How to Hang Outdoor String Lights
How to Hang Outdoor String Lights
Hanging outdoor string lighting is an easy project, but does require some planning. You need the right product, the right tools and a design in mind when hanging your globe string lights. Let's walk through it.
Step 1: Measure & Prep
The first thing to do is measure for both your string lights and the cable guide wire you need for spanning across any open spaces. When measuring for the lights, be sure to take into account enough length to get to your electrical source, and with the cable guide wire, be sure to order enough to loop the cable back on itself at all mounting points (adding about 12 inches to each span should be sufficient).
Order your string lights (we have lots of options!) and cable guide wire, as well as extra cable clips — two for each span you plan to run. Then it's time to grab everything you'll need to get underway:
- Your new string lights
- Cable guide wire
- Screw hooks
- Extra cable clips
- Wire cutter
- Zip ties
If you're planning to hard wire your lights in lieu of plugging them into an outlet, consider our Custom Length String Lights to order the exact length needed for your space.
Step 2: Mount Screw Hooks
Start your installation by placing screw hooks at the mounting points you’ve picked on each end of the space. Be sure to mount the screw hooks to something sturdy such as under the eaves of a building, a large tree or some other solid structure. Many people hang strings in a zigzag pattern across an open space; if you're doing this, plan for each "zig" or "zag" to be a single cable connected at each end to a screw hook (cables can "share" a screw hook). In other words, while the string light can be continuously looped back and forth across an open space, it is easiest to individually cut each cable guide wire for each span.
Step 3: Connect & Tighten Cable
With the screw hooks in place, you’re ready to start hanging the cable. Connect the snap hook* on the cable guide wire to the screw hook at one end of the span (see Figure 1).
Run the unfinished end of the cable to the other screw hook, loop it through and then loop the cable guide wire back through another cable clip (see Figure 2). The cable clip allows you to adjust the length and tautness of the wire. After reaching the right length/tautness, you can cut off any excess wire extending from the cable clip.
Alternatively, you could also use a turnbuckle to more easily get the tautness you want in the guide wire (see Figure 3).
If you are making a zigzag or other pattern and need to change direction at a sharper angle then the guide wire naturally bends, you can opt to stop and start your guide wire by cutting the guide wire and using additional cable clips to make the intersection (see Figure 4).
*Note that our 30-, 60- and 110-foot cable guide wires have a snap hook on one end and the other end is unfinished with an included cable clip to customize the length. Our 350-foot bulk reel guide wire is unfinished on both ends for more flexibility and you can buy the number of cable clips you need.
Step 4: Attach Your String Lights
After the guide wires are installed, you're ready to hang your string lights. PartyLights.com recommends using zip ties (ideally the same color as the string light) to attach your string lights to the cable guide wire (see Figure 5). For maximum support, use a zip tie on either side of each socket (in lieu of using the loop on the socket). Our commercial grade string lights do have mounting holes (either above or on each side of the socket), however for long-term reliability and easier installation, we suggest using zip ties.
Optionally, an extra zip tie between sockets can help add security and maintain a "clean" look to the installation. If going across multiple spans in a zigzag or other pattern, secure the cord with zip ties at the corners when changing directions. The same technique would be used whether your sockets are in-line or suspended, as shown.
Step 5: Sit Back and Enjoy!
Now you get to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Wait until dusk, turn on your string lights, invite some friends, and show off your work!
PartyLights.com is always here to help! If you have any questions about hanging outdoor string lights, email us or call us at 713-861-3400.
Following are some great examples of backyard and patio string lights in different patterns over outdoor spaces: