8 Different Patio Light Ideas

Originally Published on June 16, 2020. Last Updated on May 20, 2022.

There are many ways to beautify your patio, but one of the simplest things you can do is set up new lighting. Whether it’s hanging no-frills string lights or installing a sparkling outdoor chandelier, the right lighting can provide the perfect combo of style and functionality. We’ve rounded up eight light ideas to make your patio shine during game nights, summer BBQ parties, and everything in between.

Light Ideas for Small and Large Patios

Whether you have a large or small outdoor patio, these light ideas can help elevate your nighttime activities with friends and family.

1 — Overhead String Lights

String lights are one of the most tried-and-true options for patio lighting. When hung over an outdoor living room or dining table, string lights provide a warm, inviting ambiance that’s perfect for late-night conversations and intimate dinners with family and friends. 

There are numerous creative ways to use string lights, but the most common method is to find two structures — e.g., a tree and the eaves of your house — and hang your string lights between them. For covered patios, the simplest way to secure string lights is to attach them to each corner of the roof. This helps give your patio an enveloping, uniform look. If you don’t have any structures to hang string lights, consider freestanding string lights.

Nautical Adirondack 7-Piece Trestle Dining Set in Vintage Finish
Nautical Adirondack 7-Piece Trestle Dining Set in Vintage Finish

2 — Freestanding String Lights

Don’t have anywhere to hang outdoor string lights? Or maybe you don’t want to go through the process of securing lights to your house or trees? There are plenty of freestanding options that are perfect for your needs. Best of all, these are temporary. If you want to change the look of your patio, you can easily take them down.

You can buy string-light poles that attach to your outdoor dining table or stand on their own. For a more DIY solution, build a freestanding structure by cementing a wooden pole to the bottom of a planter. Make four structures and position them at each corner of your patio. 

3 — Rope Lights

Like string lights, you can use rope lights in a variety of ways to brighten your patio or outdoor space. If you have a railing around your patio, add rope lighting underneath the handrails to cast a soft, inconspicuous glow. Consider doing the same thing underneath your counter or bar if you have an outdoor kitchen area. 

Safety lighting is another common use for rope lights. Installing rope lighting along your pathway allows your guests to get to your patio without tripping over anything. If you have steps or stairs leading to your patio, attaching rope lights underneath them provides an extra level of safety and style.

4 — Outdoor Chandeliers & Pendants

An outdoor chandelier can do the trick if you want your patio lighting to be the center of attention. Whether it’s above your outdoor dining table or in a covered patio, a chandelier is guaranteed to provide an air of elegance. Make sure the fixture is damp- or wet-rated. That way, it won’t be damaged by moisture.

Outdoor pendants make a great alternative to chandeliers if you’d like a simpler look. When searching for pendant lights, consider finishes that complement your surroundings. For example, an industrial metal finish can look beautiful against modern patio furniture

5 — Solar Illuminated Planters

As the name suggests, solar illuminated planters are powered by the sun, so there’s no need for extension cords or outlets. Talk about easy! During the day, you can enjoy the natural beauty of your flora and fauna. By night, there’s a magical glow around your outdoor conversation area or patio dining furniture. 

These planters usually offer both a color-changing and single-color mode, allowing you to pick a color scheme that fits your outdoor décor. If you’re more of a handyperson, you can also build your own solar illuminated planters. 

Solar Illuminated Planter
Solar Illuminated Planter from Gardener’s Supply Company

6 — Outdoor Mason Jar Lights

Mason jars aren’t only for storing jams and jellies. They also make beautiful, sturdy housing for candles! If you have a rustic or farmhouse-style patio, the combination of mason jars and candles are an excellent complement to your outdoor space, whether small or large. You don’t need to use real candles, either. The electric ones offer the same soft, romantic glow as traditional candles. 

To hang your mason jar lights, get some twine, wrap them around the jars, and hang them from a tree or along your fence. Only do this if you’re using electric candles since you don’t want a real flame near your trees or fence. You can also place a group of jars in the middle of your outdoor dining table and provide a creative centerpiece for intimate get-togethers.

7 — Recessed Lighting 

If you’re looking to minimize visual clutter but provide plenty of illumination, recessed lights are a perfect option for your covered patio or balcony. They offer a sleek, unobtrusive look that works well within modern or minimalist outdoor décor. 

There are several types of recessed lights available, like fixed, adjustable, round, and square. Consider all the recessed lighting options and see which one best suits your outdoor décor.

8 — Outdoor Ceiling Fans with Lights

The ideal combination of function and style, outdoor ceiling fans with lights make a great addition to any patio. You’ll be able to use your space year-round when you install an outdoor ceiling fan above your conversation area or dining table. It’ll help cool down you and your guests during an outdoor brunch. Once the sun goes down, it’ll circulate the cool evening breeze and brighten up your patio.

Outdoor ceiling fans come in a wide array of styles, from rustic weathered wood to sleek industrial metal. Consider your outdoor décor and decide what style best fits your patio.

What’s your favorite patio lighting idea? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

12 thoughts on “8 Different Patio Light Ideas

  1. Wow, I was really impressed with your examples of recessed lights and how they can be used on almost any patio surface. We’ve been planning an outdoor patio and kitchen project for a long time, and since we have quite a large budget allocated for it, something like this could be a great upgrade for the project. Once I get a concrete contractor to help us get started on the foundation for it, I’ll make sure to install these kinds of lights wherever they’re applicable.

    1. Hi Afton,

      Thanks so much for your feedback! We are so glad you hear that you enjoyed this article and got some great patio light ideas from it! Good luck with your project!

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