LED Lighting--Number and Placement Help Please

Dirk

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I use Insteon. It's a little different than the hub-controlled stuff that is flooding the market. Though I believe it can also be controlled by some of those hubs. My system uses a 24/7 computer running HA software, that talks to all my devices through a modem-type interface that plugs into the computer via USB. It's the same computer I use for media (serving whole-house tunes, Netflix for multiple TVs, etc). The HA software I use is programmable and customizable. And it is that software that allows me to set up the multiple on/off switching that my pool light needs. I don't know how that would work, or if it could, with the hubs. My setup if more for someone that wants total HA control (lights, HVAC, irrigation, appliances, audio/video, etc, etc). A full-on smart home, controllable by computer, phone/pads, remotes, wall-mounted touch interfaces, wall switches, the whole works.

If you wanted to start down that path, but weren't ready for something so elaborate just yet, you'd need to study up on which systems could perform the multi-on-off switching protocols needed by the lights. Some sort of scheduling feature that would allow half-second-long intervals. Or it might be as simple as scheduling the on-off events at the same time, if the controller executes those one after the other, instead of all at once, so that they happen to fire off sequentially at intervals the pool light can interpret.

Alternately, the HA controller can just turn the banks on and off. The lights remember their last setting. So you could set up the desired color or scene by manually turning the switches on and off yourself, and then turn them off. The next time the HA system turns on the light(s), they'll come on to the last color/scene used. That's where the combo controller idea might be used. Say you have 5 banks, but the AquaLink only has 3 relays available. So you put the banks you need full remote color/scene control on the AquaLink, the the other two, that you don't need to change colors often, or ever, on HA switches, for just on-off control.

Lots of ways to skin this cat. And not necessarily something to be decided now. Run each lights' cable back to the pad, and have the PB/electrician connect them all to a couple transformers/relays. Then worry about the bigger picture, the pool. Later, you can maybe add another transformer, or swap one or some or all the lights to HA, etc. Again, the only thing you have to contend with now is a way to leave all those options open, for future use.
 

Matt F 3

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Feb 1, 2020
98
Plainfield Il
Back in Febuary when we started our little project, one of the members said thats a lot of light for that pool. Eight months later on the day of the final preconstauction install, I had the contractor seperate the lights into 2 banks 2 on one and 3 on the other. Which was no problem but did invavle another contoller for the feature. Glade we did.fullsizeoutput_3719.jpeg

Starting from the left Lights are numbered 1,2,3,4,5. With 1,3,5 on one cercuit and 2 & 4 on another. Below is a picture of all on one color. (Having an issue with the other picture with different colors).

giUG1mpqQC+hu2v8rqNfMQ.jpg
 

ajw22

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Turn off HDR on your camera app. HDR makes files too large for the TFP server.
 
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PCR

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Jul 19, 2015
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I won't get into the wiring and automation subjects - that's way over my head :) What I would say is that I think colored pool lights are one of those things people either love or .... don't! Look at lots of pictures of pools lit up at night with different colors and see if you that's really something you like before you decide to spend alot of money on many lights. For me personally, I haven't ever seen a picture of a green or red or purple lit up pool that I thought looked attractive, and so I just went with two white LED Intellibrites - one at each end of a 44 foot long pool area - and that's plenty of light. Two of those are significantly cheaper than 8 of the Jandy Watercolors based on a quick google. I can turn them on/off as a pair manually or with Screen Logic (I have an Easy Touch 8), which is all I want to do. Simple, cheaper, and less wiring. But I know lots of people love the colored lights, so if that's the case then you have great suggestions from all the automation and wiring gurus. Best of luck with the pool - it will be great no matter the lighting solution!
 

Dirk

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I can't argue that simpler has many advantages. And while I do like a few of the colors, and one or two of the "light shows," for me it's more about use case. I need it bright to count heads when there are six kids in the pool at night. The rest of the time I just want some subtle ambiance, it's not so much about what color that ambiance is. As I mentioned, blue is less light than white, green is more subtle, and red is just barely there. So I'll use blue or green while we're just sitting around the pool (or one of the shows that fades blue and green alternately), and red for when I'm swimming without kids. Let's face it, the less light, the better I look! 🧜‍♂️

I use the colors as much for dimming as I do for color effect.
 

PoolPaul

Active member
Oct 16, 2020
31
Southern California
Thanks all. Really interesting hearing about all the options. Right now I'm inclined to have two banks for the lights in the pool, including the baja shelf light with the rights on that side of the pool and including the spa light on that side of the pool. Each will be home run to the equipment area so I can add more control in the future. Assuming I don't use HA I'll just need to make sure I pick the right controller.

