In this article: We'll review 6 of our best pick underwater LED lights for your boat with quick reviews, photos, our opinion and price comparisons of each to save you money.
- Best Underwater LED Lights for Boats
- Best Overall Pick: Lumitec Javelin 600X
- Best High Tech Light When the Budget Doesn't Matter: Shadow-Caster SCR-24
- Best for Big Boats & Yachts: Lumishore SMX153
- Best LED Strip Style & Editor's Pick: Shadow-Caster SCM-10-EXT-CC
- Best Underwater Lighting for Fun and Fishing: OceanLED Sport S3166s
- Best Factory Upgrade on a Budget: LIFEFORM LED 9
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.
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Best Underwater LED Lights for Boats
Best Overall Pick: Lumitec Javelin 600X
Lumitec Javelin 600X Quick Review
Lumitec’s Javelin 600X is our number one pick for quality, durable and bright underwater LED lights. Introduced in 2022, they’re Lumitec’s flagship light. Check out our full review and installation of the Javelin 600X to see the full writeup.
In summary, we loved these lights. Per our editor, Kameron Scott, they’re “the highest quality, brightest and most universal underwater LED setup I've worked with so far”. But Javelins aren’t the only Lumitec lights we’ve reviewed though, the SeaBlazeX2 lights held our number one spot for years until Lumitec set the bar even higher with these lights.
With a rating of 6000+ lumens per light, they’re equal to or brighter than the SeaBlaze and brighter than any other light on our list. This makes them a fantastic choice for not only yachts, sport fishers and other ocean boats but also wakeboard and recreational boats looking for a night-time wakesurfing session or cruise.
The Javelin 600X is an entirely new design for Lumitec too. A sleeker, more modern looking light that’s made from a solid bronze housing. However, the outer most part of the housing is actually nickel, making it shine like chrome but at the same time retain the dependency and durability that bronze is known for in harsh underwater applications.
When we tested and installed a pair of these Javelins, they were incredibly vibrant with flawless transitions between colors and brightness. And when combined with the Poco 3 and Pico C4 modules from Lumitec, they integrated perfectly with other existing LED lights on our test boat, all controlled within a mobile app on our phone.
We also recommend still checking out their more traditional SeaBlazeX2 lights, which held our number one spot on this list for several years. Check out our review and install of their SeaBlazeX2s here.
Best High Tech Light When the Budget Doesn't Matter: Shadow-Caster SCR-24
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.
Best for Big Boats & Yachts: Lumishore SMX153
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.
Best LED Strip Style & Editor's Pick: Shadow-Caster SCM-10-EXT-CC
Shadow-Caster SCM-10-EXT-CC Quick Review
For those who are looking for a strip-style and not a circular underwater LED light for their boat, this is our best recommendation right now. We just recently did a review on the Shadow-Caster SCM-10-EXT-CC and were really impressed with it's performance, features and of course style. Many people might be looking for a replacement to an existing strip-style LED light like we were, and round ones won't cover the existing holes. The SCM-10-EXT-CC is brighter than the Lumishore SMX153 and LIFEFORM LED 9 on this list, but comes in a low profile, strip like form. Great for direct replacements on boats like our Nautique G23 which came from the factory with a strip-style instead of a rounded style light.
Shadow-Caster's SCM-10-EXT-CC is an RGB, 10-LED light with 12 different color variations. It emits up to 3,750 lumens with a 120-degree beam angle. With solid, strobe mode, 12-color fade mode and blue/white fade mode you can choose to either light up the water while you're wakesurfing or start the party with fading and strobing lights. They draw 3.5 amps at 12v but operate between 10 and 13v.
Like their SCR-24, the SCM-10-EXT-CC is designed to be controlled wirelessly using their proprietary net connections. With the SCM-MFD-LC module and multifunction display, you can have full control over the lights via an app on your phone or tap the touchscreen multifunction display to change modes and colors. Or, if the multifunction display isn't for you, you can also take advantage of all of the features and modes via a simple toggle switch and push button to change colors and switch between modes. One of the things that stood out to us when reviewing this unit was the lengths they went to seal and protect their lights from the elements. Between their gel-filled design to prevent moisture from seeping inside and their thermal throttling to prevent overheating, you can rest assured that these are among the most reliable lights on the market.
Take a look at our SCM-10-EXT-CC LED Light Review to check out the full details and a video demo of all of the light features!
Best Underwater Lighting for Fun and Fishing: OceanLED Sport S3166s
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.
Best Factory Upgrade on a Budget: LIFEFORM LED 9
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.