Most swimming pools are equipped with at least one underwater light. And, like any light, the bulb can burn out and need replacing.
LED lighting has become one of the latest trends to hit the pool industry, and for a good reason. Thanks to its versatility and cutting-edge technology, LED lights now account for more than half the lighting market in Australia for new pool installations and retrofitting.
So what's all the fuss about?
While LED lights have been around for decades, improvements in technology, lower prices and energy efficiency have made them the future of lighting. Much of this is due to the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs, not to mention a growing trend towards environmentally sustainable lighting.
Unfortunately, swimming pools haven't always had a great reputation regarding energy efficiency, with single-speed pumps and pool lights being common culprits. However, the pool industry has recently responded with products and initiatives to make backyard pools more sustainable, including Climate Care Certification, mineral pool sanitation systems and energy-saving LED lighting.
So if you're in the market for new or replacement lights for your swimming pool, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we'll give you a comprehensive overview of LED lights, how they compare to halogens and why they can help you save energy, minimise costs and keep pool light maintenance to a minimum.
LED lights represent cutting-edge home and garden lighting solutions, surpassing traditional halogen lights. Utilising semiconductive devices to emit light when electricity passes through them, LED lights consume minimal energy, making them an eco-friendly choice.
Consequently, LEDs have become the industry standard, not just for households and businesses but also for Australian pools. With all the different types of pool LED lights performing unique functions, you can choose one, two or all of these lighting options, depending on the design, size and location of your pool.
Underwater pool lights, located on the wall, floors, or steps of the pool, offer aesthetic appeal and visibility. They can be flush-mounted for a seamless look or surface-mounted for a raised appearance.
Common in above-ground pools, magnetic pool lights are cord-free LED lights that are fully waterproof and mounted to the steel sidewall of your pool using magnets. These lights run on batteries, can be controlled remotely, and provide different lighting modes and colours.
Overhead LED floodlighting provides ample visibility for your pool and entertaining area. It is easy to install and covers a large area with illumination.
Designed to complement existing lighting systems, these LED lights use solar or battery power and float on water. They are fully programmable and come in different colours and shapes, such as spheres, pyramids and lotus, perfect for illuminating above-ground pools or creating a vibrant party atmosphere.
Landscape lighting can enhance the appearance of your pool and provide safe access for family and guests. You can even adjust them to light up different parts of your garden, such as your pool deck, entertaining area or garden bed, adding both beauty and functionality to your outdoor space.
Whether you're constructing a new pool or renovating an existing one, proper lighting is crucial for nighttime visibility and safety.
While halogen lights may seem more affordable upfront, LED pool lights offer superior long-term cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency. If you need help deciding which type of lights to choose for your pool, here are compelling reasons why LED pool lights are the better choice over halogens for your swimming pool.
LED lights outshine halogen bulbs with higher energy output, providing superior visibility for swimmers in the pool or outdoor area at night. Unlike halogens, which cast a narrower light beam and require more bulbs, LEDs emit a brighter and wider illumination.
Additionally, halogens can give your pool a yellowish tinge, making it appear green even when algae-free. Another advantage of LEDs is their quick start-up time. Unlike other lights, LEDs instantly reach full capacity, allowing you to dive into a fully illuminated pool. Furthermore, LEDs are more durable than halogens and do not degrade as quickly when switched on and off frequently. Say goodbye to delays and enjoy the convenience of pool LED lights!
Pool owners are always looking for ways to make their pools more environmentally friendly, and LED lights are a step in the right direction. LEDs use only a quarter of the energy of halogen globes, thanks to their semiconductor technology that creates light with almost no heat. Any heat produced is absorbed into the heatsink, often built-in, which keeps the LED light cool.
On the other hand, Halogens run power through a tungsten filament, producing both light and significant heat. However, the issue is that up to 90 per cent of the energy produced in a halogen globe is lost in heat. That means you get less energy to power the light, giving you a shorter running time and a burning-hot bulb!
When you compare the two, LEDs are more energy-efficient, putting less strain on our energy grid and emitting fewer carbon emissions. Additionally, LED pool lights require less frequent replacement, resulting in reduced overconsumption and landfill waste.
The above image shows the lifetime cost for an 800-lumen LED bulb compared with alternatives. Source: energyrating.gov.au
While LEDs lights may have a higher upfront cost than halogen or incandescent bulbs, their long lifespan and energy efficiency make them a cost-saver choice in the long run.
If you switch 20 halogen lights to LED lights, you could potentially save up to $210 a year. In addition, by taking advantage of state incentives for upgrading your household lights to LED lights, such as those available in NSW and Victoria, you could save up to 90 per cent on supply and installation costs.
If you have used halogen lights in your home, you may have experienced their drawbacks, such as excessive heat production and frequent burnouts. Halogen bulbs also have delicate filaments that can be easily damaged, rendering your bulb useless. On the other hand, LED lights produce less heat and have a longer lifespan. What's more, LEDs are designed with a diode encased in epoxy, making them more durable and resistant to damage even if you bump it or drop the box, resulting in fewer light replacements for your pool.
