Although younger readers may find this hard to believe, there was once a time when there were only two types of underwater lights for pools: underwater lights that were turned on, and underwater lights that were turned off.
Today, however, the world of pool lighting has moved on to such an extent, and the number and variety of lighting products and options has so increased, that it’s hard not to feel slightly overwhelmed when trying to decide on the best pool lights for your pool.
Which is where this article comes to the rescue. So sit back, relax, and take it easy while we walk you through the best pool lights of 2021.
Underwater Pool Light Reviews
If you’re looking to cast some light on an above ground soft-sided pool or inflatable pool, the Intex Magnetic Pool Wall Light is the perfect solution.
Specifically designed for soft-sided above pools such as Intex, Bestway and Summer Waves pools, this device has two halves: a light unit for inside the pool, and a transmitter on the outside pool wall. The transmitter provides white light on the outside of the pool, the light unit provides white and/or multicolor pool light on the inside.
The Intex Magnetic Pool Light is super easy to install, can be placed anywhere on a soft-sided pool wall, and provides illumination for an above ground pool up to 24 feet in size.
Positive Customer Feedback
- Simple to install.
- Lights up both sides of the pool wall.
- Cannot be put on a timer.
- Slightly more expensive than other magnetic lights – but worth the money.
Pentair 601101 IntelliBrite 5G White Underwater LED Inground Pool Light is quite simply the brightest, whitest, and most energy efficient white LED pool light on the market.
With a wider beam and more even light distribution, the Pentair IntelliBrite is an underwater LED pool light that features superb lens geometry and a unique reflector design that is combined to make a wide beam with a more consistent light.
It’s also versatile in that it’s capable of providing both wide and narrow beam patterns with a simple rotation of the lens.
This energy saving LED light provides powerful illumination while utilizing minimal electricity – around 85% less than an equivalent incandescent light.
Positive Customer Feedback
- The light is extremely clean and bright.
- It makes the pool water look sparkling blue.
- More expensive than other LED pool lights (but then, it is a premium product).
- Need to have Pentair rep install the product to keep the warranty active.
If you fancy adding a splash of color to your inground pool, the Roleadro LED Pool Light offers bright light and multiple combinations of colors, 5 dynamic modes, 7 static modes, and 10-speed levels, all of which you can be managed via a remote.
This energy efficient multicolor led pool light is IP68 waterproof and is designed with an attractive silica gel blue and high-grade stainless-steel body.
Positive Customer Feedback
- Great variety of colors and lighting effects.
- Reasonably priced.
- The remote control does not come with a battery.
- The red light appears to be dark.
If all you are doing is replacing your current bulb and you’re looking for a quality color changing bulb, this is the one for you. This multicolor LED pool light bulb is a suitable replacement on a Pentair or Hayward light fixture.
You don’t need to be an electrician, there’s no need to deal with cables and electricity. Simply screw the light bulb on, and you’re set.
This led light bulb works at 120V and features color memory, and remote control. It has an impressive 15 color modes: 7 static and 8 animation modes including color jump, color changing, color fade, and color transition.
Positive Customer Feedback
- Easy install wireless bulb doesn’t require electrical knowledge.
- Reasonably priced.
- The remote control does not work well if the light is deeper than 3 feet under water.
- The red light appears to be weak.
If you’re looking for something pretty for your pool, or you’re planning a special night-time event and want a little extra romantic ambiance, the LACGO LED Waterproof Floating Lotus Light might be just for you.
Each lotus flower is made of soft foam plastic and houses an LED light. Each package includes 6 lotus floating lotus lights and 2 lotus leaves. The LACGO LED Waterproof Floating Lotus Lights are a perfect decorative addition to brighten any type of pool.
Positive Customer Feedback
- Very pretty.
- Very affordable.
- Relatively short lifespan.
- Battery compartment may leak over time.
David Bowie might have had to wait for the gift of sound and vision, but you don’t. Not if you have a Floating Bluetooth Speaker Pool Light. Now you can listen to music while you swim. There are also 7 different color changing LED lights along with changing themes.
Rugged and durable, the rechargeable batteries can run for about 8 hours before you need to recharge, produces a high-fidelity stereo sound with adjustable volume levels, and has a 50 foot Bluetooth connection range.
Plus it has a built in microphone and is compatible with smartphones so you can take and make hands-free calls right from your pool lounge!
Positive Customer Feedback
- Great sound quality.
- Features a 12-month warranty or 30 days money-back guarantee.
