Water effects and light options for a water feature


Combining the right water effect with the most impactful lighting can be a challenge to get right. The many options can lead to confusion and doubt about even incorporating water into a space because of analysis paralysis!

Elements to know about include shooting water, still and reflective water-filled pools, and falling water from various heights. Sometimes these effects are used as the main focus on their own, and sometimes, designers include two or more effects within a space. Jet options often include a clear stream of water, column jets producing a white look to the water, and a clear tube- or rod-like stream called a laminar stream.
Falling water options are waterfalls, waterwall–water falling down a wall of stone, glass, or tile, and a stepped cascade–water falling over steps of various heights and depths.

All these effects and options can be lit beautifully for nighttime, as the sun sets at dusk when the sky is full of clouds, and on low-sunlit days all year round.

Here are some options available to inspire your next concept and design, to know how it will look and what others have choosen to use in their project design.

Stream Water Jets

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Clear Vertical Stream


Slender and transparent, a clear vertical stream jet is usually illuminated from the base. Depending on the nozzle type, a donut/ring light to surround the central spray or a floor mount round LED light on either side of the brass or stainless steel fountain nozzle to illuminate the water stream and area evenly.

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Column Vertical Stream


Column water creates an aerated white look, as opposed to a clear stream which is more transparent. The aerated water is an effective carrier of light, due to the air bubbles in the water which help with light reflection. Color changing fountain lights that surround the base of the jet can create anything from a beautifully lit candle look or be an invitation to splash through the play deck.

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Arching Laminar Stream


A clear, glass-like water rod is achieved by effectively removing all the air from the water stream. Most laminar units contain internal lighting that travels through the length of the water stream.

This clear rod look is popular for swimming pools in hotels and homes and is ideal for indoor or sheltered water features.

Falling Water

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A waterwall is a feature where water sticks to and runs down a surface like glass, tile, stone, or concrete. Linear lighting and LED lights for water fountains can create different looks depending on the backing material’s texture, colour, and finish. The most popular lighting we see is linear lights submerged at the base of the water wall, projecting onto the surface creating seamless illumination across the length of the waterwall feature.

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Free-falling laminar water is difficult to light as there is no air within the water to illuminate. It usually works better to illuminate the architectural surface from below, in the same way as a waterwall.

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Step Cascades


There are different types of stepped water cascades. Stepped cascades require powerful lamps at regular intervals or all along the steps to impactfully light the falling water.

While this list is a short one in comparison to all the options that are out there, but it’s a start for you to see the various jets, water falling effects and how to combine them with the most impactful lighting.  

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