It’s that time of year! Lights and decorations! Parades and decorating contests! Gifts and egg nog! Mistletoe and trying to avoid talking politics at the dinner table during family get togethers!
Growing up, my family had a tradition where we went to a local tree farm, searched (what sometimes seemed endlessly) for the perfect tree (and my mother always got final say, no matter what the trees my brother and I found looked like), decorated it while listening to Christmas music, and helped make sure my dad didn’t fall off the ladder as he was putting lights up around the house. This all happened in the span of a weekend early in December.
You are probably wondering what my family holiday traditions have to do with boating. That’s a fair question to have. But it’s less about my family and more about traditions. Maybe you already have traditions involving your boat and the holiday season, or maybe you are a new boater and need some ideas. Well, I am here to help! Let’s talk about decorating your boat and starting that tradition with your family.
You may be thinking, “Meg, my boat doesn’t have a large power source that I can use for lights and fun stuff like that. What do I do?”
You don’t even worry about it, is what you do! There are many ways around a lack of power source including using battery-powered holiday lights or getting a power inverter for your boat. Allow me to elaborate…
Using battery-powered lights is probably your easiest option. The downside is that batteries can run out of juice quickly. If you don’t mind replacing batteries—or if you just plan on using lights for a short amount of time—this is the way to go. You can find battery-powered lights pretty much anywhere you find regular lights (Home Depot, Target, etc.), although Amazon has a great selection if you don’t want to venture out during the crazy shopping season. These lights come with a battery pack attached and require no additional source of power. There is just as much variety with battery-powered lights as there is with traditional plug-in lights, so don’t be afraid of not having many choices.
The most important choice, however, is what type of light bulb you use. Actually, there is no choice. Use LED. Always. You will get so much more time out of the batteries if you are using LED lights. Trust me. Once you choose your lights and batteries, go to town! It’s really that simple. String them any which way you want, but make sure you have fun doing it!
A power inverter is a good option for lighting up your boat if you have a battery or other power source already in use and want your boat to be lit up for a longer period of time. An inverter is a contraption that converts Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). Inverters can keep your lights going strong for many hours— it all depends on the size of the battery being used and the amount of power your lights take. Again, if you use LED lights, you’ll get a lot more time out of your battery!
Setting up an inverter isn’t difficult. Your first steps, though, involve some math. You’ll need to figure out how many strings of lights you want to use and how much power it will take to keep those babies lit. Here is an example: a string of 100 LED lights typically takes 40 watts and .33 amps to light up. If you are using five strings, you will take 5 x .33 to get the number of amps per hour (1.65 AC amps per hour in this case). Now convert your AC amps per hour to DC. Take 1.65 x 120 to find out your wattage (198 watts). Next, take the wattage and divide by the number of volts in the system you are using. I will use a 12-volt battery for this example. 198 / 12 = 16.5. Now multiply that new number by 1.1 to find the DC amp hours (18.15).
Now you have all of your numbers—1.65 AC amp hours, 198 watts, and 18.15 DC amp hours. You will need a power inverter that is capable of handling about 200 watts. Easy enough, right?
If you are looking to figure out what kind of battery you’ll need on your boat, there is a simple equation. Take the amp hours of the battery, divide by DC amp hours, and you’ll figure out how long the battery will power your lights. If I have a battery that is 105 amp hours, my five strings of LED lights will stay lit for 5.78 hours (105/18.15=5.78).
Or you can make your holiday boat decorationg adventure very simple by contacting the Lake Union Sea Ray Parts & Service department at 877.732.7296 and ask for Curt Russell (Seattle location), Ed Hiatt (Fife location) or Richard Wright (Bellingham location) and not only will they advise you on what inverter you should buy, they will also install it for you. Now that’s easy.
Now that I bored you with all of that math, you are ready to get an inverter or battery-powered lights and make a new tradition with your family by decorating your boat for the holidays!
All of us here at Lake Union Sea Ray wish you a very happy holiday season! Stay safe and have fun! Oh, and send us photos of your beautifully decorated boats!