A nighttime swim is always a fun summer activity, but you must ensure your pool lighting is functioning correctly. When one of your lights stops working, it can take away from the swimming experience. Replacing the bulb in your swimming pool is a quick process but requires a bit of knowledge.
Let’s walk through an entire step-by-step process for replacing your light bulb, the differences between DIY vs. hiring a pro, and the essential factors to consider when shopping for a replacement bulb. If you’re having other troubles with your pool lights, read my guide on pool light troubleshooting.
- Replacing a pool light involves removing the pilot screw, separating the housing from the wall, taking apart the light fixture, taking out the old light bulb, and screwing in the new before putting everything back in its place.
- Make sure to turn the power off and use a multimeter to check for an electrical current when replacing a pool light.
- To choose the right replacement light bulb, check the light’s voltage, brightness, watts, and length of the cable. Make sure the light bulb is also compatible with the fixture.
Step-by-Step Process: How to Replace a Pool Light
You must proceed carefully and cautiously when changing the pool light. As water and electricity are involved, it can be dangerous, and you must treat each step carefully.
- Phillips screwdriver
- New pool lightbulb with proper wattage/volts
Step 1: Turn the Power Off
The very first step is to turn off all lighting in your pool. The circuit breaker box in your house should contain a “pool” label. Switching this breaker off will shut off all electricity to your swimming pool. To verify the power is off, flick the pool light’s switch to ensure it does not turn on.
Step 2a: Drain the Pool Slightly
This is by no means a necessary step. You don’t need to drain the pool to remove the light fixture from the pool. But, some pool owners prefer to drain it a bit to make it easy to unscrew and remove the light. If you decide to drain the pool slightly, remember that you’ll need to refill the water level to the proper level afterward. If you don’t feel like you need to drain the pool, move straight to step 2b.
Step 2b: Remove the Pilot Screw
The main screw holding the light fixture together will generally be towards the top. Nine times out of ten, you’ll need to use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove this screw. Depending on the light fixture’s height, you may need to get into the pool to remove it. Make sure you put the screw somewhere safe after removing it!
Step 3: Check for an Electrical Current
Use a multimeter to check for an electrical current on the wires before handling them. If there is a faulty wire, electricity could still be running even after you have turned the breaker off.
Step 4: Separate the Housing From the Pool Wall
Once the main screw has been unscrewed, you should be able to easily remove the pool light from the wall. Some fixtures will contain a tab on the bottom that you’ll need to press to remove it from the wall.
Step 5: Take Apart the Light Fixture
Pull the fixture onto your pool deck (there should be enough wire to do this), and remove the lens and cover. Older pools might require you to remove screws to pull out your lens. Newer pool light models will usually have tabs that you pry loose. Remove your lens and rubber gasket and set them aside safely. Try to keep the area dry and avoid splashing any water onto the light while disassembling it.
Step 6: Take Out the Old Light Bulb
Once the gasket and lens are no longer blocking the fixture, you should be able to easily reach in and grab the old bulb with a towel. Twist counterclockwise to remove it.
Step 7: Screw in the New Light Bulb
If you haven’t already, buy a replacement bulb that matches the current bulb (more on replacement bulbs below). Check your pool’s user manual to determine the type of bulb the fixture needs. When you make the purchase, double-check that the brand, size, wattage, and serial numbers match. Hold the new bulb with a clean towel and place it in the center to turn it clockwise. You should not touch the lightbulb directly because some varieties, like halogen bulbs, are fragile and can be damaged by the oil on your fingers.
Step 8: Test the Light
To check that you replaced the bulb successfully, turn on the power for a few seconds. Return to the electrical pool box or circuit breaker, flip the switch to “on,” and see if the new light activates. If it does, turn the switch back to “off” immediately. If the light does not turn on, you may have an issue with the wiring of your pool fixture. I recommend contacting a professional for complex electrical issues. Check out my pool light troubleshooting guide for more on this.
Step 9: Check All the Parts of the Fixture
Before putting everything back together, check the gasket, lens, housing, and wires of the pool light fixture to make sure all the parts are in good condition. If any parts are worn out, replace them. The last thing you want is water to enter your pool light and destroy it! If there are any complicated issues with the light, always contact a professional to help, electrical work can be dangerous, and it is always better to hire an experienced professional.
