10 Key Tips on How to Hang Outdoor String Lights

Outdoor string lights can add so much to the appearance of your home. Most people are familiar with stringing up lights for the holidays. But you can use outdoor lighting to set the mood in your outdoor space all year round.

Regardless of which option you want, there is a right way to hang up lights. Follow these 10 tips to safely hang up your outdoor string lights.

Choose the Right Equipment

As you begin planning your project, be sure that you have all the right equipment. Handling electricity can be a shocking experience but there are ways to limit the danger.

GFCI Plugs

GFCI plugs are an important part of ensuring that your lighting project is safe.

These handy devices will shut off the power if something strange is happening. Like if the current begins running through a person instead of only electrical wire.

If the plugs you plan to use are not GFCI rated, you should call an electrician. They can change out your plugs to ensure proper safety.

Surge Protectors

To protect the lights themselves from damage, use an outdoor surge protector. On occasion, power surges can come through the line. If they are strong enough they can blow out your bulbs.

Extension Cords

Depending on the size of your project you may need a few extension cords. Be sure to get one rated for outdoor use. Plus, try to put the plugs where they will have protection from the rain or snow.

Magnetic Hooks or Plastic Clips

Look for easy ways to hang up your lights. If you have a metal roof, flashing, or siding you may be able to use magnetic hooks.

Be sure to test out your surfaces with a kitchen magnet first. You don’t want to buy a bunch of magnetic hooks and get all set up only to find out they won’t work.

If you can’t use magnets, another easy option is plastic clips. You can use plastic clips either along the edges of your shingles or on the gutters.

Set Up Poles

You may not be looking to hang your outdoor string lights along your house. You may want to create a romantic atmosphere in an outdoor space.

This is easy to do with a few poles to hang the lights from. Start by screwing hooks into the ends of a few 2×2’s. Then attach the 2×2’s to your railing, or stick them in the ground where you want the lights to go.

Test the Lights Before You Hang

This is a simple yet important step. All too often folks go to all the work of hanging up their outdoor string lights. Then when they step back and hit the switch, half the strings don’t light up.

Take a moment and plug in each string that you plan to use to make sure it works first. Also, check for any individual bulbs that may have burned out. It’s a lot easier to change them on the ground rather than after they’re hanging.

Plus, sometimes an entire string of lights won’t work when only one bulb is out. You have to go through and test each bulb one by one to find the offending one. This is a whole lot easier to do on the ground.

Don’t Connect Too Many Strings

Running too many strings of lights off the same outlet can be dangerous. Know the limitations and don’t exceed them.

You can do the math to figure out what you can use. Or read the recommendations on the package if using the same strings of lights.

This is one of the benefits of using strings of LED lights. They use less energy so you can string more of them together without overloading the circuit.

But beware what type of wire you have. You can run LED lights for several hundred feet if they are pre-wired with a 2 or 3-wire harness. But if you’re using AWG socket cord you can only run it 250 feet max. It doesn’t matter what type of bulbs you are using.

Safety First

Keep safety at the forefront as you work. Don’t handle plugs with wet hands or while standing in water.

Always make sure that your ladder is positioned well before you climb up it. Have a helper handy to hand you items as needed. It’s safer (and less work) than climbing up and down the ladder every 2 seconds.

Choose a Focal Point

Now you’re ready to begin! Plan out your display before you begin hanging up those outdoor string lights. Otherwise, your work could end up looking haphazard.

Decide what will be your focal point first and work from there. That’s how to create a really stunning light display.

Check as You Go

Step back every once in a while and survey your work. If part of your display isn’t shaping up how you envisioned it, it will be easier to fix if you catch it early.

A helper also comes in handy for this. You can hold up the lights while you’re still on the ladder. Your helper can then take a step back and determine if it looks right.

Hook Up a Timer

A great way to save on electricity is to hook a timer up to your lights. This way, you don’t have to remember to turn them on and off.

Depending on the timer you can set it to turn on or off at specific times. Or you can use a light sensor so that it will turn on at twilight.

Light It Up

Now for the fun part! Once all your hard work is out of the way you get to turn it all on. If you planned it right, your light display should be stunning. Maybe even the best in the neighborhood!

Find the Perfect Outdoor String Lights

Wondering where to find a great selection of LED lights to string up? Try checking out our vast selection of LED string lights for the holidays.

If you’re looking for ideas for your outdoor space, check out our lighting projects page. There are tons of ideas on there for the perfect way to spruce up for space!

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