Outdoor Flood Lights.....what do I need to know?

Bart

LifeTime Supporter
Jan 24, 2010
296
Northern Virginia
I'm getting some outdoor flood lights installed on the wooden deck above the pool and I'd love to hear any tips, suggestions, do's and don'ts about the lights. What to pick, what to avoid, success stories, failures, etc.

I'm planning on putting in 2 sets of lights - one on each end of the deck, which is about as long as the pool. The bottom of the wooden deck is about the 8 or so feet above the concrete deck of the pool and I planned to mount the lights up near the rail of the wooden deck (another 3 or 4 feet up).

It's up to me to pick the style and type of the flood lights and I know nothing on the subject.....bulb type, fixture style, etc.

So, can someone teach me everything I need to know about choosing floodlights for a pool?!?!? :? :lol:

THANKS!
 

Bart

LifeTime Supporter
Jan 24, 2010
296
Northern Virginia
I stopped by my local giant hardware store and checked out some of their outdoor flood lights, so now I have some specific questions:

1) Is there an advantage/disadvantage in getting halogen bulbs vs. standard incandescent bulbs?

2) Some lights came with motion detectors. Should I get that type or the regular?

Thanks
 

JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,476
SW Indiana
IMO, the primary function of the lights will be to draw bugs to the pool. If you want lights, you want them well out of the area of the pool. Depending on what you want, rope lighting or low voltage fixtures may make for a more pleasant experience.
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
I wouldnt do flood lights; too bright and too much light for night swimming, parties, etc. Those bright floods ruin the "ambiance" :cool:

I'd do low voltage, like John T suggested. I have low voltage (30-50 watts) lights mounted to my deck. A couple light the stairs, one lights a table/eating area on the pool deck, another lights the other end of the deck. I also have low voltage path lights on the back side of the pool. I do have floods, but i only use them for clean up, etc when I need more light.
 

4JawChuck

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2010
223
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
A coworker has cheap low voltage patio lanterns near his pool and above the deck, they seem to combine the right level of light and ambiance for relaxing on the deck or taking a night dip. His look something like this and were cheap.



I have floodlights mounted on my garage which lights the pool area and have tried a few different bulbs in it and didn't like any of them (not to mention I hate the way they look), I'm going to chuck it for a more flush mount style motion sensor light more like this one for working near the pool at night and go with patio lanterns like above for sitting out in the sunroom and lighting the yard;


http://www.lampsplus.com/products/Bronze-ENERGY-STAR-Motion-Sensor-11-inch-High-Outdoor-Wall-Light__K6500.html

Floodlights are just too glaring and bright, if I had the places to mount them theatre style low mount floor lights like this is what I would like...adjustable for brightness of course and with yellow lenses to keep the bugs away. These ones are low voltage LED's too.



I only need to see where to step and not trip and drop my beverage...not light the football field LOL! :lol:
 

Bart

LifeTime Supporter
Jan 24, 2010
296
Northern Virginia
Thanks folks.

I like the idea of low votage lights for ambience, but I also like the idea of flood lights for special occasions and special needs.......night time water polo or something like that!
 

Durk

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2007
654
New Jersey
We have had the same floodlight on two successive pools starting in 1946. My father, an infantry captain, rescued it from a garbage pile at the Fort McClellan (Alabama) Army Airfield as they were decommissioning him and the fort at the end of World War II. It was used to illuminate the airfield plane parking area. It has a cast-iron base, heavy duty porcelain mogul socket, a 500Watt incandescent bulb (smaller than original, I believe) and a 24" glass lens. The whole thing weighs in around 40 lbs. It's far enough away and high enough on a pole that it attracts bugs--AWAY from the pool. It lights the whole pool area quite nicely and is x10 controlled from a pad next to the living room picture window. If manufactured today, it would probably cost about $800. But, it would last you 70 years plus (assuming it was built ~1940.)

If I don't want the flood, I have low voltage luminaires on top of each of the fence posts on the side away from the house. These stay on all the time (dusk-midnight) and reflect off the pool, also a nice look. Code here is a minimum 10 feet from the water (low or 110V), you should know what your required spacing is.
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
Durk said:
Code here is a minimum 10 feet from the water (low or 110V), you should know what your required spacing is.
10 feet is NEC, so its pretty much 10 feet everywhere that follows the NEC. That said, a lot of inspectors will look the other way if it's low voltage. You can run 110v closer, but it has to be approved for pool use (i.e. such as an in pool light). The idea why low voltage is a no no is because it cant be protected by GFI. But, at 12 volts DC? Even if it falls in the water, its not gonna hurt a thing. Thats why some guys will over look it.
 