Kind of amazed they don't make these dimmable. That would help the decision a lot.
 
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Dirk

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Like I said, Stone Age! A pool LED that does colors basically consists of sets of red, blue and green LEDs. So that's three colors. Pairs of those colors combine to make up three other colors, and all three sets on make white. Alternating pairs of those same three LED sets make for the "light shows." Whoopee. With red, green and blue light, literally millions of colors are possible. And the "light show" possibilities would be in the billions (at least). But because they can't do better than "click on, click off, click on, click off" to control all those possibilities, we get six or seven colors and about the same number of shows, because much more than a dozen or so on-offs would be ridiculous (more than it already is, that is).

I get why they wouldn't want to use RF or WiFi for controlling an underground/underwater light, but a controller signal sent down the power line is more than possible (it's the technology for some Home Automation controllers that have been around for decades). And if they did that, then all those millions and billions of possibilities would be, well, possible. They just don't... :(
 

Robtown

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Jul 16, 2020
98
The Woodlands, TX
Have another look at Robtown's lighting plan. Maybe he loves it like that. Great. But maybe he now wishes all the lights on one side of his pool were on the "C" transformer, and the other side on "B". Or maybe he doesn't like his shelf lit up when he's just using the spa, and he'd prefer that the shelf light came on only when the pool was lit up. He wouldn't need more transformers to achieve either of those changes, but he would need access to the individual wires from each light.

Dirk has already posted lots of good options so I’ll speak to my setup a little more. Our pool is still under construction so unfortunately I can’t provide actual pictures or anything.

Originally we had the larger Intellibrites planned for the pool and Spa with a microbrite for the tanning ledge (we want to make sure this is visible as it will be on the way from the house to the pergola/eventual outdoor kitchen and spa), and 2 big bright Intellibrites in the coves on the right side of the pool. Based on pictures we thought those lights would be too bright and may not light up the whole pool well. Plus we thought they would shine brightly in our eyes. The bottom right would be shining towards the spa and pergola, the top right is shining back to the house and existing patio. After looking at lots of online pictures, we decided we liked the more subtle output of the Microbrites and were then going to go with 5, one spa, one tanning ledge, and 3 in the pool. this would have been Circuits A&B. This probably would have produced enough light but we were still worried about glare. If we are in the spa or pergola, we want the lights shining towards the house (bottom of layout). If we’re on the existing patio, we want the lights shining away from the house (shining up on the layout).

This lead us to the current design of 8 lights, one spa, one tanning ledge, and 6 in the pool. We’ve gone back and forth on the placement of the 6 pool lights and the number of “circuits”. And we’re still unsure about our decision so will have the wiring all run individually to the equipment pad so we could rewire and group the lights differently into the “circuits”. Part of the rational for the current grouping was to stick with the original layout and add the 3 additional lights to the columns in our pool. Each column has a water feature bowl pouring water into the pool. I initially had the thought to put these light built into the benches and shine upwards to uplight the columns and the water pouring out at night. I was not able to find many pictures about how this would look and if it would really achieve the look I was hoping for of lighting the water flowing into pool (There were 2 pools on here were I saw up lighting but I was still skeptical). The light would have to travel the 18” depth of the bench in water plus another ~33” through air to the spout of the water bowls (3” waterline, 18” column height, 12” bowl height). I was so close to going this route but would have been a costly mistake if it didn’t look good or work well. there would have been more chances for glare and a very difficult wiring scenario with lots of turns if light ever need to be pulled again which is highly likely as these are sealed units (you’d have U-shaped bends to the wiring back to the surface, then to the equipment pad). Plus there would have been lights on the benches for people to sit or kids to walk on. I also looked at globrites which people use as bubblers for inspiration but with 18” depth, and water traveling downward, this again gave me caution.

After deciding not to uplight the columns/bowls, we decided these locations still worked very well for our design. When we are in the house or sitting on the existing patio, we could have circuits A&B on and don’t have the C columns lights shining at us. We could be in the spa or pergola and have A&C on so the B lights aren’t shining at us. We can have them all on to really light up the pool. For Fourth of July, we could have A on white, B on blue, and C on red and the colors will alternate across the pool. There really are a ton of options!

