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Thread: Lighting a waterfall

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    Lighting a waterfall

    We are contracting our own pool and the one item that just isn't falling in line is the waterfall. Everyone pretty much says... "oh that's easy, tell me what you want". But getting details is proving difficult. We finally have a general idea of the structure which will be a two or three tier cascade built of stacked stone. We have stubbed out a water line already plumbed in with a valve, an electrical conduit going to the main panel, and just poured a pad there - and I was thinking we could proceed at our leisure. But today I just realized that because of the tight quarters in the corner we need to build the structure before the screen enclosure is set - which means this need to be done sooner, not later.

    My wife was thinking our equipment guy or the electrician would be able to spec out a light, nothing fancy just a white light that would make the cascading water glow a bit in the dark. However, so far they are not helping. The equipment guy suggested LED's and said he's used them on fountains before. Seems perfect to me! Maybe two LED each side of each tier, tucked away in the rock - 12V, just run them off the transformer we have for the bubbler LED.

    Of course, the waterfall isn't a fountain, it sits above the pool and empties into the pool and the electrician is insisting I can't just pull a cord to a box set in the rocks and splice some low voltage lights together. He said the LED must come with an attached cord and be specified for underwater use. OK then... that seems to make what should be a $25 item cost more like $500? Worse, we can't even find a small low wattage LED with a 100' cord at any price.

    So - what have you all used to light up a waterfall and where might I buy such a thing?
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
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  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    Maybe something like this?

    http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/C ... ed-680.htm

    They are on backorder, but you might find them elsewhere by searching on different landscape lighting web sites.
    20,000 IG WetEdge Satin Matrix Northshore Plum, Filled 8/24/12

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    Quote Originally Posted by shuye
    Maybe something like this?

    http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/C ... ed-680.htm

    They are on backorder, but you might find them elsewhere by searching on different landscape lighting web sites.
    YES! this is exactly what I was thinking and I figured a 25' cord was plenty to bring back to a box behind the waterfall and splice into a longer cord pulled (some 80' or so) back to my transformer. The electrician said "no"... but honestly so far I'm not very impressed with him (did a real hack job running my sub-panel) and I'm hoping he is wrong. Still - if I install these in some stonework and they fail inspection I could be making a big mess for myself.
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    There are specific code issues detailed in the NEC that describe the type of low voltage fixtures that must be used for this purpose. Apparently, standard landscape fixtures are not to be used within a certain distance to the pool (though I forget what this is). Since these are going to be low-voltage, you need to use GFCI protected transformers that are designed specifically for pool lighting (e.g. the Intermatic units in beige metal boxes). These transformers have grounded metal separators between the low and high voltage terminal strips that help to minimize possible passage of high voltage on the low voltage side. The lighting fixtures themselves must be water-tight and designed for usage near the pool, which is part of the reason they are much more expensive. I think the cheapest ones I have seen for this purpose are over $150 each. So, I don't think your electrician is trying to steer you unnecessarily into more expensive equipment. He's just trying to follow code on this and make sure the build passes inspection (and keep your swimmers safe).
    38K in ground pool with attached spa. Current equipment: Easytouch 8 (521150) with IC-60 SWCG with web control by Autelis, 1x Pentair IntelliFlo 011018 pump (for filter), 1x Pentair 2HP WhisperFlo pump (for waterfall), 2X Pentair IntelliBrite 5G 12V lights, Pentair MiniMax400 NG Heater, Pentair SMBW2060 DE filter. Zodiac Barracuda MX8 cleaner on dedicated cleaner line. Lighting/home automation controlled by Insteon/ISY-99i.

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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    To clarify a bit. We already have the transformer rated for pool use that powers the LEDs in a bubbler so that side should be OK. The part where I'm questioning our electrician is finding an LED rate for this purpose with a 100' cord attached to get from the waterfall to the transformer. So far, we cannot find them at ANY price.

    The equipment guy pointed us at LEDs (with short cords) rated for automotive use - they are waterproof sealed units that seem perfect - I would think I could epoxy two light bars, one under each tier of the cascade and it would look slick. The problem is that the short cords mean I need to splice them at a box located in the waterfall and then pull something back to the transformer. What seems "off" to me is the requirement that the cord in the conduit be some specially rated items, continuous and already fixed to the light? How does copper in conduit know it is buried next to a pool? Why should the transformer or the LED be more or less safe due to the rating of the cord that connects them or the presence of a splice point in a junction box?

