How Many Lights Should I Put In My Pool?

If you have an in-ground pool without a hard-shell cover, then you should light it properly so that it is visible and usable at night. Lighting options can range from wall lamps that light the surroundings of your pool to proper pool lighting. The latter is always preferred, but figuring out how many lights to purchase for it can be tricky.

You should put one light after every 8 feet across every length and the breadth of your pool. The lights should be along the pool walls and should be in the 200 to 400 lumens range for appropriate visibility and aesthetic effect.

In this article, you will learn how to calculate the exact number of lights needed for your swimming pool. You will also discover how to mark a non-geometric pool for light-fixing. But first, let’s look at the consequences of having too much and too little light to assess which side one must err on.

What Happens If You Put Too Many Lights?

If you put too many lights in your swimming pool, you can create a blinding effect which makes it hard to relax by the pool. It is also dangerous for swimmers, who might not be able to see clearly once they jump in the pool.

Putting too many lights can affect swimmers’ vision. This is also valid in reverse. Any number of lights that do not negatively affect swimmers’ vision is not too many. In other words, you can put as many lights in the pool as you can get away with.

What Happens If You Put Too Few Lights?

If you put too few lights in the pool, it can start looking gloomy and dull. This can affect the social atmosphere of the pool and is, therefore, a subjective drawback. If you have an old mansion with a macabre theme, then spaced-out lights in the pool can create an on-brand effect.

One homeowner’s “creepy” is another homeowner’s “perfection.” That said, most people do not like their pools being gloomy. So, you need as many lights as needed to illuminate all areas of the pool.

Ideal Pool Lighting: How To Proceed

The hypothesis of the two extremes of the lighting spectrum is that you need, at a minimum, enough light to make the entire pool visible and, at a maximum, enough light to be easy on the swimmers’ eyes.

This is achieved by different numbers of bulbs in different kinds of lighting. But in general, you need one light bulb every 8 feet to cover the entire length of the pool. You can have fewer bulbs if each one has a higher-than-average luminosity or have more of them if each is dimmer than average.

How To Set Up Pool Lights?

While individual bulbs’ luminosity plays an important role in pool lighting, the number of lights and the pool size hold the highest priority. For the instructions in this section, we will assume average luminosity. If you were to install standard pool LEDs or equivalent lighting, here is how you would proceed with calculating the number of lights and their spacing along the pool walls.

Measure The Length Of The Swimming Pool In Feet

The first step in this calculation process is measuring the length of the pool wall in feet. This will allow you to get the total length along which the bulbs need to be installed. Ultimately, your goal is to understand the number of feet that need to be illuminated.

Divide The Length By 8 Feet

Since an average swimming pool light spreads 8 feet in every direction, you need to divide the total pool length by the number of 8-feet patches to b illuminated by individual bulbs. A pool that is 32 feet long has four 8-feet patches. With one bulb illuminating each patch, you would need four bulbs to cover the entire length.

Round Up The Answer To A Whole Number

The 32-feet length example above is a fairly simple one because that length can be divided evenly by 8. But what if it were 31 feet? Dividing it by 8 would get you 3.87. Since there is no way to buy 3.87 bulbs, you would have to round it up to a whole number and get 4 bulbs. That’s because erring on the side of more light is better than risking a dim-looking pool.

Repeat The Steps For Each Wall

You might have noticed that the measurements in the previous steps have been for length and not area. That’s because the process needs to be repeated across all the lengths of the pool to light up its area. 

So, you need to remeasure any walls that are not equal to the ones you’ve measured already, and you have to divide them by 8 as well. Rounding up the final answer to the nearest whole number gets you the number of lights on that wall.

Since most swimming pools are rectangular, two walls will have one length while the other two will have another. Parallel walls will therefore have an identical number of pool lights.

How To Measure Pool Lights For Odd-Shaped Pools?

If a swimming pool has straight lengths, as is the case with rectangular and square swimming pools, the above process can work. But what if the shape of the pool is circular or even non-geometric? To measure a pool for lighting when it doesn’t have a geometric shape, you need to use a flexible measuring tape and chalk.

Steps for lighting a non-geometric pool:

  • Mark the starting point in the pool – Set a starting point with a big chalk mark.
  • Take a flexible tape measure and measure 8 feet – Sewing tape or tailor’s tape measure can help mark 8 feet even across an irregular length.
  • Mark the 8-foot distance – Your tape measure must cover the distance between the previous chalk mark and the point 8 feet away from it. Lay another mark there.
  • Use the latest mark as a starting point and repeat – With the first 8 feet marked with two crosses, you should pick up where the previous point is marked and measure another 8 feet.
  • Repeat until you reach the debut mark – Keep measuring 8 feet until you reach the final mark. If you fall short of it, add an additional mark. That’s the equivalent of rounding up to the nearest whole number and erring on the side of more light.

Final Thoughts

Swimming pool lights should have a 200 to 400 lumens range and a distance of 8 feet between them. You should fix as many lights in your pool walls as you can fit while maintaining an 8-foot distance between each light. All sides of the pool must be covered, and the lights should make the entire pool visible.

Jed Arnold

Jed spent every year from the ages of 15 - 22 as a Lifeguard (Red Cross) and ages of 17 - 22 as a Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Between working for over a dozen facilities and owning a pool, he carries over a decade of pool experience.

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