A few years ago the LED lighting market exploded. Companies started making all kinds of LED light bulbs and fixtures to replace standard incandescent lighting. For us boaters this is a really great opportunity to affordably replace our incandescent lights and fixtures with low power consuming LED lights. We also can install some cool new accent or mood lighting in cabins, cockpits, heads and just about anywhere on the boat we need lighting.
My first experience with LED lights on a boat was when I installed LED strip lighting at the helm of my Maxum 2900 SCR. I bought a 16 foot roll of strip lights that came with a 120 volt power supply, remote control and 16 feet of stick on water proof LED lights. The strip could be cut to size and cut for the area it was being installed. About every 12 inches there is a cut mark where you can cut the strip and reconnect it with special connectors. There are several different types of strip lights you can buy. Some come with a music controller that changes the lights with the music. Ones labeled RGB are multi-colored and the color is user changeable. An Amazon search shows all the options available. When buying LED strip lights for a boat you generally want to buy the water proof ones with a good 3m adhesive on the back. I really liked the RGB lights since I could change them depending on if the boat was in motion or sitting at the dock. Installation is easy since the 120 volt transformer steps the voltage down to 12 volt. Just get rid of the transformer and cut the end off of the plug that connects to it. Make sure you know what wire is positive and what wire is negative and connect the positive to a fused power source or switch and the negative to ground.
Another light that can be replaced with LEDs are the cabin lights. Many boats use a G4 bulb for cabin lights though yours might be different. Replacing these lights is as simple as removing the old bulb and replacing it with the LED bulb. In general these LED bulbs will draw around 1 watt of power. This significantly extends the time you can run the lights off of battery power. LED lights will only work if the positive and negative leg are installed properly. If you installed a light bulb and it doesn’t turn on flip its orientation and it should work.
On an older boat you may have outdated light fixtures and want to change them out for something a bit more modern. There are many LED light fixtures available, you should be able to find a fixture that will compliment your boats interior or exterior.
LED navigation lights have hit the market and are a great replacement for older navigation lights. With LED navigation lights you have a several year run time compared to incandescent navigation lights. This means less bulb changes, less chance a bulb burns out while underway and less chance the Coast Guard will stop you for having a light out.
Overall replacing your lights with LED lights will enhance the look of your boat and increase the run time from your 12 volt electrical system.