LED Nav Lights

Converting incandescent nav lights to LEDs.

LED Nav Lights


Gradually I’ve converted nearly all of the lights on my boat to LEDs. It started with the courtesy lights, then it was the overhead helm lights, and a while later the anchor light.

The latest update has focused on the red and green navigation lights on the bow of my 25-year-old saltwater fishing boat. The original incandescent nav lights were still in good condition, but LED is the trend, so I bought a pair of Sea-Dog Round Top-Mount LED nav lights ($93.47/pair, jamestowndistributors.com).

Installation of these Coast Guard-approved lights was easy. Pull out the old light, cut the wires, and then splice in the new LEDs (using nylon butt connectors with heat-shrink collars, then covering each connection with heat-shrink tubing). Getting them positioned correctly was a tad tricky. Just make sure the flat portion at the aft end of each light is parallel with the transom, then mark and drill the two screw holes in the sealed nylon housing and stainless steel base. I also bedded the bases and sealed the screw holes of with 3M Marine Fast Cure 4200. A polished stainless steel cover snaps over the housing and is secured with a single screw.

When it got dark, I turned on the lights and was dazzled by their intensity – much brighter that the incandescent lights. Sea-Dog claims two-nautical-mile visibility, and I believe it. In fact, they are so bright that they created a reflected glare off the forward deck and stainless bow rail when viewed from the helm. To cut the glare, I put two pieces of black non-skid tape on the deck in front of the lights, and this significantly cut the reflected glare.

I have a few more lights to convert to LEDs, including the cabin and underwater lights, and if the conversions are as easy as this project, it should be a snap.