Complete Guide to Awning Lighting

basic DIY retractable awning from kit

Do you love your patio, but need more light for the evening? Are you a DIYer who just wants to make your awning easier to see at a distance?

There are many different types of lighting for patios and awnings, and we’ve spent over 40 hours researching more than 100 different products. We will share our top 5 winners with you.

If you’re in a hurry, our absolute top pick is the TaoTronics 33 ft.

TaoTronics LED Lights with Remote (33 feet)

The TaoTronics is an indoor/outdoor string lights. The bulbs are mini LED, and there are 100 in each string. They are waterproof, and they include a remote that allows the lights to be dimmed or powered on/of.

The lights feature 10 levels of brightness, and they can be set to strobe to create an atmosphere. The bulbs are a white/yellow.

They have a copper wire that stays cool to the touch even after being on for hours, and they have a low profile 5″ UL adaptor.

  • Price (< $0.12 per bulb)
  • Low Energy Usage
  • Soft Light
  • Copper Wire Stays Cool
  • Wire Easily bends
  • Included Remote
  • Lights Programmable Patterns
  • Can arrive tangled in the box
  • Sets cannot be plugged into each other
  • Multiple sets require an extension cord
  • Many reports of issues with remote

Brightech Ambience Pro (48 feet)

The Britech lights are created by a leading seller of custom lighting. These are waterproof and heavy duty outdoor lights. They are LED bulbs that are designed to appear like old school Edison bulbs. The manufacturer claims they have withstood 50 mph winds; however, we have not independently verified this claim.

The wire is thicker than most of the string lights that we’ve reviewed, and there is an eye above each bulb. This would allow it to be individually connected. Each bulb is high efficiency and requires only 2 watts of power.

  • Create an elegant lighting atmosphere
  • Energy efficient bulbs (2 watts each)
  • Commercial grade material
  • Waterproof
  • Three-year warranty
  • Great for stringing between poles
  • 3′ gap between bulbs
  • Lights are not dimmable with included equipment
  • High price per bulb ($4.99 per bulb)
  • Fragile bulbs

Brightech Ambience Pro (48 feet)

Brighton Clear Globe Outdoor Patio Lights (25 ft)
This is our winner for best budget string patio light. This is a 25-foot string wire with plain clear G40 globe bulbs with a candelabra base. The bulbs measure 2.87″ x 1.5″, and the bulbs are spaced 1 foot apart.

The bulbs are IP44 weatherproof, and they can be hung either indoor or outdoor. The lights can be run in series, and buying two 25′ strands is less expensive than a single 50′ strand.

The bulbs are moderately energy efficient at 5W per bulb meaning that the entire strand will use slightly more than a single 100W lightbulb. The string also includes an extra fuse and replacement bulbs can be purchased in bulk for roughly $0.60 each.

  • Best budget string lights
  • Inexpensive replacement bulbs
  • Bulbs in parallel (meaning 1 broken bulb won’t take out the entire line)
  • Moderately energy efficient
  • IP44 Waterproof
  • Limited warranty (1 year on the wire, 3 months on bulbs)
  • Incandescent bulbs
  • Extremely fragile bulbs
  • Best used for events as bulbs/fuse can wear quickly

PopBabiles Curtain Lights 300 LED Bulb

The PopBabies lights were a pleasant surprise for us. We hadn’t seen many light curtains before reviewing these, and they have become one of our favorites.

The lights cover 9.8′ x 9.8′ square area that is fully programmable. There are 3 brightness levels and 8 modes. These fairy lights can make a perfect backdrop for a patio.

  • Waterproof
  • Remote included
  • 3 Brightness settings
  • 8 Programmable modes
  • Low lumens
  • Very small lights

Oak Leaf Solar Powered Light Rope (41 feet)

The Oak Leaf rope is great for areas that don’t have access to a power outlet. It can be used on gazebos, around gardens or taken on camping trips for lighting around tents.

The 41′ strand of light has 100 LED bulbs, and it is covered in PVC tubing. The lights are both water and weather resistant coming in at IP65 and IP44 respectively.

The lights also feature an always-on mode or a strobe effect depending on the desired mode.

  • Waterproof and weatherproof
  • Fully solar powered
  • Long battery life (17-hour illumination per charge)
  • Low voltage
  • Long lasting – Can work year around
  • Best used for decorative or secondary lighting rather than a primary light source
  • Very low lumens per bulb
  • Bulbs smaller than many customers expected

Lamplust LED Rope Lights (96 foot)

The Lamplust lights are our choice for the highest quality. They are priced higher than our other picks, but they have many features to justify the higher price point.

The wire and bulbs are fully contained in a waterproof, heavy-duty plastic. This protects the bulbs and lowers the risk of getting kinks in the wire. The bulbs are fully dimmable, and the entire rope is divided into individual 24″ strands that allow for a variety of layouts.

This product is exceptionally energy efficient with 1148 total LED bulbs, and the entire rope uses less than 28.5 watts.

  • WaterproofFully enclosed wire & bulbsHighly energy efficient
  • Dimmable (but requires separate switch)
  • Not programmable
  • Only 90-day warranty

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. We have seen vast improvements in quality and bulb longevity . In 2018, it is possible to purchase a quality system for less than a fourth of what it cost in 2015.

What are types of outdoor patio lighting

There are two categories of patio or awning lighting.

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.

Decorative 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.

Function Focused 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. Stick lights are also a very reasonably priced option for someone who wants to add portable lighting to a tent, umbrella or other movable shade structure.

Last Updated:March 26, 2024