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LED Pool Lights vs Fiber Optic Pool Lights: Which Inground Pool Light is Better?


Led Pool Lights vs. Fiber Optic Pool Lights:  Which inground pool light is better?

by:  Jason Hughes 

When purchasing an inground swimming pool there are some accessories such as heaters, security covers, and automatic vacuums that can be added or changed over time.  You do not have that flexibility with an inground pool light.  It's a one- shot deal.  Let's take a moment to compare led pool lights and fiber optic pool lights, the two most popular products on the market today to find which inground pool light could work better for you. 


First we need to identify the similarities and differences of each inground pool light.  Led pool lights and fiber optic pool lights both have the same objective:  to illuminate the pool and provide a variety of colors to enhance the atmosphere.  But that's about all the two inground pool lights have in common as they use two entirely different methods to illuminate the pool water.  Led pool lights are designed so the actual light bulb is submersed in the water and contained in a niche, or housing, which is installed in the pool shell.  The light bulb is sealed so no water or electricity can get in or out and the cord travels from the bulb to a switch where the light is operated.  Fiber optic pool lights are designed so the bulb is located in a dry box located on top of the pool patio.  The light from the bulb travels through fiber optic cable from the box to a special fitting installed in the pool wall where the cable ends.  The light is emitted from the end of the cable and illuminates the pool.  With a basic understanding of how each inground pool light works, let's compare led pool lights and fiber optic pool lights.  We'll look at 5 different categories to see the advantages and disadvantages of each type of inground pool light.


# 1:  Level of difficulty changing the light bulb

Led pool lights: Many people have the misconception that you need to lower the water level to change the bulb of an inground pool light.  Not true!  The sealed housing that contains the bulb is removed from the light niche in the pool wall and then brought above water level where the bulb is changed.  The entire process is simple and takes 15-30 minutes.

Fiber optic pool lights:  Because the bulb of fiber optic pool lights is located in a dry box on patio level, the bulb is very easy to access and can be changed in less than 5 minutes.

Advantage:  Fiber optic pool lights


#2:  Initial and lifetime cost

Led pool lights:  Initial cost is typically $400-$900. The only component of the system that will need periodic replacement will be the bulb which ranges anywhere from $200-$400 depending on the unit.  Bulbs will typically last 7-15 years in led pool lights.

Fiber optic pool lights: The initial cost is typically $900-1500 on new construction.  Because this system is above water level a fan is needed to cool the bulb.  An electric motor is also used to rotate the color wheel that causes the light to change colors.  These components do fail over time and will need to be replaced.  The bulbs of fiber optic pool lights will typically last 3-7 years at a replacement cost of $200-$300.

Advantage:  Led pool lights


#3:  Brightness

Led pool lights:  A full size led pool light will illuminate a large residential pool very well.  Smaller led pool lights like the PAL 2000, which we use, will require 2 lights on a pool 15x34 or bigger to illuminate the entire pool.  Lights are usually installed at opposite ends of the inground pool to illuminate the pool as evenly as possible.    

Fiber optic pool lights:  They work well in principle, but based on my experience they simply don't illuminate the pool well; even when there are two fiber optic cables.  When two cables are used, they both come from the same illuminator to eliminate the need for a second expensive illuminator box.  Placing lights on opposite ends of the pool means purchasing two entire light kits, which doubles the cost.  We found that one PAL 2000 light (which is a small light) illuminated a 16x38 pool better than two fiber optic pool lights placed on the same end of the pool.   

Advantage:  Led pool lights


# 4:  Size and location of lighting components

Led pool lights:  The components are a standard light switch and transformer (if low voltage) located at the pool equipment or more convenient location, and the light which is installed at the pool.  The transformer is mounted on a post or wall along with the switch and can be as close at 10' from the pool or as far as 50-100 feet from the pool.  Many lights come with limited cord length.  The PAL 2000, for example, comes with 69' of cord.

Fiber optic pool lights:  The dry box, or illuminator, is about 1'x1' in size and must be located within 10'-12' of the pool unless custom length fiber optic cable is purchased at approx $40/ft.  This does present a design challenge if the light is wanted on an end of the pool with a significant amount of patio.   

Advantage:  Led pool lights


#5:  Safety

Led pool lights:  Despite what some people may think, modern submerged pool lights are safe.  Tens of thousands are installed every year without incident.  Many led pool lights are low voltage.  Instead of having a 110 volt fixture, a transformer converts to 12 volts which is about the same as a car charger.

Fiber optic pool lights: Have literally no electricity in the water.  All of the mechanicals are located in the illuminator box at patio level.   

