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Picture of LED outdoor umbrella lighting
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Intro:
My goal was to have outdoor lighting and also shelter from the summer sun. 
Where we could enjoy the holidays, parties and barbecues.
I have a concrete area that is 6 meters long by 4 meters wide. 

At the moment I cant afford to build a patio over an outdoor concrete area.
I thought about installing shade sails, but I was concerned about the strong winds in our area and pergolas with vines growing over them would mean more water and a long wait.

So I have come up with two very large outdoor umbrellas, which can be lowered easily when strong weather is on the way, or when not in use. I found two at my local Bunnings store. They were reasonable and looked like they would last.
 
The umbrellas are both 4 m x 3 meters, I purchased two for the 6 x 4 meter area. 
They look stunning for shelter from our hot summer sun in Western Australia, but the next big issue was outdoor lighting.

I started my search looking for LED lights that would do the trick, everything I looked at online seemed to be bright and ok for the job, but after purchasing a few LED lights over the years, that promised spot light ability, I wasn't satisfied.

So I thought  I would try something myself and started looking at LED waterproof strip lighting.
 

 
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Step 1: Equipment needed.

I have purchased:   ( Prices in August 2013) 

2 x Umbrellas 3m x 4m          ( 149.00 each)
2 x 5M 300led 5050 LED SMD Flexible Strip Light 12V Waterproof White + Dimmer   (17.00 each) 
2 x 5 In1 Splitter Power Cable For CCTV Cameras DVR LED Strips    5050 12V DC     (5.80 each)
10 X Pieces of 10 mm PCB Board Connector Clip with DC female for 5050 Led Strip  (8.99 for 10)
1 x 5M (16Feet) DC 12V 2.1x5.5MM Power Extension Cable              ( 6.98 each ) 
1 x 3M (10 Feet) DC 12V 2.1x5.5MM Power Extension Cable             ( 5.25 each )
2 x  DC male & DC female 2 Pin Connector for LED Light Strips 3528 5050     (7.99 for a pack of 10 )

- Already had a 12v – 7AHr Non-Spillable Sealed Rechargeable Battery   ( Purchased for $29.95 )
A meter of Red and Black wire and some cable ties, already had in shed. 

Step 2: Connecting everything together.

Picture of Connecting everything together.
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Putting everything together was the next step. 

I connected  red and black wire (red to positive and black to negative) to the "DC male 2 Pin Connector"
and then attached the wires to my 12v – 7AHr Non-Spillable Sealed Rechargeable Battery.
( I use this battery for my Fish Finder, so I felt it would be ok to use on this project. I will be setting up a Solar panel and another battery for regular use. )

I then cut the 5m LED lights into 1 meter lengths.
You will find along the 5m length there are numerous spots where you can cut these strips, there are little scissor marks and a line to cut on, also showing which side is positive and which is negative - which makes it very easy.  

After I cut the 5 lengths I need to attached them to the 5 individual 10 mm PCB Board Connector Clip with a DC female end.
On the clip you will notice a tiny Positive and Negative sign, just match them up with the strips positive and negative signs and press down hard to close the clip, this will push the pins into the strip and close the clip up tight.

I then connected the strips with the connector into the 5 in 1 splitter power cable. 
(Once i had them connected i tested it with the battery to make sure everything was working before i connected them to the umbrella.) - Everything is working fine and so very bright, my next step is to attach them to the umbrella beams.

Step 3: Attaching to the Umbrella

Picture of Attaching to the Umbrella
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Attaching the LED's to the Umbrella.
I opened the umbrella and laid the canopy down on the ground so it didn't have to reach up high. 
I  picked the umbrella beams that were the closest to the canvas and on the other side of the folding arms so nothing will get caught up or ripped off when opening or closing it. 

I unplugged the splitter for now, just so I could attach each 1 meter section of the LED strips.

I pulled the backing off the self-adhesive tape (on the back of the LED strips) and stuck it to the side of the beam.
I felt the side of the beam would work better in lighting up the white canvas and also not detract from the wooden looking beams.
I also secured it with extra cable ties just in case the heat from summer effected the self-adhesive tape on the back of the LED strips. 

I was only putting 5 x 1 meter strips on each umbrella but you could always put more or less, its a personal choice..
So when I attached the LED's I attached to one beam, then missed the next one and so on to spread the light out.  

Once the strips where attached, I plugged all end of the strips (female DC connectors) into the 5 in 1 splitter and cable tied the splitter off onto the umbrella so it wouldn't get caught or pulled when opening and closing it.

I then plugged the 3m long extension cable into the 5 in 1 splitter and also tied it off..
And at the very end of the 3m cable I put  the dimmer before plugging it into the DC male connector which goes to the battery.
This way i can control the dimmer at the main power source instead of trying to reach up into the umbrella when its fully extended.

I then positioned the umbrella back into its base.
 

Step 4: The finished product

Picture of The finished product
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The finished product. 

I hope this picture shows you just how well it lights up. 
I feel the single umbrella lights up the area perfectly, I will be doing my other umbrella soon, the effect is great.
I can now see what I'm eating without a shadowy blue hue that other LEDs gave me.

When I have my second umbrella connected, there will be so much light.  :)

I tried to get into making my own LEDs, but I'm just not confident yet, so I thought getting something pre-made in strips that are waterproof and ready for me to use was just a dream come true and it WORKED!!

I hope you enjoyed my outdoor LED umbrella instructable. 

ALadyDragon (author) 1 year ago
Hi Stitchiner,
With the one umbrella (because i hadn't finished the two yet) the battery was still going strong after 4 hours (7pm - 11pm) on the brightest setting..
Both umbrellas together i only tested for about an hour or so to make sure they were working and everything was fine.
I wont be able to see how long they both last till after the Christmas break, where i have had enough chance to really test out the longevity of the battery.
stitchiner1 year ago
great idea but how long does the battery you used last ?
ALadyDragon (author) 1 year ago
Thank you so much for the great reviews, I'm so please you guys like my instructable.

I think you can also buy coloured LED strips with remotes, but i went for the simple white lighting, although the dimmer that came with the strips, does have settings that are on or off, flash slow, medium or fast and it also notches down in brightness i think from memory about 5 settings which lower the light all the way down to a very faint dim mood lighting,
Nice one. You've given me an idea for my family tent.
samalert1 year ago
Try hooking it with a RGB light with IR receiver. Cost will shoot to some extent but one can choose the color on mood !
italzboi1 year ago
This is fantastic for late night party's in the summer. Why hasn't this been a thing until now? Great job!!
Great job and good design.