Quicklist: Outdoor Hanging Lights
- Track Lighting
- Ceiling Fan Lights
You have dozens of options to choose from when you’re looking for ways to illuminate your backyard or patio area. Though a variety of fixtures and functions are available, hanging lights are among the best choices for outdoor spaces.
Hanging fixtures provide a welcoming feel to your outdoor space while providing ample illumination for guests and highlighting any prominent landscaping or architectural features. They help illuminate the backyard which makes your backyard a much more usable space.
After settling on the hanging variety, you must choose the particular sub-type of the fixture as well as its aesthetic style.
Next, it’s important to choose a color, material, and finish that both looks great on your fixture and complements the rest of your landscaping and backyard décor.
Finally, you must consider fixture size and placement, overall lighting layout, and what type of power source and controls you’ll use to power and control them.
Here, we thoroughly break down each detail to help you find the right type of hanging lighting for your outdoor space.
Types of Outdoor Hanging Lights
The type of fixture you select influences the rest of your outdoor light’s overall design.
You have three main options here: pendants, chandeliers, and lanterns. Track lighting and ceiling fan lights can also be classified as hanging fixtures.
Let’s look closer at what defines each type of fixture and their benefits.
Pendants are the most common type of hanging fixture, for both indoor and outdoor use.
They consist of the fixture itself (often a bowl-shaped shade) suspended from a rod or chain that’s secured to the ceiling.
Because of the broad definition, pendant fixtures come in a nearly endless variety of shapes and sizes. However, there are some that are much more common than others. These include:
- Drum Pendant – Consists of a downward-facing bowl-shaped shade (often made from fabric).
- Bell Pendant – Features a bell-shaped glass shade.
- Mini Pendant – Small drum or bell pendants, often consisting of multiple shades hanging from a single fixture.
Technically, chandeliers, are another type of pendant lighting. Most people (including us) classify them separately though.
In doubt that a fixture is a pendant? If it looks like a pendant suspended on the end of a necklace, it probably is. In fact, that’s what this style of fixture takes its name from.
The benefits of pendant lights are numerous. Chief among them is their versatility. Depending on the specific fixture, they work just as well for general, accent or task lighting.
In addition to their versatility, pendant fixtures simply look great. They look just as good on an outdoor patio as they door indoors over a dining table.
Pendant fixtures are sometimes even incorporated into outdoor landscaping (although this is rare).
When installed correctly outdoors, they can serve to highlight special landscaping and architectural features, including trees, shrubs, fountains or sculptures.
One of the best non-patio outdoor applications for pendant fixtures is in a gazebo or similar structure.
An additional outdoor use of pendant fixtures is as work lighting for greenhouses, garages and workshops.
Source: Savoy House Lighting
As mentioned above, chandeliers are technically a form of pendant lighting, since they hang from a rod or chain.
What sets them in a different class is the number of bulbs on the fixture. Unlike pendant fixtures which tend to contain just one bulb, chandeliers have multiple bulbs situated on a single fixture.
Most chandeliers utilize a fixture with multiple “arms” (also called “stems” or “branches”). These arms hold the numerous bulbs (or, more traditionally, candles).
Once considered too fancy or elegant for outdoor areas, chandeliers are now a popular lighting option for a wide range of outdoor spaces.
Like pendant fixtures, chandeliers are available in a wide assortment of models. Three of the most popular include:
- Drum Chandelier – Features a shade around the chandelier to better diffuse light.
- Formal Chandelier – Often the entire fixture is cut from glass for an incredibly opulent look.
- Mini Chandelier – Small chandelier that’s perfect for small spaces or low ceilings.
Remember that any chandelier you buy for an outdoor area must be manufactured with outdoor use in mind.
Outdoor chandeliers are naturally much heartier than indoor chandeliers. They must be able to stand up to more extreme temperature conditions. It’s also a good idea to select a model that’s at least partially water resistant.
Chandeliers look great when used to illuminate covered patios, decks and gazebos. Mini versions are hung from trees for a unique look.
Because of their branched design, it’s essential to select a chandelier that fits the size or space you install it in.
First off, you don’t want yours to hang too low. Select a rod or chain that ensures it hangs high enough not to hit anyone on the head.
For an outdoor chandelier placed over a table, you should select a rod or chain that ensures the bottom of the fixture is at least 30 inches above the table.
Hanging lanterns are one of the most unique types of outdoor hanging lights.
The first variety is pendant lanterns. Similarly, to the pendant fixtures discussed above, these simply hang from a chain or rod mounted to the ceiling.
