If you're considering upgrading to LED pool lights, there are a few things you should know before making a purchase. In this article, I hope to provide you with all the information you need to buy an LED pool light.

LED pool lights haven't been as popular as halogen lights so far. And for good reason. Halogen lights were cheaper, brighter, and easier to maintain.

However, LED pool lights have come a long way in the past 5 years. In fact, LED lights are revolutionizing all lighting applications, including swimming pools. They are now cost-effective to produce, have high light output, and use a fraction of the energy of traditional lights. There really is no good reason not to choose LED lights.

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Which one is brighter? Halogen or LED?

There's no straight answer to this question. It depends on several factors. Many LED lights today are just as bright as halogen lights.

The number of LEDs doesn't always mean a brighter light - A broken myth

LED pool lights consist of many LEDs inside them. Many consumers think that lights with more LEDs should be brighter.

However, that's not necessarily the case.

You can't compare watts or the number of LEDs

You can't just compare the number of LEDs in a light or the power (watts) they consume. The overall brightness of the light also depends on the efficiency of the LEDs themselves - a factor known as luminous efficacy. This is a measure of how efficiently the LED uses power. The higher the luminous efficacy, the more efficient the LED. This means that a 20 watt LED light can have the same brightness as a 40 watt LED light if the LEDs are twice as efficient.

For a more detailed discussion on LED and Halogen lighting, check out our article: LED Pool Lighting: LED vs Halogen.

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Quality of the light

Good LED pool lights illuminate the pool much more evenly than halogen lights. Halogen lights provide more focused light, while LED pool lights disperse the light more and give a sparkling effect.

Light Direction (Beam Angle)

LED pool lights are available with different beam angles. This means that some lights will spread the light 180 degrees and provide wide coverage. Others will provide a narrow beam, which is useful for focusing light on a specific area to accentuate a feature or create an effect.

Which one you choose depends on the overall lighting effect you are trying to achieve. Choose a wide beam angle (150-180 degrees) if you want to illuminate a large area. If you are accentuating a feature item, choose a light with a narrow beam angle.

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What Brand Should I Choose?

There are several well-established brands on the market, as well as a few generic lights. The more well-known brands are usually good quality lights, but you will pay about twice as much for a branded light ($380 to $700) compared to a generic light with a brand.

Generic lights available from places like eBay or the web can also be of good quality, although brand manufacturers will likely deny it. If you buy a generic light, make sure you buy from an established business that stands behind their product. Also, search the internet for feedback from other people who have purchased the product. The prices for these lights are around $180 to $400.

How Many Lights Do I Need? Where Should I Place Them?

There are formulas to calculate the number of lights needed, but it's usually not that straightforward. You will need to consider the pool size, shape, pool surface, the output of the pool lights, the color of the light, and the purpose of the light (do you want to illuminate the entire pool, accentuate a certain feature, or create an effect?).

Planning pool lighting requires some level of expertise, and it's better to leave it to the professionals.

But as a rough guide, brighter LED pool lights will illuminate most medium-sized (8-10m long) rectangular pools with just one light. You will need more lights if your pool has a different shape or is larger than average. You may also need more lights if the surface of your pool has a dark color.

For a more detailed discussion on light placement, check out our article, a complete guide to pool lights.

Two Different Types of Pool Light Mounting

There are two ways to mount pool lights: flush or surface. Surface-mounted lights will fit where a flush-mounted light was, but a flush-mounted light will not fit where a surface-mounted light was (well, not without major renovations).

Flush-mounted Lights

A flush-mounted light is installed inside the pool wall in a niche, which is sometimes called a cavity. The exterior of the light is usually flush with the pool wall or very low-profile.

The trend today is flush-mounted pool lights. They look better, and they are much less likely to be damaged by swimmers using it as a step since there are no protruding surfaces.

Installing a light in this way is usually done during construction. It is very expensive to do it later, and unless the pool undergoes extensive renovations, it is not worth doing.

Surface-mounted Lights

A surface-mounted light is mounted on the surface of the pool wall instead of inside an opening in the pool wall. These lights protrude much more than flush-mounted lights. However, it is much easier to replace existing pool lights with surface-mounted lights.

What is a Resin-filled LED Pool Light?

Pool lights need to be sealed to prevent water ingress. The most common method is to seal the light with a rubber gasket or O-ring.

There is now an increasing trend to fill the inside of LED lights with a resin, which completely seals the electronics inside. This prevents any water from entering and eliminates the need for sealing.

