Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Hull Truth about Thru Hull Underwater Lights

With so many different types of underwater lights available today consumers are able to tailor a lighting plan that will exactly fit the type of boating they do and work best for their vessel. Today we will discuss Thru Hull underwater lights. When most people hear the word "Thru Hull" they get this alarming look on their faces and envision a hole 3 foot in diameter. The truth is most Thru Hulls only require a hole 2" in diameter or less. Our friends over at Aqualuma Underwater Lighting explained the process to us and it really not that scary. The first thing you need to do is to measure the beam on you boat. This will help you to determine how many lights you will need in order to get a even glow off your stern without any breaks in color. For boat with beams from 5-8 feet  2 lights will give you pleanty of lights. From 8-12 feet they suggest 3 to 4 lights. 12 - 16 foot beams should consider no less then 6 lights. The next question is how bright do you want the light and how much projection from the stern do you desire. Smaller boats 25 feet and under can get away with 6 Series lights, meaning lights that have 6 LED emitters in them. In my opinion any boat over 25 feet shouldn't even consider less then 12 Series lights. This will give you the glow you desire.  Next is color. White will generally always be the brightest but are not really interesting or striking.  Green is definitely the choice for the avid angler whos intention is to attact fish and bait.  Blue is by far the most beautiful but will not look true to it color in murky or bracikish waters. Now for the install. When having Thru Hulls installed it is critical that you bring the boat to a yard that is experienced in the process and has the ability to haul your boat out of the water. Once out the technician should locate the idea location of the lights on the transom 6 -12" below the water line.  Measurements should be taken and a visual inspection of the bilge area or engine compartment should be done to verify that nothing is in the way inside the boat. After this is confirmed, its time to cut he holes. I recommend the holes be core approximately 1/8" larger then the light fixture. After coring the light should be dry fitted and the outter diameter of the light should be traced with a pencil. The bottom paint between the pencil marks and the new hole should be sand off to allow for better adhesion of the light to the hull.  The technician should then prepare some epoxy resin and cover any exposed wood or coring materials that were uncovered when the holes were cored.  After the epoxy cures its time to install the lights. A liberal amount of 3M 5200 Marine Adhesive should be applied around the surface of the light that will be in contact with the transom. Aqualuma's light housing are made of polycarbonate so they recommend that once the lights are install the lights retaining nut should only be hand tightened. A liberal amount of  3M 5200 Marine Adhesive should then be applied around the retaining nut where it meet the inside of the hull. Let the adhesive cure for 24 to 48 hours before continuing as the adhesive loves to get on everything and refuses to come off of anything. The technician should now interconnect all the lights and run a switched control lead up to the helm. That's it. Now it time to put the boat in the water. Once the boat is in the water a visual inspection of the bilge should be conducted to confirm there are no leaks. The beauty part about Aqualuma's Thru Hull Series lights is the boat will not have to be hauled to service the lights should one of the drivers or LEDs go bad or if you would like to upgrade to newer technology as it becomes available. Aqualuma has an industry leading 3 year warranty on their lights has not had to haul a boat out for service of their product, EVER.  That is a strong claim to make but it is a time proven reality. This proven track record of success should make these type of lights appealing for yachts up to 100 meters plus. They also have Lloyd's, RINA and DNV certifications.  Last thing to do now is get you friend and your sunglasses and head out on a night adventure and leave a wake of illumination behind you. Be sure you have your glasses on when you look back because you don't want to burn your eyes. Enjoy.  Thanks to our friend Alex Bader at Aqualuma Underwater Lights USA for all her input and for always keeping us up to date on the latest and greatest things happening in the marine lighting industry.

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