12 Pool Lighting Ideas to Brighten Up Your Outdoor Space

Pools are excellent backyard water features, and they need extra illumination when the evening hours kick in. Add some inspired lighting for extra ambiance and safety around your pool.
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pool lighting ideas - pool at night
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Swimming pools may conjure images of fun in the sun, but they aren’t exclusively used during the daytime. Many pool owners also enjoy taking nighttime swims, throwing late-night pool parties, or treating the pool area as an aesthetic outdoor space. Pool lighting expands your pool enjoyment opportunities, even after the sun goes down.

Adding poolside lighting grants greater pool area visibility, a must-have for homes with kids, pets, or accident-prone individuals. Additionally, the right lights around a pool make a space more inviting, more festive, and can show off your favorite home features at night. These pool lighting ideas can help you transform your poolside into a more practical and aesthetically pleasing space.

RELATED: The Best Above-Ground Pools You Can Buy Right Now

1. Underwater Lights

pool lighting ideas - pool lights under water
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Outside pool lights can go on or around the water, as well as in the water. Installing LED lights below the pool surface helps illuminate the hue of the liner, giving water a soft blue glow. Nighttime swimmers will also likely feel more comfortable diving underwater when they can see where they’re going.

Of course, given the location of these outside pool lights, they are best installed during new pool construction or while renovating an existing one.

2. String Lights

pool lighting ideas - string lights by pool
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String lights are simple, fast to set up, and a type of pool deck lighting that adds some easygoing charm to an outdoor area. With bulbs ranging in size from small twinkle lights to large outdoor Edison light bulbs, there are sure to be string lights to suit many tastes.

Whether strung around the perimeter of the pool or draped along a nearby fence, string lights look nice pretty much wherever you hang them—but that doesn’t mean they can go anywhere. As nice as it looks to string lights over your pool, it can be dangerous, or even lethal, if live string lights fall into a pool with a swimmer. Hang string lights thoughtfully and securely near a pool (not directly over it) to avoid any risk of them ending up in the water.

3. Colorful Floating Lights

pool lighting ideas - floating pool light
Photo: homedepot.com

Add some flair to your pool with a convenient underwater light that doesn’t need to be hung up or installed at all. This floating pool light available at The Home Depot is solar-powered and charges throughout the day. By night, it rotates through five different LED colors or can be set to a steady white. Even if you forget to turn the light off, these outside pool lights have automatically shut off after 2 or 5 hours—depending on whether it’s in static or color-change mode.

4. In-Ground Lights

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Create long, dramatic shadows with upward-facing lights mounted directly in the deck or ground. As amazing as it looks, there are a few things to consider before installing in-ground lights around a pool. Unless you’re a skilled electrician, this one is best left to the professionals, who can connect outside pool lights to power and protect them from inevitable water and moisture exposure.

Be sure to choose locations with nearby surface(s) to reflect this pool deck lighting idea, otherwise it won’t have much effect. Position your outdoor-rated lights on a flat or higher surface off a walking path, but close enough to an outside wall, tree, or accent so you can actually see the light.

5. Inflatable Moon Lights

pool lighting ideas - moon lights
Photo: amazon.com

Bring moonlight to the pool even on moonless nights. Each globe in this four-pack of inflatable outside pool lights available at Amazon is printed to look like the moon and offers cool or warm light, or they can cycle between the two. Hang these 14-inch moons from a pergola or nearby trees, or let them float freely on the water—weighted bases keep them from turning over. Best of all, they’re solar-powered and will glow for up to 8 hours at night on a full charge.

6. Motion Sensor Lights

pool lighting ideas - motion sensor lights
Photo: amazon.com

Outdoor pool lighting ideas don’t always have to be full of whimsy or purely decorative. On the contrary, these highly rated waterproof solar motion-sensor lights available at Amazon can add safety to a pool area within 26 feet, as well as extra security to a home, with no frills. The solar lights, which come in bundles of two or four, have three settings. They turn on and off when motion is detected, stay on all night, or can be set to smart mode, which keeps the lights on all night, but they shine brighter when sensors detect movement.

7. Up Lighting

pool lighting ideas - backyard pool lighting
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Simple solar spotlights go a long way to highlight plants and flowers, yard art, or structures near your water feature. The effect is even more striking when the outdoor lighting around a pool doesn’t compete with additional bright lights floating on top of it. Placing small lights below plants and angling them upward shines light through the foliage, bringing attention to particular plants or trees after dark. Switch from elegant to fun by using spotlights with extra color modes.

8. Above-Ground Pool Lights

pool lighting ideas - swimming at night
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Approximately 41 percent of pools in the US are above-ground pools, and they need to be lit, too. Since above-ground pools often lack deck space, their lighting options are a bit more limited, but there are still good solutions. This Nitelighter underwater pool light available at The Home Depot easily mounts to the side of above-ground pools, no drilling or draining required. It has a 12-volt power supply, built-in transformer, and 28-foot-long cord. The light keeps swimmers safer by casting a bright light for up to 2 hours at a time, after which point it automatically turns off.

9. Party Decoration Lights

pool lighting ideas - flamingo lights
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Guests of all ages will find it hard not to smile when they see a flock of 19-inch inflatable flamingos lighting up a pool. These outside pool lights appeal to anyone’s inner child and set the party mood with their bright-pink solar light.

Inflate these vinyl birds, let their LED lights charge in the sun, and then watch them glow pink after dark. These flamingos are a great time, especially with a slight breeze to push them around on the water—just make sure to take them out of the pool if the wind kicks up, since they may try to fly away!

10. Floating Globe Lights

pool lighting ideas - multi-color globe lights
Photo: amazon.com

Have a ball—or four—with these highly rated colorful globe lights available at Amazon. Recharge the outside pool lights in the sun and they will float and glow for up to 8 hours. They don’t get boring either, changing color every 15 seconds. These colorful pool lights are fabulously festive and suit virtually all occasions, from weddings to holiday parties.

These balls don’t necessarily have to float, however. They can also be used for poolside lighting when hung from a tree branch, wall hook, or pole. Though they may look like fragile decorations, these lights are durable enough to play with in the pool.

11. Perimeter or Path Lighting

pool lighting ideas - contemporary house pool
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Keep your pool deck lighting classy with minimalist pathway lights spaced 6 to 8 feet apart. Sophisticated, timeless, and practical, pool perimeter lights offer enough illumination to see without being too bright.

Solar-powered path lights relieve homeowners of the daunting task of finding ways to hide power cords, which can create a tripping hazard. The trade-off for having cordless solar path lights is that they are often not as bright as electric path lights, so you may need to use more of them to achieve a similar effect.

12. Modern Lanterns

pool lighting ideas - lanterns by pool
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Pool lights aren’t just for parties; they can enhance your everyday backyard style too. Choose modern pool deck lights—such as lantern-shaped outdoor lamps—to add a comfortable, intimate glow to the space.

This type of filtered glow makes for great mood lighting, lending just the right atmosphere for romance, conversations, or listening to music poolside. Just don’t go overboard with accent lights, since they can introduce too much brightness to an outdoor space. Instead, spread these outside pool lights out over a pool’s perimeter, on deck stairs, or beside patio furniture.

The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on October 31, 2022.

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