Although there are many obvious good reasons for installing hull lights, the choice of which type of hull lights to install can be a bit more difficult to make. There are several different types, and each has its benefits and drawbacks that need to be considered. Things like the type of vessel, the materials the light housing are made from, the type of lamps use, and the power they consume can all play a critical role in determining just which lights are the best for a given application. At the top of the list of considerations though should be three main pointssafety, power use, and reliability. Almost all decent hull lights will require drilling into the hull to install, and the last thing you want is leaks or weak points where the hull can be overly stressed. Hull lights will also be most frequently used while at anchor, so it is perhaps wisest to choose lights which will fill your minimum expectations without produce a huge drain on your battery banks. Finally, maintenance and bulb replacement must be taken into consideration as with some types of hull lights it often involves added expense and difficult procedures, so lights that can last for an extended period with as little maintenance as possible are a wise choice. While halogen hull lights have long been a favorite, their high heat and relatively fragile design has made them problematic. Hull lights need to be small in size, and with a smaller fixture, heat from the halogen bulb cannot be easily dissipated. As a result, halogen underwater lights cannot be operated while the hull is out of the water or on a plane, or overheating and damage could result. Additionally, the housings and fixtures associated with halogens are usually fairly large in size and require similarly large holes to be drilled in the hull for installation, which increased the chances for leaks and hull stress. On top of all this, halogens are far from efficient and can drain batteries at an alarming rate. LED hull lights have exploded in popularity and offer an excellent alternative to halogens. Their high output and lower energy use, small size, cool operation and high durability, make them an ideal choice for boating applications. LED hull lights are much smaller in size and run far cooler, so the housings are similarly small and compact in size. This reduces the size of any holes needing to be drilled in the hull, which in turn makes sealing and durability less of an issue. They produce prodigious amounts of light compared to the energy they consume, allowing them to produce as much light as comparable halogens while using only a quarter as much electrical power or less. They are far more durable, and the operational life for an LED runs into 50,000 or more hours compared to a halogensmeager 700-1,000 hours.
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