Pool Lighting: The Best Ways to Light Your Pool (2023)

Your swimming pool is a beautiful design feature in your backyard, and you need to be able to enjoy it at any time of the day or night. This means you will need the right lighting for your pool.

But which type of lighting to choose? And how do you create the perfect pool lighting design? Here we answer some of the most common questions we receive from our customers about swimming pool lighting, to help you highlight your pool to best effect.

What Are the Different Types of Pool Lights?

Swimming pool lighting has come a long way in recent years thanks to the latest technology. There are two main types of lighting that are used in and around swimming pools, but energy efficiency and cost are major considerations when choosing the right type of lighting for your pool. Incandescent bulbs were used for decades but they are not being installed anymore. These original regular light bulbs used large amounts of energy, so they were not particularly good for the environment. They also tended to need replacing up to three times per year, which could be a difficult job in a swimming pool.

1. Halogen Lighting

Halogen bulbs gradually replaced incandescent bulbs as the standard type of pool lighting. They lasted longer, and used up to 20 percent less energy, so they were more environmentally friendly. They also cut down the time required for pool maintenance, as they needed replacing less often.

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However, halogen bulbs cost almost twice as much as incandescent bulbs, so they were a more expensive option, in spite of the savings made on household bills due to reduced energy use. They also required fairly regular replacement, and as they still used filaments, they gave the same green cast to the water as incandescent bulbs. These factors meant that halogen was still not the ideal choice for swimming pool lighting.

2. LED Lighting

LED technology has revolutionised swimming pool lighting. Cost-effective, clean, and long-lasting, LED lighting can produce the same amount of light as a 100-watt halogen bulb while using only six watts of power. This is because LED lighting is highly energy efficient, as it converts all of the energy it uses into light rather than some of it being converted into heat, so nothing is wasted.

Because of this, LED lighting is kind to the environment and cheap to run, as it uses only a fraction of the electricity required by halogen bulbs. LED lamps also last much longer, so your pool will require far less maintenance. This leaves you free to spend more time enjoying the water.

For these reasons, LED lighting has now become the standard type of lighting used for new swimming pools in Australia.

What Colours of Pool Lights Are Available?

One of the main advantages of modern LED swimming pool lighting is the amount of colour choices available. LED lighting does not use a filament to produce light, so it does not have the yellow glow of incandescent or halogen bulbs that can give your pool water a green appearance.

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Instead, white LED lights are pure white, so even at night, the colour of your swimming pool will stay true to its daytime appearance, showing off your pool to best advantage after dark.

Alternatively, you can choose a red, blue, and green LED lighting system. These three colours can be combined to produce pool lighting in any colour you choose, personalising the appearance of your pool to suit your tastes. You can also change the colour of your pool lighting easily whenever you want a change of mood, or program your lighting to alternate through a range of different colours. This can be a highly effective feature for evening pool parties, helping to create an extra celebratory atmosphere.

How Easy Are LED Pool Lights to Use?

Another great feature of LED pool lighting is its level of practicality. Modern swimming pool lighting systems are easily programmable, so you can set them to turn on and off at specific times. This cuts down even further on energy wastage, saving you more money on your household bills.

Many LED pool lighting systems can also now be paired with the rest of your home automation. This offers the ultimate convenience, as you can turn your pool lights on and off, or even program your different colour choices using a simple smartphone app. Your pool can be lit in the colour of your choice, ready for you to enjoy the moment you arrive home! This is also a great way of saving time if you are preparing your home for a party or evening with friends.

How Many Swimming Pool Lights Do You Need?

This really depends on a number of factors:

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  • The size and shape of your swimming pool
  • The amount of light in the area surrounding your pool
  • The design and colour effects that you want to achieve.

Obviously, a large pool will require more lights than a smaller pool. If you live in a rural area without much ambient light, your pool may also need more lighting to ensure everybody can see it, reducing the danger of accidents. This is particularly important if you have young children.

You should think about the shape of the pool when planning your pool lighting. If it is curved or L-shaped, you need to make sure all areas of the pool are well-lit. This also applies if you have any additional areas to your pool, such as a joined-on spa area. Plenty of lighting around the steps is also essential, so everyone can see to get in and out of the pool safely.

Finally, think about the aesthetic effects. Are there any areas of the pool you particularly want to highlight? For example, if your pool has a water feature, you will want to make sure this has adequate lighting so it can still look its best after dark.

Which Are the Best Ways to Position Your Pool Lights?

