The party doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down.
That's especially in those summer months when the evenings are warmest. And for some, the luxury of an evening swim is one of the best things about owning your own swimming pool.
Fortunately, you can do just that.
By fitting your pool with a quality pool light, you can make use of your pool 24 hours a day. As well as making it safer and give it that ‘WOW’ factor.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the best type of pool lighting available, and comparing each of them to find out which one is right for YOU.
Popular Swimming Pool Lights
The following pool lights have been chosen for comparison since they’re regarded as the most popular options among pool owners today.
Enter the brave candidates:
Note — If you’re just here to get a breakdown of your options, you can click this box to jump straight to the product review section.
When Should You Buy A Pool Light?
There are a number of reasons to get yourself a swimming pool light, and if you’re reading this buyer's guide, you’re no doubt aware of at least some them.
- Extend the use of your pool: Pool lights allow you to take advantage of long summer evenings and experience the luxury of a nighttime swim.
- Enchanting Effects: The magic of pool lighting creates a sparkling effect at night–enhancing the beauty, drama, and mystery of your swimming pool.
- Increase visibility and safety: Lighting your pool makes it easier to monitor others, especially children and pets at night. Depending on where you live, dangerous wildlife (e.g. snakes) may sneak into your pool unnoticed if you don’t own lights.
When Shouldn’t You Buy A Pool Light?
Not every purchase makes sense for every person in every situation, which is why I’m also going to list off reasons why you might decide AGAINST getting one.
- Don’t like nighttime swims: If you’re not planning to ever use your pool at night, it might not be worth investing in the money.
- In-door person: If you don’t like sitting out in the garden in the evenings or at night.
- Safety isn’t a concern: Don’t have children or pets you need to keep track of. Or, you don’t live in an area where dangerous animals may sneak unnoticed into your pool.
What Types Of Pool Lights Can You Buy?
When looking at types of pool lights available, it can sometimes be tricky deciding what to go, whether it's LED or fiber optic.
Now, they both illuminate your pool and offer a variety of colors. But, like with most things, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a case of understanding your options so you can make an informed decision.
Option #1 — LED Pool Lighting
LED (Light Emitting Diode) pool lights work by channeling voltage through a semiconductor which emits light. Unlike fiber optics, which require extensive and complex cabling, LED’s are a simple–just plug them into a power source.
Option #2 — Fiber Optic Pool Lighting
The bulb is located in an illuminator (or lightbox), which is generally installed somewhere above your pool. The light is then transmitted through the cable (via a special fitting) into your pool.
Which Is Better: LED vs. Fiber Optic Pool Lights?
We’re now going to take a deep dive into which type of pool light is better, based on the maintenance difficulty, longevity, cost, brightness, visual effects, and safety:Fiber optic lights have their advantages, however, Being more cost effective, both initially and long term, no illuminator box to deal with, and they illuminate the water better - I can’t see past them at this point.
Ease Of Maintenance
LED: can be “harder” and longer to change the bulbs. For in-ground pools, you’ll need to remove the entire unit out of the water to change a single bulb - you don’t have to drain the pool.
Some LED lights don’t come with changeable bulbs, meaning you’ll have to replace the entire unit if they stop working. However, you can avoid this by buying LED lights with changeable bulbs.
Fiber Optic: Easy. Because the bulbs are located out of the water, you can access and replace the bulbs in a matter of minutes.
Winner: Fiber Optic
LED: Generally made from strong semiconductors which can withstand use over a longer period of time. The bulbs can last anywhere from 7-15 years before you need to change them.
Fiber Optic: Made from delicate strands which can require frequent maintenance in order to stay in the best working condition. Bulbs last anywhere between 3-7 years.
LED: Initial costs can be anywhere between $400-$900. You should only need to replace the bulb periodically, this cost can range from $200-$400 depending on the unit.
