LED Nautical Divers - Undewater LED Lighting

The Nautical Underwater LEDs or platform lights or English underwater LED lighting, are used to illuminate the bottom around the boat.

What are the underwater marine LEDs for?

LED Subacquei Nautici - Undewater LED Lighting n.1
LED Subacquei Nautici - Undewater LED Lighting n.2
LED Subacquei Nautici - Undewater LED Lighting n.3

In recent years, this technology has become very widespread, capable of embellishing the boat, gaining aesthetically and functionally. Today it is one of the most used aesthetic finishing touches in the boating industry.

The underwater lighthouse is commonly placed on the hull in the aft area to illuminate the underwater world, the light is retransmitted by the water creating a very unique halo around the boat for a very welcoming atmosphere and making the boat look better finished.

Spectacular is the vision of the submarine bottom that seems to approach us with all its charm and mystery. Small fish approach marvelled at the light and it is as if they were dancing around it, a spectacular sight for children and adults alike. If we are also lovers of swimming or diving at night, then it is really unexpected the involvement that these lights can create.

The underwater LED also has its benefits from a functional and safety point of view. Being a light reflected by the water and therefore not direct, the light does not disturb the view, rather it increases the perception of what is around the boat and the bottom. For example, in roadsteads we can better monitor if the boat is near shallows, or while sailing notice before any obstacles. Instead, in port we could have better lighting of the area around the walkway, allowing a safer entrance on board.

It should be remembered that in Italy the use of a light source for fishing is not permitted, as was once the case with lamparas. For the rest, we have no other specific prohibition, but common sense will certainly push us to avoid using them in protected areas and in any case to use them with moderation.

Where are they installed?

Surface mount
Surface mount
Passante con corpo LED sfilabile
Through-hole with removable LED body

There are two types of underwater lights:

  • Surface mount, i.e. with bulkhead installation. Adhesion is achieved by means of sikaflex and clamping screws.
  • Passages, similar in assembly to the transducers for the fishfinder and the adhesion is through a large nut to be screwed into the hull. They can have the body of the LED removable for replacement even with boat in the water, but require a hole of even greater diameter.

Surface mount headlights are easier to install and require a smaller hole in the hull, however they require some specific attention during the assembly phase, while passing headlights, although they require a larger hole, have fewer problems in tightening as they are secured by the large nut.

For surface mount headlights, care must be taken that the quality of the sikaflek is not poor and that it is evenly sprinkled. The screws that tighten it must be tightened "softly" to prevent the threads from loosening. In addition, the procedure must be carried out at the beginning of the work and before the first coat of antifouling, so as to have an abundant week to be able to well thicken.

A common problem for both types of headlamps is when the connection of the headlamp inside is made in a damp place. In this case, condensation could run through the cable until it reaches the headlight, damaging it irreparably. For this type of problem the most careful manufacturers provide solutions. For example, Bluefin LED includes in the package a junction box called "gel connector" that prevents this process, also in the 2018 production of the series Piranha has added on the cable a small cylinder that acts as a barrier for water and condensation.

Surface mount lights are generally more suitable for small boats because they are easy to install. While the through ones are installed on larger boats, where generally there is no fear of a hole with a larger diameter and the thicker resin allows the nut to be tightened better.

The number of luminaires to be installed depends on your needs, the effect we want to give and the brightness of the luminaires chosen. Normally at least 2 are installed on the transom, but for a complete effect they are also installed along the sides and their total number can even exceed 20 units. An expert will be able to advise on the number of headlights and where exactly to place them, depending on the type of boat.

For adequate lighting it is necessary that the light is installed below the waterline, otherwise the light will refract on the water, dazzling those who want to observe the bottom and thus losing most of the benefits that this lighting system allows. For this reason, solutions designed to avoid drilling holes in the hull, such as placing it just below the stern platform, should not be considered, as this could compromise up to 70% of the light effect. In addition, the headlamp cannot be cooled by water and therefore must operate at a much lower brightness to avoid overheating.

What does the underwater LED market have to offer?

The market for LED underwater lights today offers a considerable range of products, so as to be able to disorient any interested party.

Surely we must avoid the economic models, not able to exalt the benefits of this technology. Moreover, it is certainly not diligent to drill a hole in the hull by closing it with a beacon of which we do not know the reliability and with the risk of replacing it shortly.

Halogen or Xenon (HID) headlights should also be avoided. They commonly absorb much more than LEDs, especially when they are switched on. Moreover, while the colour of the LED light remains unchanged over time, the colour of the halogen headlamps changes with the deterioration of the lamp. One detail concerns the Xenon technology, if the bulb is defective, it can cause damage to man and, if placed in water, to the life of sea creatures.

Avoid those with plastic or aluminium structure, because they do not offer much resistance to blows and can turn the installation into a leak. Bronze frames are recommended, and secondly, those made of other strong metals such as steel.

If the boat is subject to a strong flow of galvanic currents, as in the case of those caused by some water jet engines, a careful study must be made to verify that the mounting position of the beacon is properly protected by an anode. In this case "soft" metals are not recommended, the ideal would be titanium, but also bronze defends itself well, along with some specific types of steel.

Among the LED lights are to be avoided those with separate LED driver, because it makes the installation more complex and creates unnecessary potential risks (fire, electromagnetic disturbances, etc.).

Especially in small boats, avoid models that require a large diameter hole for the passage of the cable. The smaller the hole, the lower the risk of water infiltration.

There are those who resort to "do-it-yourself" by buying separately strips of LED and adapting them in some way to the hull. The solution is certainly economical, but if you can do a great job from the point of view of safety, the result will never be the same as that of a quality LED headlamp and would therefore be less of a prerequisite for approaching this technology.

We tend to suggest a quality LED underwater spotlight and from a real manufacturer (not an assembler of parts) specialized in this narrow market who can therefore know the complexities in the production of underwater LED spotlights.

There are various light intensities and sizes depending on the length of the boat. To have sufficient lighting intensity it is appropriate to consider only headlights from 1000 lumens upwards.