Pool Light Replacement Tutorial

Many pool owners have beautiful and convenient lights installed in their swimming pools for a more enjoyable night swim or simply for added ambiance when relaxing by the pool at night or throwing a pool party.

When the light dies on you and needs to be replaced, you can hire a professional to for you or you can do it yourself provided that you are absolutely certain that you are up for the job.

Be extremely cautious when dealing with electricity around water in order to avoid injuries worst of which is the electrocution.

Don’t have lights yet? See the best ones here: 9 Best LED Pool Light Reviews

How to change a swimming pool light bulb

Here are the steps to change your burnt out your pool light bulbs as easy as possible.

Step 1

Caution: Possible Electrical Shock or Electrocution! For your safety please use the necessary precautions before attempting to work with water and electricity. If you are unsure or unfamiliar with how to work with water and electricity, do not attempt the following steps. Hire a professional!

Step 2

You will first need to purchase the correct replacement pool light bulb and lens gasket for your light fixture. There is not a single standard replacement bulb and gasket for all pool lights.

Step 3

If you don’t have any information about your pool light, you will most likely need to follow the steps below to remove the light from the pool wall. The manufacturer name, model number, voltage and wattage of pool lights is usually found on a sticker on the back of the light housing (often where the cord of the light attaches to the housing).

Step 4

If you find that there is no sticker or it is unreadable, there are a couple things you can try in order to identify the light. Check for a part number on the face ring and on the lens as manufacturers sometimes have part numbers molded into the parts. You can also see if the pool light bulb itself has any specs on it. If it is labeled with wattage, voltage and base type (R40 would be the base for a standard “flood” type bulb), you would have the necessary information needed to replace the bulb. Bear in mind this will not identify the gasket which needs to be replaced to ensure a proper seal on your pool light. Try measuring the outside diameter and thickness of the gasket and see if it matches the gaskets for the most common pool lights.

Step 5

You’ll need the following items: Replacement pool light bulb, new lens gasket, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, a circuit tester, and a couple of dry towels.

Step 6

Locate your circuit breaker box and shut off all electricity to the pool area. Use a circuit tester if you’re not positive that all of the electricity is off.

Step 7

Now it’s time to remove the pool light from its casing, commonly referred to as the light niche or can. Most pool light fixtures are secured to the niche with a single pilot screw at the top of the light. Locate and remove this screw.

Step 8

Pry the light fixture out of the niche. There should be enough extra cord for you to pull the light up onto the pool deck. Note how the excess cord is stored so you can replace it the same way when re-installing the light. Lay the light on one of the towels to protect the lens from scraping or breaking on the deck. Use the other towel to dry the light.

Step 9

To get to the light bulb, you will need to remove the face ring, lens gasket and lens. Corrosion may have occurred so use care and the correct tools. Remove the screws or clamps holding the light fixture together. Gently pry off the face ring and then the gasket and lens. Clean any old gasket residue from the surface on the lens using a damp rag.

Step 10

Using a towel, unscrew the light bulb with great care. Dry the inside of the light fixture and clean any gasket residue from the light housing that comes in contact with the gasket. Do not use anything hard to scrape clean. If you score the surface of the housing, it may not seal properly.

Step 11

Screw the new bulb in securely but do not over-tighten. Here’s a tip from one of our readers. “When you install a new bulb, buy some dielectric bulb grease and put it on the bulb Edison base socket. It will make a better connection and the next time you remove the bulb it will come out easy.” Install new lens gasket around the lens and reassemble the lamp fixture.

Step 12

Find someone to watch the light while you briefly turn on the electricity. This is to confirm that the new bulb actually works. These lights are not made to be turned on out of the water, so this has to be a very quick check.

Step 13

Now check for leaks by placing the light underwater. A few bubbles may float up, but air should not be coming from the sealed outer edges.

Step 14

Restore the pool light and the excess cord to their original positions. Make sure the screw holes line up correctly.

Step 15

Turn your electricity back on and you can enjoy your night swim again!

Another commonly asked question is: “How to replace a pool light fixture?”

Light bulbs, gaskets and lenses are readily available for replacements, but at times the whole body of the light fixture, the socket or the cord may fail. When this happens, you will have to replace the entire fixture or pool lamp, as they are also called.

We have already explained how to change a pool light bulb, so let’s move on to the next task at hand.

How to replace inground pool light fixture

If you are replacing an older and traditional light, you’ll be thrilled to see that there are technological and aesthetic improvements now as well as more environmentally friendly halogen and LED lamps as well as fiber optic lighting. There are also color changing lights, if you prefer to give your pool a colorful touch.

