dock lighting

The right lights can save your life!

That may sound a little dramatic, but it could be true. It’s important to install proper dock lighting to keep you, and your boat, safe from harm. It’s not often that boats run into docks, but when it happens it can cause quite a bit of damage.

If you can’t clearly see your way around the dock, there is a higher risk of hitting the dock with your boat. Or you or a passenger could fall off the dock into the water.

Keep reading to learn how to choose the perfect dock lighting for your situation.

Talk to Your Neighbor or Marina Manager

Unless your dock is out in the middle of nowhere, any dock lighting that you install will affect those around you. Before you undertake a project like this, it would be good to chat with anyone the lights would affect.

At your residence, this would be your neighbors. If you have your own dock, you can do what you want. But it keeps up good neighborly relations if you tell your neighbors about the project first. If you share a dock, they may even be interested in sharing some of the cost.

If you have a dock slip, you’ll want to talk to the marina manager. Many marinas have rules about this sort of thing to ensure uniformity in the marina’s appearance.

Solar Lights

A solar-powered dock lighting system is an excellent idea. These type of lights will come on by themselves as darkness falls and turn off as the dawn breaks. You don’t have to worry about setting timers or having to manually turn them on and off.

The other awesome thing about solar lighting is that the sun takes care of powering them. Most docks are right out in the sun most of the day so it’s easy to get plenty of sunshine to power the lights for the night. But even if your dock is shaded, you can choose a system with a large solar panel and set it up in a sunny spot.

Hardy Housings

The lights that you choose will see a lot of abuse from the elements. All docks are constantly exposed to water, obviously. Plus, if your dock is in the ocean you also have the salt to worry about.

For this reason, you need to choose a dock lighting system with hardy housings. Aim for one of the strong plastic options. Housings made out of metal will quickly corrode and fall apart, particularly in salt water.

Underwater Dock Lights

You may want to include luminous underwater LED dock lights. They are cost effective and you can get LED’s that will last for 100,000 hours. At 8 hours of use each day that translates to about 34 years!

These lights are great for a variety of reasons. They light up the water, creating a pleasant environmental effect. In addition, they help to keep your dock safer because people can better see their footing. This gentle light can also attract marine life, ideal for if you want to fish from your dock.

The best light for the job depends on a couple things. First, it depends which of the above factors is most important to you. Second, it depends on how clear the water is.

In murky water, you will need brighter lights to better penetrate. Choosing different colors can also help with this. Shorter wavelengths allow the light to penetrate farther before it begins to scatter. This makes green LED’s a popular choice, but you can get different colors.

Use Colored Lights to Direct Traffic

Colored lighting can also help your above-water dock lighting. When coming in at night, it can be difficult to see clearly, especially during bad weather. Set up green lights on the side of the dock where you should enter, and red on the other.

Even if you don’t use colored lights, be sure to set up groupings that make it clear where boats are supposed to go. And always be sure to illuminate the end of the dock. The last thing you want to do is bump into a dock you can’t see and end up damaging your boat.

Avoid Tall, Bright Lights

Lights along your dock are a great thing for safety. Tall, bright lights, however, don’t help much and can even be dangerous.

These types of lights can blind you as you’re bringing the boat in. You won’t be able to see the edge of the dock well and can easily end up in the wrong spot.

Instead, install your lights between 24-35 inches high. This gives you enough illumination to see other boats and the dock edge clearly without blinding you as you come in. Plus there is plenty of light for people to enter and exit the boat safely.

Light the Water’s Edge

Installing lights along the water’s edge is a nice touch. This adds a great aesthetic effect and has a great visual impact. Plus, these lights also help to light up the area for safety.

Light the Pathway

Another great area to light up for safety is the walkway. This will help make sure that people see where they’re going as they head to dry land. The last thing anybody wants is to take a misstep and fall into the water. Keep the lights going on up the walkway for a nice finishing effect.

Choose lights that point downward and don’t fan out over a large area. The point is to light up the walkway, not annoy yourself or your neighbors with extra light pollution.

Your Perfect Dock Lighting

The perfect dock lighting for your situation will vary depending on your needs. We hope this guide is helpful to you as you choose the perfect setup for your dock.

Don’t be afraid to contact us for additional help. Our knowledgeable staff can help you pick out the right lights for the job.

We also have a whole range of products that you can use to create the perfect dock setup in general. Check out our project gallery for some awesome inspiration!