How to Set Up Patio Umbrella Lights

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Patio umbrella lights offer an ambient glow for those perfect summer evenings when it's just too nice to sit indoors. If out-of-the-box ambience is your cup of tea, you can buy a lighted patio umbrella at most big-box and online retail outlets. But adding lights to a patio umbrella you already have isn't difficult or time-consuming and may just save you more than a few bucks.

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Things You'll Need

1. Count the Ribs and Measure

Count the ribs and measure the size of your patio umbrella before purchasing a light kit to ensure the lights are compatible with your umbrella.

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2. Detach the Umbrella

Remove the umbrella from its stand and lower portion of the pole; lean the umbrella on its side open on a soft surface such as grass or a blanket.

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3. Attach Clips to Hold Light Strands

Attach a light clip to the umbrella rib nearest you, approximately 2 inches from the center pole.

4. Secure With Ties

Tighten the zip tie or band that holds the clip in place so that it's snug against the umbrella rib.

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5. Use Five Clips per Rib

Secure four more clips, equally spaced, to the same umbrella rib, keeping them away from the opening and closing mechanisms that slide when you operate the umbrella. The exact number of clips per rib may vary by manufacturer; count the clips to determine how many to use on each rib.

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6. Attach Clips to Other Ribs

Attach five clips to each additional umbrella rib, spacing them to match the clips on the first umbrella rib and securing them in place with the cable or zip ties.

7. Trim Excess Zip Tie Length

Trim the excess length off each zip tie or band using scissors or nail clippers.

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8. Wrap the Collar Around Pole

Detach the lining material from the adhesive tape on the inside of the soft band and secure the band 2 inches down from the top of the pole away from the mechanism that opens and closes the umbrella. The collar holds the light-strand grouping to the umbrella pole.

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9. Attach the Light Strands

Hold a light strand near an adjacent umbrella rib, clipping the strand to the rib working from the center of the rib outward. Insert the first light slightly in front of the first clip. Pull and straighten the strand as you work to remove slack, securing the light strand tightly in place with the clips. Clip the remaining light strands along their adjacent umbrella ribs. Insert the umbrella into the lower part of the pole and stand it up in the base.

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10. Position the Cord

Slide the cord for the power receptacle included with the light kit through the hole in the patio table, if using the umbrella in a table. You may need to temporarily remove the lower umbrella pole to do so. Reinsert the top portion of the umbrella pole into the lower portion so the umbrella is open and in position.

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11. Attach the Power Receptacle Pack

Clip the power receptacle pack onto the umbrella pole using the zip ties or bands included in the light kit. Plug the umbrella lights into the receptacle pack. Plug the receptacle pack into an outdoor-rated extension cord.

Warning

  • Use only extension cords rated for outdoor use. Unplug the lights and the extension cord after each use.
  • Do not use metal twist ties to secure the light strands to the umbrella ribs.

Install Solar Umbrella Lights

Solar patio umbrella lights attach to umbrellas in much the same way as their electric counterparts, without requiring a power cord or power receptacle to create light. Instead, the light kit includes a solar panel attached to a clip. Secure the solar panel, panel-side up, to the vent on the patio umbrella on the outside of the umbrella so it can receive full sun. If necessary, adjust the location of the solar panel so it receives the maximum amount of sun every day ⁠— it won't charge very well if it's in the shade most of the afternoon.

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Buy a Lighted Patio Umbrella

If you decide to buy a patio umbrella with lights already installed, you'll find there's no shortage of options available. For example, you can choose a model with rib or perimeter lighting, a UV-resistant canopy, a round or rectangular canopy, strip lights instead of bulbs, a cantilevered stand, and the ideal size, color, or pattern to complement your existing terrace, patio, or lawn furniture.

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