Your pool lighting design needs to be planned before your swimming pool is installed, once you know the size and shape of your pool and where in your backyard it will be positioned. Remember to consider how the landscaping around the pool will look when the installation is complete—you won’t just need lights inside the pool, you will also need to light the area surrounding it.

Strategically placed garden lights can highlight particular features of the landscaping, while floodlights are ideal if you have a large area you want to illuminate. Be careful not to overdo the lighting, however, as this can take away from the character of your pool, and your design features will not be highlighted so well.

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You also need to think about your pool lighting design from a practical point of view. Remember, it will need to be wired into your electricity mains. Your pool lights need to be positioned in a way that makes this possible.

The best option is to consult with an electrician during the planning phase of your swimming pool project. They will be able to advise you on the most practical positioning for your pool lights as well as the visual effects that you will be able to achieve.

Which Brand of Lighting Should You Choose?

There are many different brands of pool lighting on the market, but they do not all offer the same benefits. It can be tempting to choose the cheapest option, but in the long run, this is not always the most practical choice.

Firstly, the lights have to be capable of achieving the effects that you want. Your pool is a major investment, and if it looks attractive, it will add considerable value to your home. This means it is important to give plenty of consideration to its appearance. In addition, you want to enjoy spending time in your pool, and you will feel a lot more comfortable there if it reflects your personal tastes and coordinates well with the rest of your property.

In addition, you should look at the warranties that different lighting brands offer. Repairing or replacing swimming pool lighting systems can be a difficult job that needs to be tackled by a professional, so it is essential to choose a company that will do this for you if anything goes wrong. More often than not,cheaper brands do not manufacture their products to such high standards, and do not offer particularly good warranties. Needless to mention, these might not save you money at all and could even end up costing you more.

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Before choosing a lighting system, it is advisable to speak with your pool consultant. An experienced company will have worked with many different lighting systems, so they will be able to recommend the best brands to choose.

Find Out More About Swimming Pool Lighting

If you would like more information about swimming pool lighting systems, brands, and design ideas, please contact one of our authorised dealers. Enter the postcode or search by your area to find your local pool builder. Their specialist pool consultants will be happy to answer all your questions and help you choose the perfect lighting for your backyard swimming pool.

Checkout some of the swimming pools our dealers have installed by dusk with their pool lights on:

FAQs

What is the best lighting for a pool? ›

White light is a great choice if safety and visibility is your top priority. It's also simple and classic if you're looking for a low-key way to showcase your swimming pool's design. If you prefer something with more of a “wow factor,” color-changing pool lights might be the way to go.

Where should pool lights be placed? ›

Pool lights should be placed at mid-height, almost at the surface of the water. For practical reasons, this will make changing the lighting equipment easier. This position in the structure will give you the best effect, rendering well-lit contours and highlighting the depth.

How deep should LED lights be in a pool? ›

Place lights at a uniform depth, between 9-12 inches below the waterline, throughout the pool. Possible exceptions would be if the lights need to be placed on a step or bench or extremely deep pools (see Pro Tip). Lights should be positioned 4 inches beneath the waterline.

Does a pool light use a lot of electricity? ›

First is that 500 watt pool light bulbs cost about a dollar a day to run, and if used often, it can add up to hundreds in electrical expense each year. LED lamps consume much less energy, the Color Splash light only uses 33 watts, and costs 4 cents per day to use, or under $10 per year.

What color light works best underwater? ›

That's because their wavelengths vary, and some can penetrate the water better than others. When choosing a light source for night fishing, the best color to use and attract fish is green or a mixture of green and white. These colors can penetrate around 70 to 75 feet deep underwater.

How do I get my pool to glow at night? ›

Glow sticks are one of those often over looked and really affordable ways to brighten up the pool at night. Michael and his guests enjoy a rousing game of night time volleyball in the pool and the glow sticks, well they just add to the atmosphere. Kids aren't the only ones that love glow sticks.

How do you make a pool glow in the dark? ›

For new pool builds, you could choose to add UV spectrum (black) lights to the pool interior in addition to decorative color-changing RGB LED lights. UV blacklights will actually CHARGE the underwater glow stones in a matter of seconds!

Should I leave pool lights on at night? ›

Pool lights are necessary for your swimmers to stay safe when swimming at night. Make sure you focus lights on the more precarious areas of your pool, such as the ladders going in and out, the stairs leading in, and around the pool's edge.

