Natatorium lighting design and cost guide

Natatorium lighting Design and Cost Guide

led natatorium lighting

Installing a proper lighting system for. your natatorium or indoor swimming pool is crucial for ensuring the safety of the swimmers and the viewing experience of the spectators during competitive events. Understanding the best practices for installing natatorium lighting will help you make the right choices when it comes to the design and layout of the system. Getting an idea of the total costs of the project will also help you avoid surprises along the way. 

The overall cost of an LED natatorium lighting installation can range from $35,000 to $660,000 depending on several factors that we will go through one by one further down the article.

In this article, we will also review essential design, layout, and arrangement considerations when it comes to installing natatorium lighting for a municipal or commercial swimming pool facility. 

Use our natatorium lighting cost calculator to get a customized cost estimate for your new installation or LED retrofit project. 

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We’ve created a comprehensive set of tools designed to assist facility managers and project planners in initiating their projects and connect them with the professionals in the industry.

What type of lighting systems are used in natatoriums?

For a long time, natatorium operators chose the tried and trusted metal halide lighting fixtures as it was the best solution available in terms of lighting quality and operating costs. However, times have changed, and it is now LED lighting technology that sits comfortably on the throne of the king of natatorium lighting systems. LEDs are more energy efficient, provide a better quality of light, and are environmentally friendly compared to metal halide lighting. 

LED Natatorium lighting pros and cons
natatorium lighting fixtures
Pendant mounted natatorium LED lighting fixtures (Photo credit: Sportsbeams Lighting)

Natatorium rated lighting fixtures

When installing lighting in natatoriums or indoor swimming pools it is important to know that there are LED lighting fixtures designed specifically for this purpose. The reason is that lighting fixtures used in aquatic facilities need to be highly resistant to humidity, moisture, and certain chemicals that are found in natatoriums. A solid indication of natatorium-rated light fixtures is an IP65 or IP67 rating which means the fixtures are water-resistant and keep dust out as well. In addition, luminaires in indoor swimming pool facilities are required to be shatter-proof due to the fact that people tend to walk around barefoot in and around the pool. Lighting fixtures for natatoriums also have to be chained to avoid accidents like luminaires falling in the pool. 

Natatorium lighting fixtures come in many forms. Here are the most common ones found in swimming pool facilities in the US:

  • High-bay (UFO) LED lighting fixtures are mounted on the ceiling and they provide uniform, quality illumination for the whole swimming pool and spectator area. They can also highlight certain areas of the natatorium if necessary. 
  • Wall-mounted LED fixtures may be mounted on the walls to further enhance the lighting experience in the natatorium and/or to highlight certain parts of the swimming hall. 
  • LED recessed light fixtures may be installed in addition to hallways or areas around the swimming pool to complement the high-bay fixtures if needed.

How to replace existing metal halide fixtures with LED natatorium lighting fixtures?

Depending on the size and level of competition of your indoor swimming pool facility, the correct wattage for your LED natatorium light fixtures may range from as low as 60W to 500W at the top end of the scale. Here’s a brief explanation of how to convert metal halides to LEDs:

  • 60W – 100W LED natatorium light fixture replaces a 250W metal halide fixture
  • 100W – 200W LED natatorium light fixture replaces a 400W metal halide fixture
  • 250W – 500W LED natatorium light fixture replaces a 1000W metal halide fixture
If you are planning to replace your existing metal halide natatorium lighting fixture with LEDs, try our natatorium lighting cost calculator to get a customized cost estimate for your project.
Examples of LED natatorium light fixtures
led natatorium lighting fixture arena led 600
LED Natatorium Light Fixture
  • 600W
  • 67,000 lumens
  • CRI 70-90
  • CCT 2700K-6500K
led natatorium light fixture chromabeams
LED Natatorium Light Fixture
  • Full RGB and tunable white
  • 350W
  • 1800K-10000K
  • CRI 70-90
led natatorium high bay light fixture
LED Indoor Swimming Pool Light Fixture
  • Ceiling-mounted
  • 100-200W
  • Up to 26,000 LM
  • 3000K-5700K
  • CRI 70-90
led natatorium linear high bay light fixture
LED Indoor Swimming Pool Light Fixture
  • Asymmetric lighting
  • 70W-400W
  • Up to 56,000 LM
  • 3000K-6500K
  • CRI 70-90

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LED Natatorium Lighting Standards & Requirements

Once you understand who will frequent your facility, you must consider the specific requirements. If you’re creating a lighting system for a private or public school (or even a training center), you can get away with around 30 – 50 footcandles for your space.

