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jwmiller33

wiring my boat for lights

66 posts in this topic

hello all. I just bought my first boat this winter and am in the process of adding all the necessities to get it ready for fishing opener. The boat is a 1980 16 ft Lund with a 20 in transom. I have no experience with wiring boat lights at all so I am looking for some help.

I looked into those portable clamp on boat lights and those just don't look like they would get the job done.

I am looking to get the red/green bow light and the white stern light. I want them to be mounted on the boat for studyness obviously, so my first question is, is that easy to do? I'm sure all of you are familiar with the type of boat I am dealing with, the older aluminum Lund style boats. Is it easy to mount the lights on the bow and stern? Do I have to drill into the boat at all or can I get away with using nuts/bolts on a screw?

Second question... How do I go about wiring the lights? I am going to have a 12v deep cycle marine battery that my trolling motor is running off... can I have the lights run off this battery too?

How do I do the wiring? Do I make a mount on my boat where the lights are going to go, and then run the wiring from the mounts to the battery, and then the lights jump snap into the mount whenever I want to use them? Do I need to use a switch for the lights? Is the wiring simple enough to do by myself?

Sorry for all the quesitons... Just looking for some help on a project I am going to start soon.

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Several ways to do this. Here’s what I would do.

Mount the lights (yes you will probably have to drill, but it’s a piece of cake) on the front and back. Then run the wires back to a switch that is mounted in a convenient location for you. Then run wires from the battery to that switch. It seems difficult at first, if you’ve never wired anything, but 12V wiring is pretty easy.

Another option is to mount a fuse block somewhere, then you can start wiring other goodies such as electronics and such off of it.

If you only plan on lights, a fuse block might be overkill, but I would for sure wire a switch and not a bad idea to wire in a single inline fuse.

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where would you recommend buying the lights and mounting stuff? do the lights come with everything i need to mount them?

what is a single inline fuse?

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and what kind of wiring do i use? does that come iwth the lights as well or purchased seperate?

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Fleet Farm is a good one stop shop for these things. There are several different styles and designs of lights. Take a look at them and see what fits your budget and also will fit nicely on your boat.

An inline fuse is just that, just a separate piece of wire that has a fuse connected to it. Just wire up each end to your string of wire preferably closer back to the battery. If the wire shorts and gets too hot, it will blow the fuse instead of starting your boat on fire smile

The wiring is usually purchased seperately on a roll. Figure out how much you will need and buy appropriately. I forget off hand what gauge you need to buy.

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Fleet Farm should have everything you want. an inline fuse is installed in the wire connecting to battery instead of a fuse block. Should be an easy project

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so if i have my trolling motor and lights running off this battery, can i set it up so the switch only controls the lights?

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yes, install switch inline like fuse

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is the wiring hard to do? anybody have a HSOforum with a diagram of how to do it?

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no its not hard pretty simple stuff, you can probly do a search and find something to help

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Stripped wire ends will connect directly to light fixtures probably via screws. At any splice (most likely at each end of the inline fuse section) I would try to twist together and solder for a good connection. Then use shrink tubing to waterproof and protect, at the very least, use some good electrical tape here.

The bare ends will also connect directly to the switch. There should be posts on the switch for the incoming power (battery) and then outgoing to the lights. At the battery, you will probably want to crimp on some O-Ring connectors that will fit right onto your battery posts with wing nuts screwed down to hold tight.

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This is the most simplistic way to wire it. You could get more sophisticated, such as putting the front and rear lights on separate circuits or using a 3-position switch (up for both lights on, middle for both off, down for only the anchor light on). This diagram should give you the idea, though. It's pretty easy. Make sure you use a fuse, though, and put it close to the battery.

Battery.jpg

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ok sounds good thanks a lot to everybody who chirped in... i used to wire my subs/amp in my car a couple years ago in high school and once i understood what all the wires were for, it was cake.. i'm sure this will be easy to do as long as i understand all the parts...

is there anything special i have to do at the battery for connecting the lights and trolling motor? do i connect them seperately?