As for wiring, we really wanted 4 separate circuits with the spa and tanning shelf on individual transformers and relays but we’ve run out of relays in our i10 IntelliCenter (see equipment list) as we also wanted to be able to control our landscape lighting in the system too so actually have 4 transformers that will be tied into the system. I’m thinking maybe we go ahead and separate the landscape lighting from the pool and have it controlled via a separate system through my home automation as Dirk has mentioned. To get the color effects for the pool lighting, it’s easier to use the Pentair programming but appears Dirk has figured out a work around in his system to control the correct on/off cycles. I’m getting more into Home Automation (one of the reasons to go for the IntelliCenter) and revamped my whole house network and will be moving over to a new hub for my smart house items, locks, thermostats, lights, cameras, etc... I need to setup my Hubitat and Homebridge to get things into Apple HomeKit so I can control with Siri on my watch while swimming. I’ve already wired some audio for the outside. Will add a TV and Apple TV and many more. Eventually I’ll get all of this info on my plans into my build thread.
 

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Robtown

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Jul 16, 2020
98
The Woodlands, TX
Like I said, Stone Age! A pool LED that does colors basically consists of sets of red, blue and green LEDs. So that's three colors. Pairs of those colors combine to make up three other colors, and all three sets on make white. Alternating pairs of those same three LED sets make for the "light shows." Whoopee. With red, green and blue light, literally millions of colors are possible. And the "light show" possibilities would be in the billions (at least). But because they can't do better than "click on, click off, click on, click off" to control all those possibilities, we get six or seven colors and about the same number of shows, because much more than a dozen or so on-offs would be ridiculous (more than it already is, that is).

I get why they wouldn't want to use RF or WiFi for controlling an underground/underwater light, but a controller signal sent down the power line is more than possible (it's the technology for some Home Automation controllers that have been around for decades). And if they did that, then all those millions and billions of possibilities would be, well, possible. They just don't... :(

It really is ridiculous how behind these pool lights are, especially for the cost. The Microbrites aren’t as bad as the Intellibrites cost wise when you start to add the niches. In fact in the grand scheme of my post above, changing from Intellibrites to more Microbrites wasn’t much of an increase as the lights are cheaper. However there will be more long term costs as you have to replace the entire Microbrites rather than just replace a bulb. Which leads me to this post and YouTube video I’ve been meaning to share, especially with @Dirk, since in researching lights, the cost of replacements and lack of control is so far outside today’s capabilities and market price.

I got turned on to this YouTube channel researching home network, automation, and security cameras but am also considering some LED Christmas displays. I have no affiliation with his channel nor do I know if his solution is safe or to code so beware, but he switched out his pool lights to a solution you commonly see with most smart house LED bulbs.

YouTube - The Hook Up - Pool LED bulb alternative
 

Dirk

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Ah, my brother from another mother! ;)
 

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Dirk

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It really is ridiculous how behind these pool lights are, especially for the cost. The Microbrites aren’t as bad as the Intellibrites cost wise when you start to add the niches. In fact in the grand scheme of my post above, changing from Intellibrites to more Microbrites wasn’t much of an increase as the lights are cheaper. However there will be more long term costs as you have to replace the entire Microbrites rather than just replace a bulb. Which leads me to this post and YouTube video I’ve been meaning to share, especially with @Dirk, since in researching lights, the cost of replacements and lack of control is so far outside today’s capabilities and market price.

I got turned on to this YouTube channel researching home network, automation, and security cameras but am also considering some LED Christmas displays. I have no affiliation with his channel nor do I know if his solution is safe or to code so beware, but he switched out his pool lights to a solution you commonly see with most smart house LED bulbs.

YouTube - The Hook Up - Pool LED bulb alternative
OMG, thanks for posting, Rob. I loved that "Pool LED bulb alternative" video!! Not only because it confirmed everything I just said should be possible with a pool LED, but because he actually made it happen. This is exactly what I'm going to do to mine when my Pentair "engine" gives out, which will likely be any day now. I won't hijack the OP's thread anymore than I have, but I'll write it all up when I make my own. (PS: I think as long as the isolating transformer is not compromised, then anything you do low voltage between it and the pool should be perfectly safe.)
 

Robtown

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Jul 16, 2020
98
The Woodlands, TX
Ah, my brother from another mother! ;)

Haha, it’s like a disease. My family and friends don’t understand why I’ve ripped out all the wiring in my closet and built a server cabinet.

I’ve got the home network figured out and even added a wireless access point on the patio so we’ll have plenty of signal around the pool. I’ve also got the cameras installed and running. Still have 3 more cameras to go. Have Apple TV’s and Sonos so sound in most of the house plus outside. I already wired up the Sonos Amp and a sub that will eventually be buried for once the pool is complete.

