If you have a backyard pond, you know what peaceful pleasure it brings to your outdoor living. Ponds are beautiful during the day, with sunlight catching the subtle sparkle of darting fish and lilies floating lazily in the breeze. But once the sun sets, much of the beauty disappears.
Until you light up the pond! Suddenly your dark pond turns spectacular. Waterfalls sparkle. Fountains become dramatic works of aquatic art. The water surface shimmers and the light reflects off fish as they swim by. Pond lighting can also be used to light up nearby trees and other accent areas too!
Tips for lighting the pond area
Pond lights can be used submerged under the water, outside the pond pointing down at the pond (downlighting) and outside the pond pointing upward (uplighting). Each type of lighting creates a different look to the landscape. Let’s take a look at each type.
Downlighting creates a natural, diffused light that mimics natural light when the sun sets and moonlight takes over. This is exactly the effect you want when illuminating a pond, waterfall or water garden.
If you’ve got mature trees near the pond, you can install lights in the overhead branches to mimic the moonlight look. This make interesting shadows from branches and leaves around the pond area.
Downlighting illuminates the pond and nearby landscape, enhancing the total look and feel of your pond area. Mount the light in a tree so that it is not shining directly in your eyes when you are near the pond. You don’t want it to look like a bright security light. It should use only just enough light to create a subtle moonlight-like effect.
The uplighting technique involves placing lights near the water surface, but not submerged. The idea is to illuminate and highlight areas of the pond and nearby landscape. You may want to cast light across the water surface. Highlighting foliage in or near the pond looks great too.
Of course, pointing a light directly at a waterfall creates a dramatic effect at night. Experiment aiming the light where the water hits the surface of the pond. You want to catch the splash and bubbles that move and trickle.
Uplighting should not create a lot of glare. Position the light out of sight so only what is bathed in light is noticed.
Underwater lighting is aimed up toward the surface of the water. Depending on how the light is positioned the effect can illuminate the entire pond (like a swimming pool), show off a water fall or just light up a portion of your pond.
Underwater illumination also tends to call attention to floating debris. Keep the water clean and clear for the most pleasant lighting effects.
Avoiding common pond lighting mistakes
Don’t make the mistake of using too much light. The lighting should be subtle, not harsh like a spotlight. Lighting made for ponds are designed to cast soft shadows. In most cases, you’ll want the light to mimic soft moonlight. This brightness is the most appealing to the eye, creating a natural, soothing effect. The pond fixtures use low voltage since strong lighting is generally unnecessary for most backyard ponds and water gardens.
If your pond water is murky, submersible pond lights may not be the best choice. Illuminating dirty water ends up just highlighting the problem. Clear, well-maintained pond water will sparkle in the light. If your water is perpetually cloudy, avoid submerged lights or better yet – invest in proper pond filtration.
Hot spotting is always a huge “negative” when lighting up a pond. Never position a light fixture so it points directly at your viewing position. You don’t want the light to hit you in the eye. This will take some trial and error to get it right, especially if the pond will be viewed from more than one direction.
You also want to avoid creating an unnatural “hot spot” that comes from using a single lighting source.
If you just put a single light under a waterfall, it will look out of place, if the rest of the pond is in the dark. The idea is to light up all around the pond so it looks as balanced, natural and pleasing as possible.
Best Rated Pond Lights Reviews
What to look for in pond lighting
For most back-yard pond-keepers and water gardeners, a DIY lighting kit is the easiest to install and comes with an economical price tag.
You could spend hundreds of dollars on a professional stainless-steel or brass light fixture but the cost will outweigh the benefits on most backyard pond applications.
Plastic LED pond lights are economical to buy, easy to install and don’t use a lot of electricity. Many kits are expandable, allowing you to add on extra lights if you need them.
We’ve reviewed several of the best values in pond lighting to help you decide which kit is right for you.
Jebao is a well-known manufacturer of aquarium and pond products.
Their lighting kit features 3, 4, 5 and 6 light kits.
The light fixtures use energy-efficient LED technology. Each fixture contains 12 white LEDs.
You can use white light or select from red, green, yellow and red plastic snap-on lenses that come with each light.
A UL-listed low-voltage power supply keeps the pond safe. The lighting system is based on a 12-volts. A photocell turns the lights on at dusk and off at sunrise. Each light is mounted in a weighted base. The lights can be tilted up or down for easier aiming.
- 16-foot cords on each light for easy placement.
- Photocell for automatic control.
- Heavy base to keep the lights submerged under water.
- Comes with colored lenses.
- Stays submerged, does not float up.
The CalPump EggLites can be used submerged or dry. The patented EggLite lighting system can be used to illuminate ponds, fountains, statuary, potted plants and landscaping.
The 3-pack kit uses 10-watt halogen bulbs. The rubberized housing is durable and crack-proof.
The lights come with four colored lenses in blue, red, green and yellow. The lights are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, making them easy to hide in the landscape. Each light comes with a magnetic mounting base. Each light has a 10-foot power cord and a 16-foot extension cord and 60-watt power supply.
- Durable light housings.
- Lights have heavy bases.
- Light fixture can be tilted for easier aiming.
- Glass lenses.
- 16-foot power cord.
- Halogen bulbs not as durable as LEDs.
- Halogen bulbs use more energy than LEDs.
The Aquascape line of submersible spotlights can be used in or outside of the pond to illuminate a specific area around the pond.
The die-cast metal housing has a protective coating that won’t crack like plastic.
The light housing is permanently sealed and water-tight.
The fixtures won’t need to be opened since the LED fixtures will last for 40,000 hours. The LEDs provide a gentle, warm color temperature (3,000 K) that does not look cold and harsh. The Aquascape fixtures can be integrated into other 12-volt systems or used as stand-alone lights. Cord length is 14.5 feet.
- Metal housing.
- Permanently sealed.
- Warm LED lighting.
- 90% energy savings over halogen bulbs.
- Available in several wattages.
- 5-year replacement warranty.
- Does not have colored lenses.
The WEKSI lighting system uses red, green and blue LEDs inside each light fixture.
The colors can be blended to create an unlimited color palate. A remote control is used to select and set the colors.
The colors can be assigned to all lights or an automated color-changing program can be turned on.
Each light fixture contains 36 LEDs. The fixture heads can tilt 180 degrees in their yokes. For out of pond placement the kit comes with removable ground spikes. The spikes can be pressed into the ground to position the lights.
The kit has no photo-sensor so the lights must be controlled with a timer. The lights do not have a memory of the last color selection. When the power is turned off, the lights default to a strobing, color-changing pattern.
- LED technology.
- Remote controlled colors.
- No photo sensor.
- Lights tend to float when submerged.
- Cannot set the colors permanently.
- Color must be reset when power is disconnected or turned off.
Pond lighting kits offer a complete lighting solution that is easy to set up and use. The CalPump EggLites offer good durability and come with colored lenses.
If LED lighting is desired, the Jebao LED pond kit includes an automatic photo-cell feature. While color-changing LED technology offers unlimited color choices, the WEKSI lights require re-setting of the colors every time the power is turned off. Some users leave the power on all the time since the power usage is very low.
The Aquascape LED uplight offers natural white lighting to accent a tree or water fall.