How To Understand Pool Light Options

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There are many brands and types of pool lights on the market today. This guide discusses the different options available in wall mounted pool lights. Other pool light options for perimeter or feature lighting are discussed in another guide.

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Step by Step

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Step 1

LIGHT TYPES - Pool lights come in three types: INCANDESCENT, HALEGON, and LED. The older style INCANDESCENT lights have light bulbs much like the standard bulbs used in your house before we went the newer more cost efficient CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs. They only provided white light. HALEGON lights came next. They were much more compact and operated with less power but they also were limited to producing white light.  Some halogen lights did produce limited color with a mechanical rotating disc in front of the white light. The newest light is the LED type. LED lights have several benefits. They are significantly cheaper to run and they not only produced color light, but they give you the option of generating up to 5 distinct color in up to 7 different predefined programs. LED lights are also available in white only for commercial pools that require white light by code.

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Step 2

VOLTAGE 12V vs 120V - Pool lights are designed to operate with 12V or 120V. In some areas of the country the local code requires a low voltage 12V light while in other areas it is fine to use a 120V light. Before installing a light, find out what your local code require. If you install a 12V light you will need to install a transformer to convert the 120V house voltage to 12V. If you are replacing an existing light and do not know your voltage you may try the following techniques to find this information: 1.) Look on the face of the light bulb for the voltage rating. 2.) Look to see if you have a transformer wired before the light. If you have transformer then you have a 12V light. 3.) Check the back of the light housing where the cord connects into the light, there will be a label specification of your light. The brightness of a 12V and 120V will be the same. Some manufactures do not recommend using a 12V light if the cord of the light is going to be longer than 100' feet because you may have a voltage drop. Note: Brightness, discussed more below, is a function of light wattage not voltage. The brightness of a 12V or a 120V light will be the same.

Click Here to View 12-Volt Transformers

Step 3

POWER – Power is measured by watts. The higher the wattage, the higher the cost to run a light. Incandescent lights generally run from 100W to 500W; LED lights from 30W to 90W. LED lights as much more efficient. For a rough comparison a 45W LED light will generate as much light as a 300W incandescent light – an 85% reduction in operating costs. This will vary by manufacturer, but the newer LED light designs are continually increasing light efficiency

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Step 4

BRIGHTNESS – The brightness of a 12V and 120V is the same. Brightness is generally measured by lumens but you won’t see that number published consistently. For incandescent lights, the higher the wattage the brighter the light. LED brightness is more vague. You may have to dig into the descriptions to get a brightness comparison to incandescent light. In general the newer LED technologies will be brighter for a given wattage.

Step 5

FACE RING – Most lights have two options for the Face Ring around the face of the light: STAINLESS STEEL (SS) and PLASTIC. Most Plastic Face Rings are white but they can be offered in gray and black.

Step 6

LIGHT BULB BASES - The base of the light bulbs in the incandescent and halogen lights come in several different styles and sizes. Different styles include screw in, bayonet, and wedge. This is important when you are trying to replace an existing light bulb with a new one or when replacing an old incandescent bulb with a LED light bulb. If an Incandescent bulb has as standard Edison base, it can only be replaced with an Edison based LED Bulb.

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Step 7

CORD LENGTH – Lights come permanently attached to the power cord. They come in several cord length from 15’ to 150’ with 30’, 50’, 100, and 150’ being the most common. When you buy a light, you have to buy one that will reach from the pool to the power source plus 10 feet. You cannot slice into this cord to make it longer.

Step 8

NICHE COMPATIBILITY – Generally when a pool is built, the contractor installs permanent fixtures into the side of the pool wall to hold the light fixture. The most common niches are made by Hayward, Pentair and Sta-Rite. Some lights are compatible with any of these niches, but that is generally not the case. See our guide on "How To Select a LED Color Changing Light to Replace an Old White Light" for more information.

Click Here to View Pool & Spa Light Niches

Step 9

BULB REPLACEMENT – Most of the incandescent and halogen light failures can be fixed by replacing the light fixture’s bulb.   If you want to replace an incandescent light bulb with a color changing light bulb, see our guide on "How To Convert to a LED Color Changing Light by Changing the Light Bulb”. Only a few incandescent light fixtures can be converted with a bulb change. The rest will require a complete light fixture change. There is no bulb color light conversion for halogen lights.

Click Here for Replacement Bulbs (LED & Incandescent)

Step 10

CONTROL – Most lights can be turned on and off at a wall switch or incorporated into a control box to be turned on and off automatically. The newer LED color changing lights have several options for color and light programs. If you don’t have the lights linked to a control box, these options can be selected by switching the wall switch on and off until you reach the color or program you desire. To sync multiple LED lights to be controlled together, you would tie them to one switch through a common junction box. One or two LED lights like Pentair’s Intellibrite or Intellibrite 5g light have an optional remote controller to select the color/programs more conveniently.

