Marine LED Lights: 7 Ways to Upgrade Lights for Boats at Night
Be it a kayak, catamaran, pontoon, or pleasure craft, being on the water in your boat is a true joy. If your days go long or you enjoy fishing after dusk, it is essential to have a well-lit boat. One of the easiest ways to upgrade your boating experience is to switch your lights to boat LED lighting. Here are seven ways to use marine LED lights to improve the safety and enjoyment of your nautical experience.
Marine LED lights are ideal for boats because they are energy-efficient, durable, and produce little heat. The switch to LEDs will save energy and battery life, reduce maintenance, and enhance your safety and enjoyment. Also, boat LED strip lights and bulbs come in various colors and styles, allowing you to customize your boat's lighting to your preferences.
Cabin and Helm Lights
Boat interior lights are a great place to start your lighting upgrade. The simplest and least expensive option is retrofitting your existing lights with compatible LED bulbs. Check your fixture or existing bulb to find the base type: double or single contact bayonet, G4, Bi-pin, and festoon bases are typical.
Options are available with different color temperatures and RGB colors. Use warm or natural white to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in your cabin. Cool white provides optimal visibility in the galley or engine compartment. Red or amber are well suited to chart reading at the helm as they help preserve your night vision.
Shop our marine LED bulbs here.
Marine courtesy lights are boat lights that enhance safety and visibility when navigating above and below the deck at night. Use boat courtesy lights to illuminate walkways, steps, and other areas of your vessel that could be hazardous in the dark. For accent lighting, use different colors and styles of lights to create a unique look and enhance aesthetic appeal.
Use accent lights with different colors or styles to create a unique and visually appealing look.
The versatility of LED strip lights really shines in courtesy lights (pun intended). The design of LED strip lights makes them ideal for use as boat courtesy lights. Flexible LED strip lights have various voltages, including the 12 VDC typically found on boats. They are easy to install and available with waterproof ratings in multiple colors and temperatures, including RBG + tunable white, for maximum versatility. You can easily use boat LED strip lights for the cabin, helm, or hull lights in the case of waterproof strips.
For night fishing, you will want hull lights on the gunwales or below the waterline. These lights should be submersible, so use puck-style underwater LED marine lights or transom lights to see marine life and add accent lighting in the process. LED strip lights are popular for pontoon boats, where you can mount them on the pontoon hull and fence railing for added visibility. A significant benefit of boat LED strip lights is that they require less hull drilling to install and are available in multiple colors and brightnesses to suit your needs.
Spotlights, Flood Lights, and Spreader Lights
If you want to illuminate a specific area of your boat or the surrounding area, a spot light or flood light will serve you well. Depending on your needs, you can mount both types of lights in various locations. Spotlights project a narrow, focused beam of light over a long distance, while a flood light has a wide beam to light a larger area. Spreader lights are a type of courtesy light similar to a flood light. Sailors traditionally mount these lights on the mast spreaders of sailboats, thus the name. Spreader lights typically cast light down and illuminate decks and cabins. However, you can use these in any location you would place a flood light.
Boat Light Bar and Docking Lights
Do you enjoy bow fishing or frog gigging from your boat? An LED light bar will deliver the intense and directed illumination you need to enjoy your sport safely. LED flood lights and flood beam LED light bars can also work as docking lights, helping you light your way as you pilot into the slip at your dock. Despite being referred to as "headlights," ensure you leave these lights off while underway to maintain visibility between your boat and other vessels on the water.
Leave docking lights off while underway to maintain visibility between your boat and other vessels.
For a ship underway, a little redundancy is good. LED headlamps and flashlights offer an ideal solution for backup lighting, illuminating tasks in tight quarters like the engine compartment or electrical panel. Headlamps are hands-free and light where you look.
LED headlamps are an excellent choice because they are generally rechargeable. Also, many offer red or green lights to preserve night vision. Many LED flashlights can be attached to your hat brim with a clip or have a magnetic base for attaching to any ferrous metal for directional lighting.
Boat Trailer Lights
When the fun is over, you have to head home or put your boat into storage at the end of the season. It's time to break out the trailer. Your boat trailer is another place to upgrade with our DOT-compliant LED truck and trailer lights. These submersible LED lights for boat trailers offer the same benefits, including reduced energy consumption, longer life, and reduced maintenance.
The U.S. Coast Guard sets the rules and requirements based on your boat's size, including USCG certification for boating navigation lights. These lights often come installed on the craft from the manufacturer equipped with LEDs. Ensure that any lights you install on your boat, marine LED lights for courtesy deck lighting, chart reading, hull lights, or swim platform lights, do not interfere with your navigation or all-around white anchor light and comply with all local and federal regulations. Lighting that interferes with navigation lights can cause a collision or land you with a citation.
Lighting that interferes with USCG-required navigation lights can cause a crash or get you a citation.
Here is a general list of USCG marine navigation lights:
- Port Light: A red light that shines from dead ahead to 112.5 degrees aft on the boat's left side while underway.
- Starboard Light: A green light that shines from dead ahead to 112.5 degrees aft on the boat's right side while underway.
- Stern Light: A white light at the back of the ship shining aft and 67.5 degrees forward on each side while underway.
- Masthead Light: A white light showing an unbroken beam of 225 degrees mounted on the front of the boat's mast or bridge while underway.
- All-Round White Light: A white light visible from all directions and often used as an anchor light.
- Anchor Light: A white light mounted for optimal visibility from all directions indicating the ship is at anchor. Sometimes an all-around light (vessel size dependent).
- Towing Light: A yellow light that indicates a vessel is towing another ship or an object.
- Flashing Light: A light that flashes consistently, often used on barges or dredges.
Note: The specific requirements for navigation lights vary depending on the size and type of boat and the area of operation. It's essential to refer to local regulations and guidelines to ensure your boat has the appropriate navigation lights.
A well-lit watercraft is essential for a safe and enjoyable boating experience. Updating your lights to long-lasting Marine LED lights is a smart and eco-friendly decision. LED lights last longer and produce less heat than traditional bulbs. They also consume less power. Our brightest marine spot light delivers 8,400 lumens with a 3.25-amp draw at 12 volts! By switching to LED lights, you can enhance the safety and efficiency of your boat while adding a modern and stylish touch to its appearance.