Fiber Optic: Initial cost is generally between $900-$1500. fiber optic lighting uses an electric motor to power the color wheel and a fan to keep it cool. These components do fail over time and can be costly to replace.
Brightness and Visual Effects
LED: Bright. Depending on the size of your pool, you may only need to buy one large LED unit to illuminate your entire pool. LED pool light also comes with a variety of color options to set the mood: from dance party mode to a relaxing evening swim.
Fiber Optic: More for adding ambiance to certain features of your pool (waterfalls or perimeters), not illuminating your entire pool. However, they do allow for more creative and elaborate designs.
Both are very safe.
The Overall Winner: LED Pool Lights
How Do You Choose The Best Pool Light?
Now we know LED pool lights are the best way to go forward, how do you ensure you get the best bang for your buck?
Let’s take a look at what I believe to be the main factors to consider when looking to buy an LED pool light, and what I will be using as the basis of my individual product reviews.
- Installation Difficulty: Let’s be honest, we’re not all pro electricians and not everyone wants to cough up the doh to hire one. Ideally, you want your LED light to be simple enough to install, maintain, and replace bulbs.
- Brightness Efficiency: If you want to get the most value out of your purchase, and keep bills down, you’ll want the maximum brightness with minimal power usage.
- Durability: No one likes it when you buy something and it breaks within a week. Yes, LEDs last a long time, but the lights come with other components you’ll need to factor in.
- Features: This comes last as it's probably the least important for most people, but in this case, the bells and whistles can actually be pretty useful.
#1 — How Difficult Is It To Install?
For the most part, installing or upgrading to LED lighting is possible for most pools. And if you’ve got enough cable to lift your current light out of the water, you might not even have to lower the water level.
What you want to look out for, are LED pool lights which come with a universal bracket. This lets you screw in your new lights without having to drill new holes into the wall of your pool.
Once you’ve screwed it on, all you need to do is connect the existing cable to your new LED light. There are two ways you can do this:
- If your light has terminal housing, open it, strip the ends off the old cable and screw it into the terminals.
- Sometimes your light will come with a wire splice kit. If so, just join the old cable ends to the cable that came with your new light.
#2 — Is It Energy Efficient?
What’s the main job of your light?—light ‘em up! Now, the level of brightness you need will depend on the size of the area you want to light up. But, what you, I, and everyone else should strive for is maximum brightness with minimal power usage.
Aiming for this will save you money on maintenance cost.
However, it’s not a case of just comparing the number of LEDs or Watts. What you need to know, if you want efficiency, is the lumens. The higher the lumens, the more efficient the LED bulbs will be. For example, a 20 watt LED with higher lumens could have the same brightness as a 35 watt light.
But, it’s not just about the watts and the lumens, you’ll need to take a look at your pool interior–the effectiveness of colored lights are diminished in darker pools.
Then you’ve got the angle of the beams. Some lights will offer broad coverage, while others will be narrow to help highlight a particular feature.
If you’re trying to light a large area, I recommend choosing an angle between 150-180 degrees. If you want an LED light to highlight a feature, choose a narrow beam angle.
#3 — How Long Will This Thing Last?
How long is this going to last? Like we discussed earlier, LED bulbs are rated to last 7-15 years so you’d be forgiven to think durability isn’t much of a concern.
However, LED pool lights come with housing, a transformer, and other internal electronics which might fail. So we’ve taken this into account in our individual product reviews.
Another aspect I like to include in durability is how easy is it to replace a faulty bulb. We spoke before on how some LED pool lights don’t allow you to change individual bulbs. Avoid these types, because you’ll have to replace the entire unit if one fails.
#4 — What Useful Features Does It Have?
Granted, this one largely comes down to personal preference – some people don’t want lots of controllable color options.
If you have, are planning to have kids, or want to have awesome pool parties, controllable lights with lots of color options can really crank up the fun levels and add the ‘WOW’ factor.
Being able to change colors or dim the lights can really add an extra dimension to night swimming.
