Last updated on May 5th, 2021 at 11:25 pm
I'm always looking around for new and cool products to install and demo. At the time of writing this article, river/lake season was coming up and we were working on updating our list of best underwater LED lights. I figured it'd be a great opportunity to test out some different products and give the Nautique G23 an upgrade. Shadow-Caster was, and still is, among our list of best underwater LEDs and had a great match for my application – the SCM-10-EXT-CC.
Like all of their other underwater lights, the SCM-10-EXT-CC is a marine-grade LED. It's a 10 LED light (thus the SCM-10) and offers a wide range of colors. It was a perfect fit for our G23 and we knew Shadow-Caster produces some high quality, bright lights so we got a pair.
In this review, I'll walk you through my unboxing process with tons of pictures. I'll hook it up to 12V power (not on the boat) and demo the lights and some of the modes. By the end of this article, you should have everything you need to know whether or not you want to buy this light for your boat!
Shadow-Caster was founded in 2007 by Brian Rogers and Jeff Pound. Sparked by a personal need for underwater LEDs for his own boat and combined with the lack of quality options on the market, Jeff partnered with Brian and they went to work designing and developing high quality LEDs for the marine application. Over a year later and countless hours of R&D, they produced their first prototype of the SCM-10. Today, Shadow-Caster designs, engineers and produces a variety of lighting products out of their facility in Clearwater, FL.
Unboxing & First Impressions
I always like to give a good look at the unboxing process in reviews. It's the first time you get a good look at the product, and it's also the first time you might experience buyer's remorse. So in this section, I'll unbox the SCM-10-EXT-CC for the first time and show you what it looks as I open things up.
It's also important to see how the manufacturer packages products. I can't tell you how many times I've received high-end products that were poorly packaged from the manufacturer that ultimately resulted in a damaged or scratched product.
So, diving straight into it – When I first opened up the shipping box to one of these SCM-10s my first thought was related to the size of them. They're pretty wide from left to right. That was to be expected, but seeing them in person for the first time solidified the dimensions for me. They're packaged very neatly in a triangular prism-like box with a transparent face to show off the design while it's still in the package.
The second thing I thought about was weight – these things are heavy for a light! Here's a few snapshots of it before I opened the box up.
Once you start to open up the box, you'll find the LED light fixed into a padded cardboard piece that keeps it from moving around in the package but also protects it from an impact if the box were dropped. The wire harness is tucked behind the light along with the manuals and installation templates. The only thing I noticed was that the wiring wasn't tied, which almost made me question if it had been opened even though they were brand new. But after checking with the guys over at Shadow-Caster, this is intentional and the way they coil the wire is to prevent any kinks or damage.
Here's some shots as I opened the box up for the first time.
Most of the light manufacturers now include pretty detailed instructions for installing their lights. But what I liked about Shadow-Casters' is that they were pretty thorough. They include the installation template with life size dimensions and then a second installation document. Then, another installation document tells you things like what tools you'll need, what kind of sealant you should buy and then reasonably detailed instructions on how to mount them. A good reference for the DIYer if you're looking to doing this yourself. I'll be doing a separate writeup of an install of a pair of these too on a Nautique G23 soon, so stay tuned for that.
Overall I was really pleased with the light right out of the package and went immediately to hook it up and start testing it out
What's In The Box?
Inside the box you'll find:
- 1 SCM-10-EXT-CC light attached to a 10′ wire harness
- Two 1-1/2″ stainless screws
- Installation instructions
- Installation template
- Operating Instructions
- Product registration card
- Warranty information
- Care & Cleaning instructions
Once I had everything out of the box I started to take a deeper look at the light itself. Right out of the gate, the look of these lights are fantastic. For people like me who want their boat to look as good on their trailer or lift as they do in the water, I was completely satisfied with the design of these lights and was excited to see them under the swimstep on the transom when the boat's out of the water.
The two 5 LED strips that are separated by the Shadow-Caster “CC” logo really pop with the surrounding polished stainless steel. And they just look and feel stout and sealed. Only time will tell with how well the seal is but out of the box they pass the eye and feel test.
It's worth noting that the edges along the back side of the light are a bit sharp, but that's not going to matter once they're installed.