- Should not be submerged more than 3 feet below water.
- Slight learning curve on how long to press the buttons.
This micro LED underwater pool accent light from S. R. Smith is ideal for illuminating small, hard to light areas such as steps, shelves, and water features in gunite, vinyl liner, and fiberglass pools.
It features 6 LED colors (white, blue, green, red, amber, and magenta), 49 color variations, 4 dimming settings via wireless remote, and 2 different light show speed modes (slow and fast).
Positive Customer Feedback
- Great price.
- Excellent customer service.
- The light could be brighter (but still great for the price).
- Too easy to change color mode by mistake.
However, because of their design, they come with their own unique challenges when it come to pool lighting. The main one of this is that their lack of metal siding means that many magnetic pool lights won’t work with them.
However, what will work spectacularly well would be the Intex Magnetic Pool Light and/or floating pool lights.
Types of Underwater Pool Lights
Pool lights come in all sorts of different types, styles, and technologies. Some are physically hard mounted and wired into the wall of your pool, pricey to install, but can last a lifetime – but will inevitably be superseded by new technologies.
Others can be battery or solar powered, are temporary (even disposable), easy to install and replace, and relatively cheap. Often these have the latest technologies, but the illumination they cast may score higher in terms of ambiance than night-time pool safety.
What are Floating Pool Lights?
Floating pool lights are pool lights that … er … float. No installation, no wiring, no fuss, no bother, no big expense. They come in a variety of sizes and designs: floating balls, floating flowers, floating tea candles, and more. And they come in a variety of colors, including changing colors.
Floating pool lights are a fun, attractive, inexpensive, and cutting-edge addition to the world of pool lighting. Power sources include batteries, rechargeable batteries, and solar. Some even come with Bluetooth speakers for playing music, and microphones that allow hands-free calling when paired to your smartphone.
How Much Do Floating Pool Lights Cost?
Floating pool lights are inexpensive and come in at $20-$50 per light.
Floating Pool Lights Pros & Cons
|Attractive, fun, and pretty cool||Relatively short lifespan (2-3 years)|
|No installation required||Batteries need to be changed/recharged|
What are LED Pool Lights?
LED stands for “light-emitting diode”.
LED pool lights emit a rich and warm quality of light that not only, illuminates your pool much, much more effectively than halogen lights, they do so at a fraction of the energy consumption and, therefore, a fraction of the running costs: around 4/5th of the costs!
LEDs don’t have a filament. Instead, light is produced as a result of electrons being passed by an electrical current through a semiconductor. Unlike regular incandescent or halogen bulbs, LED’s don’t emit light in a 360ᵒ arc – instead they emit light in a specific direction.
LEDs come in a variety of colors – colors that can be changed by either the flick of a switch, the press of a remote, or via an automatically pre-programmed control.
Best of all LED lights are 3 to 5 times more energy efficient than halogen, and have a life span of around 50,000 hours compared to around 1,000 hours for an incandescent light and around 5,000 hours for a halogen.
|3-5 times more energy efficient than halogen||More expensive purchase price (between $200 and $700 per light fixture)|
|10 times the lifespan of halogen lights||Repairs are not an option. The entire light must be replaced|
|Richer, more vibrant light|
|Many and changing colors|
For more on LED pool lights check out our article here.
What are Halogen Pool Lights?
Halogen lights are the second generation of underwater pool lights (incandescent pool lights were the first generation). They operate on a similar principal to incandescent lights, except that the filament is encased in a quartz envelope that is filled with halogen gas.
The net result is that halogen lights are able to run at far higher temperatures and produce more light for less power. Halogen is between 10% and 20% more energy efficient than incandescent lighting, longer lasting, and emits a more intense light.
However, because halogen lights burn at a higher temperature, it is necessary to replace the globe and the O-ring seal every year or so for an annual replacement cost of between $15 – $100.
How Much Do Halogen Pool Lights Cost?
Today, the range of halogen pool lights is shrinking and being taken over by LED pool lights. Halogen pool lights generally cost $80 to $300.
Halogen Pool Lights Pros & Cons
|10-20% more energy efficient than incandescent||More expensive purchase price (4 x incandescent)|
|Longer lasting than incandescent||Intense glare rather than “warm” glow|
|Emit a brighter, cleaner light||Annual replacement costs|
What are Magnetic Pool Lights?
Magnetic pool lights are specially designed to install in above-ground pools. As their name suggests, they feature a magnetic mounting that attaches directly to the inside of an above ground pool steel sidewall.