As a general guide, halogen globes can last 1,000–4,000 hours, while LEDs can last 15,000–50,000 hours. That's 5–10 times longer! Of course, performance can vary across LED lighting brands, so make sure you buy a quality product. Having said that, in 2018, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Ministers introduced minimum standards for LED lights to ensure safety, compliance and longevity, narrowing the quality gap.
While lights are mostly a safety feature for your pool, they can also provide aesthetic appeal, particularly when you turn them on at night. LED lights can allow you to create visual effects, set a mood, or play with colour patterns (some have as many as seven colours). This can come in handy if you're setting a mood, having a party or swimming with friends.
LEDs also have a higher colour rendering index (CRI) than incandescent or halogen globes, allowing you to choose and set bright, true and flattering colours to match any occasion or décor. Halogens, unfortunately, don't have the same flexibility. To change the colour, you must alter the lens, which can be fiddly and expensive. That's why most halogen pool lights don't provide a colour option.
With the latest technology, LEDs now have RGBW colour light engines, meaning you have truer, clearer whites and richer colour tones, providing a bright luminescence and allowing for stunning visuals in your swimming pool.
LEDs do not require frequent replacement, thanks to their impressive longevity and energy efficiency. This is particularly beneficial for underwater or hard-to-reach fittings, providing relief from the hassle of frequent replacements. Depending on usage, LED lights may only need to be changed every 8-10 years, saving you time and effort. Furthermore, many LED lights are designed as one-piece mouldings, which helps prevent water entry and enhances their durability, further extending their lifespan.
Most LED pool lighting systems offer programmable features, either through a dedicated light controller, such as Halo Lite, or a pool automation system. This means you can set a time for the lights to turn on and off or manage them remotely with a mobile app. Some you can even brighten, dim or change the colour during your pool party or barbecue with the touch of a button. Light automation is also a great way to minimise energy consumption and pool maintenance costs. You don't have to worry about leaving the lights on. And if you do, you can always turn them off with your app!
LED lights operate on low voltage and generate minimal heat, reducing the risk of fire hazards. They also remain cool to the touch, preventing burns to your hands and avoiding damage to gaskets or O-rings on fittings that can melt with heat-producing halogen lights.
In addition, LEDs have low UV emissions as most of the energy they produce is in the visible spectrum, some are in the infrared spectrum and almost none in the ultraviolet spectrum. This means there's less deterioration of your pool shell, equipment or fittings, keeping your pool in optimal condition for much longer.
Maintaining LED pool lights is similar to traditional lighting maintenance. When you open your pool at the start of the swimming season, it's crucial to check that all the lights are working properly. If any lights are not turning on or flickering, it's time to replace them. If you see that the light cover appears hazy, clean the cover in case there's scale, algae or other debris blocking the light.
If the light cover remains hazy after cleaning, dirt may be between the lens and the cover. In that case, unscrew the fitting and use a microfibre cloth to clean the lens gently. If you see any debris in this area, it indicates a leak, and it's best to speak with a pool professional to find out if the fitting needs to be repaired or replaced.
Another important LED maintenance tip is to keep your pool water clean and properly balanced. This prevents the build-up of scale or other contaminants that can potentially damage your LED lights and reduce their lifespan. Furthermore, make sure the water level is above the casing of the LED lights to prevent it from discolouring or cracking from exposure.
If you're using floating LED lights, remember to remove them from the water when not in use. Prolonged exposure to sun and water can lead to erosion, cracking or damage. Be sure to dry them off thoroughly and keep them in a cool, dry place.
Lastly, only undertake electrical repairs or installations yourself if it's a simple retrofit. This ensures the LED lights are installed and functioning correctly without posing any risks to swimmers or your pool. It's always best to seek professional assistance for any electrical work related to your pool lights.
Switching from halogen to LED pool lights is a simple process. All you need to do for above-ground lights is replace the old globe with the new LED one. Retrofitting underwater pool lights, however, may require some additional considerations. Choosing the right fitting that matches your pool type, such as a flush-mounted or surface-mounted light, or if you have a fibreglass shell, opt for fibreglass LED lights.
Retrofitting kits usually come with comprehensive instructions, and installing the LED lights underwater is possible. However, ensuring that the lights are installed correctly is crucial to avoid voiding your warranty. If you are not confident in doing the installation yourself, it's recommended to seek assistance from a pool professional or electrician.
Whether you're interested in in-ground pool lighting, floodlights, or even floating swans (we won't judge!), LED lights are the optimal choice for your pool. With improved visibility and enhanced safety during nighttime swimming, LED lights also offer energy savings, cost reduction, and minimal maintenance. Even if you currently have halogen lights, don't worry - a retrofit kit can easily upgrade your pool lighting in just a few hours. Ready to join the LED revolution? Explore our range of LED pool lighting solutions or contact one of our authorised dealers today!