How to Hang a String of Patio Lights

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Enjoy the beauty of a twinkling starry night even when it's cloudy by installing outdoor patio lights around your yard, garden, deck and patio. Adding a little ambiance to your yard and patio is as simple as choosing a style of lights that fits your décor and making sure you have the space to hang everything you want. With many kinds of outdoor string lights available on the market today, you have the options of solar powered or electric powered varieties as well as hundreds of designs.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Outdoor string lights
  • Ladder
  • Clips
  • Extension cord
  • Measure the length of the area where you want to hang the lights. Add four to six inches per loop or dip that you wish to create along your area if you want the lights to swag instead of running in a straight line. Design your light pattern and make sure you can get a ladder within safe reach of all areas you wish to place lights.

  • Purchase enough lights to cover the area you wish to light. Make sure you have purchased outdoor weather-resistant lights, as indicated by the package.

  • Test the lights on the ground by plugging them in, checking each strand for any dead bulbs and replacing them before you beginning hanging. Unplug the light strands.

  • Place the ladder securely at the first section where you want lights. Attach the clips either by hanging them on your gutter or shingles or screwing them to window ledges, as the type of clip requires. Attach the clips at regular intervals to hold the lights securely, moving the ladder around to the different sections of your lighting pattern. Dry off any areas that may have moisture as you go.

  • Return to the beginning of your lighting pattern and replace the ladder under the first few clips. Leave enough length of your light strand to reach the outlet where you will plug in the lights or use an extension cord rated for outdoor use. Make sure the outlet is covered or protected from the weather.

  • Attach the lights to the clips. It helps to have an assistant holding the majority of the light strand, feeding it up to you on the ladder. Hang the lights tightly in the clips, but with a little give to account for wind motion.

  • Plug in the lights to test whether everything looks as you hoped. Turn off the lights again before making any adjustments to your design.

Tips & Warnings

  • For safety and reduced frustration, make this a two-person job.
  • Never try to install electric lights in rainy, snowy or wet conditions, even if they are enclosed in a plastic rope.
  • Make sure the ladder is tall enough that you can work at chest height. Never work above your head on a ladder, as this increases the likelihood of injury.
  • The packaging for your lights should tell you how many strands can safely be connected together. Exceeding this amount may cause you to overload an electrical circuit, resulting in power failure to your outlet when the circuit breaker shuts down.

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