To differentiate themselves in the marketplace, new boat builders have had to improve on their products.  Light emitting diodes or LED lighting have become standard equipment on vessels manufactured by high-end builders like SeaRay, Sabre, Hatteras, Trinity, Nordhaven, Morris Yachts, Oyster, and Tiara.  LED lighting is cooler, gives off less heat and are much more energy efficient than their halogen predecessors and miles ahead of incandescent.  LED lighting differentiates their boats from the competition and adds more value.  Have you thought about adding LED lighting to your boat to improve is efficiency and value?

One of the benefits of LED lighting is the green aspect.  The equivalent amount of illumination that LED lighting draws uses approximately 74% less power than halogen bulbs.  LED lights emit less than 1/3 the heat of halogen bulbs so you will be cooler and using less power and burning less fossil fuel.  Just think, you won’t have to run your engine or genset as often or as long to charge the batteries!  To become even greener on the water, add a solar powered battery charger.

To replace a halogen bulb with an LED bulb is a basic option and a very minor project and replacing the lamp fixture itself with one designed for LED’s won’t be a huge project either.  Most manufacturers like make these in the same sizes that will fit your existing cutouts.  Because the LED fixture is designed to effectively disperse heat, you will find that your fixtures last a minimum of 50,000 hours – plus, they add a more modern look to your boat!

Early versions of LED lights had issues with the quality of color, but these have been largely overcome by use of phosphorus coatings.

A bigger project that you might think about is one where your boat becomes completely LED compliant. You can run an additional duplex signal wire to all the LED fixtures to enable a dimmer feature.  This task isn’t always easy when done on a used boat and you should probably hire someone experienced in LED conversions.

Depending on the level of installation, the cost conversion for a used boat can be pricey but keep in mind that LED bulbs might cost 3 times that of halogen but tend to last much longer.  You can expect to pay between $80 – $100 per LED fixture so for a large boat with 35 fixtures and dimmers, you’re looking at approximately $3,800 in materials for a full conversion.  Other than the cost factor, there really isn’t a downside to adding LED lights to your boat.

If you’re planning a larger conversion, it is always best to start with consulting a marine lighting manufacturer.  They will happily consult on how to properly light your boat and will refer you to a local distributor or installer.

You can always start with one bulb or one fixture rather than upgrading your entire boat but it won’t be as efficient and it will look dated when/if you try to sell it down the road.

Oh, and don’t forget to include converting your running lights to LED – keep it green all the way!

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