Next is to setup my NAS on the network for docker applications and Homebridge to migrate my current home automation to a new hub and add more smart light switches and outlets, etc...

Once the pool is finished then I need to integrate the IntelliCenter and read through all of the work @MyAZPool and others are working on.

Then I can just tell Siri, “it’s pool party time!” And she’ll turn on the TV and music, set up the lights, turn on the water features, heat the spa, etc...

I might need to upgrade my traegger grill to the WiFi enabled so it can start warming up too. Now, anyone know about a smart margarita machine, or maybe a beer delivery drone?

7F97B924-13E9-4BBE-9F5C-052C383DF804.jpeg
1DF95124-12C7-49D0-9859-5DD880C7E42A.jpg
 

Dirk

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a very difficult wiring scenario with lots of turns if light ever need to be pulled again which is highly likely as these are sealed units (you’d have U-shaped bends to the wiring back to the surface, then to the equipment pad).
@PoolPaul, please note this one line from Robtown's post. It sounds like you've decided to do the home runs for each light. And it sounds like Rob did, too, and is glad he did. But it might not be obvious what the line I pulled from his post actually means. These lights will each have a very long cable. That cable will have to travel though a good length of PVC conduit back to the pad, or at least back to a J-box somewhere in your yard. And that's fine. But it's the number of bends in the PVC that can become a problem later. Each curve or 45° or 90° elbow will add friction when pulling or re-pulling the cable. The first time will be the easiest. The conduit is new and nice and clean. The electrician will likely use some sort of lubricant for the pulling. But subsequent pulls (like when you have to replace a light), might be tougher than the first, because of who-knows-what collecting in the conduit over time (starting with the aged lubricant). You want to be sure the number of curves and elbows are kept to an absolute minimum. Have a conversation about this with the electrician, and/or watch the work as he does it. Once all that conduit is buried under concrete, there will be no way to correct it if he builds you an impossible maze.
 
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Dirk

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Haha, it’s like a disease. My family and friends don’t understand why I’ve ripped out all the wiring in my closet and built a server cabinet.

I’ve got the home network figured out and even added a wireless access point on the patio so we’ll have plenty of signal around the pool. I’ve also got the cameras installed and running. Still have 3 more cameras to go. Have Apple TV’s and Sonos so sound in most of the house plus outside. I already wired up the Sonos Amp and a sub that will eventually be buried for once the pool is complete.

Next is to setup my NAS on the network for docker applications and Homebridge to migrate my current home automation to a new hub and add more smart light switches and outlets, etc...

Once the pool is finished then I need to integrate the IntelliCenter and read through all of the work @MyAZPool and others are working on.

Then I can just tell Siri, “it’s pool party time!” And she’ll turn on the TV and music, set up the lights, turn on the water features, heat the spa, etc...

I might need to upgrade my traegger grill to the WiFi enabled so it can start warming up too. Now, anyone know about a smart margarita machine, or maybe a beer delivery drone?
Should I be proud or frightened by the fact that I am able to understand all of that... 🤓
 

Robtown

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Jul 16, 2020
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The Woodlands, TX
To get back on topic (Sorry for the side conversation), I do wish the Microbrites came in different wattage like the Jandy. With your layout and design you may want different brightness for different areas, for example the tanning ledge compared to the pool. Especially the rill in your design. You mention the fountain at the end will be lit, but how? It would look awesome at night to have the rill glowing under the stepping stones connecting the pool to the fountain in your design.
 
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gingrbredman

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I have a feeling @Robtown and I could spend hours talking about home networks, automation, Ubiquiti, and pools (Just one example is my "temp" Unifi cameras just to monitor pool building progress), but to stay on topic for this thread in particular, I would also agree with the ideas Rob is giving, and if nothing else, take a deeper look into the recommendations he has made. I say that because when you come across someone who can get into the gritty details of the things he is speaking of, it tells this is someone who spends a lot of time researching, and has a keen attention to detail.

Good luck in the decision making, sounds like a lot of good advice here.
 

PoolPaul

Active member
Oct 16, 2020
31
Southern California
First, thanks for all the back and forth. Trying to keep up but you guys are way ahead of me. Hadn't thought about putting a subwoofer outside; hummmm....

@Robtown the fountain will be lit with 3 lights from ground level. The lighting spec for the rill calls for an "linear strip light" all the way around it, which I assumed was an LED strip going under the coping above the water but now that I'm thinking about it some more I need to confirm that.

