Underwater LED Lights

Made in Florida

FSF Staff October 24, 2011

Interested in learning more about your favorite tackle and accessories? Anglers and boaters rarely consider the tremendous effort required to design and manufacture the countless components that enhance our on-the-water experiences. Skilled craftsman build many of these essentials right here in Florida, and we wanted to learn more about the products they specialize in. We’re confident that you will be fascinated with what we uncover in our ongoing investigation.

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Photo: Shadow Caster

If you own a boat, you’ve probably considered the installation of aftermarket underwater LED lights. At the most basic level, Light Emitting Diodes are compact lights that offer a beneficial alternative to traditional incandescent lights. LEDs are becoming more popular in all kinds of consumer and household electronics and products, as well as interior and exterior lighting. Because of their efficiency and longevity, LEDs are used in everything from Christmas tree lights to streetlights. Because they don’t produce as much heat and require substantially less amperage to operate, it’s a no brainer why the marine industry is increasingly relying on high-output LEDs.

With the trending popularity and high demand, the growing market for LED technology is constantly evolving…

Available in a plethora of colors, sizes and shapes, underwater thru-hull LEDs are illuminating waters around the world. Stroll the docks of nearly any marina under the cover of darkness and you’ll surely see the waters come to life thanks to super-bright LED underwater lighting solutions. Whether your goal is to attract underwater life or accent your most prized possession, it’s safe to say that underwater LEDs are only going to become more popular in the coming years. With the trending popularity and high demand, the growing market for LED technology is constantly evolving as engineers and designers work on better ways to manufacture brighter and more powerful products.

With so many manufacturers claiming they produce quality underwater LED lights, it’s certainly challenging to keep your head above water in the cutthroat LED market. However, Dunedin, Florida-based Shadow Caster stays ahead of the competition with their high-quality, high-intensity, state-of-the-art packaged Light Emitting Diode technology. Underwater light manufacturing requires a thorough understanding of a host of essential factors including finite element analysis, thermal analysis and solder joint reliability, as well as an effective design to combat harsh and corrosive environments. With over 15 years experience working in the design of electro-optical products, Brian Rogers leads the team of innovators at Shadow Caster.

Because LED technology is constantly evolving, LED light manufacturers must be on top of their game. Fortunately, Shadow Caster has an in-house design team that utilizes high-end computer software. Creating a blueprint for underwater LED lights is no easy task and to ensure a product that surpasses even the most discriminating expectations, the in-depth process starts digitally in 3D. With programs like Solidworks Design, the team can produce realistic renderings and simulations (Image 1). They also utilize finite element analysis programs to inspect structural stress, heat transfer, as well as thermal and modal analysis. Once the design and engineering stages are complete, the manufacturing process can begin.

The process starts with marine-grade 316 stainless steel that is shaped with dies and Haas milling machines (Image 2 & 3). Shadow Caster produces three standard sizes, and with multiple milling machines a complete production run can take place simultaneously (Images 4). While the stainless steel bezels and back plates are milled, circuit boards are being manufactured at the same time (Image 5). Here the resistors, capacitors and diodes are installed (Image 6). Once the circuit boards are completed they are inspected and prepped for the installation of the miniscule LEDs (Image 7).

Because LED construction is extremely extensive and requires expensive machinery, LEDs are purchased in predetermined color wavelengths and intensities. Shadow Caster only utilizes premium high-flux bin LEDs, with the goal of producing the brightest underwater lights on the market.

Once the LEDs have been installed, the circuit boards are inspected before final assembly can commence (Image 8). The bezel, circuit board, polycarbonate lens, electrical surge suppression unit and back plate are installed (Image 9). Once complete, it’s time for a lengthy inspection. A series of test are performed on each light and one of the tests involves submersing the lights for 24 hours, with an on/off cycle to ensure reliability and waterproofness (Image 10). They even run dry-tests to ensure proper heat exchange. With careful consideration and design, the lights feature internal electrical surge suppression with an internal water-cooled design to make sure they perform safely and reliably for years on end. Extensive testing and verification ensure a sound final product, and after another final inspection and polishing the lights are ready to be packaged (Image 11). From here underwater LEDs are shipped to happy boat owners worldwide (Image 12).

While Shadow Caster produces ultra-bright LEDs in Cool Red, Aqua Green, Bimini Blue, Ultra Blue and Great White, in the near future they will debut a new light that can toggle between the four most popular colors. Currently, Shadow Caster LEDs have a 40,000 hour lamp life and two year warranty. In addition, these lights are designed for surface mounting so you don’t have to create a huge hole below the waterline. Only two mounting screws and a small hole for the wire are required.

With technology that’s light years ahead, Shadow Caster is a firm believer that the integrity of design and quality of manufacturing are amongst the highest priorities for a successful product. Providing a lot more than good looks, underwater LEDs will enhance your nighttime fishing endeavors. Go ahead and light up your underwater world and see for yourself what all the hype is about.

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