Outdoor String Lights for Summer Fun
Outdoor string lights are a great way to spruce up your backyard patio for some quality outdoor time this Summer. You’ve probably seen the outdoor light strings of simple bulbs hanging from a wire at restaurants and shopping centers. They add a great atmosphere to outdoor space. In some cases it’s soft and romantic, in some cases it looks like a party, depending on the rest of the décor. Whatever impact you’re after, adding some outdoor light strings will really make a difference.
Along the Patio Roof
You can string the lights up in a variety of ways. If you have a backyard patio with a roof over it you can simply string them along the perimeter of the roof. You can put them up in a straight line around the eave for a clean, more formal look. You can also decide to allow some sag between mounting points for a relaxed informal look. For this type of mounting, I suggest using wire clips. You can get them in black or white, nail-in or screw-in, and even adhesive-backed if you believe that will stay stuck in your environment. I don’t recommend simply using a staple gun to staple around the wire. I’ve pierced many light strings doing this, which creates shorts.
Radiating From a Central Point
Another hanging option for outdoor string lights is to pick a center point and string them from that point out and down. Your center point could be simply the center of the patio ceiling, or a pole in the yard if you can come up with one. This ends up looking like the roof of a carousel or gazebo. In this case, you’ll want multiple outdoor light strings. Each string can go from the bottom, through the center point, and down the other side. You’ll need half as many light strings as you want to have total strings. You’ll probably want at least 4 sets outdoor string lights for this, from overhead they would be arranged in an octagonal shape.
Hanging Outdoor String Lights Between Buildings
If you have a separate garage, an outdoor shed, or other structure, you can string lights from building to building. This creates overhead lighting for a great get-together area underneath, perfect over a table or even just a couple of chairs. If the distance is relatively short, you can simply attach the outdoor string lights from one building to another. If the distance is about 20 feet or longer, I suggest stringing a wire cable from building to building, and then hanging the light string from the cable with zip ties. At longer distances there’s more weight on the light string which means it’s being pulled from each end. This can stretch and damage the light string. It’s better to have the cable take the stress and let the light string hang. Hanging the cable is pretty straightforward. Just screw a cable eye into each endpoint, run some small gauge wire cable through each eye, looping it back about a foot on each end. Attach cable tie connectors at each end, pulling the cable tight for the second end. Your outdoor string lights will last a lot longer this way.
Shopping for Outdoor String Lights
You have a lot of options when it comes to outdoor string lights, here’s what to consider.
- Length – Obviously you need the string to be long enough. Some strings allow you to connect multiple strings end-to-end for more length, and some don’t, so that’s something to look for.
- Outdoor Rated – Make sure you use outdoor light strings outdoors. If they don’t say they are for outdoors, they are probably rated for indoor use only. They won’t stand up to the weather, and they may short out in the rain. On the topic of safety, use a UL listed product, and plug them into a GFI outlet. All of your outdoor outlets should already be on a GFI circuit.
- Number of Sockets/Bulbs – The spacing of the lights on the string differs from string to string. You’ll probably want a bulb at least every 2 feet on shorter strings, 3 feet on long strings.
- Type of Bulbs – Some strings come with bulbs, some don’t. Those that do offer a variety of bulbs. You can get clear glass bulbs in many shapes, and you can get novelty lights like reindeer or shotgun shells. It’s completely a matter of taste.
I recommend this outdoor light string on Amazon. It’s 48 feet long, and there are 2 bulb options, or you can order with no bulb. It does allow you to connect up to 4 in a row. It’s UL listed and outdoor rated.
Whatever you decide, you’ll be happy with the result. Invite some friends over, or keep it to someone special, and enjoy the evening under your new outdoor string lights.