How to hang outdoor cafe lights the right way around a backyard deck using electrical supplies from the home improvement store. Add a bit of ambiance to your outdoor space with this easy string light project.
Since we started working on the back yard this past spring, I've been dying to add some cafe lights around the deck. The problem we have though, is that there's no roof or overhead structure that we can attach them to. I didn't want to hang them on the railing, so we have been forced to go cafe light(less) all summer. 😉
I knew what I wanted to do but I wasn't sure how to do it. After some thought, some internet searching and several trips to Home Depot, I came up with a good-looking, easy to do and relatively inexpensive way to hang them above our deck.
Although this project was relatively inexpensive and easy to do, it did require us to perform some basic electrical tasks. Including the 2 boxes of cafe lights, we were able to do this project for under $70.
So what did I buy?
The first thing I got was 2 boxes of indoor/outdoor, 20' string lights from Target.
Then it was on to Home Depot where I bought 2 pieces of 10', ¾" EMT metal conduit from the electrical department along with 2 packages of EMT ¾" 1 hole straps, 1 package of Flex ⅜" 1 hole straps, 1 package of ½" metal knockout seals and a package of different sized rubber grommets.
I found 1/16" galvanized wire rope to hang the lights. I also picked up 1/16" wire rope crimps so we could attach the wire to the EMT conduit.
My last stop was the paint department where I got a can of spray paint in Flat Burnished Amber.
Hanging the cafe lights
To start this project, I first removed the stickers from the conduit pipes. Then I wiped them down with paint thinner to get all the residue off.
I laid out all of my hole straps and knockout seals with the conduit and sprayed them with the spray paint.
Once they were dry it was time to figure out the height of our poles. We decided that we would put 1 piece of conduit on each of the outside corners of the deck. We'd attach it to the railing post using the ¾" EMT hole straps.
We were able to determine that 8 foot was the perfect height for our lights. Roger cut the pipes with a hack saw and used a file to remove the burrs from the conduit.
Using a self tapping screw we added a ⅜" strap to the top of the pole to hold the wire rope up.
To finish it off, we capped it with a painted knockout seal that had to be modified. We just bent the clips in just a little so it would fit into the top of the pole.
Our first pole is ready to be attached to one of the corners of the deck using 3, ¾" straps.
For the second pole, we cut it the same length as the first one and filed the burrs.
The knockout seal had to be modified on this pole so that we could run an extension cord through it.
Roger just drilled a ½" hole for a rubber grommet to fit in so the extension cord could go through. Then we attached the seal and the rubber grommet to the top of the pole.
To put the outdoor extension cord through the conduit we had to first cut off the end of the cord that plugs into the wall. Once it was threaded through the conduit, we attached a replacement plug to the cord.
We ended up not using a ⅜" strap on this pole to hold the wire, like we did on the first pole, because the screw that we would need to use to attach the strap would go through the extension cord on the inside of the conduit and cause a short-circuit.
Now our second pole was ready to be attached to the other corner using 3, ¾" hole straps.
Once both poles were secured to the deck we ran the wire rope from pole to pole through a center point above our back door, where we attached a ⅜" hole strap, so that the lights would hang in a letter "V" formation.
It's not safe to have the weight of the lights hanging from the metal poles so we used wire rope.
To attach the wire to one pole we looped it around the pole and used a wire rope crimp to secure it.
Next we stretched the wire tight, without bending the conduit, running it to the house and over to the second pole. We attached it to the second pole by threading the wire through the ⅜" strap, around the pole and then crimping it to itself using another wire rope crimp.
After it was crimped we trimmed the excess wire. It was finally time to put up the cafe lights.
Next, we ran the string of lights through the ⅜" strap over the back door and started for the second pole. We had to use 2 strands and it ended up being too long so we cut the wire to make it shorter.
We just used a wire cutter and easily cut off what wasn't needed. Then we staggered the wires ⅜ of an inch so that the cut ends would not touch each other.
Next we wrapped the ends with electrical tape for safety and wrapped the wire around the pole. Touching up with some spray paint was the final step.
Now the fun part...plugging in our new outdoor cafe lights and enjoying the ambience of our deck.