How To Install LED Strip Lights On a Boat?

Want to make your boat feel like floating in the magical world? Go for LED strip lighting; these are waterproof, low-voltage, durable light fixtures ideal for interior, exterior, and even underwater boat lighting. But how to install them on your boat? 

A suitable LED strip, connector, controller, and driver- are all you need to light your boat. The first step to installing LED strips on your boat is to get a waterproof LED strip. In this case, IP rating is a crucial factor to consider; higher ratings indicate better waterproofing. Next, you must go through sizing, connecting, mounting, and finally, powering up the strips. In this process, considering the voltage of the power outlet is crucial, as LED strips are sensitive to voltage ratings. 

But no worries, in this article, I have brought you a stepwise procedure for installing LED strips in the easiest way possible. And for your convenience, I’ve also added a guideline to purchase the ideal strip for your boat and many more. So, without any further delay, let’s jump into the discussion-

6 Simple Steps To Install LED Strips On Boat

Installing LED strips on your boat is not rocket science. You can quickly install them by following the below step without any professional help- 

Step-1: Purchase Suitable LED Strips For Boat Lighting

Besides choosing the color and pattern of LED strips, IP rating is the most crucial factor for boat lighting. Going for a higher IP rating is a must for keeping your light fixture safe when it comes in contact with water. 

If you want colorful boat lighting, go for RGB LED strips. You can choose plain white or color temperature adjustable strips for decorating the boat’s interior. In the latter half of this article, I’ve added a complete guide to selecting suitable strips for boats. So read the full article to get the best deal. 

Step-2: Selecting & Preparing The Installation Location

The lighting requirement of different sections of the boat is different. For instance, if you light the boat’s bow, you will require red and green stripes. So, it is crucial to consider the lighting area before mounting strips. 

Select the location and clean the area to ensure the strip’s adhesive sticks perfectly to the surface. If there is dust or dirt, the adhesive will come off, and the strip light won’t stay longer. Here, you can use a wet cloth and rub it with alcohol for proper cleaning. But before installing the fixtures to the surface, ensure it is completely dry. 

Step-3: Taking Measurements & Sizing The LED strips

Measure the area to find how many strips you require. Now, cut your strips as per the needed length. Cutting the strips is super easy; using a scissor, you can quickly complete this step. Besides, if there is any wrong sizing, you can reconnect them using an LED strip connector or soldering. To know the correct procedure for cutting LED strips, check this- Can You Cut LED Strip Lights and How To Connect: Full Guide.

Step-4: Mounting The Strips

After sizing the LED strips, now it’s time for installation. Take the LED strips and remove the adhesive backing. Press the strips to the desired location to ensure they stick properly. In other cases, you may use screws or clips to make this installation more firm. But in boat lighting, avoiding screwing as drilling will damage the boat surface. For more information, you can read Installing LED Flex Strips: Mounting Techniques.

Step-5: Power It Up

You will require a compatible LED connector wire and a driver to connect the mounted LED strip to the power source. Now, follow the below steps to power up the strips-

  • Take the connector wire and insert the red wire to the LED strip’s positive ‘+’ marking and the black wire to the negative ‘-‘ marking. 

  • Remove some adhesive backing from the strips and press the connecting clips to close the claps. 

  • Connect the other end of the connecting clip to the LED driver. 

  • Now, plug the LED driver into the main power supply. The LED strips usually run in low voltage, 12V or 24V, and match this rating with the driver and power source. 

Step-6: Check The Connections 

After the driver is connected to the power supply, it’s time to light the LED strips. Turn on the main switch, and the light will glow up. In case the lights don’t turn on, check the connections. Ensure the polarity is ok and the joining points are correctly connected. Try again fixing these issues; the light will surely glow. 