They are easy to install and remove since there is no wiring or tools required and only require batteries to operate. Once installed, they commonly come with remote control options to adjust the lights to your needs, and can include color-changing options.
How Much Do Magnetic Pool Lights Cost?
Magnetic pool lights cost $20 to $50.
Magnetic Pool Lights Pros & Cons
|Easy to install||More than one light may be needed for large pools|
|Inexpensive (around $20)||Batteries require frequent replacement|
|Remote control operation||Not suitable for inground pools|
What are Fiber Optic Pool Lights?
With fiber optic pool lights (or optical fiber) the bulb is located in a dry box located away from the pool (commonly it’s near your pool pump).
The light from the bulb travels through fiber optic cable from the box to a special fitting installed in the pool wall where the cable ends. The light is emitted from the end of the cable and illuminates the pool like twinkling stars.
Fiber optic cables can hang along the perimeter of your pool or underwater. Their subtle and subdued color makes for great mood lighting, but not so much for actually illuminating your pool.
How Much Do Fiber Optic Pool Lights Cost?
Fiber optic light units aren’t exactly cheap – an average cost is between $900 and $1500.
Fiber Optic Pool Lights Pros & Cons
|Easy access for replacing light bulbs||Give off less light than some of the other options|
|Eye-catching appearance||Light bulbs burn out relatively frequently|
|Expensive both for initial installation as well as maintenance|
What are Incandescent Pool Lights?
Incandescent pool lights are the traditional pool lights and, if you have a particularly old swimming pool, it’s just possible that this is what you might already have. Incandescent lights are what you used to find commonly in your home.
They work by using electricity to heat a tungsten filament that glows when white hot, and emits light in a 360ᵒ arc.
However, because approximately 90% of the energy is emitted as heat rather than as light, incandescent pool lights are incredibly energy inefficient.
How Much Do Incandescent Pool Lights Cost?
Incandescent pool lights can still be expensive coming in at $100 to $300.
Incandescent Pool Lights Pros & Cons
|Cheap to replace globe||Energy inefficient|
|Short life span|
|Emits a flat, harsh lighting|
|Technological equivalent of Betamax videotape|
Surface Mount Pool Lights Vs. Flush Mount Pool Lights
Surface mounted pool lights protrude from the pool wall. Different brands protrude more than others. Although they may, perhaps, look less neater than a Flush mount pool light, Surface mount lights generally cast a broader spread of light.
Flush mount pool lights are housed in, and lie flush with, the swimming pool wall so that only the face-plate of the light is exposed. Generally, flush lights tend to cast a narrower spread of light than Surface lights.
For upgrading Surface lights there are a number of LED retrofit conversion mounting brackets available, often with universal compatibility across multiple brands, and with multi-voltage compatibility.
For upgrading Flush lights, the simplest retrofit approach is to switch from a halogen to a LED light version of the same brand. The reason for this is that each brand has a different shaped and sized housing. Alternatively, another simple solution is to replace your existing Flush lights with LED Surface lights.
How to Choose the Best Pool Lights for Your Pool?
When it comes to deciding how to choose the best pool lights for your pool, a lot depends on:
- Size of your pool
- Shape of your pool
- Color of your pool
- And whether you pool is above ground or inground.
The bigger your pool, the more pool lights you’re going to need. If your pool isn’t a regular rectangular shape, you may need extra lights to compensate for areas of your pool (including steps or stairs) that are cast into shadow by angles or curves in the pool walls.
Also, it’s important to consider the type of light you want in your pool. LEDs illuminate your pool considerably more effectively than halogen pool lights, and infinitely more so than incandescent pool lights.
On the other hand, fiber optic pool lights can make the bottom of your pool look like the Milky Way. And floating pool lights are ridiculously fun. At the end of the day it’s up to you.
Finally, the color of your pool is important. A dark tile or a dark liner will require extra illumination. Obvious, really.
Best Lights for Above Ground Pools
For above ground pools, LED magnetic lights and/or floating pool lights are the way to go. There’s no installation or wiring involved, they’re not expensive, and they are hassle free.
There are different designs that are suitable for both metal sided and non-metal sided pools, including Intex Pools.
Granted, magnetic and above ground pool lights have a less than spectacular lifespan (sometimes 2-3 years), but they both have low price points, and their affordable replaceability is more than matched by the fact that replacement products keep pace with technological change.