The second variety is wall-mounted lanterns. Instead of hanging to the ceiling, these hang from a short length of chain mounted to a holder that sticks from a wall.
Because wall-mounted lanterns are so much more versatile, they’ve exploded in popularity for outdoor use. You can use them on exterior walls, near decks and patios and along fences.
Wall-mounted lanterns are also often very beautiful in design. This makes them a great visual component of your overall landscaping layout.
Another use for hanging lanterns is to mark gates and other entryways as well as paths and other walkways.
These distinctive fixtures can even be designed to hang from poles or columns. Installing these near the doors to your home looks fantastic.
4. Track Lighting
We’ll be honest — track lighting isn’t technically a type of hanging lights.
It’s close enough in design to fall into the same category. This is especially true when pendant fixtures are hung from a track mounting.
Because of how the track must be mounted, this track lighting isn’t nearly as popular outdoors as it is indoors.
One area where it is picking up some steam, however, is for outdoor kitchens. A track fixture is a great way to illuminate an outdoor covered cooking space as well as an outdoor dining area.
5. Ceiling Fan Lights
A ceiling fan is another type of hanging fixture that’s often combined with lights.
Place a ceiling fan with lights outside to accomplish two tasks at once: keep the area ventilated while also providing ample illumination for guests.
Outdoor ceiling fans are available in a vast variety of styles to suit all types of outdoor areas. They’re most commonly found in covered decks and patios as well as outdoor kitchens.
Make sure to select a ceiling fan that’s rated for outdoor use. Top models are rated for exposure to humidity and moisture.
Styles of Outdoor Hanging Lights
Style largely relates to the fixture itself. Namely, the materials it’s made out of and its overall design.
Though there are a nearly endless variety of style options, the following are the most common.
Traditional outdoor hanging fixtures are perhaps the most common.
These fixtures work well with the widest variety of décor and furniture types. They tend to utilize a lot of details, materials like glass or bronze, and bring a vintage feel to your outdoor area.
Outdoor hanging lanterns are often created in the traditional style.
Source: Destination Lighting
For a cleaner, more updated look, try contemporary outdoor hanging fixtures, instead of traditional.
These fixtures also work well with the majority of décor and outdoor architecture. They tend to utilize clean lines and simplistic design. They’ll bring an elegant feel to your outdoor area.
Outdoor pendant lighting is often created in the contemporary style.
Source: Switch Modern
Is the contemporary style still not up-to-the-minute enough for you? Then consider modern outdoor fixtures.
These fixtures tend to pair best with modern furniture and décor. They are often extremely stylish and minimalistic with clean, simple lines. They’ll bring a chic feel to your outdoor area.
Outdoor pendant lighting is often created in the modern style.
Not everyone prefers the simple, clean minimalism of modern or contemporary lighting. Those that want something more laidback and traditional should look at rustic fixtures.
These fixtures look great in most garden spaces. They are naturally stylish and look the most authentic. Many of these fixtures look worn out or weathered. They’ll bring a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere to your outdoor space.
Outdoor hanging lanterns are often created in the rustic style.
Transitional hanging fixtures are a blend of contemporary and traditional styles.
These fixtures tend to feature the warmth and classic looks of traditional fixtures with just a hint more simplicity and brightness. The complex details of the traditional design are often muted for the clean look of the modern design.
Outdoor chandeliers are often created in the transitional style.
Industrial fixtures are utilitarian in nature. They look like something you’d find in a shop, warehouse or other commercial space. They blend metal and exposed elements for a design that’s just as functional as it is beautiful.
Outdoor chandeliers are increasingly created in the industrial style.
Source: Home Depot
The Craftsman style is somewhat similar to the traditional and rustic styles.
These fixtures are very artistic in nature. In fact, many of them appear handmade with seemingly hand-painted finishes.
Outdoor chandeliers are one type of fixture that often features a Craftsman design.
Other Design Options
There are still a few more factors to consider once you’ve decided on your hanging light type and design style.
Additional factors to consider include the color, materials, finish, and size of your fixtures, as well as their placement and your overall lighting layout.
Here’s each additional factor broken down in more detail.
1. Bulb Type
You have more options than ever before when it comes to light bulbs for your fixtures. Here are the five most common:
- CFL Bulbs – Short for compact fluorescent lights, these bulbs use less energy than incandescent bulbs and last much longer.
- LED Bulbs – Short for light emitting diode, these bulbs are also extremely energy efficient and long-lasting. Unlike CFLs, they don’t heat up during use.
- Incandescent Bulbs – The least energy efficient option, these traditional bulbs are the cheapest option available.