Therefore, following these steps, you can quickly install LED strips on your boat. 

led strip on boat 2

Areas To Install LED Strips On A Boat 

You will get multiple options to light up the boat with LED strips. Here are some areas which you can pop up while lighting your boat- 

Interior Boat Lighting 

The boat’s interior includes room for sleeping, a washroom, a kitchen, a wheelhouse, and the surrounding areas. Here are some ideas for a light boat interior- 

  • Cabin Lighting: Add LED strips to the ceiling of your boat cabin. You can go for cove lighting; it works excellent for indirect lighting effects. This will act as the general lighting of the room. For accent lighting, install the strips underneath cabin furnishings or counters. This will also work great for task lighting.

  • Wheelhouse: Try installing LED strips along the steering and seat of the boat caption. You can experiment with adding them to outline the front glass of the chamber.

  • Storage Lighting: This area is where you keep all your essentials like- a boating rod, net, etc. Install strips inside the storage bay will help you find your needs. 

  • Galley Lighting: The kitchen area of boats is known as the galley. It is a brilliant option to use LED strip lights in this area to improve your onboard cooking experience.

  • Stair Lighting: You can elevate the boat interior by adding LED strips along stairs and ladders. It will provide accent lighting to the stairs and help you avoid unexpected accidents.  

  • Washroom Lighting: The boat’s washroom is very small, so LED strips are the best option to keep the space minimal. You can add these strips along the ceiling or around the bathroom vanity mirror. 
led strip on boat 7

Exterior Boat Lighting 

The exterior area includes the concave surface of the boat. Here are some fantastic ideas where you can install LED strips to highlight the boat exterior- 

  • Deck Lighting: Place the LED strips under the boat’s rails or outline the surface to highlight the deck area. This will add accent lighting to your boat, giving a mesmerizing look at night. 

  • Hull Lighting: The hulk is the watertight enclosure of the boat that protects the machinery, cargo, and passenger accommodations. This area is uplifted and more visible from the outside. So, you can focus your boat by adding bright color LED strips to the hull. Try color-changing RGB strips; this will give your boat a playful appearance. 

  • Signage Lighting: If you have a private boat or yacht, you can backlight your boat’s name to highlight its signature style. In this case, LED neon flex works best. 

Underwater Boat Lighting 

Underwater lighting makes your boat feel like floating in a magical world. Place the LED strips at least six inches below the waterline to ensure the light falls underwater. In this case, choose strips with IP68 ratings; they are waterproof and support submerged water. For underwater lighting, blue, green, and purple LED strips are more popular. However, you can experiment as per your preference. 

Navigation Lighting 

Navigation lights are essential to provide visibility to your boat position at night to prevent a collision. These lights are placed in the front region of the boat, known as the bow. Two color lights are used for bow lighting for navigation- 

Red Light: Use the red light on the port (left) side 

Green Light: Install green light on the starboard (right) side 

This color lets the surrounding boat know the ship’s position while floating in the water. You can easily add such lighting to your boat using RGB LED strips. 

led strip on boat 3

Advantages Of Using LED Strips For Boat Lighting 

Here are some features or benefits of LEd strips that make them suitable for boat lighting- 

  1. Energy Efficient: LED strips use 75% less energy than other traditional forms of lighting. So, installing these fixtures on your boat will save you energy costs. 

  1. Safe Thermal System: LED strips have a heat sink that prevents the fixture from overheating. Besides, they are low voltage and shockproof, making them ideal for use in areas like boats. 

  1. Versatile Color Options: You will find various coloring options when lighting your boat with LED strips. They have adjustable and DIY color lighting variants also. In the latter segments of this article, I’ve added more details about the LED strip options. So, keep reading. 

  1. Multiple Applications: LED strip lights and ambient lighting suit the boat’s general task. You can use them inside the cabin, on the staircase, on the deck, or even underwater boat lines. Besides, they work excellently for navigation lighting. 

  1. Dimmable: The dimming feature of LED strips allows you to adjust the lighting effect to your requirement. For instance, if you are fishing at night, you can increase the brightness of deck lighting. And when chilling in the boat and wanting to create a soft lighting glow, dim the LED strips to your desired level. 

  1. Waterproof: LED strips are available in different IP ratings. The higher ratings are waterproof and can resist powerful water splashes. Some can even withstand submerged water. 

