Pool Lighting Ideas That'll Jazz Up Your Next Backyard Get-Together

A dazzling pool light design will make a nighttime swim even more enticing.

<p>Onurdongel/Getty Images</p>

Onurdongel/Getty Images

If you're lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard, you'll definitely want to pay attention to the lighting around it. It'll not only add to the ambience of your next outdoor get-together, but it also improve the around- and in-the-pool safety for any nighttime swimmers.

But you'll have some unique considerations as you're figuring out how to light up the pool both safely and stylishly. "Decide on the vibe you are going for, and then figure out how much lighting you need for safety, ambience and general nighttime patio usability," suggests Karen Larson, founder of Soake Pools in Pembroke, N.H. Here's what you need to consider as you're putting together your pool lighting scheme.

Pool Lighting Ideas That'll Enhance Your Backyard

While you can go with just a basic string of lights or a few in-pool glow lanterns, putting a little thought into your pool's lighting design can create a look that'll wow guests—and your family too.

Think about the vibe you want

This is all about your own particular patio style. If your look is clean and modern, opt for bold, sleek shapes (like fun cube lights or sleek solar lights). A tropical-themed pool area may call for tiki torches, strings of colorful lanterns, and floating candles. Or you might use Edison bulb strings and hurricane lanterns for a vintage vibe.

Related:How Much Value Does a Pool Really Add to Your Home?

Add some variety to your lighting

Just hanging a set of string lights or putting a glowing orb into your pool won't give you an ideal lighting scenario (though it will at least help light up the darkness of your pool area). Opt to mix and match options, including ground lighting, in-pool lighting, and hanging lights (like string lights) in your pool lighting design to illuminate the area.

Light up the pool's exterior and interior

"Lighting inside the pool is always recommended," Larson says. "it gives the water a whole new dimension in the evening. It is also safer to have in-pool lighting, so that swimmers can see where they are stepping more clearly."

For the pool exterior, consider more permanent lighting styles, like inset lights in your patio or other landscape lighting. Larson's a big fan of low voltage landscape lighting around the patio. "My favorites in this category are tiny lights inset into the patio itself, which look like stars twinkling out from the stone patio."

Choose pool-safe materials

Obviously, electricity and water can be a very dangerous combination, so ensure that anything electrical you bring around the pool is also waterproof and made for outdoor usage. Low-voltage LED lighting can provide a soft, warm light that is also safer for usage around water.

Avoid placing glass lighting near (or in) the pool, as that presents a different kind of danger. "Using breakable glass string lights is the biggest mistake," Larson says. "That can create a clean up mess on the patio or in the pool. If one drops and breaks into the pool itself, that would require draining and cleaning the pool."

Use light techniques that work best for your pool type

You'll need to light an in-ground pool differently than an above-ground model. For instance, an above-ground pool can use lighting to play up the exterior. Larson likes to use low voltage under-coping lighting on aboveground pools that shines down and lights the ground beneath it.

For an in-ground pool (which likely has a concrete or stone patio surrounding it), opt for lighting inset into the patio, or lighting options to frame the pool edges.

Consider solar options

Solar lighting has come a long way, and it's the best kind of set-it-and-forget-it lighting for around your pool, as it can be set to start up at dusk and stay lit for several hours of partying. (And bonus: no electric bills for running them!)

Related:The 8 Best Outdoor Solar Lights of 2023, According to Our Tests

Don't forget about natural sources of light

Hurricane lanterns or a fire pit can add some natural ambience. "Adding a fire feature near the pool draws people to it," Larson says. "As a bonus it provides beautiful natural outdoor lighting."

Just be sure to follow fire pit safety when placing your fire feature—especially with above-ground pools, which could be damaged by the heat.

Be smart about your lighting

Smart lighting has come to the pool deck too, and you'll find cool, color-changing options that'll let you change up the look to suit your party's vibe. Larson particularly likes the Jandy Hydrocool LED color-changing light. "One light is enough to completely illuminate the interior of a plunge pool and the color can be changed from a smartphone."

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