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Expert Shopper Patio

Patio lighting ideas to illuminate your hangout

Enjoy outdoors with the right lights


Summer is on its way, and people with patios are likely to spend ever-increasing time enjoying theirs as the mercury rises. The right patio lighting lets you enjoy your patio well into the evening, meaning al fresco dinners and late-night drinks are in the cards. 

With so many options, it can be tough to find the perfect patio lighting to illuminate your outdoor space. Once you know more about what's available and tips to get your lighting on point, you'll soon be enjoying your patio well after dark.

Types of patio lighting

Consider what type of patio lights are right for your outdoor space. While you can use just one, you'll often get a better effect using several. These are some of the most popular types of lighting for patios.

Wall lights

Wall lights, or sconces, are great for patios that are positioned right next to your house, as they can be mounted on the exterior wall. You can choose from versions that radiate light all around, uplights and downlights. This lets you tailor your patio lighting scheme. 

Generally, these types of lights are hardwired into your home. You'll need an electrician to install them unless you're replacing old lights and the wiring is already in place. However, you can find some that plug into an outlet or are solar-powered.

Pathway lights

Pathway lights come on stakes and are designed to be stuck into the ground along the edges of garden paths. However, if your patio is surrounded by lawns or beds, you can stake them around the edges to light up the area. While you can find a handful of wired versions, most are solar powered, making them simple to install.

String lights

If you want to create a relaxed mood for your outdoor space, string lights are an excellent choice. You can pick from large festoon lights, delicate fairy lights or string lights featuring lanterns and other decorative finishes. The brightest are those that plug into outdoor power outlets. You can also find battery-operated and solar-powered versions. 

There's something special about string lights that can turn a basic patio into a magical hangout spot. 


Whether solar powered or battery-operated, lanterns are a great way to add an extra layer of lighting to your patio. They're free-standing, so you can move them around as needed. They also usually have hooks, so you can choose to hang them from trees or posts or set them down on a flat surface. Some are fairly bright, while others are quite dim, so make sure you know what you're getting before you buy any. 

Fire pits

Although their primary function is to heat patios, fire pits also produce light. They're great as central focal points of patios, providing light that radiates outward. Paired with another light source around the edges or over the top of your patio, they can light up your whole outdoor hangout space. Plus, they have the bonus of warming you up on cool nights and letting you use your patio for a greater chunk of the year. 

Post lights

Post lights sit on top of fence posts and can be solar powered or hardwired. The latter option is brighter, but the former is more convenient and easier to install. They're great for areas of decking or for paved patios that happen to be fenced. You can find a range of styles from low-profile post caps to elaborate lanterns.

Patio lighting tips

Use a range of light sources

Try using several dim lights on your patio instead of a single bright one. This is a great way to light a patio because you end up with a relaxed environment that's perfect for socializing. With a bright light, on the other hand, you can be left feeling like you just set off someone's security light. 

Think about which light sources work best for your space. For instance, some areas might look great with an array of string lights and pathway lighting around the edges, while others may work better with wall lighting and lanterns.  

Set a mood

Think about the sort of mood you want to set with your patio lighting scheme. If you want a laid-back space, you might want to keep the lighting fairly dim. Bright enough to see the people you're socializing with but dim enough to feel chilled out. Alternatively, you might want the mood to be more lively with slightly brighter lighting. If you'll be eating after dark, bear this in mind too, as you'll want to see what's on your plates.

Consider uplighting

You can use uplight sconces, pathway lights or even spotlights to create areas of uplighting. It looks especially great when you use uplighting to illuminate trees, shrubbery or interesting architectural features. Uplighting can create interesting ambient lighting and throw beautiful shadows, creating an effect that could never be exactly reproduced in another spot. 

Think about electrical installation

If you choose lighting that requires hardwiring into your home electrics, you'll need an electrician to do this for you. It can end up being expensive, which is why many people opt for lights that don't need professional installation. Solar-powered and battery-operated lights are great, as are those with an AC power supply, especially if you already have a suitable outdoor outlet. 

Best patio lighting

Solpex Solar Pathway Lights

With eight in a pack, these solar pathway lights are great for staking around the edge of your patio or in adjacent flower beds. You can choose from cold white and warm white versions.

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DenicMic Solar Post Lights

If you have a deck or a railing around the edge of your patio, these post lights are great for illuminating the area. The patterned exterior casts an attractive shadow. 

Sold by Amazon

Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Powered Outdoor String Lights

These commercial grade, fully waterproof string lights are perfect for adding a layer of illumination to your patio. You can choose between 27- and 48-foot versions, according to the size of your patio. 

Sold by Amazon

Bright Town Solar Moroccan String Lights

Are you looking to bring a touch of decorative flair to your outdoor lighting? These solar string lights have a Moroccan style finish, which is perfect for bringing an extra dimension of ambience to your patio hangout. 

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Globe Electric Bowery 1-light Outdoor Wall Sconce

This outdoor wall sconce is perfect for anyone looking for a brighter source of patio lighting for larger areas or to avoid needing too many light sources. It must be hardwired into your electrics, which will require a professional if there isn't already the correct wiring in place.

Sold by Amazon

Pearlstar Outdoor Solar Lantern

Suitable for hanging or setting on a table, this lantern provides ambient lighting for a relaxed mood. It won't illuminate a large space on its own, but it's great paired with other light sources.  

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Best Choice Products Gas Fire Pit Table

Providing both light and heat, it's perfect for cool evenings. The fire pit table runs off a propane tank and has an edge for drinks and snacks. 

Sold by Amazon

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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