@Dirk the Jandy lights are purchased with a cord already attached (up to 100' I believe), and the contractor told me every light will have its own conduit. Believe that means I'm covered on the home run lighting.
 

ajw22

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@Dirk the Jandy lights are purchased with a cord already attached (up to 100' I believe), and the contractor told me every light will have its own conduit. Believe that means I'm covered on the home run lighting.

Not really. Pool light wiring should be from pool light to required light junction box. Then junction box to transformer. Then transformer to 120V switch.

Will the home run be to the junction box or to the transformer?
 

Dirk

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I think all the transformers should be at the pad. Whether the wires from each light go directly to the pad, or first stop in a J-box in the yard somewhere, should be based on what makes most sense for each light. I was encouranging two things:

1. That each light's circuit home run all the way to the pad. That can be done in one of two ways. Either the cord from the light runs all the way back to the pad, or it runs to a j-box first, gets cut off there, and then is spliced to a different set of wires and then those run back to the pad. But no two lights would be spiced together in a j-box, with a single, common set of wires run to the pad.

2. That between the light and the end of its cable there is a minimum of conduit bends to make future pulling of a replacement's cord as easy as possible.

This all depends on where the pad is. Maybe the cords of the lights close enough to the pad can go directly to the pad, those that are on the opposite side of the pool might first need to go to a j-box. If the pad is too far away, then every light would run to a j-box. Maybe there will be two clusters of j-boxes, one on each end (or side) or the pool, hidden in landscaping. And from there each j-box will home run to the pad (that could be done with a single conduit per cluster). The wires in the conduit(s) between j-box(es) and pad will never need to be pulled again. Only the cords between light and j-box.

Add a few extra j-boxes, home run to the pad, for landscape lighting, speaker wire, ethernet cabling for WiFi extenders or cams, whatever. Lay it all down now, and then add one more to pull a set of wires through it for something you haven't thought of yet.

Plot some 120v around the pool, too, for GFCI outlets, or a fountain, or whatever. Now's the time. It's what I did. I laid down a single 1" conduit around the perimeter of my yard and daisy-chained three 120v outlets in waterproof boxes. I ran one ground wire, and one common (white), and six hot (black). Each outlet is on the same ground and common, but each side of the outlet (top and bottom) connects to its own hot wire. At the other end is a large junction box with six HA devices, one for each plug. That's how I power and control all the various features in my yard individually.

Getting that conduit in place was a bear. It would have been a snap had it been done before the deck went down and before the landscaping matured. So really all these rants are me projecting how I wish my yard had been done ahead of time.
 
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Robtown

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Jul 16, 2020
98
The Woodlands, TX
First, thanks for all the back and forth. Trying to keep up but you guys are way ahead of me. Hadn't thought about putting a subwoofer outside; hummmm....

@Robtown the fountain will be lit with 3 lights from ground level. The lighting spec for the rill calls for an "linear strip light" all the way around it, which I assumed was an LED strip going under the coping above the water but now that I'm thinking about it some more I need to confirm that.

@Dirk the Jandy lights are purchased with a cord already attached (up to 100' I believe), and the contractor told me every light will have its own conduit. Believe that means I'm covered on the home run lighting.


@PoolPaul - sounds like fountain and rill will be well lit as I assume this will be a key focal point for your build and the view from inside the house. I would definitely try to get more details from your builder about the fountain and rill lights to see how they will all be integrated together with the pool. I’d be very interested to learn more about the “linear strip light”. I think it could either really work well, or not. Maybe he has some demo or another clients pool you could see.

I would probably want the rill lighting to be underwater with the lowest wattage Jandy Watercolor so everything in the water matches. Then have all the pool lights controlled together through the automation. Then go with something different for the fountain on a separate system to give you the ultimate control as pool lighting is so far behind as mentioned earlier. I’m a very symmetrical person so I’d probably want 4 lights and be able to control them in at least 2 opposite pairs if not each individually, kind of like north/south and east/west. 3 would be good if all you wanted was a uniform color, probably in a triangle surround.
Of course, this obsession could continue with landscape lighting, etc... and can get a little out of control. You also don’t want your backyard to look like an amusement park.

As I mentioned earlier wanting to light up the 3 columns and water bowls in my pool design but didn’t ultimately choose to go with underwater up lighting, I am considering using these Pentair Landscape LED mounted up on my existing patio shining down on the columns and bowls...

Pentair Intellibrite Landscape Light

However I doubt the light would be focused enough to achieve the desired effect from about 25 feet away. I may purchase one and see how it looks. If it works well, then I’d get the 2 additional ones and use them to complete the close up lighting. I’m planning “just” plain white LED lighting for the rest of the backyard to match the front and for more classic look.
 
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