Durk

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2007
654
New Jersey
bk406 said:
Durk said:
Code here is a minimum 10 feet from the water (low or 110V), you should know what your required spacing is.
10 feet is NEC, so its pretty much 10 feet everywhere that follows the NEC. That said, a lot of inspectors will look the other way if it's low voltage. You can run 110v closer, but it has to be approved for pool use (i.e. such as an in pool light). The idea why low voltage is a no no is because it cant be protected by GFI. But, at 12 volts DC? Even if it falls in the water, its not gonna hurt a thing. Thats why some guys will over look it.
Yeah, my LV's are actually 7.5 feet horizontal from the water. I asked my inspector, when he was doing the final electric on the pool, about LV on the fence line and he said there was no danger, but to put them up after I had my CO and he wouldn't have to see it. Cable is stapled to the far side of the post and rail fence, so there is really no way an energized luminaire could fall in the pool.
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
Durk said:
[Yeah, my LV's are actually 7.5 feet horizontal from the water.
I have a couple of LV path lights around 4.5 feet, just off the pool deck :wink:

IMO, that part of NEC article 680 needs a major re-write.

Back to the origianl topic, i do like the floods i have by the pool. i just like the low voltage when we are actually using the pool/having a night time party. They are not as harsh and put out good light.
 

JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,476
SW Indiana
If you look at the internals of the transformer that converts the 120 to lower voltage, you'll see why the restriction is there. They are separated only by glorified tape in most cases, which means an impact "could" result in the input voltage being connected to the output.

It would be safer to put a 120VAC light with GFCI near the pool than a low voltage light IMO.
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
JohnT said:
If you look at the internals of the transformer that converts the 120 to lower voltage, you'll see why the restriction is there. They are separated only by glorified tape in most cases, which means an impact "could" result in the input voltage being connected to the output.

.
Maybe big box store cheapo transformers, not good high end stuff. The stuff Sal and i are talking about is quality stuff. A multi tap transformer will run $600-$700 and is well made. The fixtures are anywhere from $100-$200 a piece. Very quality materials.
I'd rather have the low voltage, but that my opinion.
 
G

Guest

I agree with BK, you get what you pay for. Most of the "High End" Low Voltage companies offer lifetime warranty on all their products, including fixtures. I would trust my FX transformer over some of the HV electrical garbage at Home Depot or Lowes!
 

Durk

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2007
654
New Jersey
JohnT said:
If you look at the internals of the transformer that converts the 120 to lower voltage, you'll see why the restriction is there. They are separated only by glorified tape in most cases, which means an impact "could" result in the input voltage being connected to the output.

It would be safer to put a 120VAC light with GFCI near the pool than a low voltage light IMO.
While the GFCI does not work on LV because the secondary is isolated from the GFCI, if an LV source is plugged into a GFCI (mine is), would not the GFCI trip in the case of an accidental connection between the primary and the secondary that resulted in the primary going to ground?
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
Durk said:
if an LV source is plugged into a GFCI (mine is), would not the GFCI trip in the case of an accidental connection between the primary and the secondary that resulted in the primary going to ground?
[/quote]

Plugging your low voltage into a GFI on the low side wont work. Thats a 2 wire DC system with no ground wire. Only the high side on the transformer is plugged into a GFCI. Thats the reason 680 says it cant be closer than 10 feet. But at 12 volts dc at low amps, it like dropping a flash light into water (well, maybe not a flash light, but the danger is minimal to none). Thats why, IMO, 680 needs a rewrite.
 

Durk

Well-known member
Jun 14, 2007
654
New Jersey
bk406 said:
Plugging your low voltage into a GFI on the low side wont work. Thats a 2 wire DC system with no ground wire. Only the high side on the transformer is plugged into a GFCI. Thats the reason 680 says it cant be closer than 10 feet. But at 12 volts dc at low amps, it like dropping a flash light into water (well, maybe not a flash light, but the danger is minimal to none). Thats why, IMO, 680 needs a rewrite.
I understand that, as I thought I pointed out. John T suggested there was a danger IF there was primary-to-secondary contact within the transformer and 110V went through to the secondary. I was suggesting that the GFCI on the high (primary) side WOULD protect against that eventuality.
 

bk406

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2009
2,690
Central Massachusetts
Yea, sorry Durk. I misunderstood what you were saying. I read it as you plugged the LV light into a GFCI, not the source. I read it wrong. And yes, i think if it got crossed up it would trip. Somebody else might know for sure, but I think thats right.
 

Other Threads of Interest