Magnificent pool lighting isn’t limited to the uber-wealthy. Anyone who has a swimming pool can afford lights to turn their pool into a backyard showpiece. Lighted pools allow you to enjoy a little night swimming and boost a party’s fun factor. They also make it safer for people to walk alongside the edge of the pool at night.
Fiber optic, halogen and incandescent pool lights are falling out of favor. Now, more and more homeowners are choosing LED lights to illuminate their swimming pools. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) last longer, shine brighter and boast a greater energy efficiency. Plus, LED lights offer plenty of color choices.
You can choose underwater lights, floating lights, spotlight versions or a combination of all three. Control options range from simple switches and boxes to remotes and apps. Some LED lights can be programmed for operation via a multi-function controller so that you can manage lights, fountains, pumps and filters in a central location.
Since there are numerous LED light styles, we took the time to sift through the most popular ones. The LEDs we put on this list were chosen for their durability, energy efficiency and ease of installation. If LED terminology and light designs leave you feeling lost, our buyer’s guide will tell you everything you need to know.
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Best Pool Color LEDs
Pool Color LED Buying Guide
The sheer number of color LED lights for swimming pools is dizzying, but the upside is you have so much freedom to customize the look of your pool. Before you start picking out LEDs, you need to know which colors are the brightest and how to make sense of lumens, watts and the Kelvin scale.
In our buying guide, we also offer some placement ideas that will maximize the illumination of your LED lights. Additionally, there are control options and installation guidelines to consider. Most importantly, we will tell you about some of the features that lend to an LED pool light’s durability.
You can get LEDs that come in one color or change between multiple colors. The colors can remain steady or run through an assortment of light shows such as fade-outs and flickers. Interestingly, LEDs only emit amber, blue, green and red colors. To create other colors, the aforementioned colors must be combined.
Although there are plenty of LED lights that shine in a white color, white is not a hue that LEDs can achieve singularly. Instead, manufacturers use a blue bulb coated in yellow phosphorous or combine the blue with green and red.
When placed underwater, the water’s wavelength absorption causes colors to behave differently. Blue light wavelengths travel faster than green and yellow, and red light wavelengths are the slowest. Therefore, red and yellow LEDs won’t shine as brightly as blue LED lights even if they put out the same number of lumens (more on lumens below).
Like anyone else, you want the most energy-efficient setup. To save as much money as possible on your electricity bill, you must take into account the number of LED lights you’ll be using as well as the number of watts and lumens for each bulb.
Watts are a measurement of an LED bulb’s energy usage, and lumens quantify the bulb’s light output. The best LED light will have a high number of lumens per watt, which is known as luminous efficacy. In other words, the bulb should shine brightly while consuming little energy.
Every type of light bulb falls on the Kelvin rating scale, which measures the light’s color temperature. For LED lights, the Kelvin degrees range from 2,700 to 6,500. LEDs lower on the scale produce warm, yellowish light. Those higher on the scale generate bright white or blue-tinted light.
The surface of your swimming pool will affect your LED lights. For instance, dark surfaces will absorb more light, which means you’ll need 1.5 bulbs for every one bulb you’d use in a pool with a light-colored surface.
Coverage and Placement
Pool LEDs have varying beam angles. Wide-angled beams between 150 to 180 degrees are suitable for whole-pool illumination. Narrower beams work well for shining a spotlight on pool features such as rocks, fountains and waterfalls. Some LEDs have a rotatable lens, allowing you to adjust the beam width.
When deciding on how you’ll configure the lights near stairs, steps and swimout benches, safety is paramount. You don’t want to blind swimmers who are trying to navigate swimouts, so place those lights on the opposite side. For steps, put small lights on top of the stairs.
Small, open pools are easy to illuminate. Usually, you can get away with a single large light. Longer swimming pools require lights on opposite ends of the pool. A sound guideline is to install each light at a 4-foot distance from each end.
Freeform pools necessitate a different approach. Choose a compact LED to install on curves, pointing the light toward the center of the swimming pool. For irregularly shaped swimming pools, divide the pool into sections and design the light scheme as if you are working with multiple yet separate pools.
The best control style for you depends on your personal preference. Wall switches are the simplest way to control LEDs as you just toggle until you find the color and pattern you want. Mounted controllers are also easy to use, especially if you program them to control all your pools’ features.
Remotes offer distance control. With a remote, you can change the LEDs’ color, dim the light and control any other of the lights’ features while relaxing in a poolside lounger. Some LEDs are even compatible with smartphone apps. Giving you control even when you’re away from home.
On average, LED bulbs last anywhere from 7 to 15 years. While durability isn’t an issue for the bulb itself, you do have to consider the other components in an LED light fixture. A thick rubber gasket and a tempered glass lens are two signs of durability.
The casing matters too. Rust-resistant stainless steel is hardier than plastic and more likely to prevent water seepage. Be sure to check out the Ingress Protection rating. An IPX7 is acceptable for floating LEDs. For underwater lights, an IPX8 rating is ideal as this rating indicates the LED will survive immersion indefinitely.
No two installation jobs will go the same as there are just too many variables involved. However, the easiest LEDs to set up are floating ones. Floating LEDs run on solar power or rechargeable batteries. If you want to keep the lights stationary, you’ll need to tie an anchor to them.
Fixed LED lights rest in permanent niches (although nicheless designs are available). Others attach to the side of the pool with a magnet, which aids in the transfer of electricity to the power source. However, magnet designs cannot be used on metal surfaces like those trending stock tank pools because the metal interferes with the transfer of electricity.
Can I Replace My Halogen Lights With LEDs?
Yes, and you don’t need to be a pro to make the switch from halogen to LED. You’ll need a screwdriver and a knife to remove the old bracket and replace it with a new one. Universal brackets will make this task easier. You must also modify the cable. Aim for LEDs that come with a splice kit.
Replacing halogen lights gets a little trickier when you’re using 12-volt LEDs. To make the conversion from 120 volts to 12 volts, a transformer is necessary. Additionally, the cord should not exceed 100 feet; otherwise, voltage drops are likely to occur.
What’s the Difference Between Niche and Nicheless LED Lights?
A niche is a housing that’s permanently installed in the swimming pool, and it’s where you insert the LED light. For a nicheless LED, the conduit and fitting are essentially the housing. While niche LEDs are reliable, nicheless versions are easier to install. Since nicheless lights work in more shallow depths, they shine brighter.
How Do LEDs Compare to Fiber Optic, Halogen and Incandescent Lights?
LEDs are the pool light of choice. In comparison to incandescent and halogen lights that have a filament, which emits more heat than light, LEDs contain a semiconductor. Therefore, LEDs don’t generate as much heat. Plus, they are equipped with a heat sink. In the end, halogen and incandescent lights simply burn out while LEDs gradually fade.
Incandescent bulbs are the least expensive out the door, but they’ll cost the most to run. Fiber optic lights are a pricey purchase due to their color wheel, fan and electric motor. To achieve 1,600 lumens, an LED bulb may use about 22 watts while a halogen and an incandescent bulb consume 72 and 100 watts, respectively.
Pool Color LEDs: Recap
Your swimming pool will be around for a long time. Therefore, you need a light source that can keep up without putting your electricity bills into exorbitant status. LEDs are long-lasting and energy-efficient. With LED lights, the color, angle and pattern possibilities are practically endless.
The choices are even varied as far as controls are concerned. Switches are simple, while smartphone apps are the most convenient. If you want to further enhance your pool lights, you can mix niche or nicheless underwater LEDs with floating ones.