by Mark Garcia April 4, 2014
What was a new idea over 20 years ago has come of age; LED pool lights are burning brighter than ever. Now in the fifth generation, manufacturers now use ultra efficient LED's to shine brighter while consuming less energy than their predecessors.
LED pool lights have numerous advantages over incandescent flood lamp type pool lights. The first benefit is that 500 watt pool light bulbs cost about a dollar a day to run. And if used often, it can add up to hundreds in electrical expense each year. LED lamps consume much less, the Color Splash light only uses 33 watts, and costs 4 cents per day to use, or under $10 per year.
The second big benefit to LED pool lights are the colors - amazing, brilliantly rich colors. The light shows are fun for lively parties, or lock-on a single color to set the mood for the night or season. The light output or reach of the light is nearly the same as incandescent, but without glare or bright spots.
The third benefit, and it's another big one - is the durability. LED pool lamps use diodes that are very tough, not flimsy filaments in a glass vacuum. An LED bulb can last Twenty Times Longer than an incandescent bulb. That's twenty fewer bulb changes! Incandescent R-40 bulbs are rated for about 2000 hours, whereas the Colorsplash pool light is rated for 50,000 hours.
If you have the original paperwork, you know if you have a Pentair, Hayward, Sta-Rite or some other brand of pool light. If you're not sure, remove the light by leaning over the edge of the pool and loosening the screw at 12:00 on the face or bezel of the light. Sometimes pool lights need a little persuasion to come out of the wall niche. Pull it up on deck and look at the label attached to the cord or the lamp body. You may have a Hayward or Pentair light, in which case you could use the Hayward ColorLogic LED pool light or the Pentair IntelliBrite LED pool light.
If you are unsure what type of lamp or light niche you have, you can most likely use the Colorsplash Pool Light, which has a wide bezel (10.5") ,but a very small lamp body. The Colorsplash LED pool light retrofits easily to most existing light niches. The Jandy Watercolors light also has a slim profile that fits into many light niches.
Yeah, so - they're all great. If you have one of their particular niches in the pool wall, it may be the best fit to use the same manufacturer. If you aren't sure what your light make is, you can probably use the J&J or the Jandy light - both of which fit most light niches.
Two other important factors to consider before you order your pool light, is that you buy a light that is the correct voltage (12V or 120V) and is the correct cord length to reach the light junction box. Most common is the 50 ft cord, but there are also shorter and longer cord lengths available, from 15 ft - 150 ft.
To finish step one, place your order for new LED pool light(s) and pick a day on your calendar for installation.
Tools: 1/4" nutdriver or screwdrivers, duct tape, razor knife, wire strippers.
No need to lower the water in the pool in most cases, although if you lower it a little bit, you won't get wet all the way up to your shoulders. You should however, shut off power at the breaker, switch and GFCI, and be certain that power is off before proceeding.
After removing the old light from the wall, pull it up on deck, and cut the cord behind the light with lineman's pliers, or strip the cord casing with a razor knife and cut each wire individually. If the end of the old cord is funky and gunky, clean it with a rag and solvent.
Duct tape the end of the old cord to the end of the new cord (snip off exposed wires on new cord first). Lay the two cords end to end, and use strips of duct tape to wrap it tightly together. Use diagonal wraps in both directions, very tightly but also not wrinkled or clumped up - keep it thin, so it won't get stuck going through the conduit. Rubbing some dish soap over the taped area can help it slip more easily through the corners.
Locate the pool light junction box, and remove the lid with the nutdriver or flathead screwdriver. There are 3 wires coming in, from the pool light, usually in the center conduit. The pool light wires will connect to the wires that lead to the pool light breaker, and are joined with wire nuts. Remove the wire nuts and separate the wires, then loosen the clamp that holds the pool light cord.
Unroll the pool light, stretching it out towards the opposite side of the pool, so it's fairly straight. At this point, it may be helpful to have a helper leaning over the edge of the pool, guiding and pushing the cord into the conduit, while another person pulls the old pool light cord through the conduit and out of the junction box. As the old cord is pulled out, the new cord is pulled in, all the way to the junction box. Keep pulling until you have 4' of cord left, or enough to bring the light up on deck (although with LED pool lights you may never need to!).
When the cord is pulled through, with 3-4 feet left to coil up inside of the light niche, you can cut the cord with lineman's pliers, about 6 inches above where it comes out of the conduit. Tighten up the cord clamp to secure the new light cord, and use the razor knife to slice around the casing, just above the clamp. Remove the cord casing to expose the three wires, and strip off 1/2" of the ends to expose the wire. Connect white to white, black to black, and green to the ground screw. Replace the wire nuts securely, wrapping them with electrical tape if you wish. Close up the junction box.
Placing the new light into the wall can be a bit challenging the first time you try it, because the light has some air in it and it wants to bob to the surface, while you are trying to coil the cord around the lamp, lock the tab at 6 o'clock and tighten a tiny screw at 12 o'clock. It's a bit easier without water in the pool, but here's how I do it. Lean way over the pool, so the coping edge is below your armpits. Coil the light cord around the lamp as you push the lamp toward the niche. Position the tab into the slot at 6:00, and then line up the screw at 12:00. Hold it in place with one hand while you reach up on deck for a Philips screwdriver (don't drop it!). Tighten up the screw gently to bring the light bezel close to the wall.
If the light screw tab (at 12:00) is broken off, as sometimes happens with very old niches, use a Light Wedge for a $10 fix to the problem.
Be sure to read through the installation manual for the light before you install, and pay attention to the cautions and hazards. 120V pool lights must be installed with care or they can injure the installers or swimmers.
Thanks for Reading!