    I am learning that "pools are different" but in this case we are talking about a couple 12V 10W lights? Should I begin to worry about people carrying flashlights near the pool?

    Any hints on which section of the NEC I can read? Maybe I can find a solution here if I see the spec.
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    I think it is the fixture itself that has to be purpose designed for pools. The bulbs used could be replaced with LED-based units. Our waterfall lights use MR-16 50W LED bulbs, and I've replaced these with warm white LED MR16 units purchased off Amazon and these work great. Since we have 10 fixtures, the old halogen bulbs used a lot of power. Now with the LEDs, this is only a small fraction of power usage. You should look into good fixtures that are rated for use near a pool, and then if they are designed for MR16 low voltage bulbs, you can replace these with LEDs as desired.
    38K in ground pool with attached spa. Current equipment: Easytouch 8 (521150) with IC-60 SWCG with web control by Autelis, 1x Pentair IntelliFlo 011018 pump (for filter), 1x Pentair 2HP WhisperFlo pump (for waterfall), 2X Pentair IntelliBrite 5G 12V lights, Pentair MiniMax400 NG Heater, Pentair SMBW2060 DE filter. Zodiac Barracuda MX8 cleaner on dedicated cleaner line. Lighting/home automation controlled by Insteon/ISY-99i.

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigMW
    I think it is the fixture itself that has to be purpose designed for pools. ... You should look into good fixtures that are rated for use near a pool
    YES, this is what I would expect - that the fixture be the key thing. If the fixture was right and the transformer was right the I'd be good? The problem again (hopefully in my understanding or how I'm asking the question) is the cord. I think it should be possible to get the right wires, pull them to a junction box in my waterfall and wire the lights to the box. I told the electrician that maybe we could just pull the right wire from the transformer to a box and splice it up later - when we get the fixtures. He said "no" the cord must come with the light.

    That worked fine for the pool light and the bubbler lights... but something little to attach to the waterfall - we aren't finding it.
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    After some googling I found article 680 which actually defines WHERE the boxes can be for 15V and lower lighting. Now all I need to figure out is what kind of cord I must pull from the transformer output (80' away by the equipment/controller) and the waterfall. From looking at the NEC it really seems I can mount a junction box in the side of the waterfall masonry and split off (correctly rated) LED's from there.

    Can anyone think of a reason the electrician told me I needed a rated cord pulled from the light as a home run to the transformer? I'm hoping he just misunderstood my question.
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
    Pentair Intellichlor IC-40, Zodiac MX-8, Fafco solar panels
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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    He is probably concerned with water penetrating the juction box at some point and is trying to place that junction box in a dry location to save future problems.
    Over 30 years in the pool business
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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    We have decided on a natural stone waterfall, it will be a ton of stone. The stone guy doesn't "do electric" and it is seeming my electric guy doesn't "do waterfall" (or at least not without a blank check and lots of lectures on how strict the code enforcement is in Orange county...)

    This morning I woke up with the idea of lighting the fall with an overhead spot light. Does this work? Can I hang it from the screen enclosure? Would it be low voltage or 110VAC?

    If I revert back to the idea of embedding LED's in the stone work... Are there any tips for how to position lights to give the falls a pleasant "glow" if being run after dark?

    Just in case it helps - here's the stone that will become our falls in a couple weeks.

    [attachment=0:2t0jhtdl]waterfall.jpg[/attachment:2t0jhtdl]
    Attached Images Attached Images
    7500 gal gunite/stonescapes, iAqualink RS-8, Jandy 2HP VS-Flopro, Jandy 200 sqft Cartridge filter
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    UnderWaterVanya's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    Will lighting from overhead get in stones eyes?

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    Re: Lighting a waterfall

    I have had good luck with these led lights.
    Just tail them out of the waterfall and use standard low voltage landscape lighting wire found everywhere.
    The bullets, and the 1 watt waterfall lights are quite small, and base is not needed, just partially bury them in the rocks.
    The 10 w is a halogen and gets real hot, it is very small.
    http://store.aquascapeinc.com/c/pond...ighting_lights

    For some very small lights these are awesome, and come in colors.
    You can also get the stalks so you can bend them back towards the feature, or point them were you want them.
    http://www.theledlight.com/MicroStar.html

    As long as you use an approved transformer, then dont worry to much about the install, just want it some what serviceable.

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