When trying to decide whether to use an Above Water or a Below Water dock light, it is important to know that either model will attract the same amount of fish to your dock. Light applied on top or under the water simply attracts plankton which in return attracts bait fish. The larger game fish then come to the light to feed on the bait fish, so how do Above Water Dock Lights and Underwater Dock Lights differ? Above Water Dock Lights are maintenance free and illuminate the water from the top down which provides more coverage but makes it harder to see the fish. Underwater Dock Lights require monthly maintenance and illuminate the water from the bottom up which make it easier to see the fish.
Above Water Dock & Pier Lights
Above Water Dock and Pier Lights like our DockPro 3500, DockPro 16000 and DockPro 4000 have become the preferred type of light used by many dock builders and electrical contractors because they are maintenance free. Note: “Above Water” lights cannot be submerged in water…for any length of time or they will be damaged. The lights should be mounted high enough off the water where they will not be submerged during high tides and storm surges.
Above water dock lights mount to the face or under the dock and shine downward, illuminating the surface of the water. The depth of penetration into the water will be determined by the clarity of your water, but please keep in mind that “Above Water” lights are designed to illuminate the waters surface to attract fish and look nice, but they do not penetrate deep into the water. If you are interested in seeing the fish, underwater lights would work better for you. The biggest advantage to above water lights is that they are maintenance free and they illuminate more surface area around your dock or pier. Contrary to what some believe, above water lights do attract just as many fish to your dock as underwater lights do, but seeing the fish around the light may not be quite as good. Most dock builders and electrical contractors are now installing more above water lights because they are virtually maintenance free once they are installed.
Underwater dock lights are submerged in the water 24/7 and are more susceptible to corrosion, algae and barnacle build-up and damage caused by boats and fishing hooks. Unlike underwater lights, above water lights do not have to be removed and cleaned on a regular basis. Above water dock lights lights mount to the face of your dock or pier post and shine down into the water and are not exposed to the underwater elements.
Underwater Dock & Pier Lights
Underwater Dock & Pier Lights like our DockPro 12000, DockPro 5000, and SuperBrite 8000-X2-D and SuperBrite 4800-D are the preferred lights for people who like to watch the fish and see them more clearly in deeper water. Unlike above water lights, underwater lights do require monthly maintenance to prevent algae and barnacle build-up and their overall life expectancy is much shorter than above water lights with 2-Years being the normal lifetime of any underwater light. Note: “Underwater Lights” MUST be submerged in water at all times when turned on…or they will be damaged. Be sure to set the lights deep enough to account for low tides.
The DockPro 5000, DockPro 12000 lights sit on the bottom and shine upward, illuminating the water from the bottom up. The SuperBrite 8000-X2-D and SuperBrite 4800 lights hang vertically over the side of your dock and illuminate 360-degrees horizontally. The SuperBrite 8000-X2-D and SuperBrite 4800-D lights should be suspended vertically and never laid flat on the bottom. Underwater lights are preferred by some because they do give you a better view of the fish, but contrary to what some people think, they do not attract any more fish than above water lights.
The DockPro 12000 light is hands down our best and brightest underwater light. If it’s in your budget, we would recommend this light over all other underwater lights. The light is made from high grade stainless steel and uses a hardened glass lens that is barnacle resistant. The light typically sits on the bottom and shines upward but in shallower water, the light can also be mounted on a pier post as shown below so the light shines outward which does illuminate more overall water and prevents damage from hooks and propellers. The downside to mounting the light horizontally is that you will probably have to get in the water to mount it. Remember, these lights are underwater lights and must be mounted at a depth where they will not be exposed during low tides or other low water conditions. You can purchase heavy duty zip ties up to 2’ long at most hardware stores as well as other stainless steel mounting bracket options like shown below. Do to the large array of options, we do not carry zip ties or other types of brackets for this purpose.
While sitting the lights on the bottom and letting them shine up is popular these days, the diameter of light you see on top is determined by the depth of the water. If the water around your dock is less than 8′ deep, the light does not have time to diffuse and spread out, so as much as 50% of the light is lost straight up in the air. Also, fish are many times spooked by the addition of light in areas that are typically light free. Many times, you will attract more fish by flooding the top portion of water with light because it is more natural to the fish. Typically, mounting the light about 2ft under the surface at low tide, will provide the best overall coverage. and attract the most fish. Fish are used to seeing light on top of the water, not on the bottom.
Since underwater dock lights are submerged in the water 24/7 they are susceptible to corrosion, algae and barnacle build-up and can be damaged by boats, lures and hooks. So, underwater lights do have to be removed on a regular basis and cleaned. Failure to do so will result in poor light output. We recommend using OceanMax LightSpeed on ALL underwater light which will prevent barnacles, oysters and algae from covering the light. This product works and is well worth the money.
We recommend using a Photocell Timer which turns the light on at dusk and the light turns off a predetermined time set by you. Fish become accustomed to knowing when the lights will be on so they can eat. If your light come on at dusk and shut off 6 hours later every night, you will have more fish congregating around your dock at one time. If you leave the lights on from Dusk to Dawn, the fish will come and go at their leisure because they know they have all night to feed. Consistency is important so the fish know when feeding time is.
Swim Safe-Use Low Voltage LED Lights
We’ve all been told mixing electricity with water is something you just never do. But, prior to the development of Low Voltage, High Intensity LED Lights, the only way to make a light bright enough for underwater use was to use halogen, mercury vapor, metal halide or HID bulbs which are all powered by 120VAC.
HID, mercury vapor and metal halide underwater dock lights use 120VAC in the water which can be deadly to you and your loved one’s if there is a malfunction. If the power-cord is cut or damaged or if the light malfunctions in any way, anyone in the water could be seriously hurt or killed. While GFCI outlets do offer a limited amount of protection, GFCI outlets are prone to malfunction when used in outdoor environments.
Fortunately, with the advent of low voltage, high intensity LEDs, underwater lights no longer have to be made using high voltage components. High intensity LEDs produce more lumen’s per watt, are less expensive to operate and are Safe To Operate in the Water.
Before you purchase your next underwater light, remember, AC voltage in the water is a tragedy waiting to happen. Choose an underwater LED light that operates on low voltage and keep everyone safe!
Our underwater DockPro 5000 and DockPro 12000 underwater dock lights are safe to operate in the water. The 120VAC driver plugs into any standard GFCI outlet and immediately reduces the voltage going to the light down to a safe 36VDC to 56VDC which is 100% water safe!