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What You Need To Know About Adding Pool Lighting

How to add pool lights

Move over, flood lights: pool lighting has come a long way. From colored underwater lights to landscape illumination techniques, lights make a huge difference when it comes to enjoying your backyard pool. Not only do they make your pool available to use at night, but they can transform your whole backyard into a beautiful oasis.

In addition to pool lighting, you can also add lights to your hot tub and laminar jets, as well as any other water feature, for the most dramatic effects. There are several types of lighting from which to choose, depending on what suits your purposes, budget and preferences best. If you plan to swim regularly at night and you have young children, you'll want to have a brighter, white light that shines well in the pool so you can easily see people. If your pool has a darker finish, you'll want to use a white light otherwise color lights will be absorbed by the finish. For a light to medium reflective finish, it's advised you go with color lights. If your pool serves more an aesthetic purpose than an active one, you'll be able to choose from an array of colors and features that shows off the pool.

Underwater lights are usually installed during pool construction or renovation by placing niches into the steel and then affixing them in place with gunite or concrete. However, there are now nicheless light options as well, which we'll discuss below.

Here are some pool and spa lighting types:

LED Lights.

These are popular options due to their energy-efficient bulbs. LED bulbs emit very little heat, and usually last 2 1/2 times longer than incandescent bulbs. They can change colors, and often can create a light show in the pool. These are installed under the coping of the pool or along the walls, and throw streams of light across the water rather than a large beam. There are even light packages called celestial floor lighting that dot your pool with lights to look like fireflies or stars reflecting off the surface. [Check out this pool gallery for more pool lighting inspiration.]

celestial floor lighting

A swimming pool with celestial floor lighting.

The modern nicheless LED light can thread into a standard water inlet fitting. This makes the installation easier and also does not require bonding or grounding due to the sealed light housings and the fact that all lights are 12V and installed into a low-volt transformer.

When changing out the LED light cartridges, it's not necessary to drain the pool water. There are nicheless lights that are designed so that only a light cartridge needs to be replaced.

Incandescent Lights.

A traditional white light provides a clean look to the pool while serving as an economical option up front to lighting your pool. It's a good option if you're looking to brighten the area for better visibility. The face rings surrounding the bulb can color coordinate with your swimming pool finish for a seamless look.

Always consult a licensed electrician or certified pool technician for replacement.

Landscape Lighting.

These options can range from glowing light fixtures and sculptures to carefully mounted spotlights aimed up at trees and greenery for a dramatic effect. You can add strings of light across the yard for a cheerful atmosphere and light pathways with fixtures for safety as well.

Control Lights with an App.

Your lighting can be controlled from a keypad, and in many instances can also be connected to an app on your iPhone that also controls your swimming pool functions. You can easily enjoy a light show from inside your home or switch off the lights if you forgot to turn them off before you left for vacation.

Final Thoughts

When setting lights near the pool, be sure that they are grounded and bonded. It's essential that any out-of-pool lights are set out of reach of the pool, so that someone who is in the pool cannot touch the fixture or a wire. Be sure to check with your local authority-having jurisdiction. Some lights are rated for wet area, and some codes require a minimum of 60 inches for anything electric.

Pool lighting can make a huge difference to your pool's aesthetics and your backyard as well. Consult with a pool lighting expert to help design and select the best lighting to complement your pool and water features, and is best suited for your needs.

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Includes all the latest information, tips, and expert advice from Zodiac Pool Systems, Inc. on owning the healthiest, safest, most enjoyable pool possible.


Zodiac is a leading global manufacturer of differentiated pool and spa products. With our rich heritage of innovation excellence, we develop some of the world's leading products that afford our customers a better life.


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