  1. Long Lasting: For durability, LED strips stand next to none. They can last longer than other traditional light fixtures. And if maintained properly, you can use them for about a decade. 
led strip on boat 4

Disadvantages Of Using LED Strips For Boat Lighting

Besides all these above benefits, there are also a few disadvantages of LED strips for boat installation. These are as follows:

  1. High Installation Cost: The installation of LED strips costs more when compared to traditional light fixtures. But they are more cost-effective considering the maintenance, repair, and durability. 

  1. Voltage Sensitivity: The LED strips require accurate voltage ratings to perform. If the voltage is not the same from end to end of the strips, the lighting doesn’t maintain constant brightness. Due to this problem, you may find some parts of your boat lighting dimming gradually as the strip’s length continues. 

  1. Not for Use in Cold: As LED strips don’t emit much heat, they can’t melt the snow. So, when installed in cold weather, they get covered by snow, which hampers their function. 
led strip on boat 6

Best LED Strip Option For Boat Lighting

For lighting your boat with LED strips, here are the following options you can find- 

  • Single Color LED Strip

Monochrome strips are known as single-color LED strips. They are suitable for installation at any part of the boat. These strips are available in red, blue, yellow, green, pink, amber, UV, and more. 

  • Color Temperature Adjustable LED Strips

You can choose tunable and dim-to-warm LED strips for boat interior or cabin lighting. Installing them will allow you to cancel the ambiance of your boat from warm to cool lighting tones. 

  • RGB LED Strip

Nothing works best to add a playful vibe to boat decor, like RGB LED strips. These LED strips have 3-in-1 LED chips that can create about 16 million hues by mixing the three primary colors- red, green, and blue. Using a smart controller, you can also produce DIY light colors. These strips will work great for lighting the boat’s deck, hulk, or railings. 

  • Addressable LED Strip

Want to take your boat lighting game to the next level? Go for addressable LED strips. These light fixtures can produce rainbow lighting effects and sync with the music. So, having these lights for yacht parties would be excellent. 

led strip on boat 5

Things To Consider Before Purchasing LED Strips For Boat Lighting 

The considerations for purchasing boat lighting are different from general lighting requirements. So, to help you out, I’ve listed a few factors which you can follow to choose the suitable LED strip for lighting your boat-

IP Rating

As the boat faces weather conditions like wind, scorching heat, storms, rains, and continuous contact with water, lighting for the boat requires greater protection. And that is why IP rating is the most crucial factor to consider here. IP stands for Ingress Progress. It is a two-digit number where the first digit indicates protection against solids like – dirt and dust, And the second digit indicates protection against liquid like- rain, water splash, etc. Higher the IP rating better protection it provides. Here are some IP ratings suggested for lighting different areas of the boat-

Lighting Area Of BoatRecommended IP Rating Protection Level 
Boat Cabin LightingIP64 or IP65As this part of the boat doesn’t come in contact with direct water, a lower Ip rating will be enough. It will provide complete dust and light splash water protection.  
Deck LightingIP66Full protection against dust and powerful water jets. 
Hull & Navigation LightingIP67Complete dust protection and full immersion up to 1 meter. 
Underwater LightingIP68Supports submersion 

Color 

Choosing a boat’s light color gives you the freedom to listen to your heart.  However, it is essential to install red and green LED strips for navigation lighting.  Choosing other colors will not work here, as the following colors indicate the left and right sides of the boat. 

But you can choose any color that meets your preference for general and accent lighting of your boat.  Yet, bright colors LED strips like blue, red, and green are better choices to give more visible lighting.  Besides, you can select color-changing strips like- RGB or addressable LED strips for the boat exterior.  And warm color lights or adjustable strips like tunable or dim-to-warm will work for boat cabins.  Again, if you have a private yacht, going for plain white or soft sea blue LED strips can give an aesthetic and modern outlook.

LED Density 

LED strip density means the number of LED chips mounted per meter. Choosing less-density strips will create dots, and the lighting effect won’t be up to the mark. So, for seamless boat lighting, choose high-density LED strips. LEDYi offers customization facilities on LED density, so you can get whatever you want. 

