Fountain Lights: Underwater lighting design

Highlight the decorative elements of your garden water feature

Fountain Lights

Fountain lights can make a huge difference to your garden water feature by highlighting decorative elements, illuminating the water and fish and adding colour to the fountain itself. Dramatic designer effects can be created with different colored lenses and many illumination kits now include these as standard.

Getting the most out of your fountain lights

Light reflects off water beautifully and if placed well fountain lights can change the look of your water feature dramatically. Deciding where to put your lights is very important. The first consideration is how deep to place your lights. The deeper the water the more the light will disperse. Having clear water also helps the illumination as dirty water deadens the effect of your lighting. If the water in your fountain is moving this will distort the effect of the lights causing constant changes to the effect.

Experiment with your fountain lights to find the best placement. Make sure to clean your fountain thoroughly first and completely replace the water as this will maximise the effect of the light. Try moving the fountain light or lights up and down and adjusting the angle of the light and the flow of the water until you get the best effect.

Installing your fountain lights

When installing your lights don’t make the mistake of screwing the light cover on too tightly. You need to make sure the cover is secure in order to make it water tight but as the light heats up it heats the gasket and the gasket will expand. If there’s no space to expand into the added pressure can cause a leak or a crack and make your light useless.

What to look for in fountain lights

It may seem obvious but make sure the light you choose is fully submersible. Underwater lights are generally made using copper, brass, fibreglass or the composite Ryton. Fountains that include fish should not have lights housed in copper as the metal reacts with water and can produce a toxin that can kill the fish. Check the size of the light fittings as these need to be in proportion to your water feature and decide if you want lights that will point up directly out of the water or would like to light your fountain at an angle. If so, look for lights that come with brackets that allow for adjustment. Lights can also be controlled with different filters and glare shields so ask about this when in the store.


Water and electricity can be a lethal combination and it’s important to make sure that everything is hooked up safely before testing your underwater lighting. Always buy your fountain lights from reliable manufacturers and get advice from the garden center or technician on how to install them. Follow instructions carefully and only plug submersible lights into a socket protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), a device the can protect you from severe electric shocks. The GFCI unit detects ground faults and can interrupt the flow of electricity in an emergency. To begin with it’s best to start with low voltage (12 volts) underwater lights before moving on to stronger fountain lights.


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