Underwater lighting for boats and docks, Underwater Lighting for Boats and Docks: What to Consider

Underwater Lighting for Boats and Docks: What to Consider

If you live on the water, you’ve probably seen underwater lights glowing in front of boats and floating in front of docks. Why are these lights becoming so popular? And why are so many of them green?

Underwater lighting for boats and docks, Underwater Lighting for Boats and Docks: What to Consider

Thanks to advances in technology, a new generation of safer and more efficient underwater lights has emerged. Before you go out and buy your own, read on to learn everything you need to know about these marine accessories.


Traditionally, most underwater lights used HID (high-intensity discharge) bulbs. But in recent years, LED lights have begun to take over the market thanks to the following advantages.

  • Efficiency: LED lights last longer and have lower lumen depreciation than HID lights. HIDs lose their light intensity more quickly and have to be replaced more often.
  • Produce Less Heat: LEDs are able to produce nearly the same amount of light as an HID bulb while using less energy. Not only does this make them last longer, but it also prevents them from overheating as an HID would.
  • Customizability: With color-changing technology available, LED lights are easier to customize.
  • Cost: Despite being the newer trend on the market, LED underwater lights are actually less expensive upfront than HID lights.

While LED lights certainly have their benefits, they aren’t a perfect solution. HID lights are still brighter, and the heat they give off is good for preventing algae and other marine life from sticking to them. In the end, the type of underwater lighting you choose really comes down to personal preference.

Are Underwater Lights Safe?

Made properly and used correctly, yes, underwater lighting is perfectly safe. New solutions like Anglers LED and Deep Glow that use low-voltage LEDs instead of high-voltage electricity, are safer to handle in and out of the water. This isn’t to say that HID lights are unsafe, they simply require more careful handling during installation and replacement.

For both LED and HID lights, you’ll want to be sure that they’re waterproof and equipped with GFCI capabilities to prevent electric shock. Whatever you do, don’t be stingy when it comes to your safety. It’s always better to pay a little extra for a high-quality light than to risk injury.

If you do decide to choose a higher voltage HID light, the biggest safety concern you’ll want to be aware of is overheating. HID lights should not be run above water for more than a few seconds at a time.

What are Underwater Lights Used For?

Aside from the obvious purpose of making it easier to see at night, underwater lights have plenty of other useful features that have made them such a popular marine accessory.

Aesthetic Appeal

With a variety of color options to choose from, underwater LED lights create a beautiful glow around your dock. A lot of people get them simply because they look cool — putting red LED lights on the back of your boat will make it look like flames shooting out behind you. You can really get creative with them!

Attracting Fish

Whether you want to reel them in or just watch them swim around your dock, dropping underwater lights into the water around your boat or dock is an easy and effective way to attract fish at night.

The fish aren’t actually attracted to the light itself — they’re attracted to the zooplankton that gathers around it. The tiny baitfish that eat the zooplankton then attract the larger predator species like bass and trout that you want on the end of your line.

As you start to shop around, you’ll quickly notice that most underwater lights for fishing are green. Why is that?

It has to do with wavelengths — green light travels farther and deeper, attracting more plankton and therefore more fish. It’s also the best color for penetrating murky waters. In clear waters, you might find that white or blue light works better for you. With color-changing LEDs, you can easily experiment with different colors until you find the perfect fish magnet.

Keeping Insects at Bay

A nice bonus perk of underwater lights is that they can also help keep insects away at night, particularly those pesky mosquitoes. If you’re thinking “hold on, doesn’t light attract bugs?”, you’re right. But the LED bulbs used in underwater lights attract far fewer insects than a traditional incandescent bulb, making them the best way to light up your boat or deck without attracting unwanted pests.

How Much Does Underwater Lighting Cost?

The cost of underwater lighting varies greatly depending on the quality of the product. You could potentially get your hands on an underwater LED light for as little as $100 or $200, but these cheap options typically come with greater safety risks and produce less light. For a high-quality LED underwater lighting system, you’re looking at prices closer to $400 or $500. HID lights will cost you even more.

While the initial cost may seem steep, underwater LED lights make up for it with their incredible longevity. With up to 50,000 hours of light, you won’t be needing to replace the bulbs anytime soon.

However, because they are submerged in water, they do require a bit of extra maintenance. You’ll want to remove and clean your lights every month or so to remove any barnacles, algae, or other sludge that has accumulated. This is one of the few advantages HID lights have of LEDs – because the heat from HIDs burns off marine life, they are practically self-cleaning.


Whether you’re an angler or just someone who appreciates the beauty of lights glowing out on the water, underwater lights are a worthwhile investment for anyone with a boat or a dock. If you have any additional questions about underwater lights or other marine lighting solutions, give us a call. The experts at Decks & Docks have you covered!