Length 

LED strips are usually available in 5-meter reels. You can cut these strips to your required size. And if you need longer strips, joining them using an LED strip connector is also possible. But here, connecting multiple strips together causes a voltage drop. And to prevent this, it requires extra wiring. So, choosing Super Long Constant Current LED Strips is a wonderful decision for long strip installation. They can cover up to 50-meter distances without any cutting hassle. To know more about LED strip lengths, check this article- What Are the Longest LED Strip Lights? However, LEDYi also offers customization facilities. You can contact us if you have any particular length requirements for your boat. 

Voltage

LED strips are low-voltage light fixtures that make them ideal for boat use. They usually come in 12V or 24V. And these ratings are ideal for boats as higher voltage can be dangerous near water. 

Warranty 

Warranty is always a crucial factor to consider to ensure better lighting quality. As boat lighting often faces a splash of water, the LED strips have a higher chance of shutting off if the quality is not up to the mark. So, get proper knowledge about warranty policies before purchasing LED strips. However, no worries with LEDYi; we provide 3 to 5 years of warranty on our premium LED strips. 

LED Strip Light Install on Jon Boat

FAQs 

The best waterproof rating for boat lighting is IP68. It provides the highest degree of protection. With fixtures of this rating, you can light up the boat’s exterior, including underwater lighting, deck and hull lighting, navigation lighting, and more. However, for the boat interior, IP66 or IP67 will work.

No, if you cut LED strips, it doesn’t remain fully waterproof. The strips that have waterproof features are covered with PU glue or silicone glue. So, when you cut them, it doesn’t stay wholly sealed anymore. And thus, there are chances of water entrance. After cutting the strips, you must apply silicone glue while covering the end caps. This ensures complete sealing and thus doesn’t let the water enter the LED chips.

If you install a changeable or adjustable LED strip, then the controller is essential to bring your desired lighting effect. For example- RGB and tunable LED strips need a controller to change the light color. But if you are using single-color LED strips, a controller is not needed.

The best way to power your LED light is by wiring them directly into your boat’s 12V battery. You can easily find the boat’s fuse box or breaker panel to power the lights. However, many boats already have regulators that stop the power from rising to 13 or 14 volts. But if your boat doesn’t have this safety feature, don’t panic; you can still protect your LEDs using a DC voltage regulator.

Yes, LED strips are an excellent choice for boat lighting. They are waterproof, durable, and multi-functional, making them ideal for boats. Besides, LED strips are cuttable, so you can quickly customize them to different sizes to meet boat lighting requirements.

What are the essential boat lights for the night?

For night lighting, there are some standard rules to follow for boats. These are-

  • Navigation Light: RED and Green navigation lights are placed on the boat’s bow. (Red light should be placed on the left side and green on the right). These lights help the surrounding vessel identify the boat’s position, thus preventing a collision. 
  • Masthead Light: This white light is installed at the boat’s front. The masthead light must be visible from two miles away and across 225 degrees. They are also known as “steaming lights” as only placed on power-driven vessels.

Stern Light: These are white lights placed on the back of the boat. And they must be visible from 2 miles distant and across 135 degrees.

Yes, LED strips with IP68 ratings can go underwater. They are completely dust and waterproof and can withstand submerging waters up to 1 meter.

There is no definite size recommendation for boat lighting with LED strips. As LED strips are cuttable, sizing them is pretty easy. However, the circuit becomes complex for large installations due to multiple strip joining. To solve this issue, you are suggested to go for long LED strips with constant current flow.

LED Strip Sample Book

Bottom Line 

LED strips are the most attractive lighting options for boat lighting. They are simple to install. So you can maintain them without professional help. Besides, LED strips are available in various colors and have an IP rating ideal for your boat’s cabin, deck, galley, navigation, or underwater lighting. 

However, to get premium quality, LEDYi is the most reliable LED strip manufacturing company. We provide lab-tested LED strips with various colors, IP ratings, and other customization options. Besides, if you want signage for your boat, we also have LED neon flex. So, contact LEDYi soon!

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