Residential Club House Outdoor Pool Lighting Design

An architect friend of ours contacted us regarding advice on the design of outdoor pool lighting. He was managing a residential project. There was an outdoor pool in the club house. The project did not employ any lighting consultant. An issue arose from their last project – glare. He was worried if the same problem would come up to him for his current project…

Glare is quite a subjective sensory experience. We can simplify the concept of glare by considering it as the contrast between the light source and the ambient light. The greater the contrast, the more glare we experience. Daytime and nighttime perceptions of the same light source are different. A 20W light bulb may not be noticeable during the daytime, but at night it may cause glare if it is placed outdoors.  It is all due to contrast. Various factors affecting how severe one feels about the glare for example placement of the light fitting, the angle of the light fitting with respect to the viewer, the lighting distribution of the light fitting, size of the light fitting aperture, power of the light fitting, age of the viewer and time of use.

Hong Kong Swimming Pool Licence Requirement

For the safety of users of a covered pool or an open air pool that has been declared to be used after sunset, maintain the illumination of an average intensity of not less than 200 lux at all sidewalks and standing space immediately adjoining the rim of the pool and the water surface of the pool; the illumination shall be of acceptable uniformity and such that the entire pool area are clearly visible.

Glare Does Matter

The outdoor pool is surrounded by low-rise residential blocks. The architect team prefers the light pole to be as low as possible to minimize the visual impact created to the residential blocks. They have someone to do the lighting proposal for them and they go for it already. The lighting plan comes with the use of 2x250W floodlight to be mounted at 4.5m(H) light pole. Totally there are 17 pieces of light poles. It is required to achieve the statutory requirements of minimum 200lux at each point in Hong Kong. Lighting level requirement is different across different locations. The minimum requirement is as low as 30lux in US Florida. We can see that the simulation meets the requirement. However, it did not put glare into consideration. 2x250W to be put at 4.5m(H) light pole would create too much glare to visitors. The landscape designer would not have a happy face if he knew that there will be 17 pieces of light poles surrounding the outdoor pool. Dialux simulation showed the glare rating is all above 50 with red indicators. The architect and his team have to think about some remedial measure to solve the glare issue as they purchased those lightings already.

Glare rating (GR) are over 50, red indicators

Let Glare be Manageable

We provided him with a counter proposal for consideration on their next project. With our proposal, we proposed lower power multi-light heads, which are advantageous in that they allow for each fitting to be directed to a specific location and illuminate the space more uniformly. Lighting fixture of small size equipped with high efficiency LED source provides sufficient illumination that meets statutory requirements and provides a visually appealing area lighting effect. We have achieved a glare rating of around 35 in the Dialux simulation, with all green indicators. 6x70W spotlights will be mounted at a height of 4.5 meters (H). Totally 12 pieces light poles are required.

Glare rating (GR) are around 35, green indicators

Create a Soothing Pool Environment

Design pool lighting including underwater lights may not be as simple as one may think. It is a professional design skill plus experience on how to create desired lighting experience, how to balance safety/statutory lighting level requirements, glare, impact on landscape design, budget on purchasing and installation of lighting system etc. It is essential to note that pool lighting is something we may not notice when the design is good but is also something that can be a disaster when it is neglected.

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