Pool Lights - The Best Ways To Light Your DIY Pool

A pool light for your DIY pool is essential. The right placement of your pool light also makes a big difference to how your DIY pool will look at night and how many lights you will need. Pool lights are as much about safe night swimming as it is about having an awesome entertaining area light show. Let's dive into pool lighting options, pro's, con's and costs.

WHAT TYPE OF POOL LIGHTS ARE THERE?

There are two main types of pool lights for your DIY pool - Halogen and LED

Halogen lights are on the way out as a pool lighting option. They are power hungry, vulnerable to corrosion and the filament globe needs replacing every 2,500 hours.  The globes are relatively inexpensive to buy however they can be fiddly to replace. The biggest limitation with halogen pool lights is they only produce one colour - bright white that can have a green hue due to the light producing filament inside the globe. 

Light emitting diode (LED) pool lighting has become more affordable over the past 5 years and DIY pool owners almost unanimously install LED for several reasons – they are very energy efficient (up to 80% less power use of a halogen), they are compact and they can change all sorts of colours depending on the look you want for that particular day. It is like Christmas lights for your pool as the light output is brighter and more vibrant than a halogen light.

LED pool light globes have a very long operating life (over 45,000 hours). You can opt for flush mounted LED’s where only the front face of the light is visible. Or you can go for surface mounted LED’s where the globe and surrounding mount plate are visible. It is personal preference and there is not a difference in effectiveness. DIY Pool LED lighting

It cannot all be light show and no shadows though. LED pool lights cost between $300 and $750 each plus the cost of a transformer ($180). If you can part with that upfront, you will have a set and forget light fitting offering a rainbow of colour settings without the hassle of globe replacement and low operating costs. A quality brand will offer a 2 year warranty on your LED pool light. 

Full disclosure – we do not sell halogen lights. We think it is like offering horses for sale when cars first started on the roads. We do sell retrofit LED kits if you want to replace your horse, we mean halogen light, though. 

The following tips apply to all pool lights however with almost all pool lights sold today being LED, I might lean towards LED's a little more given this is what pool owners are buying by the thousands!

ARE LED POOL LIGHTS SAFE?

LED pool lights need a small power transformer to convert 240 volt electricity into 12 volt electricity. What does this mean? The transformer plugs straight into a standard power point. The LED pool light plugs into the transformer which reduces the voltage from 240 to 12 which is all a LED light needs. If you think of a 12v battery that powers a personal torch, there isn't any risk of electrocution fitting a LED light to your DIY pool. 

HOW MANY POOL LIGHTS DO YOU NEED?

The most important part of pool lighting is to make sure your pool is safe for night swimming which means entry steps are fully illuminated and the whole pool is visible. If your DIY pool is over 9m long and rectangular, the general consensus is a minimum of 2 lights to have consistent light across your pool. Dark internal pool colours will absorb more light than a lighter colour which will need a second pool light if your DIY pool is less than 9m long. If you live in a rural area without ambient lighting from street lights and buildings, you may need the extra oomph of 2 pool lights.

If you have an L-shaped DIY pool, side entry steps or a kidney shaped pool, it is important to make sure your pool lights are not obscured by edges or curves as this will create dark areas in your pool. 

WHERE SHOULD YOU POSITION YOUR POOL LIGHT?

Think about where you will be mainly looking at your pool from - from the deck, kitchen window, patio? Always position your pool light so they are shining away from this area. Looking straight into pool lights is both dazzling and makes it harder to appreciate the stunning feature that your DIY pool is at night time.

Most LED pool lights come with a two output transformer which means you can connect two LED lights to it. Similarly, a four output transformer can run 4 LED lights so you don't need a transformer for each light. From a pure cost perspective, the further your lights are from a power source, the more expensive it will be for an electrician to install a power point. The closer to your DIY pool, the better however don't let an additional $100 for an electrician compromise having your pool properly lighted and looking sensational. 

Ok, so you've worked out the location. What about the height the light should be installed in your DIY pool? Most manufacturers recommend your pool light to be installed 400mm below the water surface. 

ARE LED POOL LIGHTS EASY TO OPERATE?

Yes. You can program and operate them easily without needing a PhD in Home Appliances. Depending on the light you choose, you can control the light from an app on your mobile phone. 

SURELY THERE MUST BE LIMITATIONS TO LED POOL LIGHTS?

Yes, sure is. We've already talked about the higher upfront cost. An operating life up to 45,000 hours sounds awesome, however that is the globe itself. The entire unit will live in chlorinated water which will break down the plastics and seals over time. LED lights are not repairable which means if the unit starts to leak, it will need a complete replacement. The simply summary is the unit will fail before the globe however you will still get many, many years from the light before this happens.

If you would like to learn more about pumps, filters, cleaners, mineralisation and more, you can download our very popular and free Essentials You Must Know Before Buying A Pool e-Guide here. 

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Rohan Taylor
About The Author

Rohan Taylor

My wife and I grew up playing in swimming pools. Our daughters learnt to swim in our backyard fibreglass swimming pool. There is nothing quite like hearing kids splashing about and giggling. As pools do, our pool became a social magnet for friends, family and neighbours which we loved. Helping customers to have their own pool and saving customers thousands on their pool and equipment is the best job in the world.

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