Patio umbrella lights are an essential part of many people’s backyards, providing shade and protection from the hot sun.
You wouldn’t think that patio umbrellas would be useful after sundown, but they can be quite handy when used with patio umbrella lights.
Umbrella lights are an unexpected and interesting way to provide the lighting you need to see at night.
If your umbrella didn’t come with a light attached, don’t worry.
These patio lights can be bought at any time and attached with ease. Just like most other types of outdoor lighting, umbrella lights come in solar, rechargeable and wall-powered versions.
Within those types are two different kinds of light fixtures- pole mounts and the string lights.
After reading this guide, you will hopefully be able to distinguish between the two.
Pole Mounted Patio Umbrella Lights
The most functional of patio umbrella lighting comes in the form of a pole-mounted light module. These lights attach directly to the center pole of your umbrella.
Installation only takes a minute or two, as the light module simply clamps around the pole. They typically have several LED light bulbs that shine down on the table below.
I consider it to be the most functional of the umbrella lights because it provides very uniform, direct light where you need it. Standard light bulb colors of white, blue or yellow are often used in the pole mounts.
One nice feature in some models is the ability to turn rotate and/or swivel the light into the direction you need. LED light bulbs are used for their power efficiency.
Solar powered patio umbrella lights get their energy from a solar panel which is usually placed on top of the umbrella or on the pole.
Users never have to change batteries or connect an annoying extension cord. Some solar umbrella lights have rechargeable batteries which can be re-energized as they run out.
If ultimate reliability is your goal, then a wall-powered patio umbrella light may be for you.
String Umbrella Lights
String-style patio umbrella lights are a bit different than the pole mounted varieties.
These light sets come with a series of lighted strings, each of which attaches to a vein on your umbrella (the stick-like structures on the underside). Each light string connects to a central power receptacle attached to the center pole.
These light strings come in many beautiful and exotic colors, making these systems far more decorative and surreal than our previous example.
If mood setting and creative expression is your goal, a string-style patio umbrella light set is the way to go.
Assembly is easy- simply clip on each string to the umbrella’s veins, plug each one into the receptacle and route an extension cord to the umbrella.
Lighted Patio Umbrella
If you do not yet own a patio umbrella and would like one with lighting, pre-lit umbrellas are available. If you are comfortable with not being able to customize your umbrella lighting, this may be the most convenient solution.
These units have the lights already attached and ready to be plugged in. Trying out a floor model is recommended to get a feel for how much lighting the umbrella will provide.
When choosing a lighted patio umbrella, consider the size of the area that you intend to cover. If you are placing it within a table mount, ensure that the umbrella’s diameter exceeds the table’s width by a foot or two.
This will ensure that the umbrella provides proper shade no matter the direction of the sun throughout the day.
Deciding between a square or circular umbrella is mostly a matter of choice and deciding on what shape would best cover the backyard space.
Keep in mind that there are both table-mounted and freestanding varieties, each of which has different potential uses. For example, a free-standing umbrella can be moved around the yard to different places like a pool deck or a seating area.
A table mounted umbrella may not be able to move around but provides excellent coverage of a table to dine and converse under.
Exterior Lighting with Solar Umbrella Lights
With the help of solar umbrella lights, patio umbrellas can serve the dual purpose of providing shade and lighting.
If you currently own a trusty patio umbrella, you know how helpful it can be with cooling off a porch or outdoor dining area. Adding lights to your umbrella can make it useful at night too, providing generous illumination to the area below it.
Nighttime activities such as dining, conversing and eating a meal can be done with plenty of light to spare. The trick is finding the right umbrella lighting for you. Fortunately, many of these systems are universal and can be installed onto an umbrella.
The solar-powered ones require no external power source, using only a solar panel on top of the umbrella for power.
If you have not yet purchased a patio umbrella or are looking to buy a second, consider one with lights already built in.
Buying a pre-lit solar light umbrella can save you time because you don’t have to seek out a separate light fixture and install it. Pre lit models usually have a series of LED light bulbs lining the umbrella veins.
A cool looking solar panel sits at the very tip of the umbrella, capturing the sun’s rays during the day and storing the energy in a rechargeable battery pack. These battery packs only need to be replaced every 1-2 years.
After you place the umbrella into its mount, whether that be a table or freestanding frame, the solar panel needs a full day or two to charge up the battery. The solar technology is housed within a weatherproof plastic mount which is safe to use outdoors.
At night, the lights on the veins turn on automatically, lighting up the area below.
No maintenance or upkeep is necessary to use these lights, making them very easy to use. Although pre-lit solar umbrella lights are the easiest way to get started, they aren’t very customizable.
Lights discussed in the next section are added after you purchase your umbrella, allowing you to pick and choose a lighting option for your tastes.
Attachable Solar Umbrella Lights
If you have already purchased your patio umbrella, never fear- there is a wide array of attachable umbrella lights on the market that you can use. In fact, the large selection allows for higher customization than the pre-lit varieties.
There are three basic types of attachable solar umbrella lights:
Specifics on each will be discussed shortly.
Regardless of which you choose, installation is a snap.
In just a few minutes time, these solar lights attach to your existing umbrella no matter the size or shape.
Since solar light systems run on a lower voltage than wired models, they generally use energy-efficient LED light bulbs. These lights come in many colors, with white being most common and functional.
Umbrella light pods consist of a disc-shaped light module with LED lights bordering the edge or bundled in sections.
These types of solar-powered umbrella lights mount directly to your umbrella’s pole.
Many models are capable of adjusting to different pole diameters since poles vary in size from umbrella to umbrella. Some units consist of two halves which clip on the pole at any desired height.
Others require you to remove the umbrella from the mount and slide onto it.
These fixtures provide light 360 degrees around themselves, perfect for lighting up a circular or even rectangular table below.
Some of the more advanced solar umbrella lights have many LED lights packed into several modules on the mount which can be adjusted individually, customizing exactly where the beams shine.
Umbrella Vein Clip-Ons
Considered to be more decorative than functional, clip-on lights are a bit different in nature than their pod counterparts.
These systems look a lot like lights you see around the holidays, with many LED light bulbs on a set of strings. Each light string clips on to your umbrella’s veins for an impressive light display.
They come in many colors, ranging from classic white to multi-colored.
Each light string connects to a central power terminal at the base of the umbrella. The terminal then connects to your solar panel mounted on top of the umbrella.
Candle Patio Umbrella Lights
If you enjoy being in the presence of 100% natural light, then candle lights are the way to go. Candle lights for umbrellas typically consist of many tea-light holders attached to a pole-mounted decorative frame.
To keep the wind from blowing the candles out, you will commonly see these units equipped with clear tubes that are placed over each candle.
The tubes, or “windbreakers”, can be easily removed to light or replace the candles.