Warm weather stirs us out of hibernation; it's only natural to find excuses to spend more time outside. Thoughts of summer nights inspire you to get crafty and start hanging up some café style string lights. The only problem is that they just don't quite look like you imagined. The string lights you purchased are either too short or too long. They just look wrong no matter how you arrange them. Even though this frustration doesn't sound like a fun way to kick off the summer, your dreams for beautiful , patio, bistro or cafe string lights doesn't have to end in tears.
Key Concepts for Consideration
A) The Right Look: Creating the right look for your string lights can come down to matter of taste. Some people like zig zags while others prefer straight lines. Regardless of the pattern, traditionally café style lights look best when they have a bit of swag, when they have a sweeping bow from one point to the next. Keeping the strands consistent in their spacing, as well as uniform in their height, will be the key to an elegant display.
Getting the height and spacing to look right, it often requires cutting strands to custom lengths. Don't compromise your vision for beautiful cafe lighting by using pre-cut lengths from the strands you buy at the big box store. Don't let a cookie cutter version dictate the look of your lights.
B) Types of Cords: It's important to know the different kinds of strands out there and how they look and perform. The biggest difference you should be aware of is, commercially rated strands vs. Christmas light strands. (Go with the commercially rated strands.)
While Christmas strands work, for a while, they aren't a long term solution. Commercial grade strands, on the other hand, are UV protected, and provide durability with thicker gauge wire & fully insulated sockets. If you're going to go through all the trouble, it's worth the peace of mind to know that you'll be able to enjoy your lights for the years to come.
C) Sockets & Spacing: It can sometimes get a little confusing, but there are different sized sockets for different sized of lamps, which will be spaced at different lengths. In terms of classic, timeless styled cafe bistro lights, there are two sizes you should consider: E17 & E26 sockets. The number of the socket indicates how many millimeters wide the socket is. Traditionally, your E17 sockets will be spaced 15" apart & the E26 socket will be spaced 24" apart. Be sure you understand the differences when selecting a Bistro light style that works for your vision.
D) Strand Length: When a strand is suspended over a great distance (20' or more) certain preventative measures should be taken. In order to ensure that the weight of the bistro light strand doesn't become a strain on itself, it should be suspended from a steel cord. When the wind blows or other forces put strain on the strand of lights, it can become damaged. Suspending the lights from a steel cable simply ensures that the weight and strain is placed on the cable rather than on the lights.
E) There are two different kinds of lamps you can choose between: Halogen & LED.
- Halogen lamps are the old-school light bulbs (at least by today's standards). Thought they do create an interesting throwback to a different time, they do have some downsides. For example, halogen lamps aren't very energy efficient and they burn out quickly.
- LED lamps are becoming the standard and are highly recommended. They're extremely energy efficient and will last you for years, if not decades. If you are looking for the more old-school look of the halogen lamp, don't worry! With the right kelvin temperature, and LED lamp can match the color and look of a halogen lamp.
Outdoor cafe lights suspended in the air can really set the mood and be a lot of fun. If you're excited to do some lighting but aren't sure where to get started, consulting with a lighting designer can help. With a wealth of knowledge in lighting design and lighting systems, they can really help take your project to the next level.
To learn more about how to light your outdoor living space, call our office (801)440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website, www.utahlights.com
Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects throughout Utah and beyond.