Best Lights for Inground Pools
For inground pools, wall mounted LED’s are the way to go – perhaps supplemented with floating pool lights.
LEDs don’t just emit a rich and warm light, they illuminate the pool more effectively than halogen, incandescent, or fiber optic pool lights, but do so at a fraction of the running costs.
Best Lights for Intex Pools
Intex pools are affordable above ground pools that can be installed and set up without the need for specialized equipment or construction crews. They are a small fraction of the price of installing a permanent pool.
What to Look for in an Underwater Pool Light
- Quality of light (rich and warm, colorful and fun).
- Type of pool (above ground or inground).
- Size of pool.
- Shape of pool (avoid areas in shadow).
- Longevity of lighting product.
- Longevity of power source.
- Economics of installation.
- Annual running costs.
- Pool safety vs. pool ambiance.
Pool Light FAQs
How much do pool lights cost?
Hard mounted and wired pool light walls can cost around $350-$1,000 dollars. But once in they can last a lifetime, or at least be retrofit for the bottom end of that price range.
Magnetic and floating pool lights cost as little as $15-20 each, no installation costs, but might only last a couple of years.
How long do LED pool lights last?
Many suppliers will say that LED pool lights last on average for around 50,000 hours compared to around 1,000 hours for an incandescent pool light and around 5,000 hours for a halogen pool light.
Whilst it’s true that the actual LED will last that long, the issue is the electronics and casing of the light is very unlikely to last anywhere near that. In reality, an LED pool light will last from 2 to 15 years depending on the quality of the light.
Magnetic and floating pool lights might last as little as 1-3 years. But, then again, they’re cheap to replace, and the replacements will come with newer technology.
How to install pool lights?
Surface mounted or flush inground pool lights need to be installed by a certified pool electrician. After all, electricity and water don’t go well together. If you’re having a new inground pool built for you this isn’t a problem.
Retrofitting LEDs to older lights, though, is less of an ordeal, and there are plenty of kits that let the amateur pool-owner DIY the job for not too much sweat or bother, or else call in the pros for not too much cost.
Magnetic pool lights and floating pools lights are a different story altogether. These require virtually no skill whatsoever, and even the most cack-handed numbskull can light up their pool with neither knowledge nor effort. The downside, though, is they don’t last that long.
How many pool lights do you need?
In a perfect world, it’s always a good idea to ensure that the lighting in your pool is positioned so as to fully illuminate the swimming pool while, at the same time, not casting a glare into the house.
Generally, for rectangular pools, the principal source of light is situated at the deep end. It’s a good idea, therefore, not to have the deep end facing your house.
However, if all you are looking to do is upgrade your existing lighting without draining and drilling to create new lights, and if you’re stuck with a pool that stubbornly insists on facing the wrong way, an alternative may be to install a lower wattage light at the end that is causing the intrusive glare.
If your pool includes a spa, the ambiance and feel of this separate space can be greatly enhanced by differentially colored lighting from the rest of the pool. If the spa already has lighting and you are merely looking to upgrade it, the retrofit is simple (see above).
But bear in mind that you won’t need a whole lot of wattage to illuminate it. If it isn’t already fitted with lights, consider retrofitting an LED Eyeball Light.
If you have a pool with bends or corners, you will likely need a light in each section of the pool.
LED pool lights, are they worth the cost?
Yes. They may cost $200-$700 per light fixture, but they have a much, much longer life span (see above).
Plus, the quality and direction of the light they emit, the way they illuminate the pool, is light years better than the alternatives currently on the market.
Most Efficient Pool Lights
LED pool lights are far and away the most efficient. Both in terms of light quality and energy efficiency. They also score highest for pool safety, illuminating the swimming area with the best and moist focused lighting. If, however, ambiance is what you are after, look to floating lights.
Best Value for Money Pool Lights
In the long term, LED pool lights are the best value for money – either in a new installed or a retrofit inground pool. They are the best value for money in terms of quality of light, running costs, and longevity.
As we noted at the start of this article, the abundance and variety of different underwater pool lighting options can leave one feeling slightly overwhelmed. But they can be narrowed down to what is the most suitable for your type of pool, most suitable for your taste, and most suitable for your budget.
In an above ground pool, LED magnetic pool lights – either for regular steel sided or Intex pools – are the best value for money. Either can be supplemented for fun and great value lighting by floating pool lights.
And, whatever kind of pool lighting you’re in the mood for, you can rest assured there’s a pool light for you.