Moderated Discussion Areas
  ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
  Trailer Lighting with Light Emitting Diodes

Post New Topic  Post Reply
search | FAQ | profile | register | author help

Author Topic:   Trailer Lighting with Light Emitting Diodes
DaveS posted 05-02-2007 08:52 AM ET (US)   Profile for DaveS   Send Email to DaveS  
[This discussion was moved from another discussion are to the SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL electrical discussion. The SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL focuses on electrical systems and related components.]

I'm in the process of replacing my incandescent lights on my LOADRITE trailer I purchased last year for my 1991 Outrage 17. Both lights are out and I've never had much luck with that style of light. I'm going to replace them with light emitting diode [LED] lights. Looking through site, I've found one thread: that reviews them.. It turns out there were several people who have had [problems] with these light. Have any improvements been with [LED lights] since 2005? then? I don't want keep on swapping lights every season or two. Are there any brands that stick out as better or worse then others?

Thanks for the information.


Jefecinco posted 05-02-2007 09:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
I recommend the low cost LEDs from Wal-Mart. They work just fine and at the price I can replace them every couple of years if necessary.


HAPPYJIM posted 05-02-2007 09:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
I agree. The whole kit including wiring harness is only around $50.
Legobusier posted 05-02-2007 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Legobusier  Send Email to Legobusier     
This is not an answer to your question, but here's another will never have to worry about your lights again...

Go to UHaul and buy the Magnetic Tow-A-Lites...The big benefit of this application is you can remove them at launch time so they don't get dunked...I've had a pair for about 8 years now....much better than constantly trying to fix troublesome trailer lights...they magnetize nicely to your trailer and are easy to remove/replace.

Good luck,

Legobusier posted 05-02-2007 09:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for Legobusier  Send Email to Legobusier     
Oh yeah...they're only $29 bucks too... :)
TC Goldman posted 05-02-2007 09:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for TC Goldman  Send Email to TC Goldman     
My [light emitting diode] lights came on my trailer (2 years old). I think they are great. I have not had one problem. They look great, very bright. I never unplug them when I dunk the trailer (fresh water). They do not get hot, so no need to worry about hot lights and cold water. They also have a very long life.
I don't know what brand You should get, but I highly recommend LED lights in general.
DaveS posted 05-02-2007 10:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for DaveS  Send Email to DaveS     
Would there be a problem using my current wiring harness? Just trying to make the job a little easier. Thanks
HAPPYJIM posted 05-02-2007 10:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
As long as you are not having problems with lighting, it should be OK. I launch in salt or brackish all the time. I like to replace everything when a problem creeps up because it eliminates other unseen problems. Trailer wiring takes a beating from salt if not sealed with electrical sealant at all connections.
hauptjm posted 05-02-2007 01:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
I wouldn't use anything but LED lights. I'm very surprised at some of the comments revealing trouble with LEDs. Mine are now two years old and work perfectly. In fact, mine sat totally submerged for over three weeks in salt water because of Katrina and still work fine. And that was 20 months ago.
sternorama posted 05-02-2007 01:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for sternorama  Send Email to sternorama     
I also used the (embarassed to say) Walmart LED set. Works fine, and I also used my old in-place harness.
macsfriended posted 05-02-2007 01:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for macsfriended  Send Email to macsfriended     
Mine are great. I've installed one set a year on a different trailer annually along with new Ancor marine grade tinned wires, heat shrink w/glue connectors, looms inside the trailer frame, etc.)

A little internet time found huge savings on the basic LED set and same for other hardware.

devildog posted 05-02-2007 01:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for devildog  Send Email to devildog     
I made up a light bar that I remove when dunking the trailer. It's a pair of regular trailer lights mounted to a 6 foot piece of unistrut. (general purpose 2 inch steel perforated c-channel) A pair of heavy duty black bungees make for easy mounting and removal. I got the idea from the guys that haul around office/storage trailers.


tpnaquin posted 05-02-2007 04:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for tpnaquin  Send Email to tpnaquin     
LEDs is the only way to go. After years (with previous boats) of changing bulbs, unplugging, fighting lights, what no blinkers (the list goes on), LEDs are (knocking on wood) right on the money!

Now, They work, they are bright, and I do not unplug at the landing.

Good luck!

home Aside posted 05-02-2007 05:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for home Aside  Send Email to home Aside     
On the trailer (1985 Sportsman) I got with my New to me 1985 Revenge 22 WT last August, the first thing I did was replace the trailer lights with LED lights, I shopped around and found 3 places with the same lights from the same manufacturer. at a local trailer supply they wanted $79.00, at a local marine store they wanted $59.00, I ended up getting them at Gander Mountain for $39.00. They have only been dunked about 5 times thus far, but work like a charm.....much brighter than any of the regular trailer lights I've seen on trailers


Jefecinco posted 05-02-2007 07:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Magnetic lights are fine for many if not most of us.

Some of us have aluminum trailers with plastic fenders. The only ferrous metal on my trailer are the stainless bolts and the torsion axle and associated disc brake rotors, calipers and hardware.

