Pool Lighting Design Guide

The right lighting can really bring your swimming pool to life, especially in the evenings. There are a lot of different options when it comes to pool lighting, so we’ll cover each of them in this post, the benefits of drawbacks of certain types of pool lights, and get into some design inspiration and installation tips.

Ready? Let’s get started.

Main Benefits

Okay, let’s kick it off with some of the main “pros” of lighting in and around your pool area.


The right lighting can really set the mood, whether you’re looking to have a just a casual night in with the family or are entertaining with several guests. I would encourage you to think about lighting in two areas for style – within the pool and around the pool deck. In my opinion, both are really necessary to get the right feel for whatever backyard vibe you’re going for.


At night, pool lights are an essential safety feature so you and your kids know where the ledge is and what your surroundings are. Without them, you could risk your kids tripping over something into the pool.


If you have motion triggered lights, your pool lights can provide a nice security feature to deter burglars. The bright lights can alert you inside and you can react a lot quicker.

Watch Outs

The only real negative or “watch out” with pool lights is the added cost on your electricity bill. You’ll also want to consider the potential cost of pool light troubleshooting and maintenance down the road. However, if you’re investing in a swimming pool, the extra monthly cost of pool lights shouldn’t be too concerning.

Types of Pool Lighting

You can choose from a few different bulb types for lights in your pool and around your deck. The same applies for replacement bulbs or other pool lights that may be floating around your pool.

LED Lights

LED lights are very cheap to run and can provide a lot of color variety, depending on your style. Keep in mind, if you’re running a commercial pool, you might be required to run white lights according to your code.

Halogen Lights

Halogen lights have a lot more limited color options, but the bulbs are easier to replace than LED lights generally. They also use more energy (and thus are costlier to run) than LED lights.

Fiber Optic Lights

Fiber optic pool lights are very versatile, but are not as energy efficient as LED lights, so they may only last a few years.

Pool Lighting Design Ideas

Here is a nice basic setup between the pool and the surrounding deck. The pool wall lights highlight the water nicely and the pool deck lights are right up against the fence, illuminating the surrounding area.

These in-pool lights are a lot higher on the wall than our previous example, which produces a slightly different effect on the water’s surface. I also like how the lights on the surrounding deck highlight the landscaping.

Here, you have a lot of light coming from the house at different angles and colors. This produces a very unique effect on the pool.

Another option for pool deck lighting is putting lights in a recess along the outer wall. It produces a very cool “halo” effect around your pool area, illuminating some cool features. I also like the pool lights along the stairs.

If you have a spa or hot tub area, you can use the lighting in that area pretty strategically to help light up the larger pool area.

Installing Pool Lighting

For pool lights along the walls of your pool, you really need to think about those during the initial design phase of your pool. I would encourage the same timing for lighting around your pool deck, however you could design and install those if your pool is already built. I just think the lighting around your pool has such an effect on your broader backyard environment and energy that it is worth thinking about ahead of time if you can.

Typically, your primary pool contractor can install lighting no problem. They may sub-contract it to a specialist depending on your design preferences, so be sure to ask them about their lighting gameplan during the initial design phase to make sure you can get an accurate cost quote.

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Alright, that’s about it for pool lights. Questions about them? Let me know.

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