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Marine Electronics Journal Blog

Best underwater LED lights for 2017

Underwater lights have become a “must-have” for many boaters. Anglers will tell you they attract fish. Cruisers point to added security at night. Mostly, though, boaters install them for pure entertainment. They like the effect, changing colors to whatever suits the mood, and the lights can be synced with music blasted out by sophisticated onboard audio systems.

The five underwater LED systems below are part of an exercise we do every year at Marine Electronics Journal that we call the Best & Brightest Boating Electronics. It works this way—we ask manufacturers to name the one model in their product line of, say, fishfinders, multi-function displays or radars, that they consider to be their best. 

We’re not looking for the most expensive or even the most technologically advanced piece of equipment. In some cases, manufacturers name a rock-solid product that has earned the title of Best & Brightest by simply performing as advertised year after year. In other cases, the products harness innovations that are on the cutting edge of marine technology.

There are 18 categories of electronics in this year’s Best & Brightest roundup. Last week we told you about autopilots. In subsequent weeks we'll roll out the best VHFs, Automatic Identification Systems, personal survival gear and a whole lot more.

Aqualuma 12 Series

Bigger, better, brighter. As part of the iconic Aqualuma Thru-Hull range, the Aqualuma 12 Series is a serious light designed to illuminate larger boats. It has a corrosion-proof, injection-molded, patented polymer housing and is internally driven and maintainable without the need for a haul-out. Available in ultra blue and brilliant white, this product is recommended for boats from 40 to 100 feet. It features a 3 inch thru-hull housing, and is powered by either 12 or 24 volt. As part of the Aqualuma Thru-Hull range, the 12 Series features a six-year housing warranty and a three-year warranty on internals. It is also upgradeable to the 18 series using the same housing.


Lumishore EOS TIX402

Lumishore’s smallest color change underwater thru-hull light, EOS TIX402, is designed for boats 30 to 60 feet. Its compact low-profile body makes it ideal for mounting on transoms, hull sides and bottoms of nearly any boat. Enjoy hassle-free command of preset and customizable colors, color cycles, sweeps, strobes and special effects with Lumishore’s easy-to-use EOS Mini WiFi controller. All EOS color-changing lights are fully synced and never need resetting—all lights, all colors, all modes. Impress your friends and onboard guests by strobing your lights to onboard music with a single Sound-to-Light audio output connection to the EOS controller. Installation couldn’t be easier with the two-light starter pack, which includes everything needed to light your boat. Three-year warranty.

Lumitec SeaBlazeX Spectrum

Lumitec expands the underwater SeaBlaze light lineup with the full-color RGBW SeaBlazeX Spectrum. Spectrum delivers two to three times the “dollars per lumen” value with the same reliability, quality, and support that has made SeaBlaze the top-selling LED underwater light in its class. Spectrum goes even further, with nearly infinite color output options, easy surface-mount, two-wire hookup and self-contained electronics requiring no external controllers.  

OceanLED Sport S3116s

OceanLED Sport S3116s is the brightest underwater LED light in its class and is ideal for fishing and cruising in small- and medium-sized boats. It packs a mighty 5,000 fixture lumens into a low profile, compact design with midnight blue and ultra white light options. The S3116s has the most advanced optics available on the market. These optics are designed exclusively by OceanLED and offer a truly striking 90 degree surface beam angle with a focused 20 degree side beam angle, providing greater water penetration, illuminating a larger area without any loss. There are other lights in the market that claim to be bright, but if you don’t focus that power, you don’t achieve great results.


Shadow-Caster SCR-24

Shadow-Caster’s SCR-24 is a 24-LED round underwater light. The SCR-24 is available in single and multiple color versions. Presenting exceptional brightness in a flood pattern, the light is built into a durable bronze housing with a scratch-resistant borosilicate lens. The light is a beautiful compliment to any vessel, and its small footprint allows for multiple placement options around the hull. The SCR-24 is Shadow-Net Enabled, allowing for networked lighting control. Pair the SCR-24 with Shadow-Caster’s Zone Controller and synchronize your lights with music, while controlling the color, fade, and brightness of your lights. The SCR-24 is a 90 watt light offering 7,500 fixture lumens. It contains surge and reverse polarity protection, and operates at 10-40 volts input.



Underwater LEDs---The ‘Wow’ Factor

Last year, Marine Electronics Journal ran an article by veteran writer and boat captain Zuzana Prochazka that discussed the trend of installing underwater lights. Excerpts are below. Click HERE to read the full story.

