An outdoor lamp can serve many functions, but fundamentally, outdoor lights allow us to see in the dark. Multiple options exist for each type of outdoor light ready for purchase, but the styles available don't suit everyone, and ready-made lamps can be expensive. You can save money, meet your specific needs and express your taste by making your own outdoor lamp.
The instructions in section two assume you want a reading lamp on your patio, in your relaxing outdoor living room. Building codes and safety rules require a 3-prong, grounded plug on any lamp used outside. You can convert an indoor lamp to outdoor use.
Decide the exterior lamp's function. Is the lamp meant to light stairs for safety? Illuminate landscaping? Decorate the patio? Will you want light bright enough to read by or just enough to see hazards? Consider the reach of the light you place outdoors; you don't want your neighbors to complain about a too-bright spotlight on their bedroom window.
Choose your light fixture based upon the wattage you need. Will you want a 10 watt bulb (quite dim) or a 125 watt bulb (really bright)? Decide if the lamp will stand alone on the ground or a table, or if it will be installed on posts in the ground with underground wiring or hang on the wall of your house or a fence or deck railing. Follow the manufacturer's directions for maximum watts and volts, and always check the fixture for a UL listing for safety.
If the light bulb socket does not have a shade or housing, you can create one from found objects of clay, glass or metals such as brass, brushed nickel, galvanized steel---materials not affected by heat or moisture. Use the housing or shade to direct the light only where you need it.
Choose a standard lamp, made for a 75-watt or less bulb, that matches your patio decor.
Purchase a 3-prong plug from a hardware store. Open the housing.
Cut the 2-prong plug off the end of the lamp's cord and discard.
Feed the cord into the 3-prong plug housing.
Separate the two wires in the lamp cord an inch or two.
Using wire-strippers, cut the insulation off the final 1/2 inch of the two wires.
Connect the wires to the correct screws according to package directions, and re-close the 3-prong plug housing.
Connect your lamp to an exterior electrical outlet and enjoy your patio light.