underwater dock lighting, Underwater Dock Lighting Guide

Underwater Dock Lighting Guide

Underwater dock lighting offers many benefits to homeowners who want to improve the appearance and functionality of their boat docks. However, discovering the best options for your needs can be intimidating and overwhelming. Read on to learn more about underwater lighting options, benefits, and installation.

Types of Underwater Dock Lighting

There are two main types of underwater lighting for boat docks. Additionally, when selecting underwater lights, it is important to choose a lighting system that is for use in the water conditions where you intend to install it.

High-Intensity Discharge Bulbs

HID lighting used to be the most common type of underwater lighting, but light-emitted diodes have surpassed it in popularity. The primary benefits of HID lighting are the more intense light HID bulbs produce and their self-cleaning nature.

HID bulbs generate significantly more heat than LED lights. As a result, when you run them continuously, the heat kills or repels algae and other marine life, reducing the need to periodically clean the lights. However, if you don’t run the lights from dusk to dawn, barnacles can grow on them and fracture the bulb.

Maintaining HID underwater dock lighting can be expensive because it loses its intensity faster than other types of lights and needs replacement more often. Additionally, HID bulbs are fragile. Passing boats can easily damage HID lights, leading to difficult and expensive repairs.

LED Lights

LED lights last longer than HID lighting and have lower lumen depreciation. LEDs use less energy and produce less heat than HID bulbs, which contributes to their longer life and prevents overheating.

The availability of color-changing technology makes it easier to customize LED lights, and they are usually less expensive to purchase than HID lights. However, it can be expensive to run LED lights at high levels of brightness.

The quality of your underwater LED dock light is important. High-quality LEDs generate enough heat to resist organic growth, making them easier to clean. Poor-quality LEDs require frequent cleaning and may overheat, leading to a shorter lifespan.

Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Underwater Dock Lighting

The impurities and electrolytes in saltwater make it more corrosive to underwater lights than freshwater. As a result, you can use lights designed for saltwater use in freshwater or saltwater, but freshwater lights will not last long in saltwater conditions.

Underwater Dock Light Safety and Installation

Low-voltage LED lights are easier to install than HID lights because they are safer to handle. HID lights require careful handling during installation and replacement. Inexperienced installers may need to hire a professional installer to safely install HID lights.

All underwater lights must be waterproof and equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters to prevent electric shock. Breaking an HID bulb can expose you to shock risk, so take extra care when handling HID bulbs.

Run all electrical lines or plugs to a circuit breaker box and keep LED underwater dock lighting power supplies in a covered location above the waterline. Do not operate HID lights above water for more than a few seconds because of the overheating risk. Install low-profile lights on dock posts or flat on the bottom of the waterway to prevent contact with passing boats.

How Do You Install a Deep Glow Underwater Lighting System?

Familiarize yourself with the lighting system general operation page before you start the installation. Disconnect all power to the unit during installation, and do not plug it in until you are completely finished with the installation process.

Choose a location to install the light based on depth, boat traffic, and bottom surface material. Vertically secure the GFCI and optional timer with the supplied cable straps in a location well above the highest potential water level.

Attach the cable weight to the cord. Toss or lower the light into the water. In rocky areas, carefully place the light on the bottom.

Plug the light into a GFCI outlet. Wait a few minutes for the light to reach maximum brightness. Look for a red indicator light on the inline GFCI. If the light is not on, the unit is not functioning properly. Do not submerge the inline GFCI in water.

Uses for Underwater Dock Lighting

Underwater dock lights serve three main purposes.

Aesthetic Appeal

LED lights add an ambient glow to outdoor spaces and come in a variety of color and brightness options. Some lighting systems have color-changing features you can use to change the mood of your dock space.


Attracting fish for sport or recreational viewing is the most popular use of underwater dock lights. Underwater lights attract the zooplankton that fish eat, causing baitfish to gather around the lights.

The baitfish then attract larger fish to the dock area. Green lights are the most popular choice for attracting fish because the wavelengths travel further and deeper and penetrate murky water.

LED lights create a more vibrant green light than HID lights. White or blue lights may work better in clear waters, and color-changing lights allow you to experiment with different light colors to see which works best for you.

Insect Control

Incandescent bulbs tend to attract a lot of insects. LED underwater lights attract fewer insects, making them a good lighting option for people who want to control the insect population around their dock.

Underwater Dock Lighting Cost

The cost of underwater dock lights depends on the quality of the product, bulb type, and cable length. HID lights tend to be more expensive than LED lights, and the long lifespan of LED lights helps offset some of the upfront costs.

Expect to spend at least $400-$500 for quality lights. Be sure to leave room for maintenance costs in your budget.

Contact Decks & Docks For All Your Underwater Dock Lighting Solutions

If you are wondering where to buy LED lighting for underwater use, consider Decks & Docks. Decks & Docks is a full-service supplier of lighting solutions for your deck or dock. We carry the most popular underwater dock lighting systems, and our team of experts can help you with any questions you have. Whatever your lighting needs are, we can help you with products and advice. Contact us to get started.