How high off the table should a pool light be? ›

Generally speaking, hanging billiard lights about 32"-36" above the bed of the table is about right, but here are some additional guidelines to determining the proper height to hang them. The bottom fixture of the pool table lights should be level with the bridge of the player's nose.

Can I leave my pool light on all the time? ›

Most LED bulbs last over 25,000 hours. This means you could leave your light on for over 15 years before you need to change the bulb!

Should pool lights face the house? ›

The placement of the lights are also of importance. Always try to have the lights point away from the house. By doing this you will avoid the headlight effect of the lights shining in your face. If you build a spa with your pool you will want a light in it also.

How bright should my pool light be? ›

According to section 4.6. 1.5. 1 of the Model Aquatic Health Code, “Underwater lighting, where provided, shall be not less than eight initial rated lumens per square foot of pool water surface area.”

How many years do LED pool lights Last? ›

Greater lifespan

LED lights are renowned for their durability lasting for well over 20,000 hours. Quality LED brand names can last for 10 years or more.

Can you leave LED pool lights on all night? ›

Conclusion. Low wattage, LED bulbs are safe to leave on all night. LED bulbs are cool to the touch. They will not overheat which makes them a great option for a light that stays on for long durations.

Are LED pool lights worth the money? ›

Many people are turning to LED lights as an alternative to incandescent pool lights. LED bulbs are brighter, more efficient and last longer. They also offer more color and installment options. For money-saving and personalization, there is no better option than LED pool lighting!

How much does a pool pump increase your electric bill? ›

The single-speed pumps run at their maximum speed regardless of the task they are performing, thus wasting energy and costing you more per month. The average expected annual cost for running a single-speed pump is around $450, or $37.50 per month.

What color is hardest to see underwater? ›

You will notice that many of those colors are much harder to see under water when there is surface agitation. The hardest colors to distinguish are the light blue and white.

What makes the water glow blue at night? ›

We humans can witness this natural phenomenon when there is lots of bioluminescence in the water, usually from an algae bloom of plankton. The bioluminescent sea will glow when it's disturbed by a wave breaking or a splash in the water at night. Algae bloom sea sparkle events are caused by calm and warm sea conditions.

Does sunlight help clear a pool? ›

As little as two hours of sun exposure — that's all it takes to reduce chlorine content by 90%. That's because ultraviolet light is a type of electromagnetic radiation. This, in turn, makes it powerful enough to split apart chemical bonds.

Does water get behind pool light? ›

Water can get into the hole that carries the conduit. This is often a slow leak. Most frames holding the light can and lens cover are attached with screws that can be easily removed if it is necessary to change the light bulb. The frame must be attached to the pool wall very tightly to prevent leaks.

How do I make my pool look bluer? ›

There are a few ways to do this, starting with re-chlorination. Then, you can use an algaecide to keep algae from growing back. Keep the chemicals in your pool balanced by using a test kit and adding counter chemicals when necessary. Be sure to store all your pool chemicals in a cool environment.

How can I make my pool more attractive? ›

How to Make Your Pool More Inviting
  1. Add Color. Studies have proven that color has an impact on the way we think and feel. ...
  2. Create Decorative Elements. Swimming or relaxing in a pool is better when the surrounding area is inviting. ...
  3. Consider Water Features and Mood Lighting. ...
  4. Get More Ideas.

Is it okay to put glow sticks in the pool? ›

Since glow sticks are waterproof, most of them should float and are deemed safe to use in a swimming pool. You can toss several of these into your pool to add that perfect layer of spooky glow. Want to really give your swimming pool a special Halloween glow? Grab some surgical gloves and put a glow stick in each.

Do underwater lights attract fish at night? ›

Any light under the water, no matter what the color, will attract fish. When lights are placed under the water, they reflect off particles in the water. These tiny little particles enhance a natural food source for bait.

Should a pool light have water in it? ›

Leaky Pool Light

Engineers design the light fixture to stay dry, and water in the housing means the bulb could blow at any moment. If you see a water line in your light, it means you have a warped or broken lens gasket, and it's time to get to work!

Is it better to have a dark pool or light pool? ›

Dark bottom pools tend to hide debris better, so they appear clean, but in turn, you might find them a bit trickier to keep clean. A lighter pool color makes it easier to spot debris floating on the surface or lingering at the bottom of the pool, making maintenance as easy as an ocean breeze.

