wide closeup view of dour strands of lit outdoor Edison bulbs suspended from a black metal pole with a dramatic pink and purple sky behind

How to Hang Outdoor Edison Bulbs

For an Inviting Glow

Outdoor Edison bulbs -cafe lights- are perfect for an inviting glow.

But can be a challenge to hang. See how we hung them for year round use.

Lighting is a critical element of setting the mood for any room — including your outdoor rooms! That’s why, when we started on this great backyard makeover, adding cafe lights was a tip top priority for me.

Have you been following our Blog Super Series — Our Backyard Makeover? Yes, this is technically the side yard. But it’s how we safely navigate our guests to the backyard. So I’m including it.

You can find all of them here if you want/need to catch up, jump around, refer back to something — you’re in charge:

view from above on. the balcony looking down over a roaring fire in the fire pit on the new gravel patio and strings of lit outdoor Edison bulbs hanging over a red brick patio

I’m so glad we planned for them from the beginning! When the mason built our brick fence pillars on the patio they knew to include the pole we bought to suspend the strings of lights.

Since it was integrated at that time, it is very stable, secure and a real design element vs. an improvised after thought.

Plan For Your Installation-

Power Source & Attachment Locations-

Start with the basic questions – where is the power coming from? And then where/how will we attach the light strands?

An image of the back of the house marked in four spots with red X's where the lights will connect and a thin line showing where each string of lights will swoop down to one pole in the outside corner of the patio

Fortunately we have an outlet on the balcony at each outside edge (just inside the brick screens). Unfortunately, they are both faulty. There is another outlet in the center corner that we can use in the meantime.

The black pole coming up from the corner brick pillar on the patio is hard to pick out in the picture, so I highlighted with yellow. We knew we wanted four rows of lights all meeting at the corner post.

An easy way to really plan out your lights is to drape a rope or string in the pattern you are envisioning. Mark where it will attach to supports/structures.

This helped us determine the height for attaching to the columns. We liked having a bit of an incline down to the corner. This made us think of a gazebo and felt very inviting. We also like for the lights to have a bit of slack for a more casual feel.

HINT: Keep in mind, depending on your bulbs, they may hang as much as 6 inches below the steel guy wire.

Figure Your Length-

Once you have the placement laid out, measure the rope to determine the length of light sets you need. Two 50-ft sets worked great for us.

Each female end will start on either side of the center arch coming to the black pole, and turning back, each to an outside column edge. Here they will tie off at the column, with the last 6 ft on one side and 9 ft on the other, minus the last bulbs connecting to the power outlets.

Purchase Your Lights and Supplies-

Now that you know the lengths, find the bulbs that are right for you.

Keep your ideal lengths in mind.

Make sure you only purchase lights that are classified exterior and commercial grade.

LED has come a long way from the early cool lights. But still be sure to check the Kelvin rating to get the level of warmth that is right for you.

After a lot of research we finally went with Hampton Bay lights at Hobby Lobby. So far we LOVE them! We have had them installed four months now and yes, we used them throughout the winter.

TIP: purchase a few extra bulbs at the same time to insure you have ones that match your originals. Our sets came with two extra bulbs, plus we have the ones we took out of our “excess sockets”.

view from the large balcony above, through a large brick archwayof a snow-covered patio and balcony floor and railings all lit by the four strands of outdoor cafe lights suspended from the brick columns of the balcony out to a metal pole on. the corner of the patio below. All with a lake in the distance.

They were particularly beautiful in the snow!

And if we have friends over, even though we are playing games or having dinner inside, the lights on the patio shining through the glass doors make it warmer and more inviting.

SIDENOTE: I didn’t want to open the door for the picture so we have extra reflection of the bulbs on the glass doors.

Guy Wire Support-

If you are planning on a “permanent” installation, meaning hanging year round, you need to suspend the lights from a galvanized steel cable. Even if you plan to take them down after “the season”, if the distance is long, it’s still best to hang them from a guy wire. This takes the pressure off the lights’ wiring, extending their life.

