Adding Courtesy
Lights to the Cabin


I decided that the addition of a couple of LED courtesy lights down below might possibly help avoid an accident if someone not knowing the boat as well as I do were to go below in the dark. I found a couple of units each containing 4 white LED lamps and manufactured by Hella that were a great buy at a nautical flea market. I was able to purchase two such units for a grand total of $3.00. What a bargain!

I decided that I would put a switch on the starboard side just inside the companionway above the DC panel. The lights would be placed approximately 5 in. above the sole; one immediately below the door to the ice box drain pump to light the area near the companionway ladder and another at the forward end of the starboard settee. These locations were carefully chosen so that they would not compromise the helmsman's night vision.

I fabricated two circular mounts from some 5/4 teak by cutting two discs using a 3 & 1/4 in. hole saw. Once the discs were cut, I put a 1/4-20 machine screw through the pilot hole from the hole saw with two flat washers and a hex nut. After tightening the nut, I placed the machine screw in my drill chuck and using various grades of sandpaper I was able to sand the teak mounting blocks as well as round over the edge. Once this was done I used a 2 in. hole saw to cut out the center so that the light fixture would sit in the recess. These teak blocks were given six coats of Captain's Varnish.

The 18-2 duplex wire was run from the switch down through the area behind the engine instruments and then into the engine compartment below the engine instruments. From there it was run to the light fixture below the access door for the ice box drain pump. The wiring was then run beneath the ice box and into the area beneath the stove/oven and then under the dry stores locker. From there it follows the DC run that powers the Adler Barbour refrigeration compressor previously installed under the starboard settee and forward to the second light fixture.

Photographs of the switch and each of the light fixtures are shown below.

Switch mounted above the DC panel

Light near the companionway ladder

Light at forward end of salon on starboard side


These lights draw a mere 58 milliamps each.

Material Required:

1 pc of 5/4 teak 4 in. x 8 in. (On hand)

2 Hella brand 4 lamp LED courtesy lights ($3.00 at flea market)

24 ft. of 18-2 Duplex wire ($21.36 at Boaters World)

4 each #6 x 3/4 in. Phillips FH SS wood screws ($.32 at ACE hardware)

4 each #6 x 3/4 in. Phillips RH SS wood screws ($.32 at ACE hardware)

2 each small barrier terminal strips ($2.98 at Radio Shack)

Assorted nylon wire ty-wraps (on hand)

Captain's varnish (On hand)

Total cost: $27.98

Tools required:

3/8 in. Reversible Drill

Assorted drill bits

3 & 1/4 inch hole saw

2 in. hole saw



Wire strippers

Crimp tool

Assorted sandpaper

This project took a total of approximately 5 hours to complete including varnish application.

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