The Dos and Don'ts of Patio Lighting
Few lights are more versatile than patio lights. From 10 feet to 400 feet in length, patio string lights can be used pretty much wherever and however the mood strikes you. However, if you’re new to the world of patio lighting, or just want to revamp your current string lights, there are many options and tips to help you make the most of your patio strings.
Where Can I Use Patio Lighting?
Naturally, the first place people think of when asked where to use patio stringer is, you guessed it, the patio. Since almost all patio lights can be used outside, this is a great starting point, but don’t be afraid to think outside the porch. Hanging patio stringers in the dining room, living room, or bedroom can go a long way in setting a boho or romantic atmosphere. Keep in mind that patio strings are meant to be suspended. If you’re aiming to wrap trees and columns, you’ll need to use Christmas string lights instead since the wind will knock the bulbs in patio strings into the branches or stone and increase the risk of breakage.
While many patio lights have both a male and female end, some only have a male plug and cannot be connected. Don’t forget to look for that when comparing products so that you don’t end up with patio lights you can’t string together. The typical maximum run for these strands will be listed in Watts instead of in feet or number of strands. As an example, let’s say your patio stringer 24 sockets and has a max run of 1,200 Watts. If the bulbs you’re using are 50 Watts each, then you can only use one strand. However, if the bulbs are 10 Watts each, you can use up to 5 strands together. For this reason, LEDs are a good way to go, especially if your space requires a long run.
What Bulbs Can I Use in My Patio Stringer?
Patio strings typically use S14 and A15 bulbs, which are smaller than traditional household bulbs, but these aren’t the only bulbs available. The short answer is that any bulb can potentially be used in a patio stringer as long as the base is compatible with the socket and won’t exceed the stringer’s maximum Wattage. A few fan favorites include vintage Edison bulbs, clear globe bulbs, and don’t forget about those colored bulbs for a really festive vibe. Keep in mind, most incandescent bulbs are made of glass and, as a result, are more fragile than LEDs, which tend to be plastic. Take the time to think about the difficulty of changing the bulbs before making a choice. If you need a ladder and a partner every time a bulb dies, consider using LED bulbs. The life hours of an LED are significantly longer than the life hours of an incandescent bulb. If it’s as simple as reaching up quickly replacing, then the life hours of your bulbs is as important a factor.
Quick Tip: Hang the strands first, then add the bulbs to reduce chance of breakage.
How Long Can I Leave Patio Stringers Up?
Where and how you have your patio stringers set up will dictate how permanent or temporary they are. Strung up outside with bulbs that aren’t designed to survive Mother Nature, those stringers should be taken down after the party. If you want to leave them up outside, you need to use wet location bulbs. If you’ve mounted them inside as mood lighting, they can stay mounted for good. The choice of how long to leave them up depends on the individual application. Just remember to stay safe and don’t leave any wires to trip on or run into.
An important factor to keep in mind is whether to purchase in-line or suspended socket patio light strings. For shorter less permanent installations, in-line sockets will do the trick. However, if you want your patio stringers to be installed permanently or need them to span a large area, suspended socket light strings are the way to go. This type of patio stringer has a small hole at the top of each socket over the cord to allow you to run a supporting line along the stringer to reinforce the line and to prevent sag across long distances. This is also helpful when you have a weird mounting situation.
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