How to Put LED Rope Lights on Your Pontoon Boat

by Rich Finzer

Light emitting diode (LED) rope can be a terrific way to dress up your pontoon boat. Whether you're decorating your vessel for a holiday celebration, a dockside party or adding permanent lighting, LED rope produces pure color, consumes minimal amounts of power and lasts for thousands of hours. However, prior to installation, you have some planning to do. You must consider installation location, color, length of the rope, voltage and mounting hardware.

Planning

Using the measuring tape and string, determine how much rope lighting you will require. For example, If you plan to mount the lighting on your railings, the string can be used along the curves, measured and added to the overall length. LED rope lights can be strung in a continuous run of about 300 feet. Lighting can be ordered by the foot, the yard, on 150-foot spools or in pre-cut lengths.

Select the color and style of the rope lighting. Colors include white, warm white, red, blue, yellow and green. Styles are either individual "bulbs" or "neon."

Based upon the availability of power, select 12-volt, 24-volt or 120-volt lighting. Not all light colors are available in all voltages. Your power availability/choice will also dictate which type of power cord is required.

Determine if the lighting will be installed on a temporary or permanent basis. Then select the appropriate mounting hardware and fasteners.

Based upon your individual skill level and mounting location, select rope lights with either pre-installed connectors or acquire the splicing and connecting hardware when you order the lights and other materials.

Installation

Using the drill, bore holes at the recommended intervals and attach the mounting clips using the screwdriver.

As you progress along your lighting run, begin alternately mounting a clip and securing the rope lighting to it.

If required, use the rope connectors or splicing components to connect other sections or lengths of the rope lighting.

When all of the lighting has been mounted, attach the power cord.

Connect the power cord to the power source you have selected and activate the rope lighting.

Items you will need

  • Measuring tape and string
  • LED rope lighting of sufficient length
  • Connectors
  • Splicing components
  • Sharp knife
  • Mounting hardware and fasteners
  • Nylon wire ties
  • 12-volt, 24-volt or 120-volt power source
  • Power cord
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Screwdriver

Tip

  • If your rope lighting will be installed on a temporary basis, you might fasten it using nylon wire ties instead of mounting clips. If you have chosen 24-volt LED rope lights, you can wire two 12 volt batteries together in series and achieve a 24 volt output current. A number of web-based retailers sell marine LED rope lighting. Sailorsams.com is a good place to begin your research.

References

About the Author

Rich Finzer earned his boating license in 1960 and started his writing career in 1969. His writing has appeared in "Northern Breezes," "Southwinds," "Living Aboard," "Good Old Boat," "Latitudes & Attitudes," "Small Craft Advisor," "Life in the Finger Lakes," "BackHome" and "Dollar Stretcher" magazines. His maple syrup has won awards in competition. Rich has a Bachelor of Science in communications from Ithaca College.