Let there be light!
July 27, 2014 5:06 PM   Subscribe

We need a light source for our patio area... With some special snowflake requirements below.

We have a lovely small patio off our kitchen, that also borders our detached garage. We built a door/gate that connects the house and garage, which gives a nice bit of privacy from road traffic. The patio's other two sides are bordered by my kitchen garden and the driveway. The area feels like a sweet little open room and we love it. We do not like security lights (there was one attached to the TV tower, which fell over in a wind storm many years ago, to our delight). There is a "porch light" operated by a switch in the kitchen. What we have been doing for a couple of years is stringing cheap white Christmas lights along the edge of the garage roof over the patio, and around the side that borders the driveway. We stack firewood along the driveway side and the little white lights
Illuminate the area just enough to be useful without spotlighting in an annoying way. What we want is a nice ambiance and a gentle functional illumination. We originally spent some big bucks on heavy duty outdoor plastic encased rope lights. They looked great, and burned out in less than a year. Since then, it's been cheapo dollar store Christmas lights, which last a year to maybe 18 months. While it's not a major effort to replace a few strings at this interval, it would be nice to have something more long lasting in place. We have a dedicated outlet,so I'd prefer something we can just plug and string up. Oh, and we do leave these on 24/7, so cool bulbs are essential. Can it be done?? Is there a brand or type of light strings that will work in Ohio's widely varying weather? Or is there an "outside of the box" idea for lighting up our life?!
posted by LaBellaStella to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For the long-life version of Christmas lights, you want LEDs. I suspect the dollar-store version are incandescent.
posted by jon1270 at 5:47 PM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

If it has seating like an outdoor living room, perhaps a true outdoor lamp.
posted by 26.2 at 5:51 PM on July 27, 2014

Best answer: We have had better luck with the cheapo twinkle lights combined with a simple outdoor-rated timer at the outlet. (Lights plug into the timer, timer plugs into the outlet, and it has a plastic cover to keep it out of the rain.) I think they just last longer when they're not on 24/7.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:05 PM on July 27, 2014

Best answer: There are outdoor rope LEDs that give the suggestion of Christmas lights but the rope mutes the light just a little more... my sis has had some up outside for a couple years now.

You might have better longevity with non-dollar-store lights - we have.
posted by stormyteal at 9:08 PM on July 27, 2014

I have a patio off the back of my house, I hung two strings like these off the eave. I replaced the christmas type bulbs with 7 watt candelabra CFL's. They light up half the backyard.
posted by Marky at 10:36 PM on July 27, 2014

Best answer: I have a combination of lights on my patio and in my yard. I strung LED Xmas lights criss-crossed under the porch roof, so that the lights themselves are not visible unless you're standing practically right under them. This gives a nice ambient glow that spills out onto the patio, plus it gently lights the porch, where I place food and drinks for parties. Being under the porch protects them from the elements, so they last longer.

I have solar-operated Xmas lights zip-tied to the ribs of my patio umbrella - again, the light is soft and ambient. I have three good-quality metal and glass tiki torches placed strategically around the edges of the space, and I have solar pathway lights. I also have a few hanging candle lanterns I picked up at thrift stores, and decorative votives. I rarely use all of them at once. I do a lot of entertaining in the back yard and patio, and I also spend a lot of time out there alone, so it's nice to be able to adjust the lighting to suit the occasion and the activity. I also have some battery-operated little clip lights (think book lights) that can be used for task lighting as needed. (I also have the requisite WTF-are-you-doing-in-my-yard wall mounted security flood light operated from an inside switch.)

The solar lights (umbrella, pathway) come on automatically, which I like. The others I plug in or light as needed. Why do you leave yours on all the time? That really shortens the life of the bulbs. If they're not LEDs, it wastes a lot of energy, too.
posted by caryatid at 5:27 PM on July 28, 2014

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