If you’re like me, and you want to take your nighttime swimming to the next level, but you’re not a tech geek, you’re going to want a light which comes with a simple remote to adjust the settings.
Some premium models can even be controlled using an app on your smartphone.
Reviewing Popular Swimming Pool Lights
Now that we've covered what to look for, you’ll be able to use the comparisons below to make a more informed decision about which makes sense for you and your needs.
The following products were hand-picked for review, where they have been evaluated and rated based on the same criteria I outlined above.
1. Pentair 601101 IntelliBrite 5G White LED Light
Claiming to be the brightest and most energy efficient LED pool light on the market–it’s certainly caught my attention.
This is an extremely powerful light, and at 300 watts it might not seem as efficient as some of the other lights on this list, however (because of the lumens), you’re actually getting 500 watts of power.
You don’t get color options with this light, however, the white lights are fantastic if you only want to illuminate your pool. And if you want to experiment, you can adjust the lens degree to achieve wide or narrow lighting.
However, the big problem is the installation. It’s not difficult, it’s the fact that you have to have a certified electrician to install it or you’ll lose your 1-year warranty.
2. BulbWizards Poolbright Color Changing LED Light
Want plenty of color options? This might be the one for you. Equipped with seven colors, including blue, green, purple and more, you can choose from four speed settings (located on your on/off switch) to set the mood for any occasion.
The bulbs themselves are rated for 100,000 hours (wow), and only use 30 watts! And they’re bright enough to match 300-400 watt bulbs. Installation is very simple and the kit comes with a clear guide.
Only real downside is the red and yellow lights aren’t as bright, but, that’s to do with science and wavelengths–not build quality.
3. WYZM 120V 35W Color Changing Swimming Pool LED
If you’re looking for awesome color blending, this one might be your one.
The light is bright, capable of illuminating 25,000 gallon swimming pools, is rated for 65,000 hours and only uses 35watts. It comes with 7 solid colors and 9 color shows, you can choose from 16 settings (controlled by a remote or wall switch) to create unique effects.
It’s easy to install because it comes with standard screws, so you can just replace your old unit.
However, there are a few downsides. You’ll need to buy the recommended gasket and replace your old one to get the best out of these lights. There have also been reports of the lights breaking within one year, and that the remote is terrible. And, if you want to best
4. TOP Color Changing Pool LED Light
Not a big brand name, but that’s no reason to dismiss this LED pool light. Featuring 58 color changing effects, you can use the remote to achieve any mood you want.
The LEDs are rated for 50,000 hours, not quite a long as others, but still–50,000 hours. And they’re more than bright enough to illuminate a 20,000 gallon+ pool at only 35 watts.
What’s great about these lights, is they’re very easy to install. In fact, they’ve been designed to fit most Pentair Hayward Fixtures and is a direct replacement for the Screw Fitting Underwater Pool Light Bulbs.
The downside to this light fixture is the remote. Most people report it being useless once the lights have been fitted underwater. Some even suggest putting it in a ziplock bag so you can use it underwater. Not really ideal.
5. Bonbo OSRAM Swimming Pool LED Light
A small LED light that really packs a punch when it comes to brightness. At 65watts, it uses more energy than others, but, you’re the same brightness as an 800 watt halogen or old incandescent light (enough to illuminate 32,000 gallons).
One thing to watch out for, there can be a 3(ish) second delay when you turn these lights on.
The light doesn’t come with multiple color options, which might put you off. But, you can dim individual LEDs to create dynamic lighting effects.
Overall, if you just want a budget-friendly light to illuminate your pool at night, this would be an excellent choice.
When it comes to choosing the best pool lights, LED is your best option. But, choosing the style you want comes down to personal opinion – do you want color options? Or do you just want to light your pool
The good news is, if you follow this buyer's guide (and check the reviews) from start to finish, you’re already in a much better buying position than most.
Time to enjoy those lovely evening swims!