Finally, the last thing to note is the depth of the lights. They're super low profile, which further adds to the stylish design. This may be a benefit of the strip-style LED lights (compared to the round ones like the Lumitec), but they're really shallow. I immediately started to wonder about heat dispersion, but then read more about some of the features (see the longevity section). Nonetheless, I really like the design of these. The only thing else I'll note is the width. For folks reading this and are thinking about putting two of these on the transom of their wakeboard boat or similar size boat like me – these are pretty wide at 10″. Two of them may take up a good amount of real estate on your transom so make sure you know your measurements, where your exhaust is and where your swimstep brackets are. If the SCM-10-EXT-CC is too large, they also offer a 6 LED, 4 LED and 4″ round model too.
Here's some photos of the light out of the box!
Light Key Features
In general, underwater lights like these are pretty straight forward and simple. That said, there's a couple of cool things to point out about the SCM-10-EXT-CC. In this section, I'll walk through some of the features of the light.
The LED Lights
The SCM-10-EXT-CC features 10 RGBW LED lights – 5 on each side of the central logo. They can emit up to 3,750 lumens combined (this'll depend on what color you're using). The difference between the standard SCM-10-CC and the SCM-10-EXT-CC is that the EXT has a full range of colors while the standard 10-CC only emits RGBW. With a 3-way wiring switch, you can alternate between 12 different colors:
However, with the Shadow-NET control, you'll have the entire spectrum of RGBW colors and won't be limited to 12. The combined draw of the 10 LEDs is 42 Watts and 3.5 amps @ 12v. They can operate at a 10-30 volt input range.
LED Light Color Demo
After I inspected the light, I hooked it up to a 12V power source to test out all the colors and modes. I mimicked the power toggle control along with the push button control and cycled through the modes and the colors (see the Control Options section below for more info on the power toggle control).
The RGB colors were incredibly vibrant (blue, green, red) and the additional 9 colors really gave a great spectrum of color. Photographing them was a little challenging though, as you'll see in some of the blended colors like aqua and blue-violet where my camera picked up both colors separately. I ended up taking photos of my picket white ceiling instead which actually gave a better look at the true color. These images are unfiltered. The first set of photos are direct shots at the light itself. By the time I got to Blue-Violet, you can see my camera started to have trouble capturing the true blended light.
Since my camera wasn't able to capture quality photos of the color while facing the light directly, the next set capture the color on my ceiling instead. The SCM is facing directly up towards the ceiling. The color of the ceiling is picket fence white which made the colors look super vibrant. In the water I assume it'll be a little less ‘colorful' depending on the color of your lake/river/whatever.
Overall, I thought the LEDs were super bright and the colors were very true and vibrant. I thought the color spectrum was great too and gives you a good amount of options to match these underwater LEDs with the interior of your boat if you have RGB on the inside.
One feature I think would be a nice add would be to have a manual fading selection for color with the 3-way switch wiring configuration. This way, you can get the exact color you want. If you want unlimited colors, you can get it by purchasing the extra Shadow-NET controller though. It's just a couple hundred bucks extra. The full spectrum of color is pretty common in the speaker RGB world, just look at Fusion's Signature 3 Series Speakers. With a full color spectrum selection feature, it'll allow you to match your interior speaker colors if you have them. The switch'll give you 12 colors which most likely will match nearly any color combo that you have in your interior. But still, endless color options would be nice without the added Shadow-NET controller!
Since you have 12 colors to choose from, you also need a way to control them and switch between them. For that reason, Shadow-Caster built in three control options to give you full control of the lights. I'll demo these in the lights demo section too, but here's an overview:
- Power Toggle Control – This is the most common control of lights like these. You simply use a toggle the power switch to rotate through the different colors on the light. Each time you toggle the light, it'll change to another color.
- Push Button Control – You can either use the proprietary Shadow-Caster SCM-SWITCH or another marine grade push button switch to control the mode in which the lights emit. This includes four different modes:
- Single Color On: One single color on without interruption. This is the standard ‘on' position of any light.
- Single Color Dim: With Shadow-Caster's 3-way Carling switch, you can have control over the brightness of the color and either strengthen the light to make it brighter or dim the light.
- Strobe solid color: Depending on the color you chose, you can make it strobe.
