Ever taken a look at those fancy poolside pictures on Pinterest or Instagram and wished you could do something similar to your own? Pool lighting systems have been around for decades, but now it’s easier than ever to string lights around your pool thanks to affordable pricing and a variety of choices.
To turn your pool into a dreamy landscape after dark all you need are some strings, bulbs, and a safe electrical connection to power the lights up. But though it sounds simple, there are a lot of things you need to consider before you start hanging string lights around your pool like it’s Christmas.
- String lights are a good investment if you and your family spend a lot of time in the pool.
- There is a wide range of string light options for pool lighting.
- The design of your arrangement will dictate what kind of materials you will need for the project.
- Water and electricity don’t mix well, so make sure to take appropriate safety measures when in the pool.
What Kind of Strings Are Suitable for Pool Lighting?
When working on a pool lighting project, the strings are the first component of the project you’re going to work with. Let’s face it, the lights aren’t going to hang themselves mid-air magically, so you need to arrange the strings properly to get the design you want.
For pool lighting systems, there are two types of strings that are commonly used for hanging up the lights. They are:
- Standard Grade Light Strings: Made from regular-grade materials, these lighting strings are cheap and easily available. They come with both indoor and weather-resistant ratings, so make sure to choose the latter one for your pool lighting project.
On the whole, they are not bad but aren’t made to last long, meaning they need to be replaced sooner or later. Also, the length of the strings is short, so they can’t cover much area.
- Commercial Grade Light Strings: Made from commercial-grade materials, these lighting strings are pricier than their standard counterparts, but way better in performance and quality. Also, these strings are weather-resistant by default.
The heavy-duty wiring ensures the string can withstand rough weather, and the longer string length means your pool lighting will have a professional look once it’s done.
- Solar Strings: These are specialized strings made for solar bulbs. They can store electricity during the daytime when there is sunlight and use that stored electricity to power up solar bulbs at night. As to be expected they don’t come cheap and can be even pricier than commercial-grade light strings.
Also, unlike the other two types of light strings, solar strings require some maintenance in the long run.
What Kind of Bulbs Are Suitable for Pool Lighting?
The bulbs are arguably the most important components of the project because how the final view of the whole project will look depends on your lighting choice. But with so many different types of bulbs on offer in the market it can be a bit difficult to decide which ones to choose. To make things easier, we’ve divided pool lighting bulbs into two categories: power and design.
Based on how they’re powered, there are 3 kinds of bulbs:
- LED Bulbs: Currently LED light bulbs are the most popular poolside lighting option in the market. Versatile and long-lasting, these bulbs don’t come cheap but are well worth the price if you want to keep your poolside lighting on a permanent basis.
- Solar Bulbs: If you want to save money and be energy efficient, then solar bulbs are the way to go. They aren’t as bright as LED bulbs, but get the job done fairly well. Setting them up above and around your poolside allows them to charge throughout the day to provide poolside lighting during the evening and night.
- Incandescent Bulbs: The old-reliable, incandescent bulbs were heavily used throughout the last 2 centuries until LED technology came up. These lights are cheap and easily available but aren’t as bright as the other two mentioned above.
Based on how they’re designed, there are four kinds of lights for pool lighting:
- Globe Bulbs: The most common type of bulbs seen in homes and commercial establishments all around the world, globe lights also look pretty when strung around the pool. They come in different colors, so you won’t be short of options when shopping.
- Edison Bulbs: The grandfather of all light bulbs, did you know that one installed in Livermore in 1901 is still running? The light operates on the principle of a heated filament coil which is placed in the center of the bulb. These bulbs lack color variations, but the warm golden glow suits well in the dark, giving your poolside a warm fuzzy feeling.
- Rope Lights: Commonly known as tube lights, rope lights can be used to make some really cool and fancy pool lighting designs. You can string them up easily with commercial-grade light strings, and multiple color options are available.
Note that rope lights aren’t as bright as regular tube lights, so they’re more suitable to complement the decorations and other sources of lighting instead of being the primary source of lighting.
- Lantern Lights: Cute and playful, lantern lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes to meet your artistic design choice needs. The weatherproof variants are a bit more expensive, but if you’re looking to use them for temporary decorations like a party, then they’re excellent choices for pool lighting.
How to String Lights Around Your Pool?
When it comes to stringing lights around your pool, there are two ways you can go about it- hanging them around the pool and hanging them over the pool. Below we will cover both lighting styles in detail.
Stringing Lights Around Your Pool
Stringing decorative lights around your pool is the safer option between the two lighting styles. Since there’s no chance of a light accidentally dropping on the water, this style of lighting poses little to no danger to those lounging in the pool. Here’s how you string lights around your pool:
- First, make the design for the wiring arrangements. Depending on your pool size and backyard space, this can call for standard lighting strings or commercial-grade lighting strings.
- Once the design has been completed you need to put up the posts that are going to hold the wires in place. Ideally, the posts should be 8-10 ft tall.
- Before setting them up, drill holes in the top of the posts to hold the cup hooks. If you plan to do it later, you’ll need a ladder and have to drill the holes in a precarious position.
