Colored Underwater Lights Lend Magic Beauty to Garden Pools and Fountains (Jul, 1934)

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Colored Underwater Lights Lend Magic Beauty to Garden Pools and Fountains

By Walter E. Burton

THE magic touch of light will transform your garden pool into a jewel that gleams in the darkness with astonishing beauty. Goldfish, plants, and other details of the submarine world that you normally do not see, become a source of endless pleasure. If there is a fountain or miniature waterfall, light will bring out its hidden beauty. A swimming pool, whether indoors or out, will be doubly serviceable if it is equipped with an underwater lighting system.

Waterproof lighting fixtures are now available that can be used in a submerged position indefinitely. If you are planning to light your lily pool, garden fountain, or waterfall, you can experiment, if you wish, with cheap, improvised equipment before investing money in a permanent installation. From a fruit jar that has a tight-fitting lid, a quantity of rubber-covered cable, some metal pipe or tubing, a socket, some pieces of inner tube for gaskets, and a few other odds and ends, you can construct a lighting unit that can be used in the water.

Obtain a socket that can be mounted inside the lid. A keyless brass socket having a threaded base for receiving a nipple or a piece of conduit pipe will do. The pipe can be long enough to extend above the water surface, or the rubber-covered cable can be sealed inside a 3- or 4-in. nipple with aquarium cement or sealing wax. Use a new fruit-jar rubber to make the lid water-tight. A tubular lamp is best because it will slip into the jar easily.

This fixture, which should not be considered as a substitute for the more serviceable and powerful manufactured ones, will lend itself to an almost endless number of applications. Stick it into a small garden pool, and see how it transforms the underwater world like a magic wand! Place it beneath a fountain, and the light will follow the water as it arches grace- fully into the air. Lay the jar behind a waterfall, and the light will seem to flow downward with the water.

By using color screens you can produce an endless number of pleasing effects, especially if you have several lighting units. You can buy, from electric stores dealing in show-window equipment, colored transparent material that is virtually heatproof. You can form this into a cylinder and insert it into the jar around the bulb.

A commercial modification of the fruit-jar fixture can be purchased at a moderate price. It consists of a socket mounted on a metal base that is provided with a screw ring for clamping a heavy glass globe over the lamp. The seal between globe and base is made waterproof by gaskets. Conduit or cable connections can be used. The usual lamp size for a small unit of this type is 150 watts.

When it comes to lighting large swimming or garden pools, more elaborate equipment is recommended. Several types of underwater units have been designed for lamps ranging in size from 250 to 1,500 watts. Engineers suggest that these fixtures be placed in niches or receptacles built into the walls of the pool, where they will be protected from damage and will not be in the way.

It has been found that, to give proper illumination for a swimming pool, there should be watts of electricity used for each square foot of water surface. Thus, a pool 20 by 60 ft. has a surface of 1,200 sq. ft. and requires 3,000 watts. This could be provided by a dozen 250-watt lighting units mounted about 2-1/2 ft. below the surface and spaced equally around the edges.

If you are building a garden pool or waterfall, install a few windows in the concrete walls, behind which lamps can be placed. Build a form the size of the opening desired and arrange strips around its circumference so that a ledge will be produced in the concrete, against which the plate-glass window will rest. Seal the glass in place with a good aquarium cement. Excavate an opening behind the wall and build, opposite the window, a well or chamber that extends upward to the ground surface, where it can be covered with a suitable lid. Place the lighting unit, which can be simply a bulb, in a weatherproof socket, so that its light will shine throught the window. A reflector will increase the intensity of the light in the water. Colored glass or other material can be placed between lamp and window. If you make the lamp compartment large enough, you can use it for housing an oil heater that will keep the water of your pool from freezing in winter. Such units are available, and not costly to operate.

An illuminated garden pool should not be so full of lilies and other plants that the light is hidden. A pool that is mostly unobstructed water with a plant or two and a number of goldfish is much more attractive at night than one that is full of vegetation.

Engineers of the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, who have been developing submarine lighting, suggest that, in addition to the pool lighting system, a few lamps be used to illuminate nearby shrubbery, buildings, walks, and statues. An outdoor swimming pool usually requires one or more floodlight projectors to illuminate diving boards, chutes, and floats. Whenever possible, the light should be directed along the swimmer’s line of vision to prevent an annoying glare. Light from underwater units can be expected to illuminate only a few feet of the space around the pool. For the most artistic effect, lighting of shrubbery and other objects should be extended to include an area within 50 ft. of the pool.

Even in winter, submarine lighting has its place, particularly in pools and ponds used for skating. Lamps can be installed in waterproof sockets, without reflectors or housings but with suitable guards to prevent mechanical damage, and frozen into the ice a few inches below the surface.

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