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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

41 Models Considered
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best patio umbrella lights

Last Updated July 2019

Nice weather? What a great time to spend time in a private outdoor space. To make your backyard, camping, or patio area the best it can be, you need proper outdoor lighting to keep your environment comfortable all day and into the night.

Patio umbrella lights come in different forms. The lantern variety may hang from the sides of the umbrella, while circular LED patio lights are positioned around the umbrella pole at the top. Some patio umbrellas come affixed with string lights. Indeed, there are plenty of options to consider. Where will you position your lights? How easy are they to turn on and off? What sort of environment do you hope to create?

We’re here to guide you through all the options. Read on to learn more about patio umbrella lights: what they are, what features you might enjoy (including colored lights and even those that recreate the look of fire), and how much you can expect to spend. We’ve also included our top recommendations for your convenience.

To create the ideal outdoor lighting setup after the sun has gone down, make sure you keep any lights off inside. The bright indoor lights can seep out and ruin the outside ambiance.

Types of patio umbrella lights

Lantern-style lights

These are self-contained portable lights that can hang from underneath the patio umbrella. They are almost always solar-powered and come in a variety of sizes and brightness. While they are advertised as patio umbrella lights, they can move easily and work well in any outdoor space.

Pole lights

Umbrella pole lights are a unit of LEDs that are affixed around the top of pole of the patio umbrella. These may be circular or square in shape and are powered by electricity.

Built-in string lights

A third variety of patio lights comes already attached to the umbrella. They are string lights that adorn the ribs of the umbrella and are purchased as a single unit; they are not meant to be separated.

EXPERT TIP

Lights powered by the sun are great because you don’t have to manually charge them. However, you can’t control them, either: if they’re charged, they’re staying on.


Staff  | BestReviews

Key considerations

Purpose

Patio lights can be functional, decorative, or both. Pole lights are utilitarian and tend to all look the same with the sole purpose of keeping the outdoor space light. Lanterns, however, come in a variety of styles that can serve as part of a design vision or specific ambience.

Brightness

How bright do you want your patio umbrella lights to be? Lanterns tend to be fainter lights with only one setting, so the only way to make the space brighter is to buy more. Most pole lights have two or three adjustable settings for brightness.

Glow

Do you prefer warm lights or cool lights? This question comes up a lot around the holidays, but it’s also pertinent for summertime patios. Warm lights have a yellow or orangish tone, while cool lights are much whiter. Hanging lights or lanterns tend to be warmer, especially those emulating fire. Most affixed lights are cooler.

If you want a more natural backyard look, warm lights may be best. If you want a modern aesthetic, cool lights are usually preferred.

Power source

Check how the lights are powered before purchasing so you can figure out what additional work or investment may be required. Solar-powered lights are common and easy to deal with, but fickle weather can hinder usage over time, especially if you’re outside in the fall and winter months. Other patio umbrella lights have rechargeable batteries that can power up through USB cables. Many do not come with batteries, so you will need to buy them separately.

Weatherproof

It may seem counterintuitive, but some patio umbrella lights are not weatherproof. That means that your lights would be among the items you take inside when rain is forecast. If you want your lights to stay outside indefinitely, make sure they can stand up to the weather.

EXPERT TIP

The patio umbrella doesn’t have to be your only light source outside. Don’t be afraid to get some string lights, candles, pathway, and landscape lights to make the environment perfect.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Flame effect

Lantern-style patio umbrella lights often seek to recreate the look of fire. Some feature faux candles that emit a warm flicker. Others sport a larger red or orange flame. If you tend to use tea lights or candles in your outdoor space, having the warm glow of fake fire may complement your existing décor nicely.

Mobility

Lanterns and hanging lights can be moved around your patio and taken with you if you’re ever outdoors and need some light — for example, if you go camping. This is also true for many umbrella pole lights, even though they may not come with the tools to make that happen. With a hook or string, these circular lights can hang from tents or trees, or you could place them on a high ledge to cast down.

Lighting modes

Some patio lights offer a toggle between various brightnesses to allow for better mood control. The toggle is essentially a dimmer, so you’re not always stuck with the brightest (or dimmest) level.

Remote control

If you embrace convenience and always want to keep on top of the outdoor ambience, a remote control may be essential. It is not a common accessory, but some companies do offer it with their patio lights, particularly those that have more options and intricacies than others.

Patio umbrella light prices

Inexpensive: For under $20, there are many affixed pole light options. At this price point. you can still find rechargeable and dimmer options.

Mid-range: For $25 to $60, you will be able to purchase the lantern style of patio lights. They tend to come in groups of two or four, but there are a variety of different looks available.

Expensive: For over $60, you can forgo buying lights to add to your patio umbrella and instead purchase an umbrella that comes with preinstalled lights.

EXPERT TIP

The term “waterproof” describes an item that is fully protected against water. The term “water resistant” denotes an object that can withstand some water, but it has a limit. Solar-powered lights should survive all weather, but LED pole lights will likely need to be removed during heavy precipitation.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Consider other sources of light. Are you someone who enjoys lighting candles outside, or will you be igniting some citronella to keep mosquitos at bay? You may not need the most powerful light available if that’s the case; a bright LED light will wash out any natural glow.
  • Think about convenience. Once you purchase a light, there may be some regular work involved. Some lights need to be charged manually or require new batteries. Lights that affix to the umbrella pole may need to come off when you take the umbrella down. Lanterns may be waterproof, but a strong wind may prompt you to take them off so they don’t come crashing down.
  • Know your lighting moods. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, think about different potential situations. Maybe you’ll be reading and relaxing alone. Maybe you’ll be hosting a large group of friends. Maybe you’ll be sharing quiet time with an important person. Those scenarios require different lighting!
  • Know your aesthetic. Consider the other parts of your patio space, from the garden to the table and chairs and everything in between. Seek lights that complement and embrace your vision for your outdoor environment.

Other products we considered

If you’re opting to go the hanging lantern route but want a different style, then these solar light mason jars by Mason Jar Art will add a stylish, cool aesthetic to your outdoor space. They are solar powered, weatherproof, and have a unique look.

For those in need of a new umbrella, you could opt for Sunnyglade’s patio umbrella that comes complete with solar-powered lights and an on/off switch for convenience. And, for perhaps the more adventurous among us, Honwell offers a multi-colored umbrella pole light. It’s similar to other items, but it features 16 color options across the spectrum. Plus, it’s remote controlled.

Lanterns don’t just have to hang somewhere. They can sit on a ledge, post, or table, or they can even attach to stakes in your garden if you want — whatever looks the best!

FAQ

Q. How long does the light take to fully charge?
A.
There are two types of power sources: the sun and batteries. Solar-powered lights will take longer initially to turn on but will recharge whenever the sun is out. If you are using a USB cable to charge the batteries, the lights will be of use in a short time but need to be charged more frequently.

Q. How long does the charge last?
A.
Fully charged with sunlight, solar-powered lanterns should last all night, from eight to ten hours. Battery-operated lights should last eight to ten hours as well. A larger set of solar-powered lights, such as those that come with umbrellas, may need more power to operate and therefore last only up to six hours.

Q. Does the light attract bugs?
A.
Solar-powered lanterns likely will not attract any insects, but LED lights at a high setting may draw a swarm. Whether or not bugs are on the scene will also depend on the time of season and climate; incense or other candles may repel bugs.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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