However, if you’re planning to host an Olympic-level competition (or even broadcast on television), you’ll need at least 120 footcandles to properly light your natatorium. 

Here’s a full breakdown of the most common tiers.


Natatorium Lighting Levels Pool / Deck Color temperature CRI
Class I: Professional
min. 75 fc / 50 fc
min. 80
Class II: Collegiate
min. 50 fc / 20 fc
min. 80
Class III: Intermediate competition
min. 30 fc / 10 fc
min. 80
Class IV: Recreational
min. 30 fc / 10 fc
min. 70

Lighting uniformity is also important in a natatorium setting and something you should consider before making any final decisions. The lights should be spread evenly across the entire space to ensure optimum visibility for swimmers. 

In addition to coverage, the color temperature of your pool’s rights plays an important role in visibility. It’s crucial to consult a professional before making any decisions on the types of lights you install. Color rendering index (CRI) refers to how naturally and accurately colors are rendered. CRI is important for televised swimming events for optimal TV viewing experience. 

LED Natatorium Lighting Design & Layout

For indoor pools, look for LED lighting fixtures that can be attached to the ceiling (high bay) to distribute light throughout the space evenly. Since these lights will be on all day, look for options with dimming capabilities and automatic shut-offs so they don’t stay on unnecessarily. 

An LED natatorium lighting system consists of several components. Make sure you hire a professional sports lighting installer who has experience with similar projects and is proficient in working with all of the components listed below.

  1. Power supply – First things first. Check if your local power grid can be connected to and that the source power source voltage & wattage matches the lighting system’s requirements. In a swimming pool facility, the power source should be located somewhere dry, away from the pool. 
  2. Wiring & cables – Electrical wiring must be protected and resistant to humidity and wet conditions.
  3. Mounting hardware – depending on the architecture of the natatorium, you may need to install mounting hardware (brackets or trusses) before light fixtures can be attached.
  4. Light fixtures – LED fixtures will be mounted either directly or indirectly on the ceiling and angled correctly to provide uniform illumination.
  5. Control system – needs to be protected from water and humidity. 

How many fixtures do I need?

This is determined by the type and size of your natatorium and its purpose. Essentially, you will need to understand the total area (pool, deck, spectator stands) that needs to be lit and then calculate how many lumens and what is the total wattage needed to reach the required lighting level for your purposes.

Here’s a calculation to give you an idea of how many and what type of LED lighters you would need for an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a 10 feet wide deck around it: 

  • LED Lighting fixture efficiency: 130 lumens per watt (LPW)
  • Dimensions of  the swimming pool: 164′ x 82′
  • Area of the swimming pool (sq ft): approx. 13,500
  • Area of the deck (sq ft): 5720
  • Total area to be lit: 13,500 + 5720 = 19,220 square feet
  • Lumen output needed (footcandles x square feet)
    • for the pool (recreational-professional):  405,000 – 1,012,500
    • for the deck (recreational-professional):  57,200 – 286,000
    • Total: 462,200 – 1,298,500
  • Total wattage needed (lumens : LPW 130)
    • recreational: approx. 3,500w
    • professional: approx. 10,000w
  • For a recreational natatorium, you will need at least 18 x 200-watt LED lighters. 
  • For a professional, you will need at least 25 x 400-watt LED lighters.
Recreational natatorium lighting layout for an Olympic-sized swimming pool
natatorium lighting design

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What is the cost of installing natatorium lighting?

Thinking about installing new LED lighting for your natatorium or retrofitting your existing lighting system with LEDs? Modern LED sports lighting systems are a great way to increase the safety and comfort of your natatorium – while reducing energy consumption and running costs. 

LEDs are quickly becoming the preferred choice for natatoriums and aquatic sports centers across the United States. They’re brighter, longer lasting, and more energy-efficient than traditional fluorescent bulbs. LEDs also provide better color rendition, improved glare control, and uniform coverage. This makes them ideal for highlighting the movement of swimmers in a pool or enhancing visibility for spectators watching from above. 

