Being an avid fisherman, I often like fishing at night. It’s relaxing and at times the bigger fish come out for an evening snack. In the old days, I had to do with an old dolphin torch and some portable lanterns to light up my workspace. So I decided to upgrade my lighting to the old runabout.
Boat lighting isn’t heavily promoted or discussed as most people enjoy fishing during the day. However, a number of affordable weatherproof LED lights have popped up onto my radar, claiming to be built for various applications—including boats!
Now with the advancement in Cree LED technology, I can finally get a really powerful Lightbar which will brighten up my whole front and rear of the boat ready for my next catch.
I decided to buy and compare two light bars with a number of great reviews: The Nilight LED Light Bar Off Road LED Work Light and the 23-inch Triple Row LED Light Bar. These light bars are well regarded for their sturdiness in hardy conditions like construction and off-road driving, but we decided to try them out as marine 12v LED light bars.
Below is a comprehensive review and comparison of these two light bars and how they fared in a fishing boat. Enjoy!
Marine Light Bar Spotlights
Nilight Small LED Light Bar Off Road and Boating Work Light
This LED Light Bar for off-road work is a trusty exterior marine light that has been designed for maximum lux power in a very small package. The Light Bar can be used in a number of applications: it can be mounted on boats and off-road vehicles, heavy-duty equipment, and exterior household lighting. Dark environments can are bound to be well-lit due to the Light Bar’s flood beam pattern and long-lasting bulbs.
Need a reliable light, rain or shine? This Light Bar’s got you covered. It’s housed in a protective cover that uses a waterproof rubber pad, and a silicone strip to keep its insides sealed from the elements. All these ensure that the LED Light Bar gets a waterproof rating of IP67. Perfect for my boat.
The IP67 rating is important as it means that: No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight). Protected against the effects of total immersion in water to depth between 15 cm and 1 meter.
Fishing boat light bar uses
Aside from waterproof elements, the Nilight Light Bar is also durable, perfect for heavy-duty applications. The many LED bulbs are housed in 6063 die-cast aluminum alloy, allowing it to withstand harsh weather like rain, snow, and salt water. Users can also the Light Bar indoors with a 110-12volt voltage converter if you need a very bright spotlight.
The Light Bar can be hung at most locations as long as you have the appropriate bracket and can run the 12v supply safely. I found it useful as an overhead function.
It essentially functioned as the LED boat deck lights, which is pretty useful if your fishing boat doesn’t have any existing lighting equipment. This helped me to stay out longer to get that perfect catch. Its all about the fishing experience and if I’m going to do something I’m going to do it right. That means I get to relax some more on the fishing boat for an extended period of time.
With a whole range and sizes available you really can get that perfect boat or pontoon deck LED light bar.
Upon purchase, you will get an adjustable mounting bracket and two bright marine LED light bars. A fantastic 2-year limited warranty is given which is perfect.
Nilight 23-inch Triple Row Marine LED light bar
This Nilight Triple Row marine LED light bar only weighs four pounds and has dimensions of 23 x 4 x 4 inches. Like the previous LED fishing light bar, the Triple Row LED Light Bar has an IP67 waterproof housing using the same rubber pad and silicone sealing strip. This allows its internal parts to be fully sealed from the elements, effectively preventing corrosion and other damage through moisture.
The signature durable housing is also a feature in this light bar, where a die-cast aluminum alloy housing encases the bulbs. Super important for water uses.
This Light Bar contains more LED chips than some of the other designs on the market thanks to its special tri-row design. Flood and spot LEDs are used to provide long distance illumination. With the LED and 3-row combination, this fishing light bar gives off a brighter light in a wider range. So this way we have the advantage of a long distance spotlight, as well as a shorter wide angle, light beam up close.
This 23-inch marine LED light bar can be used in a variety of applications. The light bar can be attached to different transportation equipment like off-road vehicles, boats, and industrial equipment.
By attaching the longer lightbar to the boat’s front, we had more vision of what was going on in the water. The shorter more movable were attached to the canopy beams pointing to the rear. This marine LED spotlight helped us maneuver safely back to land, avoiding any physical obstacles—like tree branches or ducks—that may get in the way.
I found this waterproof light bar a great addition to our half cabin fishing boat as it brought a lot more visibility up front when it started to get dark at night. Even the early morning these lights were good as boat fog lights. With the long and narrow beam its perfect for those foggy conditions. Its one of the brightest led boat spotlights I have ever seen.
Upon purchase, we received one 23-inch triple row light bar which was packed very well along with some mounting brackets. A great 2-year warranty applies.
Lightbar for Wakeboats
Depending on where you live you may have the option to wakeboard at any time of day or night. Be aware most places make rules on the safe times for wakeboarding. I’m an early morning wakeboarder when it’s nice and flat on the lake.
