Garden Pool Lighting
Whether water is still or moving, it can be greatly enhanced by lighting, which can create a magical atmosphere as darkness closes in. You may think that lighting your water feature will be a rather sophisticated and expensive undertaking, but modern garden lighting systems are easily installed, inexpensive to buy, and economical to run. So this added dimension to the water garden should be considered from the earliest planning stages. If conduit for cabling can be incorporated during construction, this will prove a distinct advantage, but if you already have a pool, or decide to add lighting once construction is under way, it will still be relatively simple to light your pool tastefully.
There are several different types of light, each of which serves a slightly different purpose. The simplest is the spotlight, which will enhance a specific area with a single beam.
Multiple units, comprising two or three lights, are also available and are perfect for illuminating large fountain features.
White light is most effective in, but sometimes spotlights with coloured lenses, which give amber and warm red glows, may be incorporated to advantage. Such spotlights can be positioned anywhere around the pool.
Underwater lighting is provided by special sealed units. These are usually placed directly beneath a fountain or waterfall, or positioned around the edge of the pool, pointing in towards the centre. However, exactly where you position this form of lighting will depend on the elements of your particular water feature, and you may need to work by trial and error until you achieve the best visual effect.
This is where the floating light can sometimes be used to great advantage. This functions in the same way as a static underwater light, but it is more readily adjusted to suit the prevailing conditions. Along with the other lighting systems, this benefits from being considered early in the planning stages of water garden construction, so that there is a connection point for an electrical supply close at hand.
Finally, there are illuminated fountains, which have integral lights. These provide a wonderful spectacle when it is dark, but become a normal fountain during the day. Such fountains are usually sold as kits, comprising awith fountain attachment and a sealed underwater lamp, which is secured to the pump. Some kits also come with a colour changing unit. This is a simple disc, fitted with different coloured lenses, that revolves as the pump functions, changing the colour of the light in a slow sequence.
Water and electricity are poor companions, so it is essential that only purpose designed underwater or outdoor lighting systems are used, and the manufacturer’.s instructions followed implicitly. The majority of garden lighting systems, whether designed for use in the pool or around its edges, operate from a transformer that is linked to the normal domestic electricity supply. The transformer reduces the voltage to a safe level, which means that cables can be run on the surface if required, being concealed among plants. This is particularly useful, as it allows adjustments to be made to the system without a lot of disruption. No underground wiring is required, unless the transformer is installed in a building away from the house. The lamps can be fitted anywhere along the cable and are completely portable.
If a mains powered lighting system is chosen, great care will be needed in providing suitable cabling to the connection point. Armoured cable should be used as a matter of course. It must be installed underground, being buried in a trench at least 90cm (36in) deep to avoid the likelihood of any disturbance during normalwork, and run as close to the pool as is convenient. As a precaution, when burying the cable, cover it with a row of roofing tiles before backfilling the trench. This will prevent any accidental contact when digging in later years. A further warning of the cable’s presence can be given by laying brightly coloured tape along the top’s of the tiles for the entire length of the cable run. In addition to these precautions, any connection to the mains power should be through a circuit-breaker known as a residual current device.
For the most part, water gardeners who install lighting use it only during the hours of darkness when they may be relaxing beside the pool. There is no reason why the lights cannot be run continuously, but consider the fish; it is rather unfair to bathe them in bright light for nights on end.
INDOOR POOL LIGHTING
The same criteria can be applied to lighting the, except that some of the lamps may be too powerful for the kind of indoor feature that most domestic gardeners could afford. In most cases, smaller and simpler light units will be more suitable, multiple units being inappropriate.
As with outdoor features, it is possible to buy illuminated fountains for indoor use. Some are not really comparable to traditional water features, but act more as room humidifiers. They are totally self-contained, being filled with water and connected to the electrical supply, after which they will run continually. They have no facility for plants or fish, and neither would be desirable.
LAYING ELECTRICAL CABLE
1. Excavate a trench at least 90cm (36in) deep to ensure that the cable is not accidentally disturbed during gardening operations and mark it on a simple plan for future reference.
2. Lay the cable carefully in the bottom of the trench and cover it with a row of roofing tiles to provide added protection. Armoured cable should be used as a matter of course.
3. Lay a brightly coloured tape over the tiles for the entire length as an additional warning and backfill the trench. It may take some weeks for the soil to settle again.