SIDENOTE: Literally one week after we installed our lights in mid November, we had an epic storm — sustained winds of 80+ mph. It was like a tornado without a funnel cloud. And our lights on the guy wires handled it beautifully.

Installation-

Supplies Needed-

closeup of tools omn a round glass table top. The tools including a Ryobi hammer drill, a can of air, an eyebolt and an anchor
  • Stainless steel wire or vinyl coated wire of your choice
  • Appropriately sized crimps and crimping tool
  • Fasteners such as eyebolts, with anchors if needed
  • Appropriate drill and drill bit based on your structure and selected eyebolts
  • Bit of painters or masking tape
  • Canned air if drilling into masonry
  • Wire cutters
  • Ladder
  • Zip ties, preferred black
  • Scissors
  • Safety goggles and ear protection since using a hammer drill

NOTE: Since drilling into brick, we used our Ryobi Hammer Drill (LOVE that thing!) On the brick columns, we found the right combination to be 1/4 x 3- 3/4 eyebolts with 1/4 x 1 -1/2 long lag shields. These required a 1/2″ carbide-tipped masonry drill bit.

The links in this post may include affiliate links, which means if you purchase anything using these links, you pay no extra, but I may receive a small commission that helps keep this blog running. I truly appreciate you using affiliate links whenever possible. Please know that I will never recommend a product I do not believe in!

Click on a picture for more details and to order. Hover and favorite an item to be notified if and when there is ever a future sale price.

There are many different combinations for purchasing the Ryobi Hammer Drill. At the time of writing, Ryobi is having an amazing sale, so I included several of the best pricing options. One great combo that includes a drill and battery for an amazing price. If you have or are building your Ryobi tool cache, the one with all the battery options is a phenomenal price.

Install Guy Wire-

Start by installing all your eye bolts.

For us, our mason drilled a hole near the top on each of the two sides that faced in to the lights. Removing the black cap, we inserted two short, but stocky eyebolts from the outside, reaching in and adding washers and a nut on the inside. Easy peasy.

The brick columns took a bit more, like two orders from Amazon that were a bust, before we finally landed on this combination that worked like a charm.

closeup profile of a man wearing a ball hat, safety goggles and ear plugs while drilling into a painted brick column profile

Drill your holes.

TIP: See the green painters tape on the drill bit? We measured the length of the lag shields against the drill bit and marked it with the painters tape. Then drill just to the that length. Works like a charm

closeup of a can of compressed air blowing out the dust from the hole just drilled in the brick

Use Canned air to clean out the hole before proceeding.

closeup of a man's hand putting an anchor into the hole drilled in the brick column

Insert the lag shield.

closeup of man's hands tightening an eyebolt into the anchor in the brick column

Screw in the eyebolt.

a gif demonstrating using a screwdriver to tighten an eyebolt

TIP: To tighten an eyebolt, stick a screwdriver through the eye to act as a handle for you to turn it and it adds quite a bit of torque, too!

Now install the wire.

Sorry I don’t have pictures at this point. It’s really straight forward. We rolled off two lengths of wire and threaded one through each of the eyebolts on the black pole.

Then we brought one end up to each of the column eyebolts. We crimped off the outside edges first. And then strung the ends through the center column eyebolts working to get them hanging to the same level., and crimped them off.

These are the same lights we have and are thrilled with. We use similar remote control plugs for our lights. It’s amazing. We can turn them off an on from almost any location inside the house. The other items are equivalent to what we used.

Click on a picture for more details and to order. Hover and favorite an item to be notified if and when there is ever a future sale price.

Install Light Cord-

The easiest way to do this is with zip ties to the guy wires. Which end of the string set do you want to have any excess string length? Start installing at the opposite end,

We started at the center column eyebolts because that is where the female ends will be. We zip tied those ends to the eyebolts. This helps to assure that the first bulbs will be far enough away from the house that they won’t break against the brick. Plus it prevents the bulbs from sliding downhill on the wire.

TIP: Do not install the light cords with the bulbs in! If your string set arrives with the bulbs in the sockets, remove them first to avoid breakage.

