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How To Illuminate An Outdoor Hot Tub?

Adding a hot tub to your garden or patio space is a fantastic way of giving yourself a relaxing space to enjoy in the evening.

You can stay warm and enjoy the massaging sensation of the water jets in the peaceful natural surroundings.

But you don’t want to sit in the dark – that isn’t relaxing. Suddenly the water on your patio or deck becomes a slip hazard, and the darkness can feel a little isolating and unwelcoming.

There are many ways to illuminate a hot tub, including submerged or floating lights, LED strips around the hot tub (especially on the steps), deck lighting, and string lights hung around – but not over – the hot tub itself.

In this guide, I’ll explain the following:

  • The options you have for illuminating the space around a hot tub
  • How to hang string lights around a hot tub
  • Whether submerged or floating lights work in a hot tub
  • If you need special lighting for an inflatable hot tub

How To Illuminate The Area Around The Hot Tub?

Young woman enjoying outdoor illuminated hot tub

You have many options for lighting your outdoor space around the hot tub.

And while you don’t want to get crazy with adding too much lighting, you can mix and match to create your perfect ambiance.

That depends on the size and layout of your outdoor space.

The amount of lighting you need to set the mood will vary for everyone, but as a guide, you want to take two main considerations into account:

  • Safety – ensuring you can safely access your hot tub and that the main walkway from your home to the hot tub is well-lit
  • Atmosphere – you don’t want to create a too dim or bright space.

Here’s a quick rundown of all of the options you have available for the space around your hot tub:

LED strip lights

LED strip lights are one of your better options for lighting the immediate area around the hot tub – you can attach them to the outside edge.

They’re also great for illuminating the steps leading up to the hot tub.

The downsides are that the strips will have a low throw – you’d need to pair them with other lighting options for the spaces further from the hot tub – and you’d need battery-powered strips, which aren’t as powerful, or you’d need to run additional wiring from your hot tub to the mains.

If you already have a good solution for hiding the hot tub’s power cable, you could use the same solution to conceal the wiring for your strip lights.

String lights

String lights are a great way of adding a more relaxing atmosphere to your outdoor space.

They create a gentle glow over a wider area and look attractive, too – unlike other lighting options, they can become a feature.

However, they’re also one of the most complicated physical installation options. Therefore, you need to pay particular attention to where you hang them – more on that below.

Deck lights

Installed flush with your decking, deck lights are an excellent option for lighting the area leading up to the hot tub.

They’re not the easiest to install – you need to carefully measure and cut to create recesses for the lights – and if you choose wired lights, you ideally need to be able to access the underside of your decking to run the cabling properly.

You could use solar deck lights, but this relies on your decking getting enough sunlight during the day to effectively charge them.

Wall-mounted patio lights

 hot tub in a romantic environment illuminated with patio lights and pink glow

Wall-mounted patio lights are the least atmospheric option on this list.

You’ll want to avoid security-type lights purely designed for safety.

They’ll be too bright for your hot tub needs.

Buying multiple, lower-wattage wall-mounted lights is the way to go, but you must work out wiring them.

While installing them on the wall is easy, wiring them behind the wall can be more of a project.

How To Hang String Lights Over A Hot Tub?

patio light hanging over hot tub

Hanging string lights around your hot tub is one of the more visually-pleasing ways of lighting the space. Still, there are specific safety issues you need to be aware of.

After all, if something were to happen to the anchor points holding up the lights, they could fall into the water and cause electrocution.

According to Section 680.43 of the National Electrical Code, any lights hung within 10 feet of the walls of a hot tub, or within 12 feet of the water’s surface above, must be rated for use in wet locations and should be low voltage only.

Many string lights will be low voltage but may not be fully rated for wet locations.

Being weatherproof is different from being fully waterproof.

Avoid hanging string lights above a hot tub; instead, use them in the surrounding area.

You can use my guide on hanging string lights around a pool to check different ways to actually hang them safely.

Can I Add Lights Inside A Spa Or A Hot Tub?

Hot tub illuminated pool

As well as adding lights to the area around a spa or hot tub, another option is to add lights to the hot tub itself.

However, the lighting effect is reduced because of the powerful water jets, which cause a lot of diffusions.

I wouldn’t recommend using lights inside the hot tub alone – you’ll want deck lights or LED strips to illuminate the area around it.

Lights for use in water can either be floating lights or lights designed to be submerged. I wouldn’t recommend using floating lights in a hot tub, though.

If you have a floating light, it isn’t sitting still – it will be pushed around a lot, meaning the light will become distracting.

If you want to light the inside of your hot tub, opt for submerged lights.

The actual light beam will still be diffused more by the bubble jets, but at least the light fixture shouldn’t be thrown around to bash you while you enjoy the hot tub.

Do I Need Special Lighting For An Inflatable Hot Tub?

inflatable hot tub with wall lights

There are two sides to this question: do you need special lighting for hot tubs in general, and do you need specific lights where they are inflatable?

In general, you’ll need lights with a lower wattage for hot tubs. This is because hot tubs are smaller than swimming pools, so you don’t need quite as bright a light.

You also have less space, and lower-wattage lights will often be physically smaller too.

So look for lights advertised as being suitable for hot tubs rather than pool lights.

But do you need special ones for inflatable hot tubs?

Not really.

Any LED light designed to work underwater won’t have temperature issues, whether stuck to the hard lining of a fixed hot tub or the rubber of an inflatable one.

Most submersible lights for hot tubs come with suction cup attachments, which will work just as well on the inflatable material as they will on a harder surface.

So don’t worry if your hot tub is inflatable – ensure the lights are designed for a hot tub, not a larger pool.

Final Words

There are some great options for lighting up your hot tub and the surrounding area, making it much more relaxing at night.

If you’re adding a hot tub to your garden and you already have outdoor lighting in place, your priority will be on illuminating the hot tub space.

But if you’re starting from scratch, you have a blank canvas for lighting up the space in whatever way works for you.

I love how LED strip lights look around a hot tub and are used on steps, but they might not work for you, or you may prefer something else.

What options did you choose if you’ve already added hot tub lighting?