How to Upgrade Your Pool Light to LED
What kind of pool light do you have? If you have an older halogen or incandescent bulb, you can save money on your monthly utilities by replacing your old pool lights with new, energy-efficient LED pool lighting. Whether your current bulb simply needs replacing, or you’re looking to enhance the ambiance and visual appeal of your swimming pool, upgrading to LED lighting is the best route for a number of reasons.
LED pool lights offer several advantages over traditional incandescent or halogen bulbs, including energy efficiency, longevity, cost savings, and brighter, more vibrant color options. This step-by-step guide will talk you through how to replace your current pool light with an LED light, as well as the benefits of converting your pool to a more eco-friendly light source.
What are the Benefits of LED Pool Lighting?
Before we talk about replacing halogen or incandescent pool lights with LED technology, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of it. Spoiler alert: there aren’t many cons, which usually makes the decision to upgrade an easy choice.
- Energy efficiency: LED pool lights are significantly more energy efficient than halogen or incandescent light bulbs, and offer as much as an 85–90% energy savings.
- Brightness: LED lights provide the highest ratio of lumens per watt. The result is a pool light that provides more light while using less energy than traditional pool light options. Although certain halogen lights can produce brighter, more focused light, they use more energy than LED lights to do so. As LED technology advances, the brightness of these lights continues to increase, and certain brands produce more lumens than others. Consider this when choosing your new pool light.
- Financial savings: Since LED lights use less energy, you’ll spend less money when you turn them on at night. LEDs cost mere pennies per day to operate. In addition, their longevity means you’ll save even more money by not having to buy replacement bulbs as often.
- Longevity: One of the biggest benefits of an LED pool light is that it lasts significantly longer than other bulb types. Many LED lights have a service life of 25,000–50,000 hours, but some brands last 100,000 hours or more. Compared to the average lifespan of 1,500 hours or less for incandescent lights and 4,000 hours or less for halogen bulbs, you’ll spend less time replacing light bulbs in the pool.
- Customization: Certain LED lights allow you to change lighting colors in your pool for a customized, modern aesthetic. Some models are even dimmable, allowing you to set the perfect level of ambient lighting in your backyard.
- Price: The upfront cost to purchase an LED pool light is higher than a halogen or incandescent bulb. However, this cost pales compared to the savings you’ll enjoy by not having to replace the bulb as often.
- Installation: Under the best case scenarios, upgrading to an LED pool light is as simple as just changing the bulb (assuming your existing pool light has an Edison-style base, the new bulb fits well within the light housing). However, if it’s not just a simple bulb change, you’ll need to pull wires and replace the entire fixture when you upgrade. This is a more difficult process, so we usually recommend hiring a professional to install the light for you.
- Compatibility: Not all LED lights are compatible with certain pool automation systems. If you have an automated pool controller, you’ll need to choose a light that pairs with your system.
PRO TIP: How much do LED pool lights save per month? To learn just how much money you can save by converting your pool to LED lighting, check out our LED pool light savings calculator!
How to Upgrade to Energy-Saving LED Pool Lights
Step 1: Evaluate Existing Pool Lighting
Before starting the conversion process, you need to assess your current pool lighting setup. Determine the type of bulbs, fixtures, and electrical connections currently in use. This evaluation will help you understand the scope of the project and identify which equipment or modifications you’ll need to make the conversion.
Step 2: Choose the Right LED Pool Light
LED pool lights are available in a variety of options, including different colors, sizes, and extra features. Consider factors such as brightness (lumens), color intensity, wattage, and durability when selecting new LED lights for your swimming pool. Also, make sure the voltage is correct for your pool.
If buying an entire light fixture — not just the bulb — the cord length should be sufficient to reach from the light niche to the electrical junction box, plus a few extra feet to allow the light to be removed from the pool.
Remember to choose LED lights specifically designed for swimming pools, as they are built to withstand challenging pool environments.
Step 3: Gather the Required Equipment and Tools
To convert your swimming pool to LED lighting, you'll need the following equipment and tools. For a straightforward bulb replacement, you’ll need:
- New LED pool light bulb
- New lens gasket
- Soft towels or cloths
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Flathead screwdriver
- Additional tools, as needed. For example, a socket wrench to remove a clamp from the housing.
If replacing the entire light fixture, you’ll also need:
- New LED light fixture
- Waterproof junction boxes (if not already installed)
- Wiring connectors and heat shrink tubing
- Wire strippers
- Electrical tape
- Electrical fish tape (as a backup for pulling wire)
Step 4: Prepare the Pool Area
Ensure your safety by turning off all power to the pool area before proceeding. If you have a more complex installation, or if the light is deeper than an arm’s reach from the surface, you may need to partially drain the pool to expose the existing lighting fixtures. On the other hand, if this upgrade can be done through a simple bulb change, and the light fixture is within arm’s reach of the surface, you may not need to drain any water at all.
USE EXTREME CAUTION! Changing the light in your pool increases the risk of electrical shock. As with all potentially dangerous scenarios, it’s important to understand all safety precautions before getting started. If in doubt, always seek the help of a licensed professional.
Step 5: Remove Old Lighting Fixtures
Carefully remove the existing light housing from the pool. Most light fixtures are held in place by a single screw, which you’ll remove with your screwdriver. Bring the light to the surface and carefully set it on the pool ledge, making sure to place it on a soft towel to avoid scratches or damage.
Step 6: Install the LED Lights
Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the new LED pool light into existing light niches or fixtures.
For a simple Edison-base bulb exchange, we have more detailed instructions on this process in our other Resource Center article on how to change a pool light.
For a complete light replacement, we strongly recommend hiring a professional to ensure proper installation. Most manufacturer warranties require professional installation to prevent voiding the warranty coverage, but it’s also a good idea in order to avoid an electrical accident. However, if you are a confident DIYer who is well versed in electrical wiring and lighting repairs, it’s extremely important to ensure the wiring connections are secure and waterproof. Use waterproof junction boxes and connectors to protect the electrical connections from moisture.
When you’re done, dispose of the old light fixture and/or bulb according to state or local regulations.
Step 7: Test the LED Lights
Once the installation is complete, restore power to the pool area to ensure the new LED pool light is working correctly. For this part, it's important to follow the product instructions for more detailed steps and guidelines. If you purchased a color-changing or dimmable light, test it to see if the light displays the desired color and intensity settings. Once you’ve confirmed the light(s) work as expected, finish up any final steps needed to secure the light inside the wall, and you’re all set!
PRO TIP: Not all light housings and lenses are created equal. If you perform a simple bulb replacement to upgrade your halogen or incandescent light to LED, but you notice the brightness isn’t the same as what you used to have with the old light, it may just be the housing causing an issue. Light housings and lenses constructed specifically for LED light bulbs will provide the best experience because of how they’re designed to reflect and refract light into the pool. Consider upgrading the entire light fixture.
Enjoy the Benefits of LED Lighting in Your Pool
Converting your swimming pool to LED lighting can transform its appearance and create a stunning visual experience for you and your guests. By following this step-by-step guide, you can successfully upgrade your pool lighting to energy-efficient LED technology. Remember to prioritize safety, select the right LED lights for your pool, and perform regular maintenance to ensure your pool remains a dazzling oasis for years to come.
If you have any questions about upgrading your pool light to LED, or if you need help completing the task, stop by your local Leslie's to ask about at-home services, which includes pool light replacements in some areas.