The overall cost of an LED natatorium lighting installation can range from $35,000 to $660,000 depending on several factors like the quality of the lighting fixtures, the size of the natatorium, your geographical location, and the competition level. 

But before you take the plunge, there are a few considerations to consider. Let’s look at some of the most important factors you should consider when selecting lighting for your natatorium.

Use our LED natatorium lighting cost calculator to get a customized cost estimate for your project.

What influences the cost of natatorium lighting?

There is a multitude of factors that influence the cost of LED sports lighting for a natatorium. But once you’ve answered some key questions about your facility and potential project, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect in terms of price. 

1 – New lighting system or LED retrofit?

The first consideration is your starting point. If you already have lights in place, a retrofit can be a cost-effective way to upgrade your existing equipment with LED technology. But if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to invest in a complete lighting system. 

No matter which route you need to take, hiring a qualified and experienced sports lighting professional is always a good idea. They can help you identify and address any potential issues before they become costly problems down the line. 

2 – Who are the main users of the natatorium or swimming pool?

The next question to answer is who will be using your facility. The requirements and expectations of a competitive swimmer at the pro, collegiate, or high school level are very different from those of a recreational swimmer or spectator. 

LED lighting systems can be tailored to meet the needs of each type of user, so it’s important to think about who will be frequenting your natatorium and what they need the lighting to do for them. 

3 – Size of the natatorium

Next, you’ll need to understand how your natatorium’s size impacts your lighting system’s cost. The larger the facility, the more lights you’ll need to account for in your planning. This can have a significant impact on your budget and upfront costs. 

If you are still in the planning phases for new construction on your swimming facility, paying close attention to the size of the natatorium can help you better plan for lighting costs. The number of lights needed for an arena with multiple 50-meter Olympic-sized swimming pools is very different from the needs of a single 8-lane pool. 

natatorium lighting cost

Important considerations

Minimize glare

Glare occurs when light bounces off reflective surfaces and enters the eye’s cornea. Water is a highly-reflective surface, so mitigating glare in a natatorium is important for both swimmers and spectators. 

You can do this by carefully choosing the level of lumen output, the color temperature, and the beam spread of your lighting fixtures. Working with a professional can help you get this just right for your facility. 

Modern control system

We mentioned this a bit up above, but don’t overlook the importance of a modern lighting control system. This will allow you to control the amount of light output and its various settings from one central location, saving you money on energy bills, maintenance, and worker hours. 

Natatorium lighting companies

Companies specializing in natatorium and indoor swimming pool lighting offer solutions tailored to the unique challenges of aquatic environments. These experts design systems that ensure clear visibility both above and below the water, enhancing safety for swimmers and spectators alike. Proper lighting in natatoriums also helps in reducing glare, a common concern in such settings. Given the humid and chlorinated environment of indoor pools, it’s crucial to select lighting fixtures that are resistant to corrosion and moisture. When considering lighting for a natatorium, it’s essential to engage a company with specific expertise in this area to ensure optimal illumination and longevity of the system.

Pro tip: If you are currently looking for a reliable and knowledgeable sports lighting vendor, try our sports lighting partner finder and get connected with suitable lighting partners. 

How to finance an LED natatorium lighting installation?

As you can see, quite a bit goes into creating the perfect LED sports lighting system for your natatorium. As a result, it can be difficult to finance such an expensive project. Luckily, plenty of financing options are available to help you get the job done. 

For starters, you could explore government grants or energy-saving loans that can help cover some of the costs associated with creating a new lighting system for your natatorium. Additionally, most commercial banks and credit unions offer lending programs specifically tailored to businesses in the swimming pool industry.

Check out these resources to find some of the best financing options for your project:

Sports facility grants database

LED sports lighting grants for schools and businesses

Kick Off Your LED Sports Lighting Project

We’ve created a comprehensive set of tools designed to assist facility managers and project planners in initiating their projects and connect them with the professionals in the industry.

Get a cost estimate at an early stage

No matter what type of lighting system you have in mind for your natatorium, you’ll need to get an accurate cost estimate before making any decisions. Contact a professional and experienced lighting contractor to get a comprehensive assessment of your project that considers all the required components. 

Be sure to compare estimates from multiple providers to find the best deal for your facility.

Want to get started with a cost estimate? Use our natatorium lighting cost calculator today. 

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