Thinking about purchasing outdoor patio lights for your home?

If so, they sure can be a valuable investment for extending outdoor activities with friends and family – not to mention the fact that patio lights make the areas they illuminate a much safer environment to walk around and play in.

But with so many types and varieties to choose from, you may not know where to begin in order to make the best choices for you. With that in mind, the aim of the rest of this article is to give you a good introduction on this subject.

2 Main Categories of Outdoor Patio Lighting

Patio deck lighting fixtures come in two main categories:

(1) solar powered lights, and

(2) traditional 12 volt lights.

Each of these two main varieties have their own advantages and disadvantages. Traditional 12 volt lighting that plugs into an electrical outlet obviously has the advantage of always being available. All that is needed is an available outlet for ever-ready light. The downside is that it will run up your electricity bill – however small that may be.

Outdoor solar lighting has the advantage of running cordless and electricity-free once you have done the initial setup. Daylight charges the solar cells that power the lights at night. The major downside with solar patio lighting is when the solar cells don’t receive enough sunlight during the day. Should this happen, the lights may not last throughout the night.

So an ideal solution for many homeowners is to incorporate a mixture of both types of outdoor patio lights. If one type fails for whatever reason, you’ll always be assured of at least once source of illumination.

To give you an idea of the types of patio lights that are available, here’s a quick breakdown on some of the most popular types.

(1) Outdoor String Lights

These versatile outside landscape lights can be found in electrical and solar styles. If you spend even a little time searching the Internet, you’ll find almost every size and shape under the sun. They can be used for overall functional lighting by simply hanging them or they can be strung along deck rails and boards for ambient lighting.

Typical styles include lanterns, lamps, grapes, blown glass balls, paper lanterns, stars, butterflies, cocktail drink glasses, Tiki lanterns, and shoes – just to name a few. Some other more creative string light set ideas include cowboy boots, fishing lures, umbrella lights, and chili peppers.

Powering Patio String Lights

The vast majority of patio lighting are the plug-and-go variety. All you need is an outdoor electrical outlet and a heavy-duty extension chord.

Most sets are “double ended”. This feature is what enables you to string as many sets together as needed without incorporating an outlet or extension chord for each additional set (which are typically eight feet in length).

If you’re looking for maximum brightness for the least amount of electricity, LED lights (which come in a wide range of colors) are an ideal solution.

You can also choose to power your patio string lighting with solar power. As with all outdoor solar lights, the main advantage is that they are automatically switched on at night without the need for electricity. The downside is that the amount of lighting you’ll receive throughout the night will be dependent upon the amount of daylight the lights receive during the day.

(2) Hanging Outdoor Patio Lights

Outdoor hanging lights are a popular choice among many homeowners for the elegance, style and class they naturally provide. Any patio, garden pathway, or gazebo can benefit from the charm and warm mood they create.

Outdoor hanging lanterns and pendant lights also come in every sort of style – ranging from post-modern to old-world lanterns. Some of the most sought-after finishes include solid brass, wrought iron, bronze, and natural rust.

As an added bonus, most outdoor hanging ceiling lights are relatively simple to mount.

(3) Traditional Lanterns

These outside lights typically are either

(a) set on a table for ambience,

(b) hung from stakes with hooks that are mounted in the ground, or

(c) hung from eye hooks on patio posts.

(4) Fountain Lights

For gardens or patios that feature a fountain, the addition of a garden-fountain light not only serves as a supplemental source of illumination, but also provides an excellent source of ambience. You’ll find underwater lights in a variety of color shades to suit whichever season or holiday you’re looking to celebrate.

With pond and garden-fountain lighting, you can create stunning effects. You can heighten the reflection of a favorite tree, highlight a statue, illuminate a pond or pool from within, or make a patio fountain glow.

Fountain lights also can be installed either inside or outside for amazing lighting effects.

Points to Consider Before Purchasing

A little Internet research will help you to decide which types of outdoor patio lighting are going to best suit your wants and needs. Here are few questions you may want to ask of yourself:

(a) What effect are you going for (e.g. general purpose, ambient, a combination of both)?

(b) Do you prefer solar or electrical light?

(c) Where do you want the patio lights situated

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