Last updated on April 22nd, 2020 at 11:05 am
It’s summer, it’s hot, and that means it’s time to hit the water. Boaters all over the country are taking advantage of the long days and plentiful opportunities for water sports like waterskiing, tubing, and wakeboarding. But why should the fun stop when the sun goes down?
Underwater LED lighting can add a fun-tastic dimension to enjoying your boat at night. The extremely bright lights can illuminate the wake, sending pleasing colors rippling through the water. Waterskiing at night is an otherworldly experience you have to try to believe.
One of the most fun times on the water is tying up with other boats and partying, sometimes early into the morning. Underwater LED lights give your boat that super-cool look, and also make your boat safer. Underwater lights are easily seen by other watercraft. Should someone fall into the water, the lights make it easy to see and help them back on board. And night swimming is tremendous fun on those sweltering nights.
Underwater lights are most often used on powerboats. They are great for enhancing your boat and having fun, but certain spectrums can make fishing an all-night event too. Even boaters who prefer wind over gasoline power like having underwater LED lighting for their sailboat for swimming and night sailing.
Like many products these days, the internet has given the consumer access to an insurmountable variety of products, many of which are simply garbage. The process of figuring out which underwater light for your boat at best might take hours. In fact, it did. Below, we have listed some of the most popular brands of underwater lights and compared them.
Our comparison took a few factors into account. First, the features that buyers are the most interested in when I searched for underwater lights for boats online revealed that durability is the most important characteristic. Light volume output, cost, workmanship, and ease of installation also were important features buyers looked for when shopping for underwater lights for boats.
Instead of a ‘First-to-Worst’ -type list, this list identifies the best lights based on how they are most commonly used. We chose underwater lights primarily based on popularity, then searched online reviews, manufacturers websites, and real-world experiences documented by bloggers all over the place. We crunched the data and made some choices to help boaters pick underwater lights that meet their particular needs.
The lights we chose are “surface-mount” lights in the interest of drilling as few holes in the boat as possible. Through-hull lights are available but tend to require more space and will need to have a large hole cut out. Theories may vary on the validity of the logic, but smaller holes should cause less structural loss and present lower risk to leaks and failure in the future.
Best Underwater LED Lights for Boats
Lumitec SeaBlazeX2 Quick Review
Check out our step-by-step installation of these amazing lights.
This one is the favorite for a number of reasons. First, the lighting is literally blazing bright and at 6,000 fixture lumens, is among the brightest on the market in its category today. The SeaBlazeX2 is a solid, well-built light with a bronze body and a heavy tempered glass lens. Lumitec has a fantastic reputation for producing robust underwater lighting that can withstand the elements, and the SeaBlaze X2 is no different.
This underwater light is available in blue/white or RGBW (SeaBlazeX2 Spectrum). The blue/white can be all one or the other and has a slick mode that fades from blue to white. The RGBW lights have a broad range of customization options available and can be put in a color-shifting mood for those groovy parties.
Of all the underwater lights we looked at, these were the most popular with watersports enthusiasts who said the ultra-bright lights made night-time wakeboarding sessions simply unbelievable. This is the perfect light for a night of fun on the water.
LED lights are well known for the ability to withstand bumps and bruises. The naval-grade bronze housings ensure that the LEDs stay dry and free of damage, even on those not-so-well-timed moments at the boat ramp.
Electrical connections are simple. The SeaBlaze lights run between 10 and 30 volts, and function on 12 or 24 volt systems. At just under four inches in diameter, the lights are large enough without being grotesque. Three mounting screws hold the light in place and a single 1/2” hole allows the wiring to be pulled into the hull and connected.
Installation is straight forward and easy for the average person, and the results are simply stunning. All Lumitec lights are made in the USA and are warrantied for three years for manufacturing and material defects, a full year longer than most competitors.
Shadow Caster SCR-24 Quick Review
Want to blow your friends minds? The Shadow-Caster SCR-24 will do it. This light is designed to be controlled wirelessly using the company’s signature Shadow-Net connections. Stand on the dock and switch from solid blood red to a pulsing rainbow with your connected controller and watch the amazement on their faces.
Durability is always the most important factor when considering underwater lights for your boat. The SCR-24 has a bronze casing and scratch-resistant tempered glass lens to protect the 24 cell-type LEDs. As one of the more expensive surface-mount lights on the market today, buyers get a lot from the SCR-24. The lights feature numerous protections against electrical surges, overheating, and reverse polarity protection. They are intended for both fresh and saltwater boats.
When the dance party just has to be awesome, this is the light you want to be relying on. The colors are bright and vivid. The wide angle beam produces a dense area of light with tight color to the edges of the beam. At the brightest setting, the SCR-24 will produce 7,500 lumens at a draw of 7.5 amps. They work equally well for 12 or 24 volt systems and have a wide 10-30 volt operating range.
The really awesome thing about these lights is the ability to easily set up wireless control through the factory-integrated Shadow Net control network. the SCR-24 is one of the first underwater LED lights to be integrated with a Zone Controller to synchronize lights and sound with Wet Sounds audio systems. Combo this up to really bump the bay.