- Halogen Bulbs – Another energy efficient option that lasts upwards of one year on average.
- HID Bulbs – Short for high-intensity discharge, these bulbs are the brightest of the bunch — best for illuminating large outdoor spaces. They’re commonly used in streetlights.
The best bulb for you depends on the specifics of your light fixture, including the type, intended use and its location.
Remember that not only are energy efficient bulbs better for the environment, they also use far less electricity, saving you money in the long-term on utility bills.
Lowes provides a thorough light bulb buying guide.
2. Color, Materials and Finish
As mentioned above, the style of your fixtures largely dictates their color, materials and finish.
For instance, traditional fixtures tend to utilize a worn-looking finish such as antique bronze. A modern fixture tends to have a much cleaner, brighter finish.
A few popular finishes include antique brown, antique copper, brass, black, pewter, polished copper and verdigris. Chandeliers are often found in an all-glass (or glass-look plastic) design.
Remember that you can find lighting fixtures in whatever color you want if you order customized one-off versions.
3. Size and Placement
The size of your hanging fixtures is very important. Not only does it influence how they look, but it also influences their functionality.
Case in point: hanging fixtures that hang too low get in the way. You must ensure that the rod or chain yours are connected to is short enough not to bump the heads of people using your outdoor space.
Still, though, it’s important the fixture hangs far enough from the ceiling. Yours should hang at least 12 inches down.
Naturally, these restrictions will limit the area in which hanging fixtures can be installed. If you don’t have enough space, it’s best to install a different type of fixture.
Placement is equally important as size. Once again, you want to ensure that the placement of your fixtures both look good and are out of the way of guests.
Another key factor related to placement involves the path of light and shadows. Each fixture must be placed far enough apart from one another that illumination is compatible rather than distracting.
4. Coordinating Fixtures
Source: Vogue Lighting
Hanging lights are only one type of outdoor lighting fixture. Blend your hanging fixtures with others for the best possible layout.
Many hanging fixtures come with coordinating post, path, and stair lights. Combine all of these together for a seamlessly designed landscaping and outdoor space.
5. Power Source
The most common power source for outdoor light fixtures is undoubtedly a low-voltage system.
Low-voltage power systems are available in 10V, 12V and 24V varieties. They come with a power pack that connects to a standard GFCI outlet. The power pack converts the standard current (usually 120V for households) to a safer, lower current.
Not only do low-voltage systems improve safety, but they are also energy efficient and easy to install.
Another power source option is a high-voltage system. These don’t use a power pack to convert your household current to a lower voltage. Instead, they’re designed to run your fixtures at 120V.
High-voltage power systems are more difficult to install. They require advanced equipment such as a conduit and electrical junction box. Professional installation is recommended.
Perhaps the fastest growing power source for outdoor lighting is solar. Fixtures with built-in solar panels are the most energy efficient (and easy to install) available.
Type, style, and design aren’t everything when it comes to buying the right outdoor hanging lights for your yard or patio.
Here are a few additional factors to keep in mind during the research and buying process.
A. Other Considerations
Don’t just install your outdoor lighting fixtures willy-nilly.
Take time to think about every aspect of the design and installation process. In addition to buying the right fixture, it’s important to create the right layout.
The most important factor to keep in mind is the purpose of your outdoor lighting. Do you require ambient, task or accent lighting? Or a mixture of all three?
Additional tips to consider include:
- Create a Plan – Walk your yard at night to find the areas that require illumination. Use a flashlight to see how the illumination affects certain features.
- Do the Math – Do you have a large area that requires illumination? Take the total square footage of the area and multiply it by 1.5. The result is roughly the amount of wattage you need.
- Lighting Controls – Make life easier by installing timed controls. These turn your fixtures on and off at set times. Alternatively, they turn your fixtures on when the sun sets and off when it rises.
- Light Pollution – Respect your neighbors by opting for a layout that minimizes light pollution. You can also opt for special fixtures and bulbs rated by the International Dark Sky Association that minimize glare.
- Weather Resistant – Any hanging fixture you use outside, especially those not protected by a roof or cover, must be weather resistant. Waterproof materials are essential.
It’s also important to remember that your outdoor lighting can affect curb appeal. Do things right and your new hanging fixtures can improve the resell value of your home.
Another unique idea is to combine the beauty of your new outdoor hanging fixtures with motion sensors. Whenever they detect movement, they’ll turn on.
Hanging fixtures are a great way to utilize security lighting without unsightly spotlights.
You have two main options when it comes to installing outdoor hanging lights: DIY installation or professional installation.
DIY installation is undoubtedly the cheapest route to take. If you have the right tools and the willingness to work hard, this is the route to go.
