LED boat lights provide a natural look to your vessel without any distracting glare. Before you choose an LED light that is right for you, however, you may have some questions. Let’s dive into 17 common questions about LED boat lights to get you started.
1. Why Should I Use LED Lights on My Boat?
The simplest answer is reduced power consumption. LEDs require very little power, especially when compared to traditional halogen lights. For example, an LED fixture with the same light output as a 25 Watt halogen bulb requires only 4-5 watts of power.
Add that difference up to over 20-30 lights in a boat and the power saving is significant, especially if you spend days at a time away from shore power. On top of power savings, LED lights don’t heat up as much as halogen, and last significantly longer than halogen bulbs.
2. How Do I Change My Boat’s Lights From Halogen to LED
There are two ways this can be done. The first is simply replacing all the halogen bulbs in your existing fixtures with LED replacement bulbs of a similar style. The other option would be to swap entire fixtures, which can be more costly but will last longer. For more information comparing LED & halogen, check out LED vs. Halogen: Should I Convert to LED Lighting on my Boat?
3. Can I Dim My LED Lights with Existing Dimmers?
Unfortunately, if your boat is equipped with dimmers for halogen lights, they likely won’t function properly or may have very limited dimming range with LED bulbs or fixtures. This is because halogen and LED lights are dimmed differently. Halogen lights are dimmed simply by reducing the voltage supplied to the light, which runs less heat through the filament, resulting in dimmer light.
LEDs are usually dimmed through signal dimming often called Pulse Width Modulation, which is essentially turning the diodes on & off rapidly. This process is not perceivable to the human eye because it happens so fast, but controlling the frequency with which they are turned on & off is what causes the light to be dimmed and brightened.
4. How Long Do LED Lights Last?
The industry standard for a quality LED fixture is a 50,000-hour lifespan. Of course, outside factors like proper heat dissipation and power supply can affect that lifespan. When compared to Incandescent (750-2,000 hours) Fluorescent (24,000-36,000 hours) & halogen (2,000-4,000 hours), LEDs last the longest by a wide margin.
5. Will LED Lights Be Too Bright?
The short answer is no, as long as you’ve purchased the right light for the space. LED technology has come a long way in the last decade, and you can find LED lights with all different levels of light outputs and color temperatures.
6. Do LED Lights Come in Different Colors?
Yes, LED lights come in all different colors. Many interior fixtures are available in bi-color and even tri-color options. Many LED strip tape and rope lights, as well as LED underwater lights, offer full spectrum of color-changing lights.
7. What Wire Size Should I Use for Installing LED Lights in My Boat?
The wire size to be used for installing lights is entirely dependent on the power supply and the overall power consumption of the circuit being wired. Additionally, the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) recommends not using any wire smaller than a 16-gauge anywhere on a boat. To determine the wire size for any circuit, use this ABYC Wire Size Recommendation Chart.
8. Can I Use LED Replacement Bulbs in My Navigation Lights?
As long as the bulb has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for use in a navigation light that corresponds to your size of boat. Be sure to ask the manufacturer of the bulb, and consult the Coast Guard regulations regarding your specific size of boat, as many LED replacement bulbs are intended for interior & exterior light fixtures, but are not approved for navigational use.
9. Do LED Lights Make Noise?
Noise is a bit of a tricky subject, as each person’s perception varies. The short answer is that LED lights do not make any perceptible noise. Like any electronic, if you get your ear very close to it, there might be a faint humming sound, but nothing should be audible throughout the boat when installed properly.
10. Should LED Lights for My Boat Have Overheating Protection?
Yes, overheating protection is an important key to the product's longevity. While LED boat lights produce significantly less heat than traditional halogen lights, they can still generate heat during prolonged use. It’s important for boat lights to have housing and circuit boards that properly disperse heat to avoid premature failure.
11. Does My Boat Need Underwater Lights?
There are plenty of reasons to install underwater LED lights on your boat. First, underwater boat lights help you catch more fish. Lights attract insects, plankton, and baitfish, which bring in larger fish to feed on them.
Underwater LED lights also improve the safety of your vessel. Mounting lights under the swim step makes it easier to step on and off your vessel at night. LED lights can also enhance the mood of your vessel when hosting a night event, combined with the best music and drink selection, friends will be sure not to miss the invite.
12. Should LED Lights for My Boat Have Corrosion Protection?
Yes, unlike tap or drinking water, ocean water contains high levels of salt which can make your LED boat lights susceptible to corrosion. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that your LED lights are marine grade so it’s coated in a material that can prevent rust and corrosion.
13. Can I Run With My Underwater LED Lights On?
Absolutely, LED lights are a solid-state source, so they are not vulnerable to vibration-related failures and will continue to stay on when running your vessel.
14. Where Can You Use Marine LED Utility Lights?
Marine LED utility lights can be used anywhere a consistent light source is needed. Utility lights make it easier to see in engine rooms and compartments where light isn’t always available and is useful for wet lockers, galleys, or dining areas. Below is an example of what a marine LED utility light is.
15. Can LED Lights for My Boat Be Used in a Conversion Van?
Yes, most interior LED boat lights can be used in a conversion van. The most common types of LED lights on your boat that can be in a conversion van are downlights, task lights, rope and tape lights, courtesy lights, and utility lights. Learn more about our conversion van lighting solutions and watch this video of Imtra’s lighting options for vans and RVs.
16. Should LED Lights for My Boat Have a Waterproof Rating?
Yes, the bare minimum rating for any LED lighting for boats that are exposed to elements is IP65. Any lighting that has a rating less than IP65 will result in condensation beneath the LED boat light lens, which can cause it to burn out and become non-functional.
17. Will LED Lights Interfere With Other Electronics on My Boat?
If the LED lights are manufactured and installed properly, they will not interfere with other electronics. If wires are not the right size or not properly insulated and run very close to signal cables or antennae, interference can occur. For a deeper dive into this topic, check out How To Avoid Interference Between LED Lights and VHF Radios. Or, if you’d like to speak with a team member, feel free to contact us today.
* Feature Image Courtesy of Hatteras Yachts