Install Running Lights

(click for full view)

The red line indicates the positive.

Supplies you will need:

  • 14 gauge wire (suggest 18')
  • 16 gauge wire (suggest 58')
  • Fuse Block
  • 3 position switch
  • running lights (port - red, starboard - green)
  • all-round light (for anchoring and running)
  • Liquid Electric Tape (Seals connections)
  • 2 Prong plug (To remove tops with all-round lights)
  • Wire butt connectors
  • Wire straps
     Wiring can be a little confusing to many people.   Wiring running lights involves only 4 things.  The first is the battery to power the lights; second, the lights themselves; third, a switch to turn them on; fourth,; a fuse to protect against an unusual surge in power.  I guess we could add the wire that connects them all together to make it 5 things.  If taken a step at a time the process is simple.

     The small picture (upper right) is of a pontoon running light diagram.  Just by clicking on it you will have a full size diagram that you can print out and follow.  If you still have questions please contact us and we will try to answer them to the best of our ability.

       Let's explain the connections starting from the battery.   Run this wire, but do not attach it to the battery until the other connections are completed.  From the batter to the fuse block we suggest at minimum 14 gauge wire.  The easiest wire to work with is a two strand parallel wire (available from us cut by the foot). Using a single strand wire for both the ground and positive can create confusion and frustration.   If you are using an inline fuse instead of a fuse block it would be okay to use the 16 gauge suggested for running the wires to the lights.  The suggested length listed is in excess of what you may actually require. (NOTE:  The lower the gauge the thicker the wire.  The gauge from the battery to the motor is generally 4 gauge.)

     The next connection is between the fuse block to the switch using 16 gauge wire.  We suggest a 3 position switch so that the all-round light will work properly when at anchor.  The purpose of the all-round light is to identify the vessel to others on the water as an object that should be avoided.  Having the running lights on while at anchor gives a false indication that the vessel is in motion.  This is why the all-round light is on a separate position on the switch.  

     The third connection would be the all-round light and   the running lights.  The running lights will be run in a chain, meaning that they are run from one to the other (see diagram).

     The running lights and all-round lights come with two lead wires.  These wires are usually gray and black.  It is most common to use the black wire as the ground and the gray as the positive.  Make sure that all ground wires are wired back to the "-" post on the battery.  If the ground is connected to the aluminum frame of the pontoon it creates electrolysis that will damage the boat and deteriorate the aluminum.

     We highly recommend using Liquid Electric Tape ( ) on each connection.  This seals the connection from corrosion by the elements and accidental grounding problems that might cause the lights not to work properly.  It is also recommended to use butt connectors for the connections from the 2 prong connector and light leads to the parallel wire.

     The best way to run the wire on a pontoon is to run it on top of the pontoon logs under the deck.  This prevents the wire from hanging down under the deck and getting caught while running on the water or trailering.  Wire straps will need to be used in other places to prevent them from hanging down as well.

     When running the wiring for the all-round light mounted on a bimini top do the following:  Drill a small hole in the tubing of the top where the base of the light will be mounted.  If the tubing is covered with vinyl, cut a small "X" at the place of the hole to be drilled and tape the vinyl back out of the way of the drill bit.  Insert the wiring through the tube down to where the tube attaches to the pontoon fencing.  At the fence connect the 2 prong plug (optional).   This will allow the top to be removed without having to cut the wires.


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Bloomfield Beach & Boat
Boating Supply Center
2093 Orchard Lake Road
Sylvan Lake, MI 48320

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Updated: 12/25/11 04:35 PM