Are color changing pool lights worth it? ›

An LED light will save you roughly 75% on your energy usage compared to a comparable incandescent light. REMEMBER, that LED pool lights cost more, on average, than a simple incandescent light so your cost savings will not start till you recoup the additional money that you spent on the LED lights.

Do LED pool lights need to be submerged? ›

The light requires submersion to prevent overheating, and if operated without water covering the lens, the lens will shatter in under a minute.

Are 12 volt pool lights safer? ›

In truth, 12V Lighting can be the brightest, safest, most cost and time-effective option you can offer your customers.

Can you hang low voltage lights over a pool? ›

A Potentially Very Dangerous Situation

While most agree that they are a very good look and provide just enough accent lighting in most situations, most of these lights are 120 volts, which should never be used over a swimming pool due to electrocution dangers.

How far does low voltage lighting need to be from a pool? ›

UL Listed low-voltage landscape luminaires are for installation not less than 10 ft from a swimming pool, whether in or on the ground, and are not for use where supplied by a Listed swimming pool transformer or any other power source other than a Listed landscape power unit.

How close can a light be to a pool? ›

Outlet receptacles for general use can be no closer than 20 feet from a pool or in-ground spa if they are not GFCI-protected, and no closer than 6 feet away if they are GFCI protected.

Do you have to drain the pool to change the light bulb? ›

Fortunately, the answer is no—the water typically does not need to be drained! Because the electrical cable is sealed, it's impervious to any water that will get into the conduit when the bulb is being replaced.

Should you string lights over a pool? ›

String lights are not meant to be installed over water,” writes Michael Stinson, owner of Folsom's Mike the Poolman pool cleaning and maintenance service¹. “Someone just came up with this idea, posted a photo and homeowners are now following suit. Be smart, don't do it!”

Can you change a pool light with water in the pool? ›

And, like any light, the bulb can burn out and need replacing. Thankfully, pool lights are designed to be replaced without having to lower the water level of the pool. Simply detach the light's outer casing from the side of the pool, pull it out of the water onto the pool's edge and replace the bulb from there.

How many lumens should a pool light be? ›

According to section 4.6. 1.5. 1 of the Model Aquatic Health Code, “Underwater lighting, where provided, shall be not less than eight initial rated lumens per square foot of pool water surface area.”

What is the safest pool light? ›

Because the lower the voltage, the less hazardous it will be. This makes LED lights the perfect option for pool lights. Even if you only install 12V LED pool lights, you get enough brightness in and around the swimming pool. You'll have enough visibility to keep safe while swimming at night.

Is dark or light pool better? ›

Dark bottom pools tend to hide debris better, so they appear clean, but in turn, you might find them a bit trickier to keep clean. A lighter pool color makes it easier to spot debris floating on the surface or lingering at the bottom of the pool, making maintenance as easy as an ocean breeze.

Can I put an LED bulb in my pool light? ›

Most of the older incandescent and halogen pool lights can be changed to the newer LED color changing lights by replacing the entire light fixture. But there are a limited number of old lights that can be converted to LED light by simply replacing the old light fixture bulb with a color changing LED light bulb.

How much does it cost to install LED pool lights? ›

As of this post, full sized LED pool lights, like those that are usually installed in vinyl lined or concrete pools, typically cost between $1,000 and $1,500 installed. Smaller LED lights usually cost between $700 and $900 installed.

Are pool lights worth it? ›

Pool lights can extend the amount of time you use your pool by allowing you to swim into the evening or even at night. They are great to have when you are hosting a pool party as they can make your pool area look very smart.

Can pools leak through light? ›

Pool light niches rarely leak, it's extremely rare for a pool light to be leaking through the shell of the light niche, or around the light niche – 99% of the time a pool light is leaking, water is running out through the light conduit.

What is the most popular pool color? ›

Blue is the most common and most inviting pool color to have. From light to dark, any shade of blue looks beautiful with tile or stone accents. Choose blue if you're a fan of cool, classic pools.

What color pool is the warmest? ›

Dark pools – also known as black bottom pools – easily stand out from others thanks to their bold, dramatic color. One of the main advantages of a dark bottom pool compared to light colored pools is that the darker color will help absorb more of the the sun's heat to increase the water temperature accordingly.

What colour makes a pool look bigger? ›

3. Consider the size of the pool and area – In our experience light coloured pools tend to look bigger in smaller areas as they blend in and create an illusion of space. Darker coloured pools tend to have a defined line around them. This is great if you want to create clean lines or a reflection pool look.

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