Ensuring you have navigation lights fitted on your boat is not only for your own safety it is also a legal requirement. For all you skippers out there it is essential you know what type of navigation lights you need to have fitted on your boat for use in times of darkness or low visibility. If you’re feeling baffled as to what type of navigation lights you need for your boat you’ve come to the right place.
In this easy to follow guide, we take you through which configurations of navigation lights are required for each type of boat. We also review some excellent navigation lights that are currently on the market.
Table of Contents
- Why do I need navigation lights on my boat?
- What is the purpose of navigation lights?
- What are the different types of navigation lights?
- Navigation light configurations
- Here are the configurations:
- What are emergency battery operated navigation lights?
- What to consider when purchasing navigation lights
- Best Battery Powered Navigation Lights of 2021
- #1 Best Masthead Light: Lopolight’s LED Masthead
- #2 Best Boat Navigation Lights: Interwebz’ Boat Bow Navigation
- #3 Best Submersible Boat Trailer Lights: CZC Auto’s Submersible
- #4 Best Marine Spreader Lights: AMBOTHER LED Light Bar 7-Inches
- #5 Best Portable Navigation Lights: Innovative Lighting’s Portable
#1 Best Masthead Light: Lopolight’s LED Masthead, Stern, or Anchor Light for Boats of 40-164ft
For a top of the range masthead light that will ensure you can be noticed even in the toughest conditions, this masthead light is designed to the highest specifications if you have a deep wallet.
#2 Best Boat Navigation Lights: Interwebz’ Boat Bow Navigation LED Lighting Kit
For affordable navigation strips with extra cable length, these IP68 waterproof LED strip lights help you avoid bumps and scrapes.
#3 Best Submersible Boat Trailer Lights: CZC Auto’s Submersible Rectangular Light Kit
For DOT compliant and fully submersible boat trailer lights, these lights tick all the boxes.
#4 Best Marine Spreader Lights: AMBOTHER LED Light Bar 7-Inches 24000-Lumen
For the brightest of spreader lights that give you a broader viewing spot, this 24,000 lumen LED will light up all that you need to.
#5 Best Portable Navigation Lights: Innovative Lighting’s Portable LED Bow Light with Suction Cup
For a portable navigation light that is affordable, this removable light is as easy to install as it is to uninstall and keeps going for 100,000 hours using just AA batteries.
As a boat owner, it is your responsibility to have the correct configuration of navigation lights installed on your vessel. They are a legal requirement as set out by the United States Coast Guard.
The navigation lights on your boat are used to help prevent collisions with other vessels when visibility is low or during hours of darkness. Different types of boats have different configurations of lights which means that, once you’ve learned the different meanings of the lights, you can read the size, activity, and direction of travel of the boats that are in close proximity to you.
Navigation lights come in different colors, arc of illumination, location, and range of visibility. Let’s take a look at where the navigation lights are located:
#1. Stern light
One type of navigation light is located at the back of the boat at the stern. This is so that boats that are behind your vessel can see you up ahead. This is a white light.
Navigation lights are also located on the left and right side of your boat. A red light is located on the left side of the boat, and a green light on the right side. Sidelights must have a range of 1 nautical mile for boats up to 12m in size (bigger boats need a larger range).
#3. Masthead light
All boats that have an engine are required to have a masthead light. This is a white light that points forwards and covers an arc of 225 degrees. It must be located at least a meter above the sidelights and have a range of 2 nautical miles (for boats up to 12m in size). If a boat does not have a masthead light this indicates that it is a sailing boat.
#4. All-round white light
For engine-powered boats that are under 12m the masthead light and stern light can be combined into one. This is referred to as the all-round white light which can be seen by other boats from all directions.
Depending on the type of boat you have the type of navigation light configuration will be different. Make sure you check out the latest requirements with your local coast guard in case they have anything specific you need to do.
Here are the configurations:
Over 12m: if you’re powerboat is more than 12m, which includes a sailing boat with an engine, you are required to display red and green sidelights, a white masthead light, and a white stern light.
Under 12m: if you’re powerboat is under 12m then you only need the red and green sidelights and an all-round white light.
Under 7m: for powerboats that are under 7m and are not capable of more than 7 knots you need only the all-round white light and not the sidelights.
#2 Sailing boats
#1 Over 20m
If you’re the owner of a sailing boat that measures over 20 m you need to display the red and green sidelights and a white stern light on the back of the boat.
#2 Under 20m
If your sailing boat is under 20m long then you just need a single tri-color light that is displayed at the top of your mast.
#3 Dinghies, Kayaks, and Non-Powered Boats less than 7m
If you have one of the above small vessels then you solely need a white light on display or a torch so that you are visible during times of low visibility or darkness.
Your navigation lights will normally be powered using your boat’s battery, however, should this fail it’s a good idea to have some emergency battery operated navigation lights on board. These can usually be purchased for under $20.
#1 Type of bulb
As with all types of marine lights, we recommend going for LED lights as these are energy-efficient and last a lot longer than incandescent light bulbs.
