BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Large bulb is easily seen from long distances out on lakes and open water. Pole is 12" tall for better visibility, and it folds down for storage when not in use.
Bulb casing can start to decay if left outside and exposed to UV light for long periods of time.
Powerful LED lights can be placed in a variety of spots or on other equipment. Spot beam does a good job of illuminating the area in front of the light.
Beam may not be bright enough to be used as a solo spotlight without additional lighting.
Navigation light is highly visible from the rear during nighttime. Durable construction made of ABS plastic makes it waterproof in normal or rough conditions.
The navigation light may require professional installation to secure it.
Made with sturdy ABS plastic. Each light is equipped with 6 LED bulbs with high brightness output. Works for any 12V. Comes in a pack of 10 lights. Waterproof.
A few reports of some lights arriving faulty or burnt out.
Easy to install. Offers energy-efficient light output. Comes with a 24-inch pole that allows for elevated visibility. Can easily be removed and stored when not in use.
The light produced is not as bright as some of our other LED picks.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Display navigation lights must be installed and fully functional on all recreational boats between sunset and sunrise. There are no exceptions to this mandate, according to both inland and international navigation rules. So if you own any type of recreational boat, you’re going to need to invest in some lights for your watercraft.
The number of lights and their placement depends on the length of your vessel. A large powerboat must display high-visibility range lights. A larger vessel may not combine sidelights into a single bi-color light fixture. The placement of nautical navigation lights falls under the jurisdiction of civil authority, state law, and international conventions.
Nautical navigation lights, also known as position or running lights, provide information on a craft’s position, status, and heading; they are not intended to provide illumination for a craft making forward passage. Rather, they act as a point of awareness for other vessels in the area.
To avoid a multi-vessel collision in the dark, boats mount navigation lights that allow other boaters to determine the type and relative angle of approaching vessels. With this information, a boater can decide if there is an immediate danger of collision. Because safety at sea may depend on your navigational lights, we recommend that you choose the best and brightest.
You need the right boat lights to navigate after dark. Navigational lights assist you and other boaters in determining which is the “give-way” vessel when ships meet in the night. As mentioned, it’s mandatory that these lights be displayed from sunset to sunrise and during inclement weather, including cloudiness, rain, and fog.
When approaching an oncoming vessel and viewing the mandated lights, each vessel must follow some rules. The rules state that each vessel must alter course to starboard so they may pass on each other’s port sides.
Red lights are on the left or port side of a vessel. Green lights are on the right or starboard side. White lights are up the aft or stern and at the front or fore bow. All lights must be visible head-on or straight ahead and at least 22.4 degrees abaft the beam.
For powerboats and sailboats under power, side lights, main masthead, and stern lights are mandatory. However, there are permissible variations to the rules and regulations. Before you set sail, you need to know the rules that apply to your boat on the water in which you navigate.
Hovercraft, both day and night, must operate a yellow flashing beacon for added visibility.
Boat lights are sealed to resist corrosion, water intrusion, electrostatic discharge, UV radiation, and vibration. Sealed boat lights are completely waterproof. When shopping for boat navigation lights, play particular attention to removable lights such as the stern light: moisture seeping into the light stick receptacle can erode the socket and cause the light to function improperly.
The bulb covering of a boat light may be made of plastic or shatterproof safety glass. Some bulb coverings are made of inferior-grade plastic and can shatter on impact or become cloudy and hazed when exposed to the sun in a marine environment. Other navigation light bulb coverings are made from quality materials that remain crystal clear and operable for long-term service.
Boat lights also differ in the size of the bulb and the amount of illumination they provide.
Navigation lights are rated for projected hours of service life. Some lights are rated for 10,000 hours, while LED navigation lights are rated for 50,000 hours or more of service life.
Unless you are experienced with the installation of boat navigation lights, replacing and repairing original boat wiring can be a daunting challenge. LED snap-in lights and panel rewire kits include easy-to-follow instructions, and all the parts and adaptors are engineered to connect to your current boat wiring harness quickly.
The price of boat lights depends on the manufacturer, the brand, the merchandiser, hours of projected service life, and the quality of the product. There are boat lights for every budget.
You can find quality boat lights in the realm of $35 or less. At the bottom of this price range, between $8 and $12, you will find some lights that are adequate for temporary use but not permanent use. They may not be as tightly sealed as lights that cost more, and they may fail to provide long-term service in a saltwater environment.
At the higher end of this price range, you can find many LED boat lights. Although LED boat navigation lights can be more expensive, they offer reverse polarity protection, eliminating potential wiring issues during installation. The best LED navigational lights exceed U.S. Coast Guard requirements while offering lower wattage with no outages.
When shopping for navigation lights, look for ones that offer a satisfaction guarantee. Lights that cost a little more may offer up to a 10-year protection, while lights that cost a little less may be guaranteed to work for less than a year.
Q. What is the port side of a boat? What is the starboard side of a boat?
A. When you are looking forward toward the bow of a vessel, port and starboard refer to the left side and the right side of the boat respectively.
Q. What are boat sidelights?
A. Also known as combination lights, sidelights are either red or green. Their purpose is to alert vessels approaching from the side or head-on. Green light indicates a boat’s starboard (right) side. Red light indicates a vessel’s port (left) side.
Q. Where is the stern of a boat or ship?
A. The stern is the aft-most or back part of a boat or a ship, defined as the area built over the sternpost. It is opposite the bow or the front of the boat.
Get emails you’ll love.
Learn about the products you’re wondering if you should buy and get advice on using your latest purchases.
BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.