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The 3 Different Types of Garden Pond Lighting Ideas

Adding lighting to a pond creates another dimension to a garden’s ambiance at night. Even though lighting doesn’t provide any real benefits to the fishes, they allow you to see what they are up to when the sun goes down. There are a number of areas where lights can be placed to decorate and light up a pond. Here we will go over the three general areas, specific garden pond lighting ideas and also the different types of lights.

pond lighting ideas

Lighting Types – Halogen and LED

The pond lighting ideas outlined below can come in two different bulb types, Halogen and LED. The most common pond lights are low voltage 12 volt halogen lamps. These are inexpensive lights that only come as white bulbs (colored lenses are included with some pond lighting kits). Halogen light bulbs do give off a lot of heat, and consume a lot of energy, making them have a short life span. LED pond lighting is an alternative, which is becoming more and more popular. These are eco friendly lights that have a much longer life span than halogen bulbs. Because they use much less energy, they give off less heat which is ideal for lighting small ponds. Unlike halogens, the LED light bulbs themselves can come in a range of colors. There are also LED pond lights that are preprogrammed to fade to different colors.

The 3 Types of Pond Lighting Ideas

When it comes to deciding which lighting ideas are best for your pond, you will want to decide if you want to create soft and subtle lighting or turn your pond into a garden feature by adding more light fixtures. Do you want to see the whole pond at night or just light certain areas and see glimpses of fish as they swim by – creating a more mysterious and enchanting pond at night.

There are three types of pond lighting ideas:

  1. Underwater lighting
  2. Above water lighting
  3. Perimeter lighting

Underwater Pond Lighting

Underwater recessed pond lights

Underwater lights are the most common lights in creating a well lit pond at night. These are low voltage electrical lights. Usually 35 to 75 watts, the deeper the pond the higher the wattage needed.

The most popular types are kits that contain 1 or 3 lamps that you stake to the bottom of the pond. Another option is to have recessed lights fitted into the bedrock underwater (much like swimming pool lighting).

There are also lights that are fitted into a rock shaped encasing, that blends in with the rest of the pond. These are low voltage lights that are submerged underwater.

Most underwater lights are used for general lighting – they wash a general area of the pond with light. However, there are spotlights that can be used underwater. These are used to provide more focused and localized lighting, highlighting a certain spot underwater, whether that is a rock bed, an underwater statue, etc.

Left: General underwater pond light Right: Underwater spotlight

Lighting Tip: More natural hues of colors (off white, orange, green, yellow) are used for submersible pond lighting, while purples and blues are generally used for decorative above water lighting.

Above Pond Lighting

Another way of adding lighting to a pond is to add lights that sit above the water. Floating pond lights are an elegant lighting fixture to add. These can come as low voltage or solar powered versions. Floating solar lights are a lot easier and cheaper to install, and will automatically come on as it gets dark. These lights generally have the bulb above the water and will wash the surface of the pond with light. There are floating lights that have the bulb on the bottom so the light points down into the pond. This acts as moon lighting, lighting the pond and the fishes from above. Using floating lights along with underwater lights will create soft and subtle lighting for a pond.

Floating solar pond lights

Lights attached to the base of a fountain

Another above pond lighting idea is fountain lighting. If you have, or are planning on installing a fountain that aerates the water, spurting water up into the air, lights can be installed at the base. The lights are pointed up onto the shooting water, illuminating and even changing the color of the water (with the use of lenses or colored LED lights). This creates a colorful water display.

Perimeter Lighting

Lighting the perimeter of the pond adds to the visual display of the pond and also to the safety. Outlining the perimeter of the pond helps in navigating around it at night. There are a number of perimeter lighting ideas.

Simple perimeter lighting ideas would include solar lights. These can come in rock shapes to blend in with the landscape, or solar stake lights that are planted into the soil around the pond. Recessed lights can be installed into the ground and rock bed above the water (either as solar powered or low voltage).