Resin-filled pool lights cannot be serviced. If something goes wrong, you will have to replace the entire light fixture.

Installation

It is possible to upgrade to an LED light for most pools. If there is enough excess cable to lift the light out of the water, you probably don't even need to lower the water level to do so!

Some LED pool lights come with a special universal housing that allows you to install the new light without drilling new holes in the pool wall. If you can find such a light, it will make the task extremely easy.

After screwing the light to the pool wall, the only other thing to do is connect the existing cable to the new light. This can be done in one of two ways.

Some lights have terminals on them. You will need to open the terminal housing, strip the ends of the old cables, and then screw the cables into the terminals.

The other method is by using a wire splicing kit, which is sometimes included with the light. Simply connect the old cable end to the cable that came with your new light.

You can also refer to our other article for more information on how to install an LED pool light.

What Cable Length Do I Need?

Pool lights often come with a choice of cable lengths. For new pools, your builder will likely determine the required length.

When replacing your pool light, you usually only need a short cable (1-2m). Connection kits to join the old and new cables are available. If the cable is old or too short, it may be necessary to install a new cable. In this case, you will need to measure the distance from your pool light to the transformer for the pool light to calculate the required length.

The transformer will be located near your pool equipment or inside the wall of your house where the switch for the pool light is.

Lifespan

The lifespan of the LEDs in LED pool lights is 50,000 to 70,000 hours (23 to 30 years with 6 hours per day). This is much longer than the lifespan of halogen incandescent lamps (which usually need to be replaced every season).

Note that I said the lifespan of the LEDs? While the LEDs themselves have a long lifespan, it doesn't mean that other parts in the light won't break. Some of the issues with LED pool lights are with the housing and the transformer or other internal electronics. In reality, these components are likely to fail long before the LEDs.

Colors

Many of the new LED lights allow you to easily change the color of the light - some have 16 different colors or more (from white to purple to green). This is done with the remote control or light controller that came with the light.

Remote Control or Smartphone App

Some LED pool lights come with a remote control that allows you to turn the light on or off or change the color with one press of the button. Premium models can even be controlled from your smartphone with an app!

Pool Light Transformers and Voltage - What Does it Mean?

For safety, pool lights use a much lower voltage than your household supply. A transformer is used to reduce the voltage. This is usually placed with the pool equipment or inside the wall near the light switch for your pool light.

LED pool lights come in different voltages (36V, 32V, 24V, 22V, and 12V). For most pool lights, you will need to ensure that the voltage of the transformer matches the light.

Some of the new LED pool lights are internally equipped to handle any of these voltages - often called automatic voltage detection. In this case, you can use your existing transformer (provided the wattage capacity is enough - which will usually be the case if you're upgrading from halogen. The wattage capacity specifications will be on the existing transformer and in the instructions of the new light).

If your new LED light doesn't automatically detect the voltage and the voltage of the transformer you have differs from what is required, you will need to replace the transformer.

Conclusion

After reading this article, you should have everything you need to choose and purchase your LED pool lights. As always, do your research and compare brands and different models and choose what's right for you.

Related Reading:

  • How to Change an LED Pool Light
  • Pool Lighting - Complete Guide: Planning to Installation
  • Cost for Installing an LED Pool Light

FAQs

How long do LED pool lights last?

The LEDs in LED pool lights have a lifespan of 50,000 to 70,000 hours, which corresponds to 23 to 30 years if used for 6 hours per day. This is much longer than halogen lights.

Can I change the color of my LED pool light?

Yes, many LED lights allow you to change the color of the light. You can do this with a remote control or a light controller that comes with the light.

How do I install an LED pool light?

It is possible to install an LED light in most pools. You probably don't even need to lower the water level if there is enough excess cable to lift the light out of the water. You can find a light that has a special universal housing, making it easy to install without drilling new holes in the pool wall. Simply connect the existing cable to the new light according to the instructions that come with the light.

What brand of LED pool light should I choose?

There are a variety of brands available. The more well-known brands are usually good quality, but they are more expensive than generic brands. However, generic lights can also be of good quality, but do your homework and make sure you buy from an established business that stands behind their product.

How many LED pool lights do I need?

The number of lights needed depends on the size and shape of your pool, the color of the surface, the desired lighting effect, and other factors. An average pool can usually be illuminated by one light, but it may vary for pools with a different shape or larger than average. It's best to consult a professional for a proper evaluation and recommendation.