In fact, most hanging fixtures are relatively easy to install. This is especially true for wall-mounted lanterns.
Heavy fixtures, like chandeliers, aren’t so easy to install. If you decide to DIY it with these, you probably need the help of a friend.
Don’t want to install your hanging fixtures yourself? Luckily, professional installation won’t break the bank.
Most outdoor lighting projects are relatively simple. You’ll likely pay no more than a few hundred dollars at most (and probably far less) for professional installation.
The DIY network offers a great resource on how to install pendant lighting.
C. Cost and Budget
The key to creating a reasonable budget for any home or landscaping project is understanding the scope of the project before setting it.
Basic factors that influence cost include location and fixture types. These will have the most sway over the final price.
Next up is installation method. As you probably assume, professional installation is much more expensive than DIY installation.
The key to finding a great deal on professional installation is researching multiple contractors instead of simply selecting the first one you hear about.
Request quotes from at least three local contractors. Compare these to ensure the price charged seems fair.
Remember that some contractors do a much better job than others. For big projects, it’s essential to check their reviews and reputation, especially with the Better Business Bureau.
As far as cost goes, Fixr.com states that the average cost for installing outdoor lighting in North America ranges from about $2,500 to $5,000.
They go on to list the national average, for an 800-square-foot yard with 20 fixtures, at $3,800 for professional installation.
Of course, it’s possible to spend well under even the low estimate if you DIY the project and buy the most affordable fixtures.
At the same time, it’s possible to spend well over even the high estimate if you hire professionals for installation and buy custom, designer light fixtures.
Remember that you can also hire a lighting, landscaping, or home designer to ensure that your new fixtures look the absolute best.
Top designers can easily add another $500 or more to the overall total for your project.
Best Type for Various Purposes
Outdoor lighting is exposed to all kinds of elements including heavy winds, rain, snow, and more. When it comes to the best outdoor lights for weather resistance, look for something listed as commercial grade for the best results.
These heavy-duty lights can easily withstand all kinds of weather and typically have heavier, more robust materials such as rubberized cords and thicker bulb covers. Seek lighting that is tear-resistant, too, since it will be able to handle high winds and other inclement weather.
Flexible cords will also ensure that your beautiful new outdoor lights don’t fall down or tear. If you’re not planning to leave your outdoor lights hanging up all year round, you might not need something as rugged.
However, if you’re hanging them and leaving them as the seasons change, it’s best to look for something as durable as possible to keep them in great condition throughout the year.
If you want something to brighten up a walkway, most outdoor lighting is staked into the ground. However, there are many hanging lights that dangle from a small stake or pole, too. Choose hanging solar lanterns that don’t require you to constantly worry about a dying lightbulb.
Anything solar is much easier to maintain, especially if you need it for an outdoor walkway. You can find a wide range of hanging outdoor lanterns at many home improvement stores, on Amazon, and directly from a wide range of outdoor lighting retailers and manufacturers.
These lights are not only charming, but they’ll make it much easier for you, your family, and your guests to see at night, too. Place them along both sides of a pathway to keep it nice and bright (and safe as well!).
When it comes to hanging out on your deck or patio, string lights are always a good choice. You can hang these lights underneath a patio umbrella, a pergola, or directly under a patio roof or cover. String lights are a breeze to “install” since all you need to do is plug them into an outdoor-rated outlet.
Many brands also allow you to string several sets together so you can enjoy as many lights as you want outside. Look for Edison-style bulbs for a fun, vintage vibe or try something with a round clear cover to give your patio a modern look.
Whatever style you choose, you can really never go wrong with string lights for this part of your outdoor space. They’re also easy to take down and put into storage during the winter, too.
In terms of energy efficiency, you can never go wrong with solar outdoor hanging lights. These lights use a small solar cell to power them, and they automatically turn on whenever the sun goes down. Not only are solar lights extremely energy efficient, but they’re also extremely easy to maintain, too.
If you prefer “traditional” lights, look for outdoor lighting that uses LED bulbs. These lightbubs last much longer than traditional bulbs will, and they also use a lot less energy to keep them powered on.
Another great way to save energy (and money) on your outdoor lighting bill is to install a timer. Simply set the timer to turn them on whenever you want to, then set it to turn them off when you don’t want to use them.
When it comes to outdoor celebrations, adding some lighting is a great way to make your festivities brighter. If you’re hosting a party or having an outdoor wedding and reception, try hanging icicle lights for a brilliant effect.
These lights hang from several strands of cord to create a beautiful illumination. Another popular choice for many party hosts is either plug-in or solar-powered Moroccan string lights.
