Anchor lights assist other mariners see your boat after dark, but they also serve other purposes, such as offering your boat the “lived on” look while you are away and acting as a general utility light. Most importantly, however, they are the law. Mounting your own anchor light is a very simple and inexpensive way (about $15) to offer added security and compliance to your boat. To finish this job you will need basic knowledge of electrical circuits
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- 12-volt SPDT relay
- Terminal block
- Soldering gun and solder
According to some Inland Rules, any vessel less than 50 meters at anchor has to have a 360-degree light. This also needs to have visibility of at least 2 miles. Anything less than 7 meters has to have lights anytime it’s anchored in a fairway, anchorage, narrow channel or anyplace where other boats may travel.
Ensuring You Are Compliant
When mounting your anchor light, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure compliance with U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
Construction and Materials
Most modern boats make use of solar panels to keep the batteries charged. Your anchor light will be produced by using an existing solar panel and an electrical relay. This information is for vessels that have an existing solar panel system.
Basic Parts and Assembly
A 12-volt SPDT relay is your main part in this project. You will need to buy one in which the contacts are rated at 5 amps or higher. This item can be easily purchased at most electronics and home improvement stores (i.e. Radio Shack, Lowe’s). Most of these small relays fit easily on the underside of the solar panel.
You will also want to consider using a small terminal block.
Have some solder handy as you will need to solder some of the leads on the relay. A quick internet search should yield you a proper diagram.
Day and Night Power
For the light to come ON at dusk and OFF at dawn (night power), connect a light between the relay’s NC terminal and the negative terminal C (also called the common terminal).
For the power to go OFF at dusk and ON at dawn, use the relay’s NO terminal and the negative terminal. If required, you can add separate ON and OFF switches to trigger bigger relays.
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Again,ensure you follow directions and connect everything as the manufacturer specifies. Make sure you go back and give your work a once over to make sure everything is firmly in position and your solder joints are secure.
Mount a fuse holder and the correct size fuse. Accidental shorting of the leads between the solar panel and the battery carry the full discharge current of the battery and presents a fire hazard.