The Ultimate Guide To Choosing the Best Underwater Dock Lighting

Dock Lighting, Underwater Dock Light, Underwater Dock Lights -

The Ultimate Guide To Choosing the Best Underwater Dock Lighting

The easiest way to turn your home into a fish reef is with the help of underwater dock lighting. In this ultimate guide, we will discuss what options you need to consider in your search for the best underwater dock lighting

Choosing the Best Underwater Dock Lighting

Important Features
Freshwater vs Saltwater Dock Lighting
Underwater Dock Lights that Attract Fish
Growth Resistant Dock Lights
Low Profile to Avoid Passing Boats
Designed with Safety at Top of Mind

Making the Decision
Common Types of Underwater Dock Lighting
The Best Underwater Dock Lighting Option

 

Freshwater vs Saltwater Dock Lighting

If you want a well-rounded light, it's best to stick with an underwater dock lighting option that's designed for saltwater use. The high concentration of impurities and electrolytes in saltwater make it one of the most corrosive and troublesome environments for underwater dock lights. That being said, lets look at key features to consider for freshwater and saltwater underwater lighting environments.

Freshwater Dock Lights

As you may already know, freshwater is no where near as corrosive as saltwater. The lower concentration of impurities and electrolytes slow down the effects of electrolysis and deterioration. 

Housings for Freshwater Dock Lighting

The housing of the underwater dock lighting you choose must be designed for what you want to accomplish.

If you are looking for a low voltage, low brightness, temporary dock light to throw in the water while you're fishing, then you can get away with the LED light strips wrapped around PVC. These lights are known for accumulating growth, which we will discuss in more detail below. 

If you are looking for a high brightness underwater dock light that is designed to stay underwater year-round, then stay far away from PVC housings as they do not provide enough heat dissipation and will have a limited lifespan or must compensate brightness to last longer. 

Key considerations for freshwater dock lighting:

  • Freshwater has lower concentration of impurities and electrolytes
  • Avoid low grade (304) stainless steel or carbon steel underwater light housings, they will corrode.
  • Stick to aluminum or higher grade (316) stainless steel, it has molybdenum which helps the dock light housing last longer.
  • Low voltage, low wattage dock lights can be made from PVC but be aware that conventional bright underwater dock lights will overheat without a proper cooling structure (yes even underwater). 
  • Resilient sealing and encapsulation is key to long term durability

Saltwater Dock Lights

Anyone who lives near saltwater knows the effect it has on all types of metals. Even high grade stainless steels (316) will corrode over time. This is due to the high concentration of electrolytes and impurities in the water which supercharge the effects of electrolysis and deterioration. Luckily for you, Outrigger Outdoors offers a selection of underwater dock lights that are resistant to the harshest environments while still performing as they should.

Housings for Saltwater Dock Lights

The minimum standard material for saltwater environments is 316 stainless steel or an even higher grade of stainless steel. Realistically, you will see better long term durability and resilience out of aluminum light housings.

The downside to aluminum (primarily aluminum hardware) is that it is softer, so over-tightening screws can cause them to break easily. As long as you only hand-tighten the screws, you will see better long term results out of aluminum in comparison to any stainless steel underwater lighting option. 

Key considerations for saltwater dock lighting:

  • Saltwater has high concentration of electrolytes and impurities
  • Higher grade (316) stainless steels can still experience corrosion, aluminum is a better material when looking at the housing on your underwater dock lighting.
  • Avoid a powder coat finish, stick to electrophoresis or anodized coatings. Be aware that poor quality anodize coatings will turn colors and bronze over time, and could eventually suffer from fouling. 
  • Low wattage underwater lighting can have housings made from PVC but be aware that these should be used in temporary situations, not permanently. You will have every local barnacle clinged to that light in a matter of weeks if it's permanent.

Underwater Dock Lights that Attract Fish

Underwater dock lighting can bring a pleasant ambiance that enhances the looks of your dock or pier; but let's be real, that's not why people are typically buying underwater dock lights. They are buying the lights to start dock fishing and attract fish, not people. Outrigger Outdoors carries underwater green fishing lights that will benefit you. Check them out today.

Underwater Dock Lights Attract Fish

Choose the Right Color for Your Dock Lighting

As we discussed in our article on the best underwater green fishing lights, a deep and vibrant green color does the best job at attracting plankton, which attract bait fish, which then attract the sought after game fish species. 