- Fade blue to white – Pretty much exactly what it says – it fades between blue and white over about a 20 second interval.
- Fade through all 12 colors – This is unique to the EXT model too. It'll fade through all 12 colors that the LED light can omit. Each light fades in about 10 seconds.
- Single Color On: One single color on without interruption. This is the standard ‘on' position of any light.
- Shadow-NET Control – This is a feature that I will not be integrating or covering much in this review. But essentially it's Shadow-Caster's in-depth control of the lighting in a Multifunction Display. You'll need to add an additional control module though – the SCM-MFD-LC and then you can use your app to control it too. With this controller, you have significantly more control over the lights along with an endless possibility of colors (you won't be locked into the 12 colors like you are with a 3-way switch).
LED Mode Demo
I took a few videos to demo some of the push button control modes. Obviously, single color on is straight forward but I wanted to show the fade and strobe. Since the fade is the same from blue to white (#3 above) as it is between colors (#4 above), I captured two videos below:
- Showing the fading between colors (same as fading from blue to white)
**Note that there's a flicker in between fading. Disregard that as it's related to my 12V transformer. This will not happen when they're installed on your boat.
All in all, there's plenty of control that Shadow-Caster offers you. Personally, I'm more of a simple solid color guy. But when you're in party mode at the dock after dark, the strobe or fade modes are always cool. The only feature that they don't offer as a part of their modes is speed control that would allow you to adjust how fast the light fades and strobes.
Marine & Longevity Features
Shadow-Caster made sure that they build these to last. It's how they've made a name for themselves as a quality manufacturer. There's a couple things worth noting about these lights that will make them last longer than many of their competitors:
- Gel-filled design: The entire inside of the light is injected with a clear gel to eliminate the dreaded condensation look that some lights get behind the lens. This was a really cool feature in my opinion because that's one of the main reason underwater LED lights fail and looks terrible out of the water.
- Thermal throttling: This was a cool one too. Many of the lights on the market are designed to operate in the water only. When they're out the water, they can damage themselves and overheat. Shadow-Caster has a thermal throttling technology that will help to prevent overheating when it's out of the water.
- Stainless steel hardware: Many use bronze. I personally like the look of the stainless better though and it doesn't oxidate like bronze does. Shadow-Caster uses 316 stainless steel for the housing.
- IP68: A ‘good to know' fact is that it's IP8 rated. This is to be expected though.
One thing worth noting too in this section is that Shadow-Caster water tests every unit that leaves their building. They have a high standard for quality control and this is one of the big quality-related selling points that I feel like might get missed. Also related to longevity and marine features – they offer a 2 year warranty on the light.
Because what would a review be without the specs?
- marine LED hull light with 10 extended-color LEDs
- choose your look from 12 standard colors
- manufactured in Clearwater, Florida
- works with Shadow-NET-enabled controllers
- clear gel-filled design keeps condensation and moisture out
- 316 stainless steel housing resists corrosion
- rugged polycarbonate lens
- IP68 fully-submersible waterproof design
- transient surge and reverse polarity protection prolongs unit life
- thermal throttling technology for safe operation even out of water
- 120-degree beam angle
- power draw: 42 watts
- current draw: 3.5 amps at 12 volts
- dimensions: 10″ (254 mm) x 2.4″ (61mm) x 0.5″ (13mm)
- warranty: 2 year
I set out looking for a high quality, bright and low profile RGB LED light to upgrade my Nautique G23's factory underwater LEDs on the transom. After opening up, inspecting and demoing these SCM-10-EXT-CC lights, I can say that I'm really excited to install them.
The SCM-10-EXT-CCs are super bright, although Shadow Caster's SCR-24 emits even more light than these. They have a wide range of colors – 12 to be exact with a 3-way switch and many, many more with the Shadow-NET controller. And, they look GREAT. The low profile, strip-style LED was exactly what I was looking for. I didn't want bronze either so the stainless casing was ideal.
After inspecting and reading more about their marine-specific and longevity features like the clear gel fill and thermal throttling, I'm pretty confident these are going to outlast many of the non gel-filled designs. Only time will tell.
Stay tuned for more information once I install these on the G23. But based on what I see here, these are worth the price tag and would be a great upgrade for almost any wakeboard boat.