The ULTIMATE guide to Hot Tub Lights in your DIY Hot Tub
You lift the cover on your DIY Hot Tub build. You can feel the heat rise, the steam hits your face. Your water is beautifully clear and the soothing colours gradually fade from red, to green, to blue, to white, ah bliss. The hot tub light, as with any “scene” really sets the ambiance so it is really important to get it right. In this blog post we are going to discuss how to install lighting into your DIY Hot Tub build. We are going to assume that you have built your tub out of bricks or concrete as we did in our own guide.
Choosing Hot Tub lights should be simple. However, when it came to my build, it was not. It was so confusing. What connected where just wasn’t clear at all. Also, if you start to google for Hot Tub lights, you usually find lots of smaller lights that are much more suited to being in a plastic shell tub. They were certainly not going to be any use to my in my cinder block DIY Hot tub. What is the solution?
Well, I began to look at Swimming Pool Lights and this seemed to be the answer. That said, it did come what what I affectionately began to call “swimming pool tax”. Anything swimming pool related came at a cost. I found a colour changing pool light that I liked. It wasn’t cheap. £230/$300. When I asked the supply guy about powering it, he tried to sell me the £350/$400 power supply that was designed to be used with it.
Knowing a reasonable amount about power, electricity and electronics, I thought that I would take my chances and find something else to power it. I did, a £20/$30 AC Adaptor did the trick. It wasn’t clear and it wasn’t cheap. This is what led me to launching our own Hot Tub LED light. I knew there would be a market for it if it was good enough, different enough and easy enough to install and configure. Guess what. It is!
So, I strongly believe that from my own experience, this is the LED light that you want in your own Hot Tub Build.
It’s cheaper than most lights on the market.
Its brighter than most lights on the market
Its thinner than ALL lights on the market
This is the Ultimate DIY Hot Tub light
Super Slim Hot Tub Light
How Big Should a Hot Tub light be?
The last thing that you want to do is put something in your DIY Hot Tub build that is not going to light it up enough. My own build, and the expensive swimming pool light that I opted for is a 27W LED. I wanted to go brighter than this with our own LED Light so we have opted for 35W of brightness. It’s bright! A single light is going to be more than enough for a Hot Tub which is up to 3m x 3m (10′ x 10′)
I did have a look around on the market what was available and also got some samples in. I got an LED light that looked so big it might have been mistaken for a UFO. It is huge! This was the style of old pool lighting with halogen was the thing. Luckily, technology today has moved on.
The size we have opted for is 230mm (9.06″) in diameter and this beauty is only 8mm (0.3″) thin.
Super thin hot tub light
This size is perfect as you can mount it on a step if you wish, which is how I mounted my own or it can go on the side of the Hot Tub. What is really cool with our LED Light is that it is so super thin that it is barely there. Most lights protrude 30-40mm (1.18″-1.57″), we’re only taking up 8mm (0.3″) of space – it’s fantastic.
Do I want LED or Halogen?
This is an easy one to answer. Halogen lights are very much a thing of the past. You do not want to be buying anything other that LED lighting for your DIY Hot Tub. LED is equally as bright, if not brighter, but it was last a whole lot longer than Halogen. It is also a lot cheaper to run and the power supplies that you need cost a lot less too. LED is the way forward.
How powerful should my light be?
Not wanting to be too biased to our own product here, I would say that you want something from 25W upwards. Anything less than this you are going to need more than one LED light in your DIY Hot Tub build.
How do I power my Hot Tub light?
I’ve already mentioned the story about the “swimming pool tax” on power supplies that are designed for swimming pools. The thing is, as long as you put the power supply in a dry area, eg your control room as you don’t want to be filling your pump with water (that is another story) it will be totally fine. That is why our own super-slim LED hot tub light is powered by a regular 3A 12V DC power supply.
Simply connect this power supply to the LED controller and off you go. Wire it in properly and a power supply that you can pick up for £15/$20 will do the trick. As we supply to multiple countries, we don’t include the power supply in the box but this is something you can pick up locally. Amazon.com have a million different options.
Should I connect my Hot Tub light to my Spa Pack?
For those of your that have read my blog on building a hot tub already, know that answer to this – no! The lights that use the Topside Controls to turn them on and off (button is normally next to the jets and blower buttons) are really designed for plastic shell tubs. They are not designed for swimming pool grade bright lights. In short, they draw way too much current.
Let’s just say that I found this out th hard way and was going through £300/$350 circuit boards on a weekly basis until I realised what the problem was. Well, to be fair, after the second one went I did some serious investigating as it was costing me fortune!
Plastic shell hot tub lights draw such a little current that you can run them from the spa pack – that is what they are designed to do. A swimming pool grade light such as ours, will draw 4x the amount of current and will blow the control board in the Spa Pack. That was what was happening to me!
My advice it to keep them totally separate. Once you turn the lights on, there is no real benefit of being able to switch them off from the spa pack.
How do I control my Light?
How you control your hot tub light is really up to you. My own, is just on a switch. That said, with our new super slim LED, we actually include a remote control that you can use to change the colours or the mode of the LED light. One thing to remember though is that the remote control is not waterproof!
What we suggest is that you wire in a switch to your power supply. The switch should be near to the Hot Tub so when you turn on the jets (probably before you do that) you can actually turn on the Hot Tub lights. The remote control is used to set the mode and then you can store it in its holder, somewhere near your control room or even indoors.
To be honest, once you have set the ambiance that you like, you will probably leave it – that is what I have done with my own tub. It is on slow fade between colours. I don’t have half the setting that our new LED light has!
How do I install my Hot Tub light?
Choose a position
The position of “traditional” pool lights was always so important. This was because they took up so much space. The beauty of our LED light is that it is so thin and it has a barely-there footprint. This means that you can install it pretty much anywhere without compromising on space.
I would go with either a side wall (so you are not looking at the LED when you are entering the hot tub by the steps) or place it on the bottom step of your tub. This is where I have my own.
Install some pipe
This may seem a little odd, but you do want to drill a hole and install some of your left over pipe, the size doesn’t matter. The reason that you do this is so that you can store the cable behind the light. There may be a time where you need to remove the light and take it above the water line. There are no serviceable parts, but still, it is good practice. By having some pipe into the wall or the step, you can store the cable then mount the LED light over the top. Easy!
Install your Cable
You are going to want to run your cable during the brickwork/concrete stage of your design. How you install the cable is up to you. I went for the permanent option which means I’m stuck if my cable decides to break down (hopefully this will not happen) There tends to be too much pressure to have a cable that can be easily removed without causing leaks so you need to run the cable from the light to the outside of the tub.
I would then suggest connecting an extension cable to wherever you are going to keep the LED controller. Remember, it needs to be kept dry.
Surface mount your LED light
The beauty of our light is that it is surface mounted. This makes it so easy! Simply drill two holes, insert the raw plugs (fixings) and screw the light to the wall or step. The back of the light needs to be recessed a little, but if you have the pipe behind to keep the training cable then you will have no problem at all. Installation made easy!