- To set up the posts you need to dig small holes matching the circumference of the post, put the post in, and pour some quick mix concrete on the spot to hold the post in place. You can mix the concrete in a large container or flower tub before installing the posts.
- Let the concrete dry for a couple of hours before you start putting up the strings on the post by inserting them through the cup hooks. Make sure the poles and anchor points have a uniform distance for the best results.
- Attach the lights of your choice to the strings once the strings have been set and turn on the power connector for the strings. Make sure to use the right screw size to attach the lights or they might come loose and fall.
- If everything has been done properly, your pool area should light up like a Christmas tree. Congratulations!
Stringing Lights Over Your Pool
Many people want their pool lighting right above their pool for novelty and aesthetics. Though it’s a bit dangerous if you use the right type of design, lighting, and wire then things become much safer. It’s very important to note that you use only low-voltage lighting when hanging them up above your pool.
Pool lighting directly above the pool allows you to pull off some creative designs that aren’t possible when the lighting setup is based around the pool. Here’s how you string lights over your pool:
- First, make the design of the string lighting based on your pool’s size and choose the type of wire and lighting you’re going to use.
- Once the design has been completed, set up the posts for the strings as described in the previous method. Unlike the previous method, use only 10 ft poles for this method as you want as much safe distance as possible from the wiring and the water in case it tears by accident or due to rough weather.
- Next comes the tricky part- since you’re not installing the wiring on dry land, you’ll have to painstakingly carry the lighting strings from one post to another by carrying it all the way around the pool to ensure it doesn’t touch the water.
- Since you won’t be able to hang the lights or bulbs on the string once the strings have been set above the water, you need to attach the lights to the string before hooking them up with the poles.
- Once the strings have been hooked up properly, turn on the power connector of the strings and everything should light up properly.
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Things to Keep in Mind When Stringing Lights Around Your Pool
Installing a pool lighting system is no easy task, and you need to keep a lot of things in mind when doing a pool lighting project. These things can be divided into two categories- Logistical considerations and safety considerations.
Some of the common logistical considerations you need to take into account when doing a pool lighting project are as follows:
- Ensuring there’s enough wire: A lot of people who try their hand at DIY pool lighting often stumble into a common roadblock- running out of wires. The length of the strings needs to be accurately estimated before purchase. Unless you’re really good at math and geometry, a professional pool technician can help you out with the calculations.
- What kind of wire you’re using: Depending on where you live, the type of wire you choose for the project can be very important. If you live somewhere like California where lots of homes with pools have solar installations, going for solar wiring makes more sense than commercial-grade wires.
- Are there replacements for posts: Before buying multiple posts for your project, take a good look at the layout of your pool area and see if there are any natural alternatives like trees, electric poles, and such that can serve as a pole in your design. This can reduce your pole purchasing costs.
- Checking for obstructions: Before starting the project, see if there are any obstructions like tree branches or sheds in the project area. If there are you either need to remove them or change your design to circumvent them.
- The power source: Is the power source for your project adequate enough to light up your poolside? This will have to be calculated based on how many strings and lights you’re using in your project.
Aside from logistical considerations, you’ll also need to take into account the safety considerations for the project. These are:
- The voltage of the bulbs/light: Since you’re working with water and electricity, to minimize the risks of electrocution use bulbs/light that are 12 volts or lower.
- Using IP65-rated bulbs/lights: For those not familiar with IP ratings, the numbers at the end indicate the level of weather and water resistance. The first number represents the weather resistance while the second number represents the water resistance. IP65-rated bulbs/lights are the safest for poolside string lights as they have high water resistance.
- Location of the power source: For pool lighting to work, the strings need a power source. Make sure the power source is at a safe distance from the pool to prevent any electricity-related accidents.
1. What’s the minimum safety distance between the pool and the power supply?
At least 4 meters. This is to ensure that the power supply is far away from the water because splashes of water might cause a short circuit of the power supply.
2. Is it necessary to use low-voltage bulbs for pool lighting if they’re water resistant?
Yes. Just because a bulb/light is water resistant doesn’t mean it can’t malfunction. With a low-voltage bulb/light even if the water resistance doesn’t kick in the low voltage will ensure no serious harm to those in the water.
3. Are IP44-rated bulbs safe enough for poolside lighting?
Yes, they are, but IP65 bulbs/lights offer better protection and durability.
4. Can string lights be hung from trees and decks?
Yes, they can be hung from trees and decks. As long as the wires are properly insulated, there will be no need to worry about the lights on your trees or deck.
Whether you’re stringing lights around your pool for a party or intend to make it a more permanent setup, they definitely improve the looks and aesthetics of your pool. Not only can you wow guests with the stunning view after dark but also have a cool dip in the middle of the night without any worries of slipping in the dark.
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I am Donald M. Beyer and I am backyard enthusiasts. I am a homeowner who has been doing DIY projects in and out of my house for many years. From simple backyard lunches to making an old-school pizza oven in my own backyard, I have a lot of experience in turning my backyard into my and my family’s personal playground.