There are three different colors used in underwater dock lighting, but there is only one color that has monopolized the industry due to its proven success in attracting fish. 

The 3 colors for underwater dock lights are natural white, green, and blue. 

Natural White Underwater Dock Lights

  • Most commonly seen in sodium bulbs
  • Better than no light, will attract fish
  • Some LED underwater fishing lights can broadcast various color temperatures, such as the Swamp Eye Submersible, but they are often meant for other uses such as flounder gigging.

Green Underwater Dock Lights

  • In a study we did in a saltwater canal, we found that fish were more attracted to the vibrant green light than the natural white (sodium) light or blue LED light, making our underwater green fishing lights a great option for your dock. LEDs do the best job at broadcasting an actual vibrant green floodlight.
  • Green underwater dock lights are the most versatile for attracting fish in any water conditions.
  • Sodium bulbs are not able to cast a true vibrant green, their "green dock light" is actually more of a warm white / natural white color.

Blue Underwater Dock Lights

  • The least commonly used underwater dock light color.
  • Many claim blue underwater dock lights work for very clear water only.
  • We have always had a hard time attracting more fish to blue lights in comparison to the other 2 above options, but a blue light will attract more fish than no light at all. 

Growth Resistant Dock Lights

There are different types of growth on both freshwater and saltwater underwater dock lighting, but the same design key points will prevent growth in both environments. 

Types of Freshwater Growth

  • Freshwater Algae
  • Zebra Mussels (only in some water bodies, very invasive)

Zebra Mussels and Growth Underwater

Types of Saltwater Growth

  • Saltwater Algae
  • Barnacles

Barnacle growth underwater

How to Prevent Growth on Underwater Lights

  • Heat is the best way to prevent growth on underwater lights.
  • Sodium lights naturally get really hot and will fend-off growth.
    • Downside to sodium bulbs is their waterproofing and delicacy in the event something hits them. 
  • Well-designed underwater LED dock lights will generate enough heat to fend off growth.
    • Poorly designed LEDs will cause themselves to overheat, shortening their lifespan. 
  • There are anti-growth and anti-fouling coatings you can put on underwater dock lights, but these are known to be toxic to fish.

Low Profile to Avoid Passing Boats

One of the most frustrating, but preventable, accidents that commonly occurs is a boat passing by your dock, the motor catching the light and busting it. This is extremely common with sodium bulbs because they float in the water column and are very delicate. 

If you want to save yourself the headache of experiencing this, here are a couple things you can do:

  • Choose a light that is low profile, which lays flat on the bottom so it is unaffected by boats passing by.
  • Some underwater lights are extremely versatile and can mount to your dock post or lay flat on the bottom to stay out of the way.
  • Avoid lights that float off the bottom, they are very accident prone.

Designed with Safety at Top of Mind

It does not matter which underwater dock lighting option you choose, the act of putting electricity underwater must be done safely. You must choose a fishing light that has protection.

Important Safety Features to Consider

  • GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Plug
    • Most high quality underwater dock lighting options integrate this into their design.
  • Enter the water at low voltage
    • High voltage accidents can be very dangerous
    • Sodium lights are high voltage (110V-220V AC), proper electrical protection is extremely important if you go this route. If the bulb breaks, it opens the electrical circuit. 
    • LED lights are low voltage (all LEDs are DC by nature), if they are 110V AC compatible, they use a power supply to do so and the power supply should be kept in a covered place above water. Avoid high voltage power lines entering the water at all costs. 
  • Proper electrical protection with factory seals
  • Reinforced waterproof plugs. 
  • Avoid dissimilar metals contacting each other underwater, this is a weak point to start electrolysis. 

For the user:

  • All electrical lines or plugs the home / dock / pier owner has should be run to a circuit breaker box. In the event the light fails, this is an additional safety method to protect yourself and your property.
  • It is not a bad idea to plug the light into your own GFCI outlet (even if it has one integrated into its own design) 

Common Types of Underwater Dock Lighting

The majority of users who purchase underwater dock lighting are doing so for fishing. There are many types of underwater lights for fishing, ranging from sodium lights to LED lights, and there's even floating lights! If you need underwater green fishing lights, Outrigger Outdoors has a wide selection available to choose from.