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Click Here to View the Pentair Intellibrite Controller 


Comments

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(1 to 40 of 53)

Anonymous  Posted: 4/12/2022 

Can you use any brand LED pool light with any brand controller, i.e. if I have a Jandy LED fixture and a Jandy control system, can I replace the light with a Pentair InteliBrite or a Hayward ColorLogic for example... or do you have to keep like for like brand, i.e. Jandy light for Jandy controller, Pentair light for Pantair controller and Hayward controller for Hayward light?
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/14/2022 

There is no universal crossover with automation systems. Some manufacturers work better with others. This chart is a good reference for what the major manufacturers' automation systems can handle.
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Anonymous  Posted: 3/15/2022 

I have two Pentair lights in my pool, which is around 23,000 gallons and shaped like a pear. One light points to the deep end, the other towards the shallow. The Pentair lights have two 75 watt Halogen MR16 lights with a spinning color dial in the front (inoperable). Each light is 150 watts, with both lights putting 300 watts of light into the pool. The amount of light in the pool is fine. I want to convert my pool to the 120V Hayward Astro lights. Would two 500 watt incandescent bulbs be too bright? Or should I go with two 300 watt bulbs? I do not want LED and want to get away from the 12V transformers.
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 3/16/2022 

What are the length and width dimensions of the pool? When considering the light's coverage area, we need to work in distance measurements units. We need to know the distance the light has to project into. Also, I want to confirm the model of your current light. Does your fixture/bulb resemble what's shown on the following links? Pentair Amerquartz Light or the Pentair Spectrum Amerilite (SAM) Light
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 Posted: 1/19/2022 

I currently have a (dead) Colorsplash 120V light fixture. Can I replace that with an LED bulb? Where can I get the fixture and 100' cord to enable this? I assume I would need a faceplate and gasket also, Thanks!!!
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 1/24/2022 

The ColorSplash does not appear to have a replaceable bulb; you would need to replace the fixture and cable. We do not carry a ColorSplash pool light 120 volt, 100-foot cord.
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 Posted: 7/11/2021 

I have a Hayward SP-450 Z- 1 and the face plate is broken. Can I ge a replacement for just the faceplate? And what model number would work?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 7/14/2021 

When you say faceplate, do you mean the lens? Hayward Lens, Clear - SPX0540Z1
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 Posted: 11/11/2020 

I want to replace my incandescent bulb, but not sure if a flood light style is typical or a spotlight style. I already threw the bulb away and forgot to check. What is the most common style?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 11/16/2020 

The most common pool light models like the Hayward Astrolite and the Pentair Amerilite use the flood light style. Do you know the make and model of your light?
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 Posted: 7/24/2020 

Looking for a replacement of a 200W Tubular Halogen Clear with face plate. I have a 100 Watt transformer but unsure if I can connect your Pool Amerilite 500 Watt 30 ft. Cord 120 Volt - 78454100 with the 100 watt transformer. Additionally, I plan on adding remote control LED Edison base. Any recommendations for this configuration? Do I need to replace the 100 watt transformer in order to use the 500 watt?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/9/2020 

Your transformer is rated for 100 watts, and the light is 500 watts; it is not going to work. You have to have a transformer that is rated for the amount of power your equipment is rated for. Also, is this a 12-volt transformer? If so, then you wouldn't need to use that with the 120 volt light.
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Anonymous  Posted: 7/20/2020 

I’m having an inground pool installed(18x40) Builder is using 2 color logic LED 1.5” lights. Will that be enough to Illuminate the pool?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/10/2020 

This depends on where the lights will be mounted in the pool and the color of the pool surface—the darker the surface, the smaller the broadcast range of the light.We going into more depth about how many lights you need and the criteria needed to figure it out in this guide, How Many Lights Do I Need For My Pool?
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 Posted: 7/4/2020 

My pool guy never installed conduit to my pool niche. It doesn't leak. Is the light cord warer tight or do I need to dig and install conduit. I've had it for 10 years without a problem.
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 9/23/2020 

The installer likely used a rubber cord stopper or epoxied the light cable into place. If it is not leaking, then you can leave it as is. But if you plan to change out the light fixture, that would be the time to install a conduit.
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 Posted: 6/24/2020 

I have a Pentair - Amerlite Pool Light 78428100, 120V, 300W incandescent that's not working. If the fixture is OK, Can I switch to an LED bulb?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/6/2020 

Yes, if the fixture is in working condition, you can switch to an LED bulb. Suitable replacement LED bulbs for the Amerilite are the following: PureWhite LED Pool Lamp 120V or the ColorSplash LXG LED Pool Lamp 120V
 Reply

 Posted: 5/4/2020 

It looks like I have a junction box. I don't see a transformer. Is it safe to assume I need a 120 V replacement for my Jandy Watercolor LED pool light?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 10/27/2020 

