Pool Light Choice: AC or DC?

Pool Light Choose: AC or DC

You might be wondering whether to Choice AC or DC for your pool lights. Don’t worry, by the time you’ve read this blog, you’ll have a clear answer that suits your needs. This article summarizes the differences between AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current) pool lights and provides a detailed comparison from a practical usage perspective.

Differences Between AC and DC

Before we dive into the choice between AC and DC for pool lights, let’s first understand the fundamental differences between alternating current and direct current.

Alternating Current (AC)

AC has fluctuating currents and voltages, forming waveforms with a specific frequency measured in Hertz (Hz). Transformers can easily transform AC power to change voltage levels, which makes long-distance transmission cost-effective. It’s the standard power type in most countries and regions. For example, Europe uses 220-240V at 50Hz, while the United States uses 120V at 60Hz. Most household appliances and industrial equipment use AC power.

In AC lighting systems, transformers are used to alter the output voltage.

Direct Current (DC)

DC has a constant flow of electrical charge, and its current and voltage remain stable without fluctuations. Electronic devices, such as microprocessors and integrated circuits, rely on this ripple-free, precise, and stable electrical current. Consequently, devices like computers and smartphones use DC power.

In DC lighting systems, switch-mode power supplies are used to change the output voltage.

Do You Need to Choice Between AC and DC for Monochrome LED Pool Lights?

When purchasing monochrome LED pool lights (such as: warm white), you don’t need to fret about choosing between AC or DC. These lights can be connected and used in both types of circuits. This versatility is possible because LED pool lights have an integrated circuit inside them that converts AC to constant, directional DC, allowing them to function like conventional diodes when connected to an AC circuit. You can use LED lights directly when connected to a DC circuit, without the need for such conversion.

SMD chips for monochrome, RGB and RGBW pool lights are shown from left to right.

monochrome, RGB, and RGBW pool lights

Differences Between AC and DC for Color-Changing LED Pool Lights

There are two types of color changing LED pool lights, AC and DC, they all follow the principle of three primary colors of light to emit light. But, except for the pool lights with DMX control system, there are obvious differences between AC and DC lights in terms of structure, control mode, and wiring.

AC LED Pool Lights

AC lights have built-in controllers that determine the light’s color, brightness, and flash mode. These lights change their light emission through Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). In PWM, each color of LED is periodically turned on and off. The longer the on-time (wider pulse width), the higher the LED’s brightness. By adjusting the on-time for each color, AC pool lights can control the brightness of each color for color-changing effects. When you adjust AC pool lights via a controller, you’re essentially sending pulse instructions. The internal controller in the pool light receives these pulse instructions and changes the light accordingly.

DC LED Pool Lights

DC lights do not have built-in controllers. They allocate a separate wire for each color of LED. An external controller, when connected to the circuit, changes the power voltage to each LED according to the control instructions, thereby adjusting the brightness of the LED chips and altering the light color of the DC pool lights.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing AC pool lights?

Advantages of AC Pool Lights

AC wiring consists of a fire wire and a zero wire, and choosing an AC pool light means that wiring becomes simple. With a 120V AC pool light(in the US), you only need to connect three wires, counting the ground wire. If a 12-volt AC battery light is selected, the lighting circuit will also require a transformer.

Also, the higher the voltage, the less lighting brightness is affected by voltage drop in larger projects.

This is a stainless steel AC pool light. Since the stainless steel housing conducts electricity, it comes with a ground wire for safety.

stainless steel AC pool light

This is a plastic AC pool light. It has one less ground wire than the stainless steel AC pool light.

AC plastic pool light

Disadvantages of AC Pool Lights

AC pool lights rely on internal controllers, and the color-changing modes are determined by these controllers. This limitation can hinder customization flexibility.

AC pool lights may only work with control systems from the same manufacturer due to the lack of standardized pulse signals.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing DC pool lights?

Advantages of DC Pool Lights

DC pool lights can be adapted to work with controllers from various manufacturers, offering more versatility in terms of lighting effects and color changes.

With the right control system, DC pool lights provide greater control over color changes and lighting effects.

Disadvantages of DC Pool Lights

DC pool lights require a separate wire for each LED color, which can make the wiring more intricate and potentially more costly. Additional cables: RGBW pool lights, for example, require five wires (including one dedicated to white LEDs), further complicating the installation process.

This is a DC-powered RGBW PAR56 bulb that has 5 wires.


If you’re looking for cost-effective and straightforward pool lighting, AC pool lights are a great choice. In most cases, AC pool lights are sufficient for meeting the lighting and decorative needs of residential pools.

However, if you desire a more personalized and precise control of the lighting effects, DC pool lights are the way to go. With a robust control system, DC pool lights can offer a richer and more customizable lighting experience.

WAKING Lighting is a professional LED underwater pool light manufacturer. We produce a variety of AC and DC LED pool lights. If you’re interested in our products or have any questions about these two types of pool lights, please feel free to contact us.

Are you looking for a professional underwater light supplier? Contact us now!

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