Submersible Pond Lights vs Downlights (& Pond Lighting Ideas)

Heather Clouse
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Submersible Pond Lights vs Downlights

Pond lighting comes in two main forms: submerged submersible lights and downlights.

Submersible lights are hidden under water and are detachable from the energy source. They are all waterproof and submersible.

Downlights, on the other hand, are specifically designed for larger ponds and aquariums up to 16 feet deep. They are usually above the surface and attached to a glass canopy or similar to hold them up from the water.

Submersible pond lights are available in a variety of wattages and type. Some popular designs include the basic light, the mid-level light, the full-spectrum light, and the light with an ultraviolet sanitizer.

If you already have an existing pond with no lights, it’s better to install a submersible light instead of replacing your whole pond. However, if you are building a new pond and have the option, it’s better to install a downlight.

Ponds with downlights don’t require you to do any additional maintenance to make them function. They are sturdy, durable, and can be used for years without needing any attention.

Unlike submersible lights, however, they can be expensive and some require additional parts like light chambers. Also, downlights are not suitable for smaller ponds, but submersible lights are quite effective for small ponds.

What Is a Pond Downlight?

A pond downlight is an underwater pond light that is designed to:

Make your pond and fish more visible.

Enhance the appearance of your pond.

Provide the natural environment your fish need.

A pond upfront light may have a cracker, spreader, fiber optic or a linear LED light bar.

They can be fitted to any length or width of which they will be only be about 7-8 inches in depth.

What the light does is create a unique light reflection that’s very pleasing in ponds.

If you are doing one big pond or multiple ponds scattered around your property, using downlights and light bars is a great way to complement the environment and add value to your home.

Here are a few more facts about pond lights:

There are no wires underwater.

Pond light LEDs are waterproof.

The light tube and the LED strip can be installed and wired up in take time.

The benefits of using a pond downlight include:

Improved water flora and fauna balance.

More natural aquatic living.

A unique watery ambience.

What Is a Submersible Light?

Submersible lights are the most common type of pond lights used for lighting up ponds and fountain environments.

They are designed to be submerged entirely in water and typically come with a power cord, inline transformer and mounting hardware. Submersible lights are a great option for lighting up shallow streams and rivers and they come in a staggering variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

Typically, they come with an underwater light bulb that is sealed inside the outside housing. Most come with a protective sleeve to prevent the bulb from breaking when it’s underwater, popping out of the metal base and to prevent the water from short circuiting the light’s power cord.

Submersible lights can be the best choice for lighting up shallow water areas because they do not cast light over large amounts of water.

As you add more water between your light and the pond bed, light becomes scattered and goes into the water area. However, submerged lights do make a power cord very visible underwater.

They are also a popular choice for illuminating decorative waterfalls as well as waterfalls that do not have a flow. Some underwater lights come in multiple sizes, shapes and lengths that allow you to light up your water feature.

Advantages & Disadvantages of LED Pond Downlights

When it comes to pond lighting it’s important to know the main differences between LED pond downlights and dedicated pond lights.

If you want to light up a small area of your pond, pond downlights are a practical choice. They are typically more affordable and offer a number of advantages over dedicated pond lights.

The first big advantage of LED pond downlights is that they are easy to install. They can be either submerged in the water or placed on the ground next to the water and used as a free standing unit … no wires in or under the water.

They also typically utilize thin, flat base LEDs which can be installed close to the water surface to provide lighting very close to the water.

Considering the small footprint, pond downlights are also an economical choice.

But there are also some downsides to pond downlights.

Pond downlights don’t emit enough light to light up larger surface areas.

The light also isn’t very bright. It doesn’t penetrate the deep areas of your pond very well and the light is also scattered.

This can make it tricky to see bottom-feeding fish, and even your plants and decorative objects.

Advantages & Disadvantages of LED Submersible Lights

LED (light emitting diodes) lights are designed for outdoor use, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are more energy efficient than incandescent lighting, cheaper to run, and they last longer. They also come with an automatic shut off so that the light will not burn out if you forget to turn them off in the dark.

Their small size makes them useful for decorating fish ponds, water fountains, and fountains or for establishing a perimeter around your pond. They can even be used to illuminate your pond in a desired color.

Some submersible lights are not waterproof, so if you want to use them over a pond, a fountain, or a water garden, you will need to place them inside a protective housing for outdoor use.

These waterproof housings keep the light from malfunctioning due to water splashes and allow them to be underwater without fear of them shorting out or getting damaged.

Take one or more spotlights and set them to cover water fountains, larger ponds, or a fountain. This set of three lights provides the perfect option for a fountain lit from below.

These spotlights can be attached by string, or simply set them in the fountain itself. For added safety, the power cord can be plugged into a 3-way outlet, so that the lights can’t come in contact with water.

Tips for Pond Lighting

Pond lighting has become more sophisticated over the years. By using simpler on/off switches, there is no “accidental” turning off of pond lights anymore.

Of course, even the best pond light will not work without a power source. Many manufacturers offer electrical pumps that work well with LED lighting. You can also buy LED light kits and run them on a timer for more convenience.

Unfortunately, these lights do not penetrate below the water’s surface. To illuminate areas beneath the water, you will need to use an underwater light.

Choosing the best pond light for your needs may seem a bit overwhelming. For smaller ponds, you can use LED strip lights or desk lamps.

Generally, the higher the wattage, the brighter the light. The best wattage depends on your pond size, depth, and intensity of light that you need.

A pond that is shallow and wide will not require a powerful pond light. For a large pond, a single downlight or LED light is not enough; you will need multiple lights to illuminate the pond.

Within an underwater downlight are LED lights that can help to improve water quality. The led lights convert ammonia and nitrites to nitrates, which can be more easily cleaned by your water filter. Likewise, they also help to keep algae under control.