One of the most versatile and easy-to-install types of lighting for your boat is flexible lighting. This type of lighting is typically referred to as rope light or tape light, depending on its shape and how it is installed. Rope lighting is usually round or square and is mounted with small clips or tracks spaced out evenly. Tape lighting is usually a flat and thin strip that, as indicated in the name, has an included adhesive on the back and is mounted simply by sticking it to the mounting surface. Both styles of light are made up of individual LEDs spaced at regular intervals encased in a flexible, silicone housing.
1. Under Cabinet Lighting
One of the most useful and functional places to install rope or tape lighting on your boat is underneath cabinets in the galley to illuminate countertops. Most boat galleys are very compact and squeeze a lot of appliances and storage into a small area, which can make for some dark corners, especially in galleys that are located deep in the hull of the boat with minimal natural light.
The advantage to using flexible rope & tape lighting for under-cabinet lighting are the variety of mounting options. Many light fixtures need to be recessed into the ceiling when installed, which isn’t an option for the underside of a cabinet, assuming that cabinet is being used for storage. While surface-mount fixtures don’t need to be recessed, they still require mounting screws that can penetrate into the shelf above if the cabinet is constructed of thinner materials or the screw isn’t measured carefully. Tape lights are mounted simply by sticking an adhesive to the underside of the cabinet.
The other advantage of flexible rope & tape lighting for under-cabinet mounting is the customization of lengths. Imtra’s 12V rope light can be cut every 3” and 24V rope light can be cut every 6”. That leaves a lot of options for customized lengths of lighting that might be harder to find in a physical fixture.
2. Floor Lighting
Flexible lighting is also a great option for lighting up the floor or deck of your boat to avoid any tripping hazards in the dark. Many center consoles use rope and tape lighting under the gunwale to illuminate the deck under foot without blinding the captain with bright lights mounted above their sightlines. This style of lighting is key for safety when fishing at night to be able to see where your feet are and any tripping hazards or misplaced gear on the deck.
The reason rope or tape lighting is so commonly used for this application is due to the flexibility of it to curve with the shape of the hull. By using a rope light running the full length of the gunwale, you get even lighting throughout the boat without any noticeable darker or brighter spots like you would if you used individual fixtures. For that reason, flexible lighting is a great option for mounting on any curved surface.
3. Accent Lighting
One of the most common uses of rope and tape lighting is for accent lighting, both on the interior and exterior of the boat. Most rope and tape light manufacturers offer several different colors, and some even offer color-changing lights. There isn’t always necessarily a function to accent lighting, but many boat owners like the visual appeal of the glow it produces.
It can be used as uplighting above a salon to create a warm ambience for a meal without having bright light directly over the table. It can be used on flybridges and tee-tops for a halo effect. The possibilities are truly endless due to the flexible nature of rope and tape lighting, as well as the ability to cut it to specific lengths.
4. Storage Locker Lighting
Because it can be cut in short and odd lengths, rope lighting and tape lighting are often great ways to illuminate deep storage lockers, lazarettes or other dark corners of your boat. Because that style of lighting typically has a very low profile, it can provide plenty of light to see the deepest parts of the locker without taking up much physical space. Because the light is not coming from a singular specific spot like a fixture would, you can mount it in such a way that your body won’t block the light from helping you see what you’re doing when you’re leaning into the locker. Additionally, most rope and tape lighting is water resistant, meaning it can be a great choice for illuminating wet lockers, chain lockers, and other storage areas that might get wet.
If you have any questions about flexible lighting or would like more information please visit our website or reach out to us today!