CH project manager should refer to local codes. Some codes do not require underwater lights; however, most will state that when they are provided, they should be designed so that 0.5 watts will be provided per square foot of pool surface area. Some states have minimum wattage requirements, e.g. Georgia requires 1.0 watts/sq. ft.
CH design standard is to provide a minimum of 1 watt per square foot for traditional pools and 2 watts per square foot for platform diving pools.
If there are no underwater lights, there needs to be enough overhead lighting to see the bottom of the pool.
1’-6” is required from the water level to the top of the underwater light. Minimum pool depths for underwater lights should be 2’-6”.
When metal halide lights were used, they were recommended to be mounted as shallow as possible (i.e. 1’-6” below the surface of the pool) no matter what the water depth because of the way that the bulbs refract light. In deeper pools, prior to metal halide light’s emergence in the market, CH designed with incandescent lights mounted deeper in the pool. Pentair says that the Intellibrite LED lights should be mounted deeper for pools like diving wells but should be no deeper than 8’-0”.
For all competitive collegiate pools, these NCAA rules should be discussed with the owner. If shallow water is included in the project a decision should be made to not include underwater lights where the NCAA requirements cannot be met or adjust the course layouts such that racecourses for NCAA sanctioned meets do not conflict with the underwater light rulings.
For small to modest sized swimming and leisure pools, the lights should be 300 or 500 watts.
For small pools and spas, the lights should be 100 or 150 watts.
Underwater lights are recommended on indoor competitive pools, or when there is a lot of glass in the natatorium, to minimize glare. However, in a lot of cases, the underwater lights will not be used, and they create “hot spots” for television cameras.
Underwater lights should always go on the side of the competitive course so that swimmers are never swimming into the light.
While not ideal, the West Coast studio sometimes places lights at the ends of the racing lanes. Since most recreation pools are not used for competition use this is acceptable. In the event of placing lights at the end of racing lanes, the project manager should confirm that the pool is not normally used for competition.
Underwater lights are usually provided in the form of wet niche fixtures located in the pool walls. Hydrel and Pentair are manufacturers that can provide suitable products.
The electrical engineer should call for their connection and control. Usually, the pool contractor will install the wet niches in the pool shell, and the electrical contractor will connect and install the actual fixtures. The electrical engineer needs only to show their general location in plan view with the conduits and junction boxes.
It is important that the PVC conduit (brass should not be used) from the niche to the junction boxes be specified for a sealed, watertight installation. Since the conduit is mostly below the water level of the pool, leaks due to unglued joints and couplings can be a costly problem to correct.
Light fixtures must be specified with cord lengths to extend to the junction boxes and still have enough cord to bring the fixtures up to and re-lamp on the deck. Standard cord lengths may not be adequate.
All lights should be GFI protected per the NEC.
All underwater lights where a bulkhead will be traveling by will need to either be recessed or a notch in the bulkhead will need to be provided.
The Pentair Amerquartz series light has been discontinued. The comparable Pentair Amerlite or Hydrel underwater light should be specified in its place or LED underwater lighting should be considered.
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