The light is among the best looking and feeling in the hand. It is quite heavy, and the four inch-round design is excellent for tight spaces. Pre-programmed with 16 colors (8 Red, 8 Blue, 8 Green) and infinitely adjustable with a zone controller, the SCR-24 will set the right mood, no matter what kind of evening might be happening. The SCR-24 is also available in Bimini Blue (24 LED), Bimini Blue & Great White (16 Blue, 8 White), Aqua Green (24 LED), and Great White (24 LED)
These made in America underwater lights from Shadow-Caster have a two-year manufacturer’s warranty for defects in materials or workmanship. They are submersible to 10 feet. The newest Shadow-Caster lights can be challenging to find, particularly in the western United States. They are more expensive than many other surface-mount submersible boat lights because of the advanced technology.
Lumishore SMX153 Quick Review
Sometimes big things come in small packages. That’s the case with these underwater lights from Lumishore. At a trim 3.75 inches, these guys pack 52 cell-type LEDs into a light that is less than three quarters of an inch thick.
Those 52 LEDs are arranged in a 90 degree beam pattern that absolutely floods the water with bold and beautiful light. Full spectrum output is rated at 4,000 lumens, making these ideal for spreading light over a larger volume of water, but they won’t penetrate as well as higher-powered lights.
These work so well on big boats because the wide angle beam helps spread the light along the waterline. Most underwater lights use a narrow beam designed to penetrate as much water as possible in a narrow band. Not these suckers. A couple of these on a house boat turns a nice weekend into an epic adventure.
These lights come with a controller and are designed to be easily integrated into an existing audio system to provide synchronized light and sound fun. These lights are truly plug-and-play, making installation super simple. Optional controllers are required to take advantage of the full range of effects these lights are capable of producing.
The lights feature an anodized aluminum housing and glass lens for long life and durability. Lumishore estimates the life of the LEDs to exceed 50,000 hours, more than four years of continuous operation. They install easily with a 1/2 inch hole for wiring and three mounting screws.
Smaller boats will certainly enjoy the benefits of these lights but may find that the wide angle diffuses light more than necessary and isn’t as vivid as some other lights, particularly with the lower end lumen.
OceanLED Sport S3166s Quick Review
Your friends may be dazzled by the spectacular array of coursing lights coming from your boat, but the fish are probably less than impressed. Even solid white light doesn’t compete with the OceanLED Sport S3166s. This light has a specific mode for attracting fish that pulses in a random strobing pattern that has been shown to draw bigger fish up from the darkest depths.
The aluminum body and Tritonium-coated glass lens are rugged and dependable, if not as nice in the hand as some of the bronze bodied lights but it has a fully modern look and feel. The coating on the lens is advertised as a wipe-clean lens, something wonderful to those of us that have spent hours scrubbing scum.
What sets these lights apart from others is the unique light pattern. Most lights use a 50 degree light beam, which dissipates over a wide area, but does not penetrate. The S3166s uses a rectangular dual beam pattern that features a tight 20 degree focused beam and a broad 90 degree beam above. This helps spread some of the light from the beam across the arc, creating unbelievable penetration even in less than crystal clear water.
That special beam is what makes this light ideal for fishing. Because it really reaches out into the murk, it can help call the monsters up. The unique random strobing feature of these lights is like catnip to fish, they can’t resist, and they come hungry.
The ultra-bright 8,448 overall lumens work particularly nice in choppy water and on breezy nights. The lights run on 12 and 24 volt systems and operate between 9 and 32 volts. Easily mounted with three screws and a 12.5mm hole for the wiring to pass through.
LIFEFORM LED 9 Quick Review
It’s great that a lot of boat manufacturers these days install underwater lights in new boats. Unfortunately, most of them are too wimpy and don’t really look good. Some even make the boat look cheap, and that is not what anyone is hoping for with underwater lights.
These bad boys are a great option for fishing and swimming platforms. While only producing 2,637 lumens on the brightest white bulb, the in-water lighting is great with a dual-beam angle of 18 to 34 degrees. The LifeForm 9 is really popular as an upgrade to factory lighting, but it makes an equally excellent light for boats without lights already.
LifeForm 9 lights use 9 LED bulbs rather than the cell-type most companies use. This produces a wide and bold beam of light with less edge fade. They are single-color lights and are available in blue, white, green, and red. An IP-68 underwater rating means these lights will keep functioning down to 200 ft.!
The aluminum housing is sleek and modern but feels less sturdy than some competitors bronze housings. These lights require a small, 1/2” hole for running the lighting and mount with three screws and sealant. They also feature a groove that allows the wiring to be run over the rail so no hole is required. A skin can be applied over the housing to hide the mounting screws for a truly seamless installation. The lens is tempered glass for durability and ease of cleaning.
Overall, the LifeForm 9 is a great, durable light. It has a two-year manufacturer’s warranty and is made in the USA. The LifeForm9 is one of the lower priced options, making it popular in applications that require a lot of lights, such as large boats and swimming platforms.
There really are a tremendous number of excellent underwater lights on the market today. Hopefully, this list helps to focus your search and gets you excited about seeing the possibilities a lit-up boat can bring. Fun with family and friends will never be the same when your boat is equipped with the best underwater LED lights this summer.