Each bulb should have a little eyelet at the top. Run a black zip tie through that eyelet and around the guy wire. Cut off the tails of the zip ties.

SHORTCUT: We did this with three or four bulbs that we could reach from the first ladder location and then moved the ladder a few feet over. From this spot we zipped each of the bulbs to the wire cinching up the light cord between the bulbs to install them all with the ladder in that one place. Then moved the ladder to the end of that run stretching out the light string the length of the guy wire. Saved a lot of up and down.

Add Outdoor Edison Bulbs-

closeup of two strings of edison bulb lights hanging outside with a dramatic sunset behind

Once your light string is up, go back and add the light bulbs. (this is the “proper” way, but see our tip below)

SHORTCUT: After a bit, we realized it worked fine for me to screw in each lightbulb right before Doug was ready to zip tie it in place. By working just ahead of him, the bulbs were not hitting the ground or crashing into each other. And saved a whole lot of up and down the ladder! (You’re Welcome 😉 )

Fire Up the Festivities & the Lights-

Gif of crowd gathered in the dark and then the lights come on and everyone celebrates

Our oldest son brought eight buddies with him from Dallas for the Cowboys vs. Chiefs game here in KC.

They were the first to enjoy the finished patio with lighting!!!

view from above on. the balcony looking down over a roaring fire in the fire pit on the new gravel patio and strings of lit outdoor Edison bulbs hanging over a red brick patio

Yes, it was cold here, but that did not deter them. A roaring fire and cornhole on the patio made for a very fun evening for all!

reminder to Pin It Now
Pinterest Pin with two images of the Edison Lights Bulbs hanging above the patio. One image from above on a snowy night and the other with the lights seen in front of a gorgeous sunset sky and the lake reflecting it below

I hope this has inspired you to consider outdoor cafe lights if you don’t have them yet.

As always, I truly appreciate you and please don’t hesitate with any feedback or questions you have.

Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane

4 Comments

  1. Renae

    Your lights look gorgeous!

    Reply
  2. Cindy

    Beautiful Diane! You will have many celebrations in that back (side) yard under the lights!

    Reply
  3. Jen

    I love this, Diane. We’ve been wanting to add some lights like this to our back patio. Thanks for sharing such a detailed how-to. I’d love to share a link to your post in my weekly round-up tomorrow.

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks Jen! I’m honored to have you share far and wide! Please let me know how yours turn out. The biggest struggle for us was getting to a power source. if you run into any issues along the way, just shoot me a question and I’ll see if I can help out. BTW, I still mean too send you a list for KC eats and such. Although, if you are coming Easter weekend, which I thought I understood, our forecast is not looking the best — bummer!

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. So Much Amazing Inspiration For Our Backyard Makeover - South House Designs - […] Eps. 7: How to Hang Outdoor Edison Style Cafe Lights for a warm, inviting glow […]
  2. How to Make a Small Tool Shed Stylish - South House Designs - […] Eps. 7: How to Hang Outdoor Edison Style Cafe Lights for a warm, inviting glow […]
  3. How To Add New Brick Fence and Makeover a Railing - South House Designs - […] Eps. 7: How to Hang Outdoor Edison Style Cafe Lights for a warm, inviting glow […]
  4. Crushed Granite vs. Pea Gravel Patio: Which to Love? - South House Designs - […] Eps. 7: How to Hang Outdoor Edison Style Cafe Lights for a warm, inviting glow […]
  5. How To Build Natural Stone Retaining Wall Steps - South House Designs - […] Eps. 7: How to Hang Outdoor Edison Style Cafe Lights for a warm, inviting glow […]
  6. How To Install a Beautiful Decomposed Granite Patio - South House Designs - […] Eps. 7: How to Hang Outdoor Edison Style Cafe Lights for a warm, inviting glow […]
  7. How to Transform Your Yard with Modern DIY Landscape Lighting - South House Designs - […] they fabulous?!?!. We are crazy about them. They are not solar. You can read all about them and how…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2022 South House Designs