Looking for underwater LED lights for your boat? Here are eight tips for picking the right kind.
1. Surface Mounts
Underwater LEDs like the Lifeform 9 ($399, lifeformled.com) are mounted on a flat surface with a few small holes for wires and screws. These are best for transom installations, which shine horizontally.
Lights such as the Aqualuma 1 Series require a large hole. Yet with robust housings and relatively flat faces, these are good choices if you want lights on the bottom of the boat shining downward.
LEDs draw far fewer amps than incandescent lights, so you can shine more lumens longer with your available battery power. Brighter lights attract more fish at night.
4. No Mixed Metals
Avoid bronze or stainless-steel fittings on an aluminum hull; these set up galvanic corrosion that eats away at the hull. Plastic surface-mount lights such as the OceanLED Amphibian A12Pro are better choices for metal boats.
5. Sealed Deal
Generously apply a “below-the-waterline” marine sealant such as 3M 5200 in all wire and mounting holes and between the fixture and the hull, and then properly tighten all fasteners to prevent leaks.
A CE mark on the product or package indicates the LED is shielded to attenuate electromagnetic interference. Without this, an operating LED can wreak havoc with marine electronics.
Often, you’ll need to haul the boat to service a light. However, with some through-hull LED fixtures such as the Sea Vision SV19 ($1,349, marinedeal.com) you can replace the LED element while the boat’s afloat.
8. Catchy Colors
There’s a vast palette of LED colors. Anglers believe green light attracts fish, while cruisers like azure tones. Some underwater LEDs like the Abyss Technologies S1560 let you adjust the color remotely with a veritable rainbow of choices in a single fixture.
Trim Tab LEDs
Can’t find room on the transom or don’t want to drill a lot of holes in your boat? Consider Perko’s trim-tab-mounted underwater LED lights. You can vary the angle at which the lights shine by moving the tabs up or down. Available with white or blue LEDs, each is encased in a molded black polymer housing.