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Ask SAIL: Latest on LED Lighting Strips

Don Wilson of Tampa Bay, Florida asks:

What’s the latest on LED lighting strips? I’ve noticed a boat in our marina that has a pair of strips mounted in its cockpit, and they look pretty cool!

Gordon West replies:

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs), as you probably know, can dramatically reduce DC power consumption.

The new LED strips come in lengths of 16 feet (most cost just $30 or so) and can be shortened with a pair of scissors to any length required. These can be used for mood lighting in a boat’s interior, or you can order them in red to light up your chart table. For about $20 more you can add a pulse-width modulation dimmer and dim the lights until they barely glow, which will drop consumption down to a few hundred milliamps.

And yes, you can also use LED strips to light up a cockpit. However, the standard strips may not be waterproof or UV-resistant, so you’ll need “waterproof 5050”strip LEDs, cut down to necessary length. Use the supplied plastic mounts to keep the waterproof strips in place. You can add dimmers to these, too.

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