Advantage:  Push

(If there were any legitimate concern for safety, first of all we would not sell the product, and second, it would never make it to market.)



Which inground pool light is better?  After having installed literally hundreds of both types of inground pool lights we have come to the conclusion that even though fiber optic pool lights have their advantages, led pool lights are the way to go.  They are more cost effective initially and long term, there is no cumbersome illuminator box to deal with, and they illuminate the water more effectively .  Before switching to led pool lights we would periodically receive complaints from our customers that the fiber optic pool lights did not light the water as well as was hoped.  Since switching to led pool lights several years ago, we have had nothing but positive feedback.  For more information on inground swimming pools visit and       


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I had a job where lightning hit a tree 30ft from pool and it blew off the covers of the pal lights also blew the bulbs Thelights were off when it hit Ever hear of this?
Posted @ Saturday, August 14, 2010 11:47 AM by casey
Haven't heard of anything like that Casey....pretty crazy! Glad no one was in the pool. With lightning 30' away I'd bet there's some other equipment that's fried as well.
Posted @ Monday, August 16, 2010 5:18 AM by Jason
For 6 years I have been working o the design of Led Pool lights and have now solved all the problems with water migrating via the cable into the Lamp, My answer a completly Beam simple idiot proof conection makes these light the most advanced in the market place, have a look
Posted @ Friday, January 14, 2011 9:45 PM by norman
Norman, there's definitely not enough good LED lights on the market. Good luck with your's.
Posted @ Saturday, January 15, 2011 7:40 AM by Jason
I have an existing fiber optic system with two lights in the pool. I need a new dry box/illuminator . Where can I purchase one of these. I have no idea of the manufacturer there are no markings on the box, but it plugs into a 110 outlet and looks like it could be universal.  
Posted @ Monday, June 20, 2011 6:33 AM by brian
We have a 15 year old pool with large core fiber optic. Unfortunately the cable is bad and now we have no lights. Cannot find anyone in this area (eastern PA) who has any knowledge of how to fix. Can small fiber cable be pulled through the conduit, can we replace with led or traditional lighing? thanks 
PS Replaced the light source 2 years ago it is fine.
Posted @ Sunday, February 19, 2012 6:23 PM by teri
EF5 toronado left busted up square box with plug in cord no manufacturer or any info. to find replacement only reason its still here it is attached to pools fiberoptics. Got any ideas?
Posted @ Saturday, July 07, 2012 3:37 PM by Ron
I have an existing fiber optic system with two lights in the pool. I need a new dry box/illuminator . Where can I purchase one of these. I have no idea of the manufacturer there are no markings on the box, but it plugs into a 110 outlet and looks like it could be universal.  
Posted @ Tuesday, August 07, 2012 8:03 PM by Deborah Henley
have fiberoptic large core lighting. want to chance to LED, in gunite pool. Can it be done?
Posted @ Monday, September 03, 2012 12:39 PM by Stephan Cokinos
which are brighter,pal trio or savi as led replacements for prior fiberoptic housings
Posted @ Tuesday, September 18, 2012 3:59 PM by stephan cokinos
I have an inground pool. It currently has a halogen light that isnt working. I was thinking of switching from the halogen to LED (color changing). The quote I recived, including installation, is $630. It seems a bit high to me, thoughts? Is this something I can do?
Posted @ Wednesday, September 19, 2012 8:06 PM by matt
Pal 2000 RU the best pool lights i,ve ever used;easy to install, last long. tried Fusion but not satisfied.
Posted @ Wednesday, December 12, 2012 5:36 PM by Dave
I have a pool with a fiber optic light that was working last year and this year the light is very dull. The light in the box is bright it has one large cable and a short smaller cable next to it. Anything that I can do to make it work?
Posted @ Sunday, May 05, 2013 4:10 PM by Bob DeMasters
Bob, make sure the fiberoptic cable in the box is not too far away from the bulb. Also, make sure the strands have not slipped down into the plastic sheathing that surrounds them. If you're getting light from the bulb but not into the pool, the cable is either too far from the bulb or there's something covering the ends of the strands that's stopping the light from entering the strands. Hope this helps. Good luck!
Posted @ Monday, May 06, 2013 10:05 AM by Jason Hughes
I tried Fiber Optic Lights in the 80 s 
they were great for about a year untill the water entered the cable from behind the pool wall. It seams that they were stage lighting gone wrong, lots of silicone later they were OK untill the metal box rusted out. 
I suggest that unless they have had a few changes made since then yes use the Pal 2000. I think it is Aussie Designed. 
Acceptance of a good quality light depends on the price to the supplier and many F/Glass manufactures don`t like to see big holes being drilled in their pool wall. 
