Multi-color LED boat lights give you two or three colors from a single light. White and blue or white, blue, and red. Both LED underwater lights and LED boat deck lights are made in multi-color versions.
Light as a Tool
When it comes right down to it, light is a tool that helps us perform specific tasks. So, like any good tool, our boat lighting should make nights on the water easier, safer, and more enjoyable. White, blue, and red light are the right tools for this job.
Our Eyes and Night Vision
Light enters the front of our eyes and is focused on the back part called the retina. The retina has two types of light-gathering cells, cone cells, and rod cells.
Cone cells are used for seeing during the day. They see all colors of the visual light spectrum but are most sensitive to warmer colors such as red and yellow.
In contrast, rod cells are used for seeing at night. Because of this, they collect more of the light that strikes them. Rod cells aren’t sensitive to warm colors but are very sensitive to cool colors of light such as green and blue.
Most of the time we use cone cells to see. But as we go from bright light to low light our eyes shift from using cone cells to rod cells. When this happens warm colors appear darker and cooler colors appear brighter. This shift is called the Purkinje effect and is the reason why red light affects your night vision less than other colors.
Why White, Blue, and Red?
Boating at night presents some unique challenges. Sometimes, you need bright light to see what’s on deck. Other times you need almost no light so you can see what’s in the water around you. The challenge is to have the right color and amount of light to operate the boat and move around safely without ruining your night vision.
White For Better Vision
White light is used when you need to perform tasks such as reading, preparing a meal, or rigging fishing tackle. It activates the cone cells in your eyes so you can see colors and fine details. Shadow-Caster multi-color lights produce white light at 6200-kelvin. This cool white light mimics sunlight giving truer colors for better vision.
The problem with white light is that it severely reduces your night vision. In other words, while it makes it easy to see what’s in the boat, it makes it almost impossible to what’s outside the boat. Obviously, this is not good when you are trying to navigate a boat in the dark.
This is why we need blue and red lights.
Blue Makes Objects Stand Out
Because rod cells are most sensitive to cool colors, objects illuminated by blue light seem brighter in the dark. Even when the light is very dim. In fact, some captains prefer blue light over red because it makes it easier to see colors.
Red Preserves Night Vision
Red light has been used by sea captains for decades because of how well it preserves night vision. They know that a dimly lit red light will allow them to read their instruments and see the water around them. Again, this is because rod cells are sensitive to blue light and not red.
Bright Light Kills Night Vision
A word of caution. When operating a boat at night you need to keep it as dark as possible. A bright light will kill your night vision, no matter what color it is.
For this reason, all Shadow-Caster downlights and spreader lights are dimmable, even when operated through a switch. When you first turned them on the lights start off at their dimmest level then slowly brighten. To set them at your desired brightness, flip the switch a second time. This unique feature prevents a sudden flash of bright light that can ruin your night vision.
3 Colors vs. 2 Colors
As mentioned above, some Shadow-Caster multi-color LED boat lights are built with three colors while others only have two. For example, downlights and spreader lights come in white, blue, and red while courtesy lights and underwater lights come in white and blue.
Overhead lights used on deck and around the helm should always have red as one of their colors. As noted earlier, red light helps to preserve night vision. It should be used anywhere light will shine or reflect directly into the eyes of the person driving the boat.
Blue and white on the other hand are needed much more often than red. For this reason, they are used in all multi-color LED boat lights.
White is used in all multi-color lighting fixtures. It aids in performing tasks as an overhead or spreader light and makes boarding safer as a courtesy light. It is equally useful as an underwater light. A white light will draw fish to your boat and even makes docking easier not to mention how well it lights up your wake.
Likewise, blue light is used in all multi-color fixtures. As an overhead or spreader light, it can be used in place of red for navigating at night. As a courtesy light, you can move around the deck safely. Blue is also the most popular when used as an underwater light. Blue penetrates deeper into the water than any other color making it excellent for fishing.
Shadow-Caster Multi-Color LED Boat Lights
Light is a tool that makes boating safer and more enjoyable. With multi-color LED boat lights from Shadow-Caster, you’ll have the right tool for the job no matter what you are doing. Click on the links below to find out more about Shadow-Caster multi-color LED boat lights.
SCM-CL Blue/White: Two color courtesy lights can be operated through an ON/OFF/ON switch or through a light controller. However, they can not be dimmed when operated through an ON/OFF/ON switch. They can be dimmed when operated through any Shadow-Caster light controller, including the SCM-SNLC.
SCM-DL White/Blue, White/Blue/Red: Toggle the switch to turn the light on. The brightness of the light increases over 3 seconds. Toggle the switch again during this time to set the brightness. Toggle the switch again to change colors. Turn the light off for 10 seconds to reset.
SCM-DLX White/Blue/Red: Toggle the switch to turn the light on. The brightness of the light increases over 3 seconds. Toggle the switch again during this time to set the brightness. Toggle the switch again to change colors. Turn the light off for 10 seconds to reset.
SCM-SLF/SCM-SLB White/Blue/Red: Toggle the switch to turn the light on. The brightness of the light increases over 3 seconds. Toggle the switch again during this time to set the brightness. Toggle the switch again to change colors. Turn the light off for 10 seconds to reset.
SCR-24 White/Blue: Can be controlled through a switch. Set color to white or blue, fade between colors, or strobe either color. SCR-16 White/Blue: Can be controlled through a switch. Set color to white or blue, fade between colors, or strobe either color.