lights from Walmart, which were easily the worst of the products we looked at. For this second segment, we’ll take a look Addlon string lights available on Amazon.

Addlon Outdoor String Lights

Addlon Outdoor String Lights from Amazon

The Addlon LED outdoor string light set we ordered was 50′ long with 15 sockets spaced 3′ feet apart along the wire. It comes with 15 LED bulbs (each “bulb” consists of a bulb & globe), and is listed on the product page as being ETL certified and IP65 rated. The product page also states that this string is shatterproof, waterproof, and dimmable. The cost was $26.99.

Initial Unboxing

During the initial unboxing, we found that the patio lights shipped with the bulbs already screwed into the sockets. We noticed right away that most of the them we scratched and marked.

The string was coiled into three bundles with color coded ties. Per the small instruction card that was included, the ties are removed in a certain order so that the sting unwinds without getting tangled. That was not what happened. We ended up with a massive knot that we were never able to fully untangle.

Wire

The main wire is SPT-1 wire. This is the type of wire normally used for Christmas lights. It’s meant to be used outdoors temporarily, no more than 45 to 90 days. It should not be used for permanent outdoor lighting as it is not designed to withstand long-term exposure to the elements. In fact, the warnings for this particular string (on a large label next to the male plug) state that it should only be used temporarily, and no more than 90 days at a time.

 

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SPT-1 Wire

SPT-1 Wire

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Warning Label

Warning Label

 

Commercial-grade PLT Stringers: Our commercial-grade string lights are made of SJTW wire, which is a weather-resistant thermoplastic wire rated for 300V. It’s perfect for long-term outdoor use.

Sockets

These Addlon outdoor string lights are listed has having E26 base sockets. At first glance, they do appear to be medium sockets. But once the bulbs are removed, you find that there is a candelabra E12 socket. The inner walls of the socket is threaded, allowing you to screw in a globe. Due to this design, there is no water-proof gasketing.

The sockets are made of hard plastic and seem like they might get brittle in extreme temperatures. They are also not molded to the wire. There are slight gaps around where the wire goes in, which becomes more noticeable when you move the wire around. Water can get in through these gaps and short out either the socket or the entire string.

Commercial-grade PLT Stringers: The sockets on our stringers are a made of durable PVC and molded to the wires. They also have a thick rubber gasketing that seals around the bulb, ensuring water cannot enter the socket.

Bulbs

As mentioned earlier, the LED lamps included with the Addlon string consist of two pieces. The first is an outer S14-shaped globe, or “shell” per the manufacturer. The second piece is an inner vintage LED tubular bulb, referred to by the manufacturer as a “wick”.

Both the wick and shell must be used with this stringer. The shell is what seals the socket against water entry. It will only fit over the wick, meaning you cannot use a different candelabra bulb. Replacement wicks are available, however the prices is 4 for around $20. That’s nearly the cost of the string. This set does not include replacement globes, and it appears that none are available for purchase.

As mentioned earlier, most of the globes were already scratched when we opened the box. We quickly found that it didn’t take much to add additional scratches to them. Just gently setting them down on the floor scratched them. We also found that the globes do not fit very tight in the socket, which can lead to water getting in during storms.

Commercial-grade PLT Stringers: Bulbs for our stringers are sold separately, allowing you to fully customize your stringer. Choose from a wide variety of traditional lamps for a classic look, or go with LEDs to reduce energy costs. This also makes getting replacements easy.

Plugs

Like the previous stringer, this outdoor string light have regular indoor plugs complete with a set of fuses. They are not sealed against water entry at all. The gaps around the wires and prongs are so large that you can see light through the other side. These are defiantly not safe for outdoor use.

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Male Plug

Male Plug

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Female Plug

Female Plug

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Back of Plugs

Back of Plugs

This calls into question the IP65 rating listed on the product page. IP65 means that a product is dust tight and water-resistant against jets from any angle. Given the massive gaps around the plugs and sockets, there is no way this string is even remotely water resistant.

Commercial-grade PLT Stringers: Our patio lights use outdoor rated male & female plugs that are molded the the wire, ensuring that water cannot enter.

Additional Callouts

With the IP rating in question, I decided to look up the ETL listing. While the manufacturer does have products that are ETL certified, I was unable to locate the strings model number in the database.

The product page does mention several times that the string is dimmable. However, it is only compatible with a specific smart dimmer that is sold separately. This dimmer is not shown anywhere on the page, but I was able to find it after digging through the Customer Q&As. The recommended dimmer per Addlon sells for $32.99. It uses 360 Watts, is outdoor rated, and plugs into the string.

Reviews

The Addlon string lights have a fairly decent rating, however the negative reviews are very telling. A lot of customers ran into many of the same issues we regarding being unable to untangle the string and having the globes arrive scratched. Others had issues with the string shorting out either when first plugged in or later one after they had been used for a while. There were also a lot of complaints about bulbs not working right out of the box. At least one person said that the bulbs in their string was unable to touch the contact point in the sockets because it was off center. And there were a lot of complaint about water getting into the bulbs.

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In addition the the review for the lights, I also looked at the reviews for the dimmer. The very first customer photo shows a melted unit. There are several other negative reviews stating that the dimmer overheated and melted. Others said theirs stopped working after a few uses.

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Commercial-grade PLT Stringers: Customers rave about how much they love our commercial-grade PLT stringers. They love the customization options, the overall quality of the wire and sockets, and how long they last.

Final Thoughts on this Patio Stringer

Like the previous string we looked at, there are a lot of issues. The wire is not meant for permanent use outdoors and there is no gasketing sealing the sockets. While you can get replacement wicks, they are expensive, and replacement globes are not available. The weakest point for these patio lights, however, is the indoor rated plugs. Unsurprisingly, this string is definitely not safe for outdoor use.

Our PLT stringers once again come out on top. Their weather-resistant design ensure they will last for years to come, making them perfect for outdoor lighting. Plus, these versatile strings allow you to use any bulbs you want, allowing you to easily create the perfect atmosphere for your outdoor space. Hanging them in your backyard, around your gazebo, or on your RV during a camping trip are just a few ideas.

If you are ready to add some PLT patio stringers to your outdoor space, call 1-800-624-4488 to speak with one of our lighting experts. They can help you find everything you need, from the right lengths to cover your yard to the perfect bulbs. You can also visit our website, 1000Bulbs.com.

For the next segment of this series, we’ll be taking a look at a Harbor Breeze stringer from Lowe’s.

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