6 Best Boat Trailer Light Kit Options

Keep your trailer roadworthy with the right light kit for your specific needs.
Boat lit at night on a trailer
It’s important to keep your trailer roadworthy with a light kit that fits your unique needs. Courtesy John Potts/APM

For all the joys of powerboating, one of the biggest challenges is maintaining the boat trailer. Wear and tear from transporting a heavy boat on rough roads, and constant exposure to salt, dirt and moisture are tough on lights, wires and connections. 

Maintaining and replacing trailer lights not only ensures peak trailer performance, but working lights are essential to other driver’s safety. And, working lights mean I’m more confident when I’m trailering my boat at night or in low-visibility conditions. 

After years on the road, I was tired of chasing electrical trolls around my boat trailer light system. To prevent further issues, I replaced my LED trailer lights, wires and harness with tips from this link for quick fixes for trailer-light troubles. Along the way, I learned some valuable lessons about choosing the best boat trailer light kit. 

Quicklook: Top Boat Trailer Light Kit Options 

Best Trailer Light Kits for Boats

For the safest and most reliable trailer light kit, look for quality construction and components. I shopped around for the best trailer light kits with corrosion resistant parts, sealed connections, high-impact lenses and all the accessories I need to get the job done. Here are my favorite picks for the best trailer light kits for boats.

Hopkins Manufacturing Submersible Low Profile Trailer Light Kit
Hopkins Manufacturing Submersible Low Profile Trailer Light Kit Courtesy West Marine

Hopkins Manufacturing Submersible Low Profile Trailer Light Kit

If you’re looking for a great value, Hopkins Manufacturing Submersible Low Profile Trailer Light Kit offers a square trailer tail light with marker, turn signal and brake lights. The kit includes 20 feet of wiring, a wishbone harness, license plate bracket and installation hardware. An incandescent light bulb is less expensive than LED lights and, unlike LED lights, I can replace a burned-out incandescent bulb without replacing the housing and base. Hopkins Manufacturing boat trailer light kit uses sealed pass throughs and a bell jar principle to prevent water from entering the housing. 

Best for: Standard incandescent trailer lights

Features:

  • 4-way wiring harness
  • Sonically sealed housing
  • Replaceable incandescent lights

Disadvantages:

  • Does not include side-marker and license plate lights
  • Incandescent light bulbs are prone to corrosion

Price: $39.99

Sea Volt LED Low Profile Rectangle Trailer Light Kit
Sea Volt LED Low Profile Rectangle Trailer Light Kit Courtesy West Marine

Sea Volt LED Low Profile Rectangle Trailer Light Kit

Upgrading to LED boat trailer lights saves time, energy and, in the long run, money. The best LED trailer light kit uses less energy and produces less heat, so LED lights have sealed housing that prevents corrosion and contamination. The LED lamp lasts for thousands of hours and produces a brighter light. To replace the entire light system, the Sea Volt LED Low Profile Rectangle Trailer Light Kit includes 22 feet of wire, a wishbone harness and four feet of trunk wire. The kit even has wire connectors, frame clips and hardware so I don’t have to run to the store for missing parts. 

Best for: LED trailer lights

Features:

  • Sealed housing
  • All hardware included
  • Low heat and power draw

Disadvantages:

  • More expensive than incandescent
  • Bulbs are not replaceable
  • Wire connections are not waterproof

Price: $49.99

Nilight 2 Piece Light Box Trailer Light Housing Kit
Nilight 2 Piece Light Box Trailer Light Housing Kit Courtesy Nilight

Nilight 2 Piece Light Box Trailer Light Housing Kit

For the ultimate in performance and protection, the Nilight 2 Piece Light Box Trailer Light House Kit includes a low-profile, waterproof LED tail, brake and turn signal along with a round marker and license plate light in a heavy-duty steel housing. To fit any trailer application, the housing can be bolted or welded to the trailer frame. Not only is the full-metal housing more durable than plastic LED tail lights, the sealed box keeps moisture and grime away from electrical connections.

Best for: Submersible trailer lights

Features:

  • Sealed and waterproof LED lamps
  • Multiple mounting options
  • Includes license plate bracket

Disadvantages:

  • Heavier and more bulky than plastic lights
  • Requires drilling or welding

Price: $58.99

Hopkins Manufacturings Wireless Magnetic Towing Light Kit
Hopkins Manufacturings Wireless Magnetic Towing Light Kit Courtesy West Marine

Hopkins Manufacturings Wireless Magnetic Towing Light Kit

It’s late afternoon, I am miles from home and my trailer lights aren’t working properly. Luckily, I carry a backup set of Hopkins Manufacturings Wireless Magnetic Towing Light Kit. Plug the sending unit into my car-side trailer connection, stick the large LED tail lights on my trailer and I have turn, brake and marker lights to get me home. The light housing is sealed against moisture and dirt and the remote has a 65-foot range with a five-channel signal to prevent interruption.