If there is no transformer between the fixture and the breaker, then you have a 120-volt light.
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 Posted: 5/22/2019 

Looking to replace my entire light fixture (s). Not sure if they run wires independently or spliced together behind the scenes. What is the most common? In looking in the back of the niche, it looks to have “rubber cement” looking stuff to seal around the cord. Is cutting it out going to cause any issues? Last question, can I buy a regular light fixture and just replace the light bulb with a LED light bulb for cost savings verses buying an LED light fixture?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/22/2019 

The light cables should not be spliced together. It should be one continuous line from the light to the junction box. The most common way to plug the niche is a cord stopper or a 2-part underwater epoxy. Yes, you can buy a standard light fixture and add an LED bulb. We do this with our PureLine PureColors light.
 Reply

Anonymous  Posted: 5/22/2019 

If I pull out the wire that’s has the apoxy in the back, my assumption is water will get into the conduit. Is that a bad thing or do I need to drain the pool below the light fixtures? Thank you
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/22/2019 

You do not need to drain the water down below the niche. It's ok if water gets into the conduit because the end of the cable will terminate at the junction box above the water level. 
 Reply

 Posted: 5/17/2019 

I bought a 120v light kit but just figured out I HAD a 12v kit. Can I just by pass the converter and wire the line directly to my power supply? What are my options? Please
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 Posted: 5/31/2020 

Hey Eric, how did this work out for you? Did you wire the hot wire directly to the breaker and ground the other 2? Thanks!
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/17/2019 

Assuming your local codes don't require a 12v light, you could bypass the transformer and wire the 120v light to the breaker.
 Reply

 Posted: 5/3/2019 

I just had to replace my pool light for the first time. It had a 120V // 500W incandescent bulb in it. The pool company have me a 400W bulb and I didn't notice it until I got home. Should I be concerned with having a 400W vs a 500W bulb? Will I notice a difference in the light output? And if I wanted to just go with an LED bulb, is it as simple as just buying on from the pool store and screwing into the receptacle? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 5/6/2019 

Hello Mike - The 400w bulb won't be as bright as your old 500w light bulb. We carry a variety of LED bulbs that can screw into most pool light fixtures. They won't be as bright as a 400w or 500w incandescent bulb.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/30/2019 

Just installed a Pentair 5G Intellibrite LED pool light to a regular switch. However it is not changing colors as it should be when switching on and off several times. Do I need to add a transformer so those lights will work ? If so which one? Thank You
 Reply

InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/30/2019 

Hello Rob - You'd only need to add a transformer if you installed 12v pool lights.
 Reply

 Posted: 4/29/2019 

Can a pool light be 24V? My electrician tested the transformer going to the pool and he said it was 24V going to the light.
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/29/2019 

Can you provide the light model information to verify the type of voltage it requires?
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 Posted: 4/20/2019 

I have some Pentair SAM lights and wanted to upgrade to LED's, either with Pentair or Hayward. Both would fit in my niche. But after reading the many bad reviews on both brands, I am at a loss as to what to mfg to choose. Any recommendations or suggestions?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/24/2019 

Hello Ray - If i had to choose between the two, Pentair would be my pick. We have heard of more issues surrounding the ColorLogic than any other LED pool light. If you are open to any other options of LED lights, have a look at the Pureline PureColors. The PureColors features similar brightness, light shows, use the same niche, and bulb hour ratings; but these bulbs are replaceable. So, in the unfortunate occasion that a light goes out, the bulb can be screwed out and a new one screwed in, without having to install a whole new light fixture.
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 Posted: 4/18/2019 

I'm getting a pool installed this month. They asked me if I wanted to upgrade to a led light which is $900. The regular light is 500w Hayward. I want a light that changes colors. Cant I just purchase a Led bulb that changes colors or do I need to spend $900 for the upgrade?
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/19/2019 

Hello Ricardo - In most Hayward light fixtures the incandescent bulb can be replaced with an LED bulb. The 120V LED bulb option is part number PL5809. The only Hayward light it doesn't work in is the SP0540 series.
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 Posted: 4/3/2019 

I currently have an old fiber optic light system on my pool that hasn't worked for 2 years. Plan to replace this with a new led system but have no idea where to begin. I am handy enough to do this on my own but I have no idea where to begin. Help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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InyoPools Product Specialist  Posted: 4/8/2019 

Hello Shawn - if you plan to replace your fiberoptic pool illuminator with LED, we suggest the ION-8000 Fiber Optic Illuminator. The installation is relatively easy if you are handy.
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Anonymous  Posted: 5/6/2019 

You may also wish to easily upgrade your fiber optic spotlight with the SR Smith PT6000 - it replaces the illuminator and sits on the existing irrigation base. It has several lighted kit options for 2-7w LED lights and would t break the bank!lights have 6 colors and two shows. The PT-6000 houses 2 60 W transformers and comes with a remote.
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