Having said that, you can choose to replace your pool light with exactly the same model if it’s still selling or you can opt for the energy conserving LED pool lamps, with color changing ability provided that they fit the light fixture niche, also called the “bucket” which is installed in the pool wall.

The width and depth of your light niche will determine which pool light choices are available to you so you can easily match up your light niche to lamps which will fit.

You also need to determine your voltage and length of cord needed and once you do that, are will be ready to install your new pool light.

Want to beautify your backyard as well? See 9 Types of Lights to Consider for Your Backyard

 How to change your pool light fixture – step by step guide

Step 1 

Shut off power at the breaker. It should be a GFCI protected circuit. This is the one with the yellow “test” button. Pool lights are mostly 120V – so make sure your light circuit is GFCI protected. In Maryland, and a few other US states, pool lights are required to be 12V so make sure to buy the correct voltage pool light. The label on the light should tell you the voltage but if you are 12V – you will have a transformer wired into the circuit, in between the breaker and the junction box. There is no need to lower the water level in the pool to change the light.

Step 2 

Locate the Junction Box and remove the cover. The junction box, also called J-box, is usually located directly behind the light at a height of 12″ above the water level. If your pool is very old, the j-box may be located IN the deck, at deck level. This is unsafe and should be brought up to safety standards, by extending the conduit from this box to an above ground arrangement described above. 

The distance from the J-box to the light niche, plus 4 feet extra, is what determines the length of cord needed for your light. The extra 4 feet is necessary to allow enough cord to pull the light up on the pool deck for future maintenance.

Step 3 

Disconnect the wiring. The green wire will be grounded and the hot and neutral lines will be wire-nutted together with the pool light cord. Save the wire nuts. Make sure the light cord does not fall down into the conduit while you are working.

Step 4 

Pull the existing pool light up on the deck and cut off the cord at the back of the light. Make sure you clean and dry the existing cord. Lay the new cord and the old cord end to end and using Duct Tape, secure the existing cord (the old cord) to the end of the new one. Use diagonal, overlapping taping, being careful to keep it slender. If you make it too bulky, it may get stuck at a turn or connection in the conduit.

If you don’t want to cut the cord from the back of the old light, just tape a string or fish-tape to the end of the cord, at the J-box. Then, pull the string or tape through the conduit and out of the niche and tape securely to the end of the new light cord and pull the new cord back through the conduit and up to the J-box.

 Step 5 

Standing at the junction box, pull up on the cord, hand over hand motion, until the new cord is drawn up through the conduit and out of the J-box. Cut or peel off the duct tape. It helps to pull the new pool light cord out straight, to remove the coil memory of the cord. It also is helpful to have someone to help, hanging over the edge of the pool and pushing the new cord into the conduit.

If you are having trouble getting the cord to move through the conduit, the conduit opening at the back of the niche may have been sealed with putty or silicone. This is done in many cases on leaking pools, to fix a leak in the conduit, or to rule out the conduit as a leak source. In this case, you should lower the water level, so that you can work on removing the packed in putty, or silicone.

Step 6 

Cut the new cord to the proper length. Leave just enough cord sticking out into the pool to allow the light to be pulled up on deck. After cutting the cord at the junction box, strip the cord casing down to the base of the J-box. If there is a clamp to secure the cord, tighten this, so the cord does not slip down into the conduit. 

Step 7 

Strip the wires of the new cord and wire-nut them to the wires coming from your breaker box. Make tight connections and then securely replace the lid to the junction box.

Step 8 

Coil the cord behind the new fixture and secure the new lamp into the niche. The usual attachment method is to insert the tab at 6 o’clock and then tighten the screw at 12:00. If your screw tab has broken off, and there is no threaded screw receiver, you can use a Light Wedge to fix this common problem.  

Step 9

Now test your light. It important to mention that a pool light turned on without being underwater will quickly overheat, shattering the lens so do a quick 1 second test because if you leave the light on for 30 seconds or so, and it will explode.  

Step10

Congratulations, you did it! You learned something new AND saved yourself a chunk of money in the process!

How much does it cost to replace a pool light?

The full size LED pool lights, which are typically installed in Vinyl or Concrete pools, cost the most to be installed.  Fiber optic pool lights are next less expensive option followed by smaller LED lights and full size incandescent pool lights are typically the least expensive.  

As for the light bulbs replacement costs, Large LED tend to be the most expensive followed by small LED then fiber optic and Incandescent pool light bulbs.    

It depends, of course, whether you are buying fixtures or bulbs with or without the installation. We hope that these tutorials will indeed save you the cost of installation.

Read next: 6 Pool Design and Remodeling Ideas On A Budget

Aleks Stanic

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