Having the powerful light bar up top on the wakeboard boat means the driver can see if there are any logs or obstacles in the calm water. I’m, not a fan of having another lightbar pointed to the rear. I find that I get slightly blinded if I look at it.
Pointing it down to the water just in front of the wakeboarder or waterskier helps but still like the light bar up front.
Bowfishing light bar
The most important thing when bowfishing is having as much light as possible. Light bars solve this by packing in hundreds of LEDs in a very compact package. Even though I have a compound bow my fishing rig is more set up for fishing.
A few of my friends go Bowfishing and its fun but I miss more than I hit. Which means I often go home with an empty bag. So I’m left with wiring up their new lights for my mates as I’m better at that being an electrician.
Remember to have a spare battery to either power the lightbars or start your motor. This is because often I will turn off the motor but keep the lights running to light up the area. Otherwise, you will be left with a flat battery and will require a portable jump starter which I always carry just in case.
Lightbars for Duckboats
In duck hunting season or the late-night fishing session, a powerful lightbar mounted in the front of your duck boat is the perfect running spotlight.
It makes those ducks easier to spot sitting in the water in between the reeds. I find that often the bright light will attract the baitfish up to the surface which then attract the bigger fish lurking nearby.
If you are into LED fishing then check out our post on Green LED underwater fish lights.
How to wire led light bar on boat – Cable Management
When mounting your lightbars plan in advance where to run your cables. Sometimes its easy to run your 12v flex cables inside the tubings for your canopy. Or you can just cable tie them in place.
Make sure to always include an inline fuse for each light. All light switches should also be waterproof and mounted to the dashboard near the boat steering wheel. Sometimes the light bars will come with a fuse included. If it doesn’t just read the instructions and it will tell you the amp rating.
A 300 watt light will use around 25 Amps on full load. So a 30 amp fuse will be fine. Remember to also rate your cable for the proper amp draw if running extra long runs.
Power = Volts times Amps (P=VxA)
Connect the red cable to your battery positive connection, and the black cable to the negative battery terminal. Install a switch between the positive cable so you can turn the light on and off.
Where to mount your lightbars
The amount of space the light takes up is important—wouldn’t want to have your limited space covered up by your light source and hinder your line of sight. I like to mount my longer light bar up front like a searchlight.
The smaller individual lights I like to mount at the rear or side of the boat. These are very adjustable so you can move them into the perfect position. Just don’t tighten up the mounting adjustment bolts fully that way you can still move them when required.
Nilight uses LED bulbs on the light bars. LED bulbs are an environmental-friendly choice, and also help save power in the long run. They are also relatively more sturdy than fluorescent bulbs, making them an appropriate choice for outdoor lighting.
Because boats often get pounded by waves the vibrations can often break normal halogen bulbs.
As the same lights are being used for the light bars, the bulb lifespan is relatively the same. The bulbs can last for approximately 30,000 hours before they die out. In the event that the lights do go out, Nilight’s customer service can be contacted easily on replacement bulbs.
The light bars work at temperatures between -40 to 85 °C. This makes the bulbs more applicable to any temperature and environments. But if you are going ice fishing then they will work there as well.
The light bars produce a light color that is pure white, at the color temperature of 6000-6500 K. This gives off a nice bright light, perfect for overnight applications where one needs to see where they’re going.
The lights are sealed tight in the same manner, with a waterproof rate of IP67. This ensures that no dust or moisture gets in the internal parts. The waterproof casing also makes it an appropriate feature for exterior applications, as the light will be mounted on items that won’t necessarily be in a shaded area.
Be sure to use a garden hose to wash off any salt water after your fishing trip.
Lightbars Outer Casing
Nilight uses the same die-cast aluminum alloy for both light bars. This sturdy casing ensures that you can use the lights in harsh weather like heavy rain and saltwater. The aluminum is very tough so it will take those accidental nocks.
Both lightbars use voltage in between 9-30 V. This is perfect for boats and trucks with a 24v electrical system. As mentioned earlier, the lights can be used in indoor applications as well, as long as a step-down voltage regulator is being used.
In the end, choosing the appropriate light bar between the two depends on personal preference and necessity. The Off Road LED Work Light and Triple Row LED Light Bar is essentially the same quality but fashioned into different sizes and uses.
Lightbars are not just suited to the front of four-wheel drives but many other vehicles and marine craft. I like the way that you can use voltages from 9v all the way up to 30v. Lots more options say in 24volt trucks. These Off-Road LED Work Light can be attached at the sides of the boat to function like searchlights. Not only does it add to visibility on the sea, they may even attract fish to the boat—a definite win-win situation!
I highly suggest using both light bars for maximum enjoyment.
We hope our review was helpful in letting you know more about appropriate boating lights in the market. Let us know if you’ve tried the Nilight Light Bars we’ve discussed in this article, and if there are any boating lights you’d want us to try out!