Spotlights shining from above are ideal for larger ponds. These can be attached to a wall or the rock bed, and can shine down onto a particular area or feature in or around the pond. A small waterfall, where the water simply cascades down over a small rock bed and ventilates the pond, can be lit up with simple above ground or even underwater spotlights – turning the waterfall into a feature of the pond.

Stake lights outlining a pond

Pond mister

One Step Further

How about adding a simple pond mister? These are simple devices that create a mystical mist above the water. They are completely safe to life in the pond. These are used only for decorative purposes, and with the use of lighting they create a beautiful water display. Here you can use LED lights that can change the color of the mist.

Where to Buy

Total Pond has a small selection of pond lights, which are available online from Home Depot

Good quality pond lights range in price from $20 for simple floating lights and single submersible lighting kits to over $200 for complete lighting systems for garden ponds.

When it comes to pond lighting ideas, simple and subtle lighting goes a long way in creating a beautiful water feature. Invest in high quality fixtures as these will be able to stand the conditions of pond life.

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Let Light Dance and Wash Over Your Pool or Pond With Floating Solar Lights

During the daytime a pool or a pond can easily be enjoyed with sun light. At night though, an assortment of exterior lighting fixtures needs to be used for you to be able to enjoy these areas. For pools and ponds there are a number of electrical light fixtures that can be used underwater, attached to the wall, or on ground around these areas. But what about on the water itself? Floating solar lights are able to add lighting to the water’s surface. The light shines, reflects, dances and wash over the water.

Like A Tropical Resort At Night

Any water feature in a garden should be well lit. There is a sense of calmness that comes with water features, with the soft movement of the water, a feeling that can’t be replicated with other features in the garden. Think of walking around a tropical resort at night with pools, and ponds lit up.

Going Solar

Like any solar light, solar floating lights for a pool or pond are: a) cost effective as they are cheap to buy (costs ranging from $10-$30) and don’t cost anything to run, b) low maintenance as they will switch themselves on when it gets dark and c) easy to install, all you do is throw them into the water. Each floating solar light will have LED lights within them that can provide up to 10 hours of lighting with 1 charge, a rechargeable battery, a solar panel to absorb the sunlight, and a light sensor to let the light know when it gets dark. To get maximum performance out of these solar lights, they will need 5-8 hours (depending on the size of the light fixture, solar cell efficiency, etc.) of daylight.

The Range of Floating Solar Lighting

Some floating solar pool lights put on a lighting show

Floating solar lights come in a range of different types to suit different peoples tastes in garden lighting. They come in a range of lighting colors – some are fixed to one color, others will change colors as they shine, there are some floating light fixtures that allow you to choose the light color. There are also decorative floating lights – some come as floating water lily’s or flowers. There are floating solar pond lights that shine downwards so that you can see the fishes swimming at night. If you plan on lighting a whole swimming pool or a large pond, you will need a number of floating lights to do the lighting any justice, whereas a small pond/fountain/or birdbath can do with 2-3 lights.

Tips on Solar Exterior Lighting

  • Because these floating solar lights automatically switch on when it gets dark, other light sources will interrupt or switch the light off at night. So they can’t be too close to on ground lighting that shines into the water.
  • The solar cell or outer part of the light fixtures will need to be clear of debris and dirt so that it can absorb sunlight to its maximum potential
  • Be careful as a few solar floating light warranties will not cover them being placed into swimming pools

Getting The Most Out Of Any Solar Garden Lighting

Floating solar lights can be inexpensive, ranging from 10-30$ per unit. But just like any solar exterior lighting fixture, investment in the fixtures will pay off in the long run. Cheap solar lights will have low quality parts, which means they will not be able to absorb and convert the sunlight efficiently and the lights will not shine as bright or as long as higher quality solar light fixtures.

Creating A Beautiful Outdoor Space

Keep in mind that one of the main lighting design principles is to use a range of different lighting fixtures. This is because different lights produce different lighting effects adding to the visual beauty of an area. Using only one type of lighting fixture, whether outdoors or indoors, will create a monotone look. So adding solar floating lights to your garden lighting design will add another lighting effect, adding to the beauty of your outdoor space.