Before purchasing your navigation lights be sure to check out what type of mounting equipment they come with. The rules are very specific about where the navigation lights should be mounted so it might be a good idea to get them professionally installed.
Now you know what navigation lights you need for your boat and where they need to be mounted, let’s take a look at some top products.
#1 Best Masthead Light: Lopolight’s LED Masthead
If you operate a power-driven vessel, it is between 40 and 140 feet long, and you want a top of the range masthead light, then this is the LED light for you. Made with three high-powered LED lights that shine forwards and to all sides, this masthead will make sure you get noticed even in the thickest fog. The aluminum housing has been made with an anodized coating and is filled with a special formula of potting resin that ensures it is both waterproof and shockproof.
Other pros about this masthead LED light: are that: it is Danish made by expert boat enthusiasts; it is durably made and will last you for years making it worth the investment; it will help to keep you safe at sea and; it is top of the range. The downside of this masthead light is that it is almost prohibitively expensive for what it is.
#Masthead_Light #Stern_Light #LED_Masthead_Light #LEDs #LED_Masthead
If you are in the market for the best sidelights or best stern lights to ensure you can be seen, then these excellent lights will be exactly what you need. These green and red LED strips also ensure you can let passing traffic know exactly where your boat is, just make sure to install the red strip goes on the port (left) side of your boat and the green goes on starboard (right) side of your boat. With these navigation lights, you’ll avoid plenty of bumps and scrapes.
Other benefits of these navigation lights are that: the strips are made with black strips that blend in well on most boat rub rails in comparison to many LED navigation lights which often use whit backing; they have long installation leads; they are waterproof to IP68 levels with extra silicone encasing; they are great value. The downside of these strips is that they do not have built-in battery power and need to be hooked up to a 12V connection on-board.
#Navigation_Lights #LED_Navigation_Lights #IP68 #Waterproof_LEDs #LED_Navigation
#3 Best Submersible Boat Trailer Lights: CZC Auto’s Submersible
If you are in the market for the best waterproof led boat trailer lights, then you don’t need to look much further than this affordable kit. The kit includes everything you need including submersible signal lights, tail lights, and license plate bracket. Tested to be 100% waterproof, these lights are perfect for submersible boat trailer lights and fully comply with DOT standards these are the best boat trailer lights for saltwater.
Other good things about this trailer light set are that: the LED tail lights are super high in visibility thanks to the 22 diodes, 12 at the front, 6 on the side, and 4 downwards facing white diodes to show the number plate; they are designed to be used with marine towing vehicles; the installation is simple and they come with a handy instruction guide, and; they are a great price. The downside of these lights is that they are only available in a rectangular shape.
#Submersible_Boat_Trailer_Lights #Submersible_lights #Lights #LED_Trailer_Lights #DOT_Compliant
#4 Best Marine Spreader Lights: AMBOTHER LED Light Bar 7-Inches
If you are looking to improve your ability to see far into the distance when sailing at night, then you’ll love this powerful light that illuminates up to 164-feet around you. With a 3030 SMD LED chip, 50,000 hours lifespan, and 24,000 lumens, this light won’t let you down no matter the weather. The adjustable bracket makes it easy to point the beam to exactly where you need it, turning darkness into light.
Other pluses of this marine spreader light are that: it is able to rapidly radiate heat helping to prolong its life; it has an IP67 waterproof and dustproof rating ensuring it is safe to use come rain or shine; it can operate in extreme temperatures with an impressive operating range between -40 degrees Fahrenheit through to 185 degrees, and; it has a color temperature of 6-6.5K. The downside of this light is that the brightness is not adjustable.
#Marine_Spreader #Maine_Spreading_Lighting #24000_Lumens #Marine_Light_Bar #LEDs
If you operate a small vessel and need to be able to quickly install and uninstall your navigation lights, then you’ll love this quick suction portable LED bow light. These lights use less than 90% of the energy compared to incandescent lighting, helping them to keep going and going for a full 100,000 hours of service life. This single piece unit is a great way to keep your boat safe from harm as and when you need it.
Other good things about this portable navigation light are that: it is powered by simple AA batteries making it easy to get replacements and install them too; the single-unit offers both red and green navigation lighting; it can cope with wet weather conditions and splashes (although it does not have a specific waterproof rating), and; it is generally bright and durable. The downside of this light is the lack of an IP waterproof rating and the centrally distributed beams.
#Portable_Navigation_Lights #Removable_Navigation_Lights #Portable #Marine_Lighting #Marine_LEDs
Navigation lights are an essential requirement if you’re a boat owner. They exist so that your boat is visible to other boats around you and that they are visible to you. The types of navigation lights you need on your boat is dependent on what type of boat you have and how big it is. Make sure you check with your local navigation authority to ensure you have the correct configuration for your boat. LED lights are the best type of boat lights to go for in comparison to incandescent light bulbs. Always make sure you know what you’re doing when it comes to installing your navigation lights, and don’t be afraid to get the help of a professional.