pontoon trailers - Wiring and lighting

Wiring and Lighting

All pontoon trailers must have approved DOT (Department of Transportation) lights. The laws are very specific and every pontoon trailer manufacturer must conform. But just because your lights will work and meet government standards on the day you take delivery of your new pontoon trailer, there is no guarantee they will work in a few weeks. On the internet check out “the trouble with trailer lights”  by boatus.com. 

pontoon trailer lighting

Like everything else there is a good way to do wiring and lighting and a poor, cheap way. Quality pontoon trailer manufacturers run wire through the trailer frames in a custom built wiring “harness” that is designed for the trailer it’s used on. Other manufacturers run “loose” wires through the frame and connect side marker lights and tail lights with individual wires. Loose connections are one of the most common problems in trailer wiring. In a wiring harness you don’t have loose wires and most connections are plug in. It’s not difficult to see what kind of wiring your trailer has. Look for individual wires or connectors. If you don’t see any loose wires on your pontoon trailer you probably have wiring in a harness.

pontoon trailer lighting
It’s easier for the manufacturer to cut and splice side marker lights than run them through the frame. But now you have two loose wires exposed. Walk around your trailer. How many exposed wires can you see? Each loose wire hanging out is the potential for trouble.
LED LIGHTS  - LED lighting has been available to trailer manufacturers for several years. Everyone recognizes the many benefits of LED lights. It’s a scandal that all new pontoon trailers don’t have modern LED lights. The price is down to about $30 more per trailer, over the old fashioned incandescent light. The manufacturers who don’t use them are the same ones that skimp on tires and other things. If you don’t know about LED lights, search the internet. There are hundreds of pages filled with positive information. Just as interesting is the hundreds of companies selling replacement LED lights for old incandescent ones.
led trailer lighting 


led license plate bracket  economy pontoon trailer lighting 
Exposed tail lights with a stamped steel
license plate bracket bolted to a bracket.  
Economy light, semi protected, but the side light is vulnerable. 
These “old style” universal trailer tail lights have been around for 40+ years. Some modern pontoon trailer manufacturers still use them. They are not usually waterproof although they are sometimes labeled “sealed”. When you back them in the water with the tail light wiring connected to your tow vehicle, the incandescent bulbs may pop. Or sometimes even when you disconnect your wiring from the tow vehicle and the bulbs are hot, they’ll pop. The good thing about them is when the bulbs burst or you break them, and you will, you can buy them almost anywhere. An auto parts store, Farm & Fleet, Lowes, Walmart, etc. 
plastic license plate bracket  intergrated license plate bracket
Some manufacturers use a more modern style of rectangular tail light. These usually have the side marker light as part of the one piece design and if mounted properly they’re better protected. This style is advertised as sealed but it often is not waterproof and you may pop the incandescent bulb in the lake.

While we’re looking at tail lights we might pay some attention to license plate brackets. No one usually thinks about them, including the trailer manufacturer, but when you lose your license plate because the flimsy steel piece rusted off or the plastic bracket deteriorates you’ll change your mind. Some trailer manufacturers have incorporated strong built-in license plate holders into the steel tail light bracket.