Added LED Bar Light for Docking

sunedog

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Disclaimer: Don't use your docking lights for anything but docking. They are not headlights to be used out on open water. Be aware they will night blind anyone close looking at your boat. Use them only when necessary.

The LED docking lights that came from the factory on my 2011 2275 GCW are rated at 1 Lumen each. OK, I made that up. But let's just say they are....underwhelming. I read on another thread here that someone added an LED bar light under the front deck. So I ended up doing that as well. I documented my project in case anyone else wants to do it.

I bought this 13" bar light from Tractor Supply for $99 plus tax. It was in stock.
bar light.jpg

It is marketed to off road enthusiasts and is rated at IP68 which means it is suitable for continuous immersion. It is heavy gauge steel and feels very sturdy.
bar light 2.jpg

I like the Deutsche style connector with the contacts buried deep inside.
bar light 3.jpg

I had to add my own lengths of wire. There is nothing significant about the yellow color I used. It is what I had available. I used crimp style butt connectors with integral shrink tubing. I crimped them with a dedicated crimping tool. If you're going to do any 12 volt wiring in your lifetime, invest in a $20 crimping tool. It will make foolproof butt connections.
bar light 4.jpg

Then I heated the ink shrink tubing that is attached to the butt connectors. It may be overkill, but I added a second layer of clear heat shrink tubing next. These wires may be subjected to direct spray under the bow and I don't want them to fail.
bar light 5.jpg

Then I put the wires in a piece of 3/8" split wire loom to protect them further. A wrap of black electrical tape and a shot of silicone in the end will keep most of the water out.
bar light 6.jpg

I mounted the light bar to the second cross beam under the bow and routed the wire loom to the starboard bow. I found the wire that supplies juice to the starboard factory docking light using a 12 volt test light. I cut it (with it's ground) so I could splice my new yellow and black wires into that circuit. I would have used butt connectors here, but two wires wouldn't fit in the connectors I have. So I ended up soldering them and then covering them with shrink tubing and wire loom. I fastened all wires securely to the underside of the deck with plastic P clips and stainless steel screws.
bar light 7.jpg

The way I chose to wire it, the new LED bar light comes on with the factory docking lights using the factory docking light switch. I could have wired them to a separate switch, but I can't think of a reason I'd want the underwhelming factory docking lights on without the LED bar light, or vice versa. And it was a lot easier this way.

I was able to mount the light without any drilling at all. I had to remove the bolt holding the metal strap that connects joist 2 with joist 3, but I put it back in the bracket that came with the bar light. The two other bolts that came with the bar light coincidentally lined up perfectly with two holes already found in the joist.
bar light 9.jpg

I tested the light from my dock. I'm back in a narrow cove and really need a strong dock light when we come home late. I am really happy with the light output.
 

SEMPERFI8387

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Nice job and nice write up. Have you ever used the portable butane heat guns? I use them for all my soldering projects. It’s an almost immediate solder liquification Vs. a soldering iron. The cheap one I have uses a disposable lighter (works great) then I have a propane filled one from Bernzomatic. It’s awesome.
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sunedog

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Nice job and nice write up. Have you ever used the portable butane heat guns? I use them for all my soldering projects. It’s an almost immediate solder liquification Vs. a soldering iron. The cheap one I have uses a disposable lighter (works great) then I have a propane filled one from Bernzomatic. It’s awesome.
View attachment 26633
No, I have not used them. Very interested in trying one. Which do you recommend? Where did you get it? Thanks.
 

sunedog

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Here is a shot of my neighbor's boats from my boat at my dock tonight. Yes, his jon boat is ready to sink. He doesn't seem to care.

night.jpg
 

SEMPERFI8387

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No, I have not used them. Very interested in trying one. Which do you recommend? Where did you get it? Thanks.

The good Bernzomatic I got off Amazon. The cheap one (works just as good but no attachments) I picked up at Harbor Freight. There’s also a micro torch, looks like a fat pen, that I got also, but I haven’t used that yet.
 

BulldogsCadillac

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I use this Weller Portasol unit.

