Time to ‘Light Up’—with LED marine lighting

LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have created a revolution in marine lighting. Efficient, long-lasting and bright, LEDs aid in safety at night and allow illumination to be added anywhere it’s needed.

Most new boats feature LED lighting. But older boats, with incandescent lights, can be retrofitted with LEDs. You’ll find marine LEDs in navigation, spreader, search, underwater and cabin lighting.

LEDs draw little power, so there’s less worry about overloading circuits and draining batteries. LEDs also allow illumination in practically any color for accent or underwater lights. When adding or retrofitting LEDs, here are some basic tips to consider:

  • Use marine-grade lighting to avoid corrosion issues.
  • Make sure the lights are Coast Guard compliant—particularly the required red and green side marker lights and the white all-around light.
  • Choose lights with the proper angle. For courtesy and spreader lights, you want a fairly wide beam. For a chart light or spotlight, a narrower beam provides better focus.
  • Install the same footprint. When replacing old incandescent lights, try finding an LED that fits the same cutout or bracket—to avoid patching or enlarging holes.
  • Be sensible with color. Careless use of decorative LEDs such as rope lights or underwater lights might violate the Coast Guard’s navigational light regulations.

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