How To Hang Lights Inside A Tent?

How you hang lights inside a tent depends on the kind of camping lights you have. Strip and rope lights are easy to string across the roof and sides of the tent. Lanterns and bulbs require additional support. 

You also have to consider whether the source of power is internal or external. In this guide, we explain how to hang lights inside a tent. 

What Are The Different Types of Tent Lights?

What Are The Different Types of Tent Lights?

There are generally two types of tent lights: strip lights that you string across the top of the tent (or the sides), and lanterns or bulbs that you hang from the top of the tent. 

Of course, there are lots of different types of lanterns, bulbs and strip/rope lights depending on the fuel they use, the lighting technology and other features. 

But this guide focuses only on how you hang them. You either have light strips or a hanging lantern or bulb. 

The best camping setups have both types of lights. You use strip lights to create diffuse overhead lighting, and lanterns or bulbs for more focused lighting.

Lanterns are also great if you need a light source that you can carry around and set on a surface. 

How To Hang Strip/Rope Lights Inside A Tent

Let’s start with strip lights. They are generally easy to hang, but there are several things to consider before you set them up. 

Power Source

If the strip lights come with an internal battery (USB or solar rechargeable), then you don’t need to worry about this. 

Just hang up the light and you are good to go. 

But if the rope light requires an external battery, there are a couple of things to consider. 

One, you need to make sure the battery pack is within reach. The rope light has to be long enough to reach the battery and still run across the top of the tent. 

We recommend measuring the distance from the battery to where you want the light strip to reach using twine or string before you order the lights. This will ensure you get the right length. 

Two, if you are using a power bank that you can hang up together with the lights, you need to figure out how to support it. 

Velcro or magnets can hold up strip lights on their own, but you need something stronger to support a power bank. 

Inside or Outside?

Where do you plan to hang the strip lights?

If it’s inside, you’ll need velcro, hooks, zip ties or coaxial clips to hang the lights. If you want to hang the lights over the tent on the outside, you’ll need things like tape, velcro or magnets.  

Figure out what installation accessories you need to hang the lights how you want. 

Note: If you plan to hang the lights outside, make sure they are resistant to rain. 

Switch Access

One of the advantages of strip lights is that you can set them up to have the switch close to you. That way, you don’t have to get up to switch off the light. 

Unless you have remote controlled strip lights, make sure you hang the strip such that you can easily switch the light on and off from where you are sleeping. 

Once you’ve considered all of the above, here’s how to go about hanging strip lights inside a tent. 

  • Test the lights at home before you go camping. You don’t want to be caught with dead lights when you are already in the woods. 
  • Don’t forget to pack any installation accessories that you’ll need to hang up the lights. 
  • If you are using an external battery, make sure it’s fully charged before you leave. If the lights have an internal battery, also make sure it’s charged.  
  • Once you go camping, set up the lights early before it’s dark. You’ll have plenty of daylight to see what you are doing. 
  • Get to work hanging the lights. Some strip lights come with their own installation accessories (usually magnets). You can also use clips, velcro, or tape to hang the lights. 
  • If you have nothing to hang the lights with, you can loop the strip around the frame of the tent. You can also string the strip between two tent poles. 
  • If you plan to hang the lights outside, make sure the top of your tent is mesh to allow the light to pass through. If it’s opaque material, you have to install them inside the tent. 
  • If you are using a power bank to power the light, hang it up using a hook or loop to make sure it doesn’t weigh down the strip lights. If you are using a battery pack, plug the light strip into the power output. 
  • Turn on the lights to check that they are working properly. If the lights have multiple brightness settings, test all of them. 

Note: Whether you decide to use clips, hooks, or velcro, make sure you don’t damage the tent fabric. Don’t make any holes in it and be careful not to tear it. 

Here’s a helpful video showing the setup of the popular Luminoodle rope lights

How To Hang A Lantern or Bulb Inside A Tent?

Lanterns are heavier and so need something sturdy to hang them from. Velcro or tape won’t work. 

For lanterns and bulbs, the best way to hang them inside a tent is using a hook, loop or directly from the tent frame. 

Make sure the lantern you plan to get comes with a built-in handle, hook or loop to hang it up with. 

Most lanterns have an internal power source (battery, paraffin, gas etc.), so you don’t need to worry about access to a battery. You can hang up the lantern anywhere. 

The same is true for most camping bulbs. They are almost always battery powered, so you don’t need to string cable across the tent. 

The main downside of lanterna and bulbs is that you have to stand up to switch them on or off. But you can get lights with remote or bluetooth app control.  

Here’s how to hang lanterns and bulbs inside a tent. 

  • Test the bulbs or lantern at home to make sure they are working. Also, charge them to capacity before you go camping. 
  • Identify what you need to hang the lights. Your tents may already have convenient places on the sides and roof where you can hang a light from. Check whether there are built-in loops you can use. Alternatively, hang the lamps from the frame of the tent. 
  • There are plenty of things you can use to hang up a lantern or bulb like curtain clips, carabiners, cord and hooks. We love these Icasa hook hangers that attach to the tent poles on the roof or side of the tent.  
  • Another option is a standalone lamp stand like this one from WIOR. Look for a foldable or collapsible stand that’s easy to pack and carry.
  • Choose the ideal location. If it’s a single lantern, you want it centrally placed so that it casts light evenly. If you have multiple bulbs, spread them evenly across the roof of the tent. You can even hang some on the side of the tent. 
  • Test the lights to make sure they are working. 

Can You Hang Christmas Lights In A Tent?

Yes, Christmas lights are perfect for a tent. They are typically very durable, waterproof and bright enough to light up the inside of a tent. 

Christmas lights are especially ideal if you want to decorate your tent with string lights. They are cheaper than buying strip lights designed for camping. 

Note that Most Christmas lights are usually way longer than you need for a tent. When shopping, see if you can find shorter ones (5-10ft). 

Also check their source of power. If you don’t have a battery pack, look for battery powered Christmas lights. 

If the lights need to be plugged in, get those that can be powered via USB so that you can connect them to a power bank. 

To hang Christmas lights in a tent, you can string them between poles, attach them to the tent frame using zip ties, or use velcro. You can also use tape. 

How Do You Power Lights When Camping?

How Do You Power Lights When Camping

If your lights have an internal or attached battery, then you are set. Just make sure the lights are fully charged before you go camping. 

Some lights recharge via solar while others can be plugged into a USB port. Solar rechargeable lamps typically have a built-in solar panel while others require a small external solar panel. 

If your lights need an external power source, there are two portable power options that work great for camping.  

  • A power bank for strip lights that are powered via USB. You can also recharge battery powered lights from the power bank. 
  • A portable power station or battery pack like Goal Zero with USB and DC ports for powering bulbs and string lights. You can also recharge battery powered lamps from the power station. 

If your lamp uses some other kind of fuel other than electricity, make sure you carry enough of that fuel. And if you’re looking for more advice, here is our tent care guide.

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