Works great! Has interchangeable tips so you can switch from a soldering iron to a torch just by changing out the tip. Only downside is waiting for it to cool a little to change. I do also have the Bernzomatic torch, but find it can burn up your wire pretty quickly if you aren't careful while heat shrinking.
 

kaydano

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I use this Weller Portasol unit.

Works great! Has interchangeable tips so you can switch from a soldering iron to a torch just by changing out the tip. Only downside is waiting for it to cool a little to change. I do also have the Bernzomatic torch, but find it can burn up your wire pretty quickly if you aren't careful while heat shrinking.

Hey Derrick! We both joined this forum on the same day - Aug 20, 2011. What are the odds?
 

SEMPERFI8387

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I use this Weller Portasol unit.

Works great! Has interchangeable tips so you can switch from a soldering iron to a torch just by changing out the tip. Only downside is waiting for it to cool a little to change. I do also have the Bernzomatic torch, but find it can burn up your wire pretty quickly if you aren't careful while heat shrinking.

Yeah, I tend to strip my wires back a ways, then I don’t have to worry about melting the insulation, but it has the attachments for pinpoint heat. I usually do 2-3 layers of shrink too. If you stagger the solder joints you don’t end up with a big bundle of solder joint wires at one spot.
 

BulldogsCadillac

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Yeah, I tend to strip my wires back a ways, then I don’t have to worry about melting the insulation, but it has the attachments for pinpoint heat. I usually do 2-3 layers of shrink too. If you stagger the solder joints you don’t end up with a big bundle of solder joint wires at one spot.

I wasn't referring to burning insulation while soldering, I was meaning using the Bernzomatic torch to shrink the heat shrink. Never a problem using the Weller for heat shrink. Nice for doing it in tighter areas.

I also use a Hakko FX-888D soldering station on my workbench, it's a great unit.
 

BulldogsCadillac

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Hey Derrick! We both joined this forum on the same day - Aug 20, 2011. What are the odds?
That is pretty crazy! Just trying to figure out if it's accurate.
 

Slicksnail

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Somewhat unrelated, but I added a light bar to my Polaris Ranger over the winter and the light is phenomenal. I love the idea of having a light bar on my boat! Great idea. I may have to follow suit.
 

Supercommode

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I just ordered 2x of the amphenol connectors from allied electric and 2x 7" lights bars to mount as docking lights. I'll do a write up when the parts come in. My 2020 20 SFV didn't come with docking lights so I figured this would work well. I also ordered 2x 5m green LED lights strips for the sides of the pontoons as well. May do a separate write up for those. Thanks for the ideas.
 

kaydano

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Had I known how dim the stainless steel LED dock lights would be (1 lumen is generous) I never would have paid for that upgrade.

Anyone know if there's a simple bulb replacement that's brighter? My boat is a 2012. LEDs back then are not what they are today.
 

Link

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I have the SS dock lights and my friend has the plastic ones on his. His are much brighter than mine
 

BigKahuna

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Sunedog mentioned not to use docking lights as headlights. You be surprised how many people do on our lake. It's ridiculous.
 

kaydano

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I've used mine at the dock at night. Can't even tell they are on. Had to use a flashlight.
 

Supercommode

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I got a little excited and hooked up my lights without doing a write up. I ordered the Amphenol AT connectors from alliedelec.com (AT04-2P-KIT01) which plug right in to the pre-run wires on my 2020 20SFV. I ordered 2x 7" LED light bars and mounted them on the outer side of the pontoons. There was already a pre-drilled hole there for me to mount them. The whole project cost me about $50 and took about 45 min to do. The lights are super bright and I can't wait to try them out at night. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask.
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Remediation

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Just remember they are for docking only. Water patrol will cite you for using them while cruising.
 

Supercommode

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I don't think that is the case in Texas... I could be wrong though. I looked on the Texas Parks and Wildlife (our boating authority) website and couldn't find anything about it.
 

DaveyJ

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Installed supplemental docking lights a couple of years ago but changed locations this year. Mounted them on the first cross member. The boat sits so rear heavy that the stock lights aim at the sky. Makes a huge difference.

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