The Advantages of LED Lights

Find out why LEDs have become a popular choice aboard boats.

A quiet revolution is taking place that is changing every aspect of lighting used aboard your boat. It is destined to replace every interior and above-deck light fixture, ­including navigation lights. Here’s why LED is leading the way.

Interior Lighting
Inside the boat, many have been quick to replace energy-consuming incandescent lights with LEDs. Simply, you can replace a present fixture with a similar or brighter LED light. This is a quick screwdriver task. Rewiring is not necessary since existing incandescent wiring is more than adequate.

You also can often change out an incandescent light bulb in a present fixture with an LED module that fits in the same bulb socket. LED replacement bulb sources include Ancor (marinco​.com), Lunasea (, Dr. LED ( and Marine LED Shop (


Lunasea has also developed a clever 12-volt replacement with a screw-in base that replicates an incandescent light bulb.

Wireless lights? Yep, they’ve got them too. Small, battery-powered LED fixtures can be effective in hanging lockers and limited-access areas where running wire is difficult. Some screw in place; others come with a peel-off backing that allows you to stick it in place. Rite Lite (ritelite​.com) and similar brands are readily available at Walmart, The Home Depot and other hardware stores and marine chandleries.

Exterior Lighting
Navigation LEDs can operate far longer and are far less likely to fail than traditional bulbs. Sources include Attwood (attwoodmarine​.com), Imtra (, Perko ( and Sea-Dog ( The bulbs of many popular running and navigation lights also can often be substituted with an LED module.


LEDs have advanced to a brightness level where they can be used as spotlights. Magnalight ( has a 30 LED high-intensity panel (model LED-BL-150W, $1,062) in a rugged marine housing that produces a 14,790-lumen beam. Rigid Industries ( offers marine LED spotlights starting at $119.

Underwater Lighting
LEDs come in underwater light fixtures for every size boat and every boat owner’s budget. Brands such as Blue Wolf’s ( Lifeform LEDs and OceanLED’s ( Amphibian series mount on the outside of the boat with only a small hole required to pass a single wire through the hull, in addition to holes for the mounting screws. With prices starting at $129 for LEDs such as the Amphibian T3, even trailer boats are adding them.

LEDs have remarkably low current consumption and can produce energy savings up to 90 percent. Over time, this adds up to fuel savings, since the engine’s alternator is less taxed. Reduced current draw means the batteries hold their charge longer. Less current demand also allows for the use of smaller gauge, lighter weight wiring. As a bonus, wasteful energy is reduced since less heat is produced on a boat when LEDs are used. Also, LEDs
by nature enjoy up to a 50,000-hour operating life.


_**Check out our head-to-head LED nav light testing from BoatingLAB.**_