There are only two types of underwater fishing lights that are used to mount below docks. These two lighting options are sodium and LED underwater dock lights. Here is a side by side comparison of a Deep Glow Sodium Dock Light (left) and an Outrigger Outdoors Underwater Green Fishing Light (right). 

Sodium vs LED Underwater Dock Lights 

Sodium Underwater Dock Lights

The use of sodium bulbs in underwater dock lights is an older technology that has managed to stick around for a good while. 

Pro's

  • Naturally very hot, does a great job at preventing growth if run dusk to dawn.
  • High wattage options are available for reaching very high levels of brightness (only downside is the increase in electricity costs)
  • If light is undisturbed and runs dusk to dawn, it is pretty low maintenance. 

Con's

  • High voltage combined with water, can be dangerous.
  • If not run dusk to dawn, barnacles can fracture the bulb causing premature failure.
  • Bulbs break easily from passing boats
  • Difficult and costly to repair. 
  • Not capable of broadcasting an attractive true-green light, light is typically more warm white in color. 

LED Underwater Dock Lights 

The use of LED bulbs in underwater dock lighting is considered modern technology, but in reality has been around a good while. Originally, LEDs were notorious for not being able to combat barnacle and algae growth, making them troublesome as a permanent underwater fixture. In today's world, there are underwater LED lighting options that generate enough heat to prevent growth, making them more ideal for night fishing. This has lead to LEDs taking over sodium underwater lighting. 

Pro's

  • Typically lower voltage, safer in the event of accident
  • Capable of broadcasting a true-green light that is most attractive to fish.
  • Properly designed LEDs generate enough heat to fend off barnacles and are extremely low maintenance.
  • Hold up to abuse far better than sodium lights. 
  • Higher brightness efficiency in terms of lumens per watt than sodium lights. 

Con's

  • LEDs can reach high levels of brightness, but can be costly when talking about 500W or more in comparison to sodium lights. 
  • Cheap knock-off LEDs are known for burning out prematurely due to improper heat dissipation. 
  • LED strip lighting wrapped around a PVC pipe generally does not make a good permanent dock light. 

The Best Underwater Dock Lighting Option

Throughout this article, we have laid the foundation of what you need to look for to find the best underwater dock light for you. The majority of this work was obtained through continuous trial and error, after being frustrated by an underwater green dock light that would not last. 

The best underwater dock lighting is the Underwater Green Fishing Light by Outrigger Outdoors. Let's revisit the all of the key points we have already discussed to further elaborate why this light is such a great option for your dock.

Underwater Green Fishing Light by Outrigger Outdoors 

Underwater Green Dock Fishing Light by Outrigger Outdoors

Here are the key points we have discussed in our guide to choosing the best underwater dock lighting. Let's take a closer look at how the underwater green fishing light by Outrigger Outdoors measures up to these key points. 

Freshwater vs Saltwater Dock Lighting

  • Housing is made to withstand corrosion and mitigate electrolysis in both freshwater and saltwater environments.
  • Industrial grade electrophoresis coating that bonds to the aluminum housings

Underwater Dock Lights that Attract Fish

  • Utilizes high brightness LEDs, which are engineered to be an attractive green wavelength for bringing in plankton, bait fish, and game fish species to your dock for fishing. 

Growth Resistant Dock Lights

  • High brightness LEDs generate enough heat to prevent algae and barnacle growth on the lens when used dusk to dawn.
  • If light is not used dusk to dawn, barnacles and algae can be easily removed from the thick polycarbonate lens cover.
  • No toxic anti-fouling coating is needed.

Low Profile to Avoid Passing Boats

  • Lays flat on the ocean floor to avoid boats passing by, minimizing the chance of accidents.
  • Includes a versatile mounting bracket for attaching to dock post
  • Strong housing holds up to abuse

Designed with Safety at Top of Mind

  • Comes standard with an inline GFCI plug for added electrical protection.
  • Power line enters the water as low voltage for added safety.
  • Uses reinforced waterproof plugs, light housing has 3 sets of seals for extremely resilient waterproofing. 
  • Avoids dissimilar metals, utilized industrial coating process for added protection to all forms of corrosion and degradation. 

Added Feature: Every Light is Tested Underwater Prior to Shipment

Underwater Green Dock Fishing Light

 

To learn more about choosing the best underwater dock lighting, and how it applies to night fishing, we encourage you to read our complete guide to buying the best underwater green fishing lights.


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