Step 10: Reinstall Your Light Fixture
If all the parts of the light look good, replace the lens and reattach the fixture. Put the lens and gasket back in place, covering the bulb. Use a towel to dry any water on or near the contraption. Close the fixture with any necessary screws, and ensure the gasket lies flat between the fixture’s cover and the lens.
Step 11: Return the Light Fixture to the Wall of the Pool
Once you successfully reassemble the fixture, put it back into its place on the pool wall. Hold the fixture in position with your hand and place the screw back into its original hole at the top. Then tighten the screw with your Phillips head until it is firm in place.
Step 12: Turn the Power Back On
The final step is to switch on the power of the circuit breaker. Once you turn the circuits back on, flip on the light to ensure it is working correctly again.
Check out this YouTube video if you’re more of a visual learner. It goes over all the steps I just covered above.
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Tips for Choosing the Right Replacement Pool Light Bulb
There are many types of replacement pool light bulbs on the market. Before you buy your new light bulb, consider several things.
Check the Voltage
The first thing to verify is the light’s voltage. You’ll find 120V and 12V lighting options; placing the wrong one could damage your pool’s lighting system. Before choosing which one you prefer, confirm with your local code to see if it requires one or the other.
Check the Lumens (Brightness)
Brightness is another crucial factor when choosing the correct replacement pool light bulb. The light’s brightness is measured with lumens. 120V and 12V options deliver the same intensity, but LED lights work differently. Check the manufacturer’s information to confirm the correct value.
Check the Watts
The light’s power is measured in watts, and the standard LED typically falls between 30-90 watts. The cost of electricity will increase with the wattage. LED lighting is a much more economical option when compared to incandescent. A 45-watt LED light will generate the same power as a 300-watt incandescent option.
Make Sure the Bulb Is Compatible with Your Fixture
Confirm that the light bulb you purchase is compatible with your fixture. Installing the wrong light bulb will result in the light not turning on, but it can even damage the fixture. If you are unsure, you can always ask a professional at your local pool store, or bring the old bulb with you when you buy a new one.
Head to my guide on the best pool lights for recommendations on replacement bulbs.
What About Wired Pool Lights?
If you decide to invest in a wired LED pool light, the length of the cable is an essential factor to consider. These cords are tough to change because they are permanently attached to the light. Standard cord lengths are usually 30, 50, 1000, and 500 feet, but there are also shorter options. To project the ideal cord length, measure the distance between your power source and pool and add an extra 10 feet.
DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
Although changing a pool light is a simple process, it is more complicated than changing one within your home. There are a few more hazards involved, and individual factors can vary. The bulb might be immersed in the water, and with electricity present, this can be a risky project.
If you are still comfortable with changing the bulb yourself, you must consider a few things to ensure that you can do it safely. Make sure you have the following supplies:
- Replacement lens gasket (if needed)
- Dry towels
- Flathead screwdrivers
- The new replacement light bulb
You also want to avoid any hazards with the electrical wires while completing the process, so make sure to shut off the power. This shut-off is necessary because you will be in contact with the wires during replacement.
Testing the wiring is another critical step in the DIY process. Use your multimeter to check that zero electricity runs through the wires.
Be very careful and use a dry towel when handling the old and new light bulbs.
If you are unsure or hesitant about the DIY strategy, hire a professional for this project.
When to Hire a Professional to Help
Anything task involving both electricity and water is potentially hazardous, so if you are uncomfortable with changing your pool light yourself, don’t feel bad! While changing a pool lightbulb is a relatively simple task, it requires a lot of care, and the job can get exponentially more complicated if something is wrong with the fixture. I recommend hiring a pool professional to do the job for the following scenarios:
- You put in the new bulb, but it still doesn’t turn on
- When you turn the power off, the multimeter still detects an electrical current
- The pool light housing needs to be replaced
- You are concerned about safety
- The wiring of the pool light looks worn out and needs to be replaced
Enjoy Your Nighttime Swim
That’s it for changing a pool light bulb! Hopefully, this makes the process a lot easier for you, and remember, if you are at all hesitant about the project, call a professional. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
If you have more questions about replacing or repairing your pool light, feel free to reach out to me, I am always happy to help!