For me there is enough to think of at launching time. I don't want to have to give any thought to the trailer lights.


simonmeridew posted 05-02-2007 08:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for simonmeridew  Send Email to simonmeridew     
I converted incandescent to LED all around, it's been 4 years. A couple of comments: You must mount them so that no physical damage can occur to them. Don't back into anything. As long as the case is intact water won't bother. But.... The slightest crack in the plastic case will cause enough moisture to enter to ruin the circuitry and the "bulb" will fail. Electronic circuits do not like moisture. This includes rain splash and wet roads.
You must also be careful how you fasten the case to the trailer frame. I had one fail when I tightened the nuts on the two threaded studs on the case, too tight to the frame. And "too tight" is just a little more than "finger tight", not nearly "wrenching on it" tight. I noticed this crack after a bulb failed and I took it off to figure out why.
I used 4200 to fasten the side clearance lights on rather than screwing them on; that worked well, but watch how the ground is achieved if you do that.
The "bulbs" themselves draw very little current and will light properly with semi poor contacts, but that's no excuse for corrosion and frayed wiring. Go to: for a good selection.


cmarques posted 05-03-2007 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for cmarques  Send Email to cmarques     
In the previous thread I mentioned about having problems with my first set of LED lights. I Have since replaced them with Sea Sense's updated lights, soldered and heat shrunk all the connections and have not had a problem since. I could never see going back to standard lights on a boat trailer.


Brys13s posted 05-03-2007 08:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for Brys13s  Send Email to Brys13s     
Don't over tighten the mounting nuts.
DaveS posted 05-07-2007 10:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for DaveS  Send Email to DaveS     
I finally finished the installation of my new LED trailer lights and have had couple of concerns with the installation. First, when I installed the leftlight, I was using my existing wiring harness the trailer is about a year old. I noticed the LED leads were black and red while the trailer wires were brown (with a green stripe, I think) and yellow. No biggie, just played around with the color combinations. The problem was, I only had power from the trailer running lights, not the brake/signal lights, so I assumed it was the plug. A quick trip to the boating store for a new plug and a short time to swap them out revealed that I still didn't have any power to my signal. Sliding under my truck, a 2003 Ford Ranger V6, I learn my trailer harness is hard wired into the system, so it looks like I have a short in that line somewhere. Instead of tracking it down or running a seperate line to be left brake light, I'm going to go with this:

I've used them before and they are a "snap" to install. If I didn't have that problem with the harness, the entire job from start to finish should have taken me about 30 minutes! I'll be getting the part in a day or two!

Thanks for all your help. The lights (that do work) are great, much brighter and faster than my old lights!


17 bodega posted 05-08-2007 03:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
I am still experiencing problems in this department, however they seem limited to the actual tail lights. This makes sense because these lights are subject to the harshest treatment. They are dunked in salt, mud and whale poop very regularly. I am skeptical of the "sea sense" lights mentioned in the previous (locked) thread. I will probably buy them, however because the West Marine square lights are not holding up. On a light with 20 or so LEDs, I have 3 or so that are still lighting. I think the problem is the light is poorly sealed, and the wiring is not tinned copper, so they fail rather quickly (for me it was the second dunk)

I will probably go with Jeff's method (devildog) with portable lights that stick on the top of the boat somewhere even though it is not technically legal. For me it breaks down like this. Having no lights at all (due to failure) is less legal than having functioning lights that are less than "80 wide" comliant.

I could go on about trailer wiring all day. Thanks for keeping the rant alive.

DaveS posted 05-08-2007 08:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for DaveS  Send Email to DaveS     
That's the story of my life--99% of the people never seem to have problems with things like this. Unfortunately, I am in that 1% of the people, 99% of the time, so, even when I'm in the majority, it's not a good thing!

I'm looking forward to installing the wiring harness adapter; that should put an end to most of my problems. I hope! If not, looks like I'll just open the checkbook and let the professions take over. The funny thing is, I haven't even started the engine yet! Who knows what hidden demon awaits when I turn that key! I've thought about mounting my lights on my side guides. Hopefully I won't have to resort to that!

cmarques posted 05-08-2007 05:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for cmarques  Send Email to cmarques     
If there is water in the lights, check carefully around where the mounting bolts stick out of the back of the body. It's possible overtightening the bolts caused a hairline crack on the housing. When I put my second set on, I snugged the bolts up but did not crank down on them. I've heard of several people on another forum having the same types of leaks from that area.


swist posted 05-09-2007 07:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
LED's may be the way to go with trailer lights, but it still remains a fact that most trailer lighting kits are pretty low quality. And the system needs to work from end-to-end to be reliable - wiring, connectors, grounds, as well as the lights themselves. Most of the lighting kits on the market have elcheapo plastic enclosures for the bulbs, and thin gauge wire with those awful blue foldover-connectors. Making it almost impossible to do a good job.

Post New Topic  Post Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | RETURN to ContinuousWave Top Page

Powered by: Ultimate Bulletin Board, Freeware Version 2000
Purchase our Licensed Version- which adds many more features!
© Infopop Corporation (formerly Madrona Park, Inc.), 1998 - 2000.