Best for: Wireless battery powered boat trailer lights

Features:

  • LED lamps
  • Waterproof sealed housing
  • Low-battery indicator

Disadvantages:

  • Batteries not included
  • Not submersible

Price: $124.99

Sea Volt Trailer Guide-On Post Mounted LED Trailer Light Kit
Sea Volt Trailer Guide-On Post Mounted LED Trailer Light Kit Courtesy West Marine

Sea Volt Trailer Guide-On Post Mounted LED Trailer Light Kit

To customize my boat trailer lights, I moved my trailer tail lights from the trailer frame to the guide-on posts. Elevating my lights out of the salt water and away from the road extended the life of my tail lights. Also, moving the lights to the top of the guide-on post improves visibility so other drivers see my brake lights, parking and turn signals at eye level. Sea Volt’s Guide-On Post Mounted LED Trailer Light Kit mounts to existing guide-on posts with two-inch poles with wire and clips to tie the lights to the trailer’s wiring. 

Best for: Custom universal light kit 

Features:

  • LED lamps
  • Replaceable sealed lamp housing
  • Includes installation hardware and heat-shrink connectors

Disadvantages:

  • Needs reflective tape or accents
  • For secure install, glue the light kit to the posts with a light adhesive

Price: $64.99

Bass Pro Shops Trailer Wire Harness 4-Way
Bass Pro Shops Trailer Wire Harness 4-Way Courtesy Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops Trailer Wire Harness 4-Way

Malfunctioning trailer lights often require replacing worn-out and corroded wires. Bass Pro Shops Trailer Wire Harness includes 25 feet of wire, two wishbone connectors, frame clips and electrical connectors. The complete kit replaces a four-pin light system for small trailers without brakes. The rugged 16-gauge wire and a rubber-coated wishbone harness are Department of Transportation approved.

Best for: Trailer rewire kit

Features:

  • 25 feet of wire
  • Two wishbone harnesses
  • Installation hardware

Disadvantages:

  • Not for trailers with brakes
  • Butt connectors are not water resistant

Price: $14.99

Components of a Boat Trailer Light Kit

  • Lamps: LED lamps are brighter, cooler and more durable. Incandescent lamps are replaceable and less expensive
  • Housing: Look for sonically sealed housing to prevent corrosion and damage to electrical connections.
  • Wire and wiring harness: Check that wire will fit the trailer and the harness matches the car-side connection.
  • Trailer frame clips: Hold the wire to the trailer frame for a clean install.
  • Electrical connectors: Best connections are heat-shrink and water resistant.
  • License plate bracket (trailer tail light kits): A white license plate light and bracket are required in most states.
  • Bracket: Match bracket to trailer-side bolt pattern.
  • Mounting hardware: Stainless steel and high-impact plastic keep the lights attached to the trailer.

When Are Lights Required to Be Installed on a Boat Trailer?

Faulty trailer lights aren’t just unsafe and inconvenient, missing or malfunctioning lights are illegal. Each state has unique trailer light requirements, be sure to check local laws to verify your trailer lights follow regulations. The best trailer light kits are certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT). For a complete list of DOT requirements, visit the department’s website

In Virginia, where I live, boat trailers with brakes must be inspected annually. A big part of the inspection is verifying signal and marker lights function properly. One bad light bulb will result in a rejection sticker grounding the boat trailer until repairs are complete. In Virginia, improper trailer lighting results in a $30 fine with a $50 processing fee. Drivers can be cited individually for multiple light infractions.

Driving with malfunctioning and missing trailer lights isn’t just illegal, it’s irresponsible. Trailering at night or in poor visibility with improper lights could cause an accident resulting in property damage, injury or even death. 

Transport Your Boat Safely and Legally

Whether you’re replacing your boat trailer light kit or rigging a new trailer with a complete light system, choosing the best boat trailer light kit is the first step in maintaining a safe boat trailer. Before each trip, I plug in my trailer lights and walk around the trailer checking for proper function. 

When a light malfunctions, I follow the clues to determine if the problem is in wiring, fuses or the lamp. For a step by step list of possible trailer light problems, check out these quick fixes for trailer light malfunctions. Every few years, I replace the entire light system so I’m not constantly chasing electrical trolls to keep my trailer lights working properly. When I’m trailering my boat, I’m a white knuckle driver. Trailering at night or in low visibility only increases my anxiety about pulling my pride and joy at high speed. With the best boat trailer light kit, I’m confident my lights are working and other drivers see my trailer.

FAQ

Are LED lights better for boat trailers?

To produce light, an LED light uses excited gas while an incandescent bulb uses a superheated wire. This means the LED lights produce brighter light with less power and heat, and perform better when wet. Also, there is no bulb to burn out or break, so LED lights last for thousands of hours. And, the lower heat means the plastic lens and lamp body can be sealed against moisture and dirt. 

What gauge wire is used for boat trailer lights?

Most boat trailer lights use 16 gauge wire for turn signal, brake and maker lights. Hot leads to the battery, ground and power brakes require 12 gauge wire. 

Can I just replace my trailer lights to LEDs without running new wires?

Both LED and incandescent boat trailer lights use 16 gauge wire, so it is easy to replace incandescent lamps with LED lights without replacing the wire. 

Do you have to unplug LED boat trailer lights?

To ensure your boat trailer lights work properly, be sure to plug them into the car-side connection before trailering the boat. The smartest way to prolong the life of your boat trailer lights is unplugging the lights before backing the trailer into the water. Water and electricity is the recipe for electrolysis and corrosion, the number one cause of boat trailer light malfunction. 

About the Author: 

Ric Burnley is regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman magazine and editor of Kayak Angler magazine. When he’s not writing about fishing, Ric is out fishing in the surf, on a kayak or in his 20-foot center console.