HAMILTON, N.J. -- June 26, 2012 -- Back in the day, pool lighting was a strictly practical pool element for those who enjoyed an evening swim. Not so, today, as lighting technology and options have taken lighting from a safety item to an aesthetic feature with limitless possibilities.
“Safety is still key, but modern pool and spa lighting options are also about beauty and entertainment,” says David Katz, owner and president of Elite Landscaping in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a landscape design/build firm specializing in pool and spa areas. A member of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association, Katz is also an Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) Certified Building Professional. Katz notes that lighting design should start with providing the illumination necessary for safe nighttime swimming and socializing. Beyond that, there are options for creating a “wow” effect, using LED, fiber optic, incandescent lighting or combinations of lighting styles.
That effect can range from a rainbow of colors for fountains, spas and water features, to lighting systems that glow with holiday color themes. Imagine, for example, a red, white and blue star pattern playing over the water during a Fourth of July party. “With today’s programmable controls, it’s easy to create and change colors, patterns and effects,” notes Katz. “Lighting design can also highlight special pool features, like vanishing edges and waterfalls, or it can be used to bring an added touch of drama that is simply beautiful to see. Lighting design brings a whole new life to the pool when the sun goes down.”
But lighting isn’t just about illuminating the water. Many new pool and spa area designs feature bars, fire pits, multi-level patios, walls, garden paths, elaborate landscaping and more. “Creating the right atmosphere for each of these areas, while also providing enough light to assure visibility and safety, takes planning, and an understanding of the right type of lighting for each area,” notes Katz. As an example, Katz points to homeowners who try solar lighting only to find that it doesn’t provide sufficient illumination. “We often see what we call a “runway” effect, where people have to use rows of solar lamps to get enough light volume,” he says. “Solar is fine for highlighting, but it’s not right for every illumination goal.”
By the same token, Katz points out that it’s also important not to create light pollution by over-illuminating the pool and spa area. “The most effective lighting designs consider the homeowners needs, the landscaping details and the budget.”
To learn more the possibilities and options in pool and spa lighting design, visit the NESPA website at www.nespapool.org. You’ll find a list of NESPA members who can help you choose lighting to meet your aesthetic and safety goals. The site also includes safety checklists and recommendations, photos of award-winning pool and spa designs, and a wealth of information on how to build, operate and maintain a safe pool or spa.
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