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How to Wire Pool Lights

David Barnes

The warm glow of a pool light shimmering underwater in a swimming pool provides safety and beauty to your backyard's night-time landscaping. However, water and electricity can be a deadly combination if the pool light is improperly wired. You can wire a wet-niche pool light yourself safely by observing proper safety precautions.

A well-lit pool complements the landscaping in your backyard.
  1. Set the pool light niche in the pool wall as the pool is being built. Use the fish tape to pull number 8 bare copper single-strand wire from the brass junction box into the niche, and attach the wire to the bonding lug at the back of the niche with the screwdriver. Attach the other end to the bonding lug in the junction box base to provide a ground for the niche.

  2. Mount a 110-volt ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFC I, circuit breaker in the service panel. Leave the circuit breaker in the "Off" position. Use the fish tape to pull three 12-gauge single-strand wires (black for hot, white for neutral and green for ground) through the conduit from either a 110-volt time clock or an on/off switch to the service panel.

  3. Install a time clock if you want the light to turn on and off automatically each evening. Install an on/off switch instead if you want the light on only when the pool is being used or for an occasional visual effect in the backyard. Strip 1/2 inch of insulation off the end of each wire with the wire cutter/stripper, and attach the wires to the time clock or switch power-side terminals and to the service panel and GFCI circuit breaker. Leave the circuit breaker off.

  4. Pull the same size and color wiring through the conduit from the pool light's brass junction box to the time clock or switch. Strip 1/2 inch of the insulation from each wire, and attach the wires to the time clock or switch load terminals. Place the junction box at least 3 feet back from the pool's edge and 18 inches above ground level.

  5. Leave enough of the three wires protruding from the conduit at the junction box to make the connections to the light cord inside the junction box. Strip 1/2 inch of the insulation off each of the three wires.

  6. Place the light unit on the pool deck above the light niche. Unroll the unit's power cord and stretch it out along the deck so it doesn't kink when you pull it through the conduit. Return to the junction box, and run the fish tape through the conduit and out through the light niche into the water.

  7. Push enough of the fish tape through the niche so you can pull the end up out of the water and onto the deck. Attach the three wires at the end of the light cord to the fish tape, and tape them tightly to the fish tape end. Make sure the diameter of the entire taped connection is small enough the slide smoothly through the conduit and up into the junction box.

  8. Cut off any excess cord in the junction box with the wire cutter/stripper, leaving about 3 inches of the wires to make the connection between the cord wires and the wires from the time clock or switch. Strip 1/2 inch of insulation from the light cord wires, and use wirenuts to connect the two black hot wires together and the two white neutral wires together. Attach both green ground wires to the grounding lug in the junction box. Put the lid on the junction box, and use the screwdriver to secure it with the four hex-headed screws attached to the lid.

  9. Return to the pool side, and push the light unit into the water and down into the niche, coiling the excess light cord into the niche behind the light unit. Insert the screwdriver into the keeper screw in the top of the light unit's face plate, and secure it into the screw hole at the top of the light niche. Turn on the GFCI circuit breaker at the service panel, then turn on the time clock or switch to test the light.