As the weather warms up, the sun sets later and later, giving you more daylight hours during which to enjoy your patio. You also can relax or entertain after dark outside, thanks to patio lighting. Learn about the many patio lighting ideas, from inexpensive string lights to lamps to mounted fixtures.

Patio String Lights

Homeowners love everything about outdoor string lights. They come in a variety of designs. Bare bulbs are available in multiple shapes and sizes, and you can even get lights with a crackle finish. They also come nestled in holders. Dragonflies are popular, as are lanterns in metal or bamboo. And of course there are holiday patio string lights for Christmas and Halloween, just to name a few.

Because they are so easy to install, you can simply change your lights with the season. Their affordability also makes that an option for just about any homeowner.

String lights also work for several areas of your patio. You can hang them on your house and along a fence. Some homeowners even include a string around the patio umbrella to add light to the table. Be sure to only hang string lights rated as safe for outdoor use.

Patio Lamps
Lamps also are an option on the patio. Look for floor and table lamps that feature a weatherproof, grounded cord and plug; an unbreakable enclosure for the bulb; and weatherproof shade for best results if you live in an area of the country that sees wet weather. A weighted bottom helps keep the lamp where it belongs if wind is an issue.

Patio Wall Light Fixtures
You likely have a patio wall light just outside the back door. Consider installing additional wall lights in the same design-or choose an entirely new design-to provide more light at night. This type of outdoor light fixture offers the most options in terms of design, from traditional glass and rubbed-bronze fixtures to industrial models with stainless steel.

Patio Ceiling Flush-Mount and Pendant Lights

If your patio is covered, you also have the option to install lighting overhead. Flush-mount and pendant lights are both an option, but stick with the flush-mount design if your ceiling hangs on the low side. For taller ceilings or on a patio with a table and chairs in a set location, pendant lights add a bit more style to the area as they resemble a light fixture typically found indoors. You can also opt for a ceiling fan with light if you have the room.

Dark Sky Compliance
When choosing patio lighting, consider following the recommendations of the International Dark-Sky Association. It strives to reduce light pollution by encouraging proper installation and usage of outdoor lighting. It suggests using shielded lighting that comes with its IDA seal of approval. Not only does this type of lighting reduce light pollution-and keep neighbors from illuminating another's yard or even indoor rooms-it also helps you conserve energy and save money on electric bills. The association also recommends using lower-wattage bulbs for the same reasons.

Tips for Installation

No matter which type of patio lighting you choose, be sure to follow local codes for installation. They likely will require the use of UF cable with grounding conductor for underground wiring, UL-approved products, ground-fault interrupters and weatherproof equipment. Switches and outlets also must be weatherproof, as must any timers.

Some lighting, such as patio string lights and lamps, can be safely placed by a homeowner, but others on this list require professional installation, such as by a handyman or electrician. Faulty wiring is dangerous, especially when exposed to the elements.

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