What is Awning Lighting?
We are seeing a growing trend in which people are adding lights to their awnings. This is both true for residential patio covers as well as those attached to an RV or camper. Over the past few years, the quality of outdoor lighting has greatly improved. With the growth in consumer demand, we have seen more vendors enter the space and drive down the prices. It’s now possible to purchase a quality system for less than a third of what it cost n 2015.
There are four types of patio or awning lighting. At a high level, there are two categories. The first category is for aesthetic light with a primary purpose of setting a romantic mood. These are used for homes when they want to create soft light or in commercial venues when they want to set the right mood such as wedding venues or restaurants on Valentine’s day.
The second category of lighting is designed first and foremost for functionality. These use LED lights that are incredibly energy efficient, and they are also designed to be quite easily affixed to the area that you wish to illuminate.
We will dive into the benefits and drawbacks of each option. In the end, there isn’t a one size fits all solution as it greatly depends on your main objective.
Aesthetic Outdoor Patio Lighting
Whenever you read about awning lights with no further clarification, this is what most people are thinking about. Both types (large bulb and small bulb) are attached to a long electrical wire. These are usually called “String Lights” because each bulb is connected to the wire at specific intervals.
The large bulb lights feature an internal LED that is surrounded by a globe of glass which is used to diffuse and soften the light. These globes can range from being as small as a ping pong ball to as large as a softball. We have even seen some artistic string lights that had the LED inside a mason jar. While they were incredibly pretty, we were not fans of these mason jar lights as the weight created issues for the wire supporting them. If one of the supports broke, it could cause a chain reaction that led to all the mason jars crashing to the ground. We absolutely recommend sticking with manufactured patio lighting that has reinforced glass.
Each large bulb will produce about 20 lumens which are roughly the same as a soft light 40-watt bulb in your home. The outdoor lights often feature a painted exterior that will cause it to glow rather than beam. This type of outdoor lighting is best used to frame a perimeter or an awning, patio, or pergola. There are some designs that run the wires in parallel across the center; however, the lights need to have some support in the middle if they are strung across an open area.
The “Small Bulb Outdoor Lightning” is very similar to Christmas tree lighting. They feature very small LED bulb that is usually painted white and about the same diameter as a pencil. There is an interval of 4″ to 6″ between each bulb, and each single bulb only produces around 2 lumens. If you’re unfamiliar with the lumen as a measurement term, it’s the amount of light that something generates, and for reference one birthday candle is roughly 1 lumen. Here are our three favorite small bulb patio lights.
Functional Centric Outdoor Lighting
This category of lighting is designed to generate the most amount of lumens for the amount of energy consumed. Many of these are solar powered or designed to run from a battery. These are also designed to be self-contained so that it is easy to add to the overall system.
Our first type of this genre are the LED strip lights. These usually have small flat outward facing LEDS that are attached to a long strip of wire. On the back of the wire, there is an adhesive material that allows it to easily stick to the underside of an awning. Additionally, they can also attach to a solid frame as it doesn’t require grommets. If you are setting up a permanent lighting system for a fixed area, we really recommend these.
One of the main perks of the LED strip lights is that they are often programmable through a remote or on a mobile phone app. They can be set to certain colors if you are simply trying to set the mood for a favorite ball team. They can be set to white for maximum lumens, and they can also be programmed to strobe to create an outdoor disco area. These are also incredibly popular for outdoor RV lighting. We have a video below that illustrates how these can be used in creative areas such as a pillar and how they can be controlled via an iphone app:
The final type is ground stick lights. These are individual batons that are pressed into the ground. They either have a battery in the lower section that powers the bulb or a small solar panel on the top. They also feature a darkness detector that causes them to turn on after the sunsets. On the small end, there are 1-lumen lights that are used to illuminate the border of a path. On the other end of this, there is the directional 120-lumen monster. This has a large LED bulb in the center with a concentric concave reflective cone. The large models are usually on motion detectors that are pointed at driveways or home entry points. These are absolutely amazing for portable lighting options as they can be placed around a popup tent. Additionally, if you are tailgating, these can be affixed to the poles instead of pressed into the ground.