LED Boat Lighting: More Than Just Efficiency

With the current global concerns of energy efficiency and conservation reaching new highs, the trend towards replacing inefficient and energy wasting incandescent lamps with powerful and efficient LEDS has also grown. Although it is true that many countries have enacted tough new regulations geared towards eventually phasing out completely production of the incandescent lamp, much of the shift towards LED based lighting designs is coming organically from the led canopy light consumer end. One of the most enthusiastic of the consumer markets to embrace LEDs has been the boater community. With their low energy requirements, long operating life, and high durability, LEDs have proven an almost natural fit for boat lighting applications and this has not been lost on boaters in the least.

Boaters understand acutely the need to utilize energy wisely. With their vessels entirely reliant upon whatever power can be stored or produced onboard, efficiency and conservation becomes a critical part of the boating experience. Today’s modern boats are becoming increasingly reliant on electrically powered technology, not only for critical devices such as lighting, radios and radar systems, but luxury amenities as well. Anything that can be done to reduce onboard power consumption has thus become an important consideration when purchasing a new boat or upgrading or adding equipment. With LEDs able to reduce the amount of power used by lighting systems by up to 80%, its little wonder they have gained such widespread popularity within the boating community.

Aside from their practical aspects however, LEDs also hold added allure due to their high versatility and ability to provide unique benefits that traditional forms of lighting can never equal in effectiveness. Chances are, if you are a boater who spends any amount of time on the water during the evening hours, you are already familiar with some of the unique capabilities.

One of the most popular facets of LED boating lighting is their ability to lend a boat a highly customized appearance with very little effort. Unlike traditional incandescent lamps which must have a colored lens or painted on coating in order to produce different color illumination, LEDs can be purchased which provide colored light without any such added hardware or finishes. This is because the unique design of the LED allows manufacturers to manipulate the color of the actual light produced by the LED rather than filter its light output through a lens or coating. The result is a highly efficient source of deeply colored light that is smaller, cooler running, and far more durable than a colored incandescent lamp. With no lenses to fog or cloud, and no coating or film to flake off or peel, the LED will produce brilliant color throughout its entire operating life, all while remaining small enough to be mounted in such out unobtrusive locations such as underneath gunwales, along railings, or mounted within recesses. The result is that boaters can produce decks, cockpits and canopies that are brightly illuminated in brilliant red, blue, green and other colors, thus providing a distinct and creative appearance to their vessel at night.

Even better, many specialized LED boat lights can be purchased which allow operators to choose from a variety of colors, all from the same fixture. With a simple flick of a switch, a boater can illuminate his decks with sharp and clean white light that is ideal for fishing or utilitarian purposes, or change the lighting color to red or blue for entertainment or show purposes. Many boaters are installing cockpit and cabin LED lights which are capable of producing either red or white lighting. While at anchor boaters will use the white lighting for general onboard activities, but once ready to get underway, they can switch to a more subdued red colored illumination as many feel it is less intrusive on their eyes once they’ve become acclimated to dark conditions.

Another area where colored LED lights are becoming wildly popular is with hull lighting. Many boaters are finding that hull lighting designed to illuminate the water around and underneath a vessel provides a decidedly unique and exciting appearance that would be difficult to achieve with traditional halogen underwater lighting. Many avid fishermen are discovering that these underwater LED lights are also often effective at acting as attractants, bringing schools of baitfish close to their vessel as they are attracted to the brightly colored hull lights, which in turn bring in the larger and desirable gamefish. Regardless of how they are utilized, LED hull lights are proving far more effective and practical than the traditional halogen hull lights they are replacing. With LED hull light fixtures being typically far smaller and able to operate while underway, while halogens are bulkier and can only be operated while at anchor, LEDs prove far more versatile, easier to install, and much more durable.

One of the other aspects of LEDs which is adding to their popularity with boaters is the almost endless variety of shapes and sizes they are available in. Unlike most incandescent lamps which are restricted by bulb design and the required fixture, LEDs can be adapted into fixtures of almost any size and shape. LEDs are available in thin strips which can be mounted underneath cabinet spaces or ledges, allowing boaters to illuminate cabins while the fixtures themselves are not visible. LED light bars are fixtures arrayed in a rectangular housing that lends itself very well to mounting beneath bridges and canopies, making it easy to illuminate decks and control centers without having to mount the light in a difficult to work with location. Then there are button sized wall washers no bigger than a bottle top which can be used to illuminate walkways or closets, and LED courtesy lights no bigger in diameter than a poker chip which can be used just about anywhere. Chances are, if you can imagine a mounting location, you can likely find an LED fixture to fit it.

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