Reader Tip: Interior Lighting

Wishing your boat had more light down below? Try this easy and affordable solution.

Reader Tip: Lights

David Turley

I bought three marine cold-fluorescent lighting units for $80 each that do a good job of lighting the large cabin areas of my 44-foot Bruce Roberts ketch, Willow, but I was looking for a less expensive solution for smaller areas like the heads and nav station.

At Fry's electronics I found the perfect solution—12-inch CCF lighting tubes and power supplies intended for illuminating fancy clear-sided desktop computer cases! They come in several colors (obviously the white tubes are best suited for this application—P/N 6200540 at The lighting tubes cost only $6 each, pull five milliamperes, run on 12 volts, have a wiring harness, and are encased in a clear tube covering that is tough and only 1/2-inch in diameter, so they are easy to use in a confined space. Each power supply can drive two tubes and don't seem to produce any discernible RF noise. I hid some behind the fiddles for indirect lighting.

Another solution is available at Lowes or Home Depot—12-volt fluorescent lights that can run on batteries or external 12 volts. They're bulkier and don't produce as much light as the computer tubes, but are available everywhere in either 6-inch or 10-inch units. They cost around $10.

Check as well, but last I looked they didn't have the white tubes in stock. However, they DO have black lighting tubes if you want to get a velvet painting for the saloon and return to the subtle elegance of the '60s!

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