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Best trailer lights

Old 04-21-2008, 10:30 AM
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Default Best trailer lights

Well, its that time again, I'm going to replace most of the things on the trailer. What's the best trailer light kit this year? A few years ago I put on a West Marine LED kit but it failed pretty quickly due to water intrusion. Did someone finally make good water proof LED's? I know about the ones that go on the guides but looking at pictures I don't think they will work with my set up.
Old 04-21-2008, 02:30 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

I use the led submersables at wallmart. 50 bucks last a long time and this years are extremely bright. The bad thing is they only offered the kit so you get the plug all new wiring which I didn't need but have spares again they last a long time
Old 04-21-2008, 02:50 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

Anybody ever try this? After continuously replacing trailer lights, I finally just put spade terminals on my wiring and wingnuts on the lights. Before I dunk the trailer I take two minutes and completely take off the lights – its one more step in my pre-launch process, doesn’t take long at all. Granted, I only launch maybe a half dozen times a year, but once I realized how simple it was I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.
Old 04-21-2008, 06:18 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

My SeaSense LED`s have been good to me. Just make sure they are grounded well and don`t over tighten the tail light mounting bolts.
Old 04-21-2008, 06:24 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

I installed the LED's also and they worked fine for about 3 years, I just had to replace the left side($29.99) since most of the LED's are out but it sure beat replacing bulbs all the time
in the "waterproof" lights.

Not sure of the brand I bought the first time but I understand the newer ones last much longer so we will see
Old 04-21-2008, 07:48 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

Pipe lights if you have guide on posts. They are always above the water. I have a home run from each light so no connections get dunked. Also dedicated ground wire for every light. Now lights are always working.
Old 04-22-2008, 03:27 AM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

One thing I also did was use heat shrink connections where the lights splice into the wires to keep moisture out.

I do like the idea of the pole lights though, always thought that was the best option
Old 04-22-2008, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

Make sure whatever you buy has the proper DOT SAE rating and is DOT approved!!!

Trailers have a standard Federal lighting specification as outlined by the the NHTSA: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/.../Trlrpstr.html
Old 04-22-2008, 12:25 PM
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Default RE: Best trailer lights

Here are a few pics of the ones I installed last spring. The top of the 15" LED is 5ft above the road surface. They never go under water.


Google 15" LED lights. Numerous distributors.






Old 04-22-2008, 01:19 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

Keeping the lights OUT of the water is always the best. If you keep em dry, even the cheapest light set will last a long time.

If you must dunk em, then the LED units are the best. Just remember the general rule for "waterproof" things.

Rule 1 - if you can get inside something (like a light set to replace a bulb) then so can water. In fact, water can get in easier than you can!

Rule 2 - devices designed to keep water out often does a better job keeping water in.

So with that in mind - even LED light kits that get dunked often will eventually fail. Mine are giving me trouble now - I suspect a grounding issue.
Old 04-22-2008, 01:31 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

I've not had good luck with the rear LEDs. I was pro LED but one by one the diodes quit working. I now find it easier and cheaper to keep one big incadescent bulb greased and operable. Got a whole kit from Northern tool for 29.95, however I did buy new LED side markers and light bar.

West Marnine prices are about the same or cheaper now.

The guide mounted LEDs look good, but I whack my guides occassionally and see the lights not lasting from impact of either the boat or tree branches.
Old 04-22-2008, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

606zpx - 4/21/2008 7:48 PM

Pipe lights if you have guide on posts. They are always above the water. I have a home run from each light so no connections get dunked. Also dedicated ground wire for every light. Now lights are always working.
Dedicated ground wire and "home run", sounds like you may have done a bit of commercial/ residential?
Old 04-22-2008, 07:58 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

spearnreel - 4/22/2008 8:37 PM
606zpx - 4/21/2008 7:48 PM Pipe lights if you have guide on posts. They are always above the water. I have a home run from each light so no connections get dunked. Also dedicated ground wire for every light. Now lights are always working.
Dedicated ground wire and "home run", sounds like you may have done a bit of commercial/ residential?