And the so called Wall Hung Lights that get broken when used as a ladder are cheap and nasty. 
Am currently testing a new light the hole in the wall would be just under 3 inches and it fits flush on the wall it also has a niche, yes LED of course. 
Posted @ Monday, May 06, 2013 3:09 PM by Kiwi Norman
Hi dear, 
You are putting very nice idea for cool lighting really help us in doing so. Very informative. LED Pool Light save energy and make a pool attractive that helps economically too. LED Pool light are long time light.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 05, 2013 8:15 AM by lampe LED piscine
I have an LED light in my pool that changes colors. Just had my pool resurfaced and water put in today. Light is no longer changing color. Also, my neighbor said it used to have what looked like three bulbs but now there are only two in the color blue and the rest of the light has a yellowish white hue. Could the guys working on the pool have done something to cause this?
Posted @ Saturday, August 17, 2013 8:12 PM by Tracy
12 Volt LED lights are by far the best to use but it is very important to use the right type of Transformer (or Driver) 
Reason any voltage over 12 volts can shorten the life of the LEDs. Only get ones that have a 12 Volt Voltage Regulator installed. 
The Lights should be installed on the side of the pool shining away from the point the pool is viewed from. The spacing of each light can vary depending on the angle the LEDs operate on but in general terms 10 ft apart. 
Color Changing lights tend to be a 7 day wonder and of course the remote will get lost. Currently Swimming Pool Lighting is undergoing many changes turning to the SMD type of LED this will make them less expensive to assemble. 
Tracy I think you need a new replacement lamp it is unlikely the makeover caused your problem. 
Posted @ Sunday, August 18, 2013 1:53 AM by Norman
yes, it is fact that, not any incident got yet where is tens of thousand are installed every year. most powerful think is many led pool lights are low voltage. led lights is very cost effective and you can go with long term.
Posted @ Thursday, September 19, 2013 5:11 AM by Led Spotlights
I just had a week in China saw about 10 different manufactures of LED Swimming Pool Lights all what were what are called "Wall Hung" big and ugly, that are around 3-4in thick,very good for use as a step ladder which turns them into "Un-Hung Lights" of course they all change colors like a Christmas tree. And I being a little one eyed suggest that is where they should be. 
The Pal 2000 mentioned by Jason is a good light however around the corner with the new LED`s on stream means a brighter future ahead in the Pool Lighting Industry. With Induction meaning no cable into the light which is the major cause of leakage into lights when they cool down. 
Watch my website; for this information. 
Kiwi Norman.
Posted @ Thursday, September 19, 2013 8:08 AM by Kiwi Norman
I have a wonderful LED Pool Light supplier whom I purchase color changing and white LEDs from/for my clients. I've been using them for years, they sell at wholesale prices and provide fast shipping! Here is their
Posted @ Monday, September 23, 2013 3:10 PM by Pool Pro
Nice information. LED Pool Light save energy and make a pool attractive. This lights are designed so the actual light bulb is submersed in the water and contained in a niche, or housing, which is installed in the pool shell. Thanks a lot.
Posted @ Thursday, October 24, 2013 1:17 AM by Renewable Energy Centre
Very nice discussion..Led pool lights are any day better for this purpose as they are cost effective and reliable. No need to spend much on optic lights.
Posted @ Friday, November 22, 2013 4:45 AM by Jimgordon
We used to have the old fiber optic pool lights but it grows tired and dull. I'd say to have LED color lights for your pool.
Posted @ Thursday, February 13, 2014 3:56 AM by George Panther
Had early fiber optic lighting (20 yrs.) Nothing but problems, the box, the harness, the light . Finally the cable itself was deemed the probem but it was large core cable, not even available today! Replaced the entire thing, at considerable cost with LED Much happier.
Posted @ Sunday, February 16, 2014 8:45 AM by teri
Hi, Thanks for the informative post. As a electrical engineer I have a project of pool lights last year and I used there led lights which give me a good response by my client because these lights are so efficient in consumption of energy and have more lifetimes so my vote is for led pool lights.
Posted @ Saturday, March 22, 2014 8:05 AM by Leslie Walker
I have just introduced a totally new LED light that is designed for both Fiberglass and Concrete Pools. 
To solve the problem pool lights have suffered for years all our light use sealed beams and to solve problems of water that is sucked into the lens when the lights cool down we have done away with the so called Cable Gland. We are now using Surface Mount LED`s that are brighter. 
Kiwipool Norman,
Posted @ Saturday, March 22, 2014 2:29 PM by Norman
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