There are three main drivers for boats to have underwater lights. The first is function, including lighting for nighttime fishing and diving. Second is safety in case of a man-overboard situation or checking to see what might be stuck on the propeller, rudder or keel. But by far the biggest argument is aesthetics or the “wow” factor. While 30% of underwater lights are used to enhance fishing and diving, 70% are for effect. “It’s like mag wheels for boats,” says Amor. “Most people don’t need them, but they look cool.”

LEDs come in primary colors: red, green, blue and white (RGBW) from which just about any color in the spectrum may be created. In the past four years, color-changing technology has moved well beyond single- or dual-color options as lights change smoothly from one end of the spectrum to the other. For example, Lumitec’s SeaBlaze X Spectrum surface-mounted lights offer full-color crossfade mode with limitless color options and synchronization across all the underwater lights installed on a hull and all for under $650 per light.

End users are setting moods and themes with virtually unlimited color combinations. Furthermore, lights today are dimmable without flickering and can be synchronized with sound, and the demand for this mesmerizing effect is growing in popularity. “We can’t underestimate the desire for people to enjoy an on-the-water disco,” says Lumishore's Head of Marketing Susan James.

Command Central

While much has changed in the areas of optics, housings and overall user friendliness, by far the greatest advances have been made in the electronics portion of the light and, specifically, in the controller. “Many of the luminaires that Lumitec sells have the processing power and memory of what would be found on a typical PC just 15 or 20 years ago,” says Lumitec President John Kujawa.  Today’s lights now have a brain and they can communicate (peer-to-peer over the power cord), which makes programming, heat monitoring, interactivity and diagnostics easier and better.

Today’s controllers do more as well. Shadow-Caster’s new SCM-ZC controller allows individual and simultaneous control of four separate lighting zones and supports up to 500 watts of LED lights. Lumishore’s surface-mounted SMX 92 and SMX 152 lights may be controlled via a series of different Lumishore controllers for extensive customization. But you don’t need a controller that is proprietary to the light manufacturer. Information can be displayed on a screen via a digital switching system like a C-Zone monitor and is moved via open protocols, including NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000®.

“Really advanced switching, like Creston’s Ethernet-based residential and commercial systems, would be nice to integrate everything but they are still too expensive for boating,” says Les Ares, Vice President of Sales at Lumishore. “In the meantime, boaters want to control everything through their color multi-function display (MFD), but the OEMs are resisting because there is already information clutter on the MFD.”

Lumishore’s EOS Series won the Underwater Lights category in last year’s NMEA Product of Excellence Awards. “Dealers really appreciate the simplified installation and ease of commissioning, coupled with the diagnostic features of the fixtures and drivers,” says Ares. “This together with the best-in-class DMX technology and support was the real reason for winning.”

Huge advances have been made via Bluetooth connectivity and the user interface. If you want to manage your light display, whether customizing color sweeps, setting a mood or adding sound, you can now do so via WiFi from an app, like the DMX Mobile App Light Control System, on your iOS or Android tablet or smartphone.

Although leaps in technology have been made behind the scenes, including moving bi-directional data that may be used for light diagnostics, it’s the remote control of the environment that the boater has really noticed and that has driven demand.


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Comments | Leave a Comment
Page 1 of 2 ( 9 comments)

Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
Laurie Seibert:(2/16/2017 2:00:20 AM) "Thanks EV Collier for sharing this informative blog. It is important to know the causes of EMI filters. We use these parts in our daily life in the electronic products so we should know that what are the causes are cures of EMI Filters.

Great job and keep updating!

Laurie Seibert"
Yes:(2/10/2017 7:22:40 AM) "EMI/RFI filter causes and cure. There are very few people who share such information with everyone. I was looking to read such informative blog!

Great job!

Lisa Wilson
hugo:(1/30/2016 2:00:32 AM) "Why is no integrated ais transceiver available? Only recivers.


Each AIS system consists of one VHF transmitter, two VHF TDMA receivers, one VHF DSC receiver, and standard marine electronic communications links (IEC 61162/NMEA 0183) to shipboard display and sensor systems (AIS Schematic). Position and timing information is normally derived from an integral or external global navigation satellite system (e.g. GPS) receiver, including a medium frequency differential GNSS receiver for precise position in coastal and inland waters. Other information broadcast by the AIS, if available, is electronically obtained from shipboard equipment through standard marine data connections. Heading information and course and speed over ground would normally be provided by all AIS-equipped ships. Other information, such as rate of turn, angle of heel, pitch and roll, and destination and ETA could also be provided. Check out:"
Islander Sailboat Info:(12/4/2015 9:49:32 AM) "Great post!! This is the missing introduction I've been looking for. Thank you for taking a complicated subject and making it very easy to understand."
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