No after having repeated problems with my lights, I finally rewired the whole thing and changed all the bulbs to LED including the license plate. Now my trailer does not rely on a ground via the ball for the lights to work.
Old 05-09-2008, 02:11 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

My Hella LED lights are on the fourth season, dunked about 95 times a year. They were big bucks, but worth every penny. Pole mounted are not an option as that would make my trailer 11-feet wide empty...something I would not even consider.
Old 05-09-2008, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

606zpx - 4/22/2008 10:58 PM



spearnreel - 4/22/2008 8:37 PM
606zpx - 4/21/2008 7:48 PM Pipe lights if you have guide on posts. They are always above the water. I have a home run from each light so no connections get dunked. Also dedicated ground wire for every light. Now lights are always working.
Dedicated ground wire and "home run", sounds like you may have done a bit of commercial/ residential?


No after having repeated problems with my lights, I finally rewired the whole thing and changed all the bulbs to LED including the license plate. Now my trailer does not rely on a ground via the ball for the lights to work.
That's fine, but the ball has nothing to do with it. The ground wire (usually white) connects from the vehicle ground through the wiring harness to the trailer frame.
Old 05-12-2008, 05:12 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

GWcpa must have the patience of God himself. Most of us that dunk lights got away from standard lights years ago.

Any sealed LED beats the old style bulbs 1000%...even those that were said to be submersible!!!

If you get them out of the package and they aren't obviously sealed take them back for a refund or seal them yourself with RTV and let them dry before you install them.

I bought a set of sealed LED's for my trailer two years ago and dunk them without unplugging or any thing else. I've not had a failure and have never seen even condensation under the lenses.

If they are sold as trailer lights they must have a DOT number moulded in the lenses.




Old 05-12-2008, 05:41 PM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

My suggestion would be to install an ordinary (read that cheap$$) on a piece of aluminum square tube with the wiring harness and determine how best to attach it to your boat. I put mine across the gunwales and use bungee cords to secure it. I have seen it on the swim platform with wing nuts and washers also. Remove at the ramp put in vehicle. Recover boat, reinstall the lights, return home, put in garage. No submersion, no weather effects, no corrosion, no problems. I have used the same set of lights for 20 years.
Second benefit is lights are up high and in front of trailing vehicles instead of 10 inches off of the ground. Increases visibility for situationally challenged drivers following you.
Old 05-13-2008, 06:36 AM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

Without a doubt I like LEDs better, they are brighter and don't get hot, I just did not have good luck with them. Maybe since that has been 5 years ago they have improved since.

Most of my problems with lights have been corroding crimp connections and light center posts. If I solder my connections and grease the bulb sockets with good waterproof grease I seem to get a couple years out of the cheapo lights with no problems. I've got a couple of spare lights, so if one gets too bad or a back it into a pole, I'm just going to unbolt it, resolder and be have it fixed for 15 bucks.

The side markers have come connected with scotch locks on most of the trailers I've had. If not, they have been stuck into a crimp connector as well.

I guess the main reason I like cheap bulb lights better is the price of LEDs I've seen. I.e., I'm cheap. I spent about 90 bucks on the last set and they didn't last 2 years.
Old 05-13-2008, 07:01 AM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

I never understood why someone didn't make submersible incandescent lights with stainless guts (bulb holders, connectors, attachment bolts, etc). I've seen stainless housed bulbs, so I would think that the combo of those two could work for years.

I have LED's now but know that about every couple years I'll have to replace them. Once they get ANY water in them, they are toast. I have some Seasense sealed LED's waiting to go in when my current lights die. The seasense look to be much better than just about everything else out there due to the way they are molded around the LED assembly.
Old 05-13-2008, 11:37 AM
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Default Re: Best trailer lights

JGKIII - 5/12/2008 8:41 PM

My suggestion would be to install an ordinary (read that cheap$$) on a piece of aluminum square tube with the wiring harness and determine how best to attach it to your boat. I put mine across the gunwales and use bungee cords to secure it. I have seen it on the swim platform with wing nuts and washers also. Remove at the ramp put in vehicle. Recover boat, reinstall the lights, return home, put in garage. No submersion, no weather effects, no corrosion, no problems. I have used the same set of lights for 20 years.
Second benefit is lights are up high and in front of trailing vehicles instead of 10 inches off of the ground. Increases visibility for situationally challenged drivers following you.
1. Royal PITA to remove and reinstall each time you use your boat.

2. Law requires the trailer to have lights.

BTW: How do you light your license plats?

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