This design adds a beautiful glow and a unique pattern of light to your party and they’re a brilliant way to celebrate virtually any occasion. You can also find hanging outdoor lights in a variety of other unique and fun shapes, like stars and more.
If you’re illuminating your landscaping, string lights are also a great choice for this area, too. As for aesthetics, you’ll want to select something in a style and finish that complements the rest of your home.
Choose porch and patio lighting that has a similar silhouette to the overall style of your home. This also applies to the finish you choose as well.
There’s really not one specific type of outdoor hanging that’s better than others in terms of style, since it’s up to you which one you prefer. However, keeping everything consistent is the best way to give your home a nice boost of curb appeal.
Feit is a leader in lighting and has a wide variety of options for both the interior and the exterior of your home. Feit’s hanging lights are great for everyday enjoyment, special occasions like parties or weddings, holiday celebrations, and much more.
You can find these outdoor hanging lights available in classic white or in versions with color-changing effects. They’re also available in various lengths in case you need more lighting for a pergola or patio cover.
Feit is a family-owned and operated company based in Los Angeles, CA, and has been making lighting since 1978. The company ensures that all of its factories and distribution centers are always fully equipped with the latest, most innovative testing laboratories to ensure exceptional quality and consistency of performance.
They currently maintain a massive inventory of over 1 million different bulbs and fixtures in their automated distribution centers, so most orders are shipped within 24 hours.
You can also find these awesome outdoor hanging lights at many home improvement stores throughout the country and online via various retailers. When it comes to brightness and durability, Feit is by far one of the best brands available.
RTTY outdoor hanging lights can be found on Amazon, and the brand makes a good range of globe string lights in various lengths. These hanging lights feature waterproof technology that can handle extreme temperature changes and weather conditions including rain, wind, and high humidity.
Their line of bistro lights looks beautiful all year round, and they’re compatible with a dimmer, so you can brighten them or dim them to set the mood. These lights are attached to durable, flexible wire that makes them easy to hang anywhere.
You can even connect up to six strands if you need more length. RTTY outdoor hanging lights are easy to install and feature a shatterproof design. All you need to do is plug them in and enjoy their warm, inviting illumination for a cozy ambiance outdoors.
The company also states that their customer service is available at any time in case you have any questions or if you’re not completely satisfied with your purchase.
Brightech makes a wide range of stylish outdoor hanging lights as well as modern interior lighting. This brand has its own website or you can find them on Amazon.com to get free Prime shipping.
Although most of Brightech’s products are made for residential use, many of them are commercial grade, which makes them an excellent choice for bars, restaurants, and cafes, too. Check out the brand’s energy-saving LED outdoor string lights that include 48 feet of cord with 15 bulbs.
This set features three feet between each bulb, and you can attach up to 20 strands for even more illumination. These lights are approved for both residential and commercial use and they don’t get hot, even after several hours of use.
They’re also dimmer compatible and feature special WeatherTite technology that can handle winds up to 50 miles per hour, rain, and snow. The cords are made of rubberized, heavy-duty flexible material that’s thicker than a standard cord.
Add them to your terrace, balcony, garden, or patio area for a beautiful addition to your home. There are several styles available, including modern designs and outdoor hanging lights with vintage-inspired Edison bulbs.
All products come with a 3-year limited warranty which includes any defects or sudden failures.
If you’re looking for something other than string lights, check out the beautiful hanging lanterns from VIANIS. These outdoor hanging lights feature a beautiful gold and black trim finish with rippled glass for a subtle vintage vibe.
The clear water-rippled glass adds a warm element while still allowing ample light to shine through. These lanterns are a great way to create a warm, calm vibe on your porch or patio. The lights are rust-proof and waterproof and made of diecast aluminum for durability.
They’re weather-resistant and look great hanging from a garden area, a covered patio, or your front porch. The pair of lanterns include a chain that you can adjust to make them as low or high as you need with a maximum length of 59 inches.
The lights are compatible with sloped ceilings for versatility, and the bulbs are easy to replace thanks to a convenient bottom opening design.
Lighting products by VIANIS can be found on Amazon and they include a three-year warranty, too. You’ll also find a wide assortment of outdoor porch lighting if you need something to match.
Where to Buy Outdoor Hanging Lights Online
The Internet is chock full of great places to find quality outdoor hanging lights at stellar prices.
However, a few retailers stand out high above the rest. Not only do they offer the absolute best prices, but they also have the greatest selections of relevant products.
Here are our favorite online retailers of outdoor hanging lights and accessories: