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Patio Lighting Ideas

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Patio lighting can enhance your outdoor entertainment experience whether you use it for family evenings enjoying fresh air at home or for entertaining guests. A variety of patio lighting options are available, from simple, functional lights to atmosphere-enhancing colors and shapes. Make sure any light fixtures you use are rated for outdoor use.

Tips and inspirations for smart patio lighting

Tiki torches

Tiki torches have played a big part in many yards for years. The great thing with tiki torches is that they come in a variety of heights. You can use them to illuminate the perimeter of your patio and line the sidewalk or walkways.

Rope Lighting

Common on patios because of its weatherproof nature and variety of color choices, rope lighting is especially effective if placed under the eaves of a porch overhang or roof. Using hooks or specially designed rope light clips, try to tuck the lights as far up into corners and out of sight as possible to give an effective glow without drawing attention to the lights themselves. Blue or green rope lights can give a tropical feel to your porch, especially if you combine them with rope light figures such as flamingos or palm trees, which feature rope lights attached to a coated wire frame and are often available at party supply stores. Use white or amber rope lights for general lighting, especially if you select the dimmable variety so you can control brightness according to your needs or mood.


Creative luminaries can be charming. Paper bags filled with rock or sand could anchor a tea light candle inside. Strip tin cans of their labels, punch holes on the sides in a decorative pattern then fill with a little sand and insert a tea light candle. Even clear glass canning jars could work as a base for a luminary.

String lights

String lights, such as Christmas lights or similar lights with shaped covers, can add a bit of a festive feel to your porch. If using the string light varieties with shaped covers over the lights–usually available in strings of 10 lights–choose those with copper or coated metal covers for the best outdoor durability. You can use those with plastic covers that are outdoor-rated, but the colors often fade in direct sunlight. For standard string lights, generally available in strands of 10 to 100 lights, wrap the strings around balusters on decks or use them under eaves like rope lights to create a glow.

Citronella candles

Citronella candles play a duel role in the patio culture. For one, these candles, when burning, repel mosquitoes in the immediate area. Secondly, citronella candles come in a variety of forms like a traditional candle that you could use on tabletops and also in galvanized buckets that you can put in strategic places. Just be careful with these candles when children are around!

Sconce-style porch lights

For a classy glow in your porch area, select sconce-style porch lights with brushed steel and frosted glass. These designs tend to remain in style over time, and the frosted glass provides a soft, ambient glow that illuminates your porch without disturbing the neighbors. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in these fixtures for a longer-lasting light or consider “bug light” bulbs to reduce bothersome insects if you don’t mind a yellow-tinted light. Fixtures with frosted globes can create a broader glow with a similar soft look and can also generally accept compact fluorescent or bug light bulbs.

Floating candles

Floating candles are another way to light up your patio area. Float some candles in pretty water bowls on your patio table or shelves. Water gardens, birdbaths and even your pool are options for your floating candles.

Lighting cords

Use only outdoor-rated grounded extension cords to run power from an outlet to your patio lights if they are not wired into the walls of your home. Indoor electrical cords can easily short out if moisture gets inside. Use hooks or rope light clips to keep electrical cords running tightly up against walls or under the eaves to keep them out of walkways and avoid creating dangerous trip hazards.

Hanging lanterns

Hanging lanterns can provide a great decorative touch and come in a variety of forms. Battery-operated versions can be found in the camping section of a discount or sporting goods store. There are also some versions that use candles or even lamp oil, which is very similar to those old-fashioned hurricane lamps.

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Category: Decks & Patios, Outdoor Design & Décor

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  1. You should be kind and add one!