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also, where do i get the inline fuse? would they have that at fleet farm too? and if so, what department owuld it be in?

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where would you recommend buying the lights and mounting stuff? do the lights come with everything i need to mount them?

what is a single inline fuse?

Hey Dude - Cabela's has a Boating & Marine Catalog. I get one every year and go through it and make a wish list of things I would like to add to the boat. Get the catalog and it will help you visualize what you can do with lights and all the other things you will end up wanting to add.

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Yes, I would use separate connections for the batteries and lights.

Fleet Farm will have inline fuses. There's in the automotive section (by the auto light bulbs).

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Originally Posted By: jwmiller33
where would you recommend buying the lights and mounting stuff? do the lights come with everything i need to mount them?

what is a single inline fuse?

Hey Dude - Cabela's has a Boating & Marine Catalog. I get one every year and go through it and make a wish list of things I would like to add to the boat. Get the catalog and it will help you visualize what you can do with lights and all the other things you will end up wanting to add.

What? There's an accessory that your boat doesn't yet have??? smile

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Originally Posted By: SteveD
Originally Posted By: jwmiller33
where would you recommend buying the lights and mounting stuff? do the lights come with everything i need to mount them?

what is a single inline fuse?

Hey Dude - Cabela's has a Boating & Marine Catalog. I get one every year and go through it and make a wish list of things I would like to add to the boat. Get the catalog and it will help you visualize what you can do with lights and all the other things you will end up wanting to add.

What? There's an accessory that your boat doesn't yet have??? smile

I don’t think I seen a microwave the last time I fished with Steve. smile

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Just to throw in an FYI, I prefer to use as much LED as I can. Brighter, last longer and just over all better IMO.

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sandmannd-thanks for the info. are the majority of the lights made these days LED? a lot of the ones i saw on cabella's and bass pro shops HSOforum were LED. i think that is definitly the route i am going to take.

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There are a lot of options for wiring your boat and the info provided is a great starting point. It sounds like you have a S-16 so you should be able to pull off the rear hand holds and take off the front nose piece so you can run your wires in the gunnel for the front running lights. The only thing to watch for is any sharp edges that will cut into the wires over time. Take some sandpaper or a file to deburr the edge. You might want to put in a cig. lighter socket for a spot light or a hand held GPS. Things to keep in mind when you are placing everything is your battery will be heavy as well as a full 6 gallon gas can and do you want both of them in the back of the boat or keep one up front and one in back. Later on you can put in some floors and build a deck up front so you will have more storage. These are some great things to do with you and some fishing buddy's who are more then willing to help and can put out some good ideas. I did a S-14 and a S-16 Deluxe and there are all sorts of things that you will want to upgrade as your fishing habits evolve grin

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ya i think i have a S-16 .... am I going to mount the lights right on top of the nose piece and one of hte rear hand holds? or where exactly am i supposed to mount the lights?

should i put the bow light right on top of the nose piece or......?

how about the stern light?

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When you look at Cabelas or Bass pro you will see all sorts of different styles. I mounted my front on the nose piece ( five small holes for bolts and wires) but the back light was mounted so I was able to pull out and put it away so it was out of the way. The mount was sort of a side mount and a cap would cover the opening when the light wand was pulled out.If you decide to run the wires down the gunnel you will need a fish tape or some stiff wire to feed it through. Another way to run your wires is to take some thread and tie it on a small foam chunk and blow it through with a air compressor at one end and a shop vac at the other. When you get the thread through then tie it on a string and pull that through and now you can tape the wires to the string and feed it through. I always used stainless steel so if I had to take it apart it would not be rusted tight. Good luck and have fun while doing it and if you have some time take some pics and share them.

You can mount the stern light on the transom and it shold only be 2 small screws.

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sandmannd-thanks for the info. are the majority of the lights made these days LED? a lot of the ones i saw on cabella's and bass pro shops HSOforum were LED. i think that is definitly the route i am going to take.

Check out Harbor Freight Tools as well. Got an LED light kit for my trailer for $20.

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so you guys are saying run the wires thru the gunnel? that sounds hard to do...

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