Saltwater is one of the most devastating elements for boat lights and marine establishments close to the shore. Without proper protection, saltwater can cripple conventional lighting systems, resulting in premature failure, warping or discoloration of materials.
Saltwater Corrosion 101
For electronics on the vessel, saltwater is also a powerful conductor of electricity. Without protective mechanisms in place, the presence of such elements could lead to electrolytic corrosion – also known as the process involving the breakdown of compounds via electric currents passing through surfaces.
Galvanic corrosion is another type of damage that can occur at sea. Unlike electrolytic corrosion, this form requires two dissimilar metals to be connected, with the presence of an electrolytic compound, such as saltwater or other corrosive agents (acid). Liquids that are not viable electrolytes for corrosion include steam, distilled water and fresh water. These types of liquids are so weak at enforcing corrosion that they are used to break up the onset of corrosive damage on surfaces.
Controlling Saltwater Corrosion
Now that you know the basic fundamentals of saltwater corrosion, it’s time to learn about preventive measures surrounding this type of hazard in marine locations. One of the most effective ways to deter saltwater corrosion on boat lights is by separating or isolating the metal from the corrosive compound. This can be done with special coatings or high-quality paint.
Ensuring saltwater does not build up on the vessel after use is another way to reduce corrosion. This is why people wash their boats with freshwater over land (don’t forget to dry the surface). When it comes to the construction of the lamp, entry points are commonly sealed with rubber components to prevent the ingress of saltwater. Lastly, it’s important to inspect the internal components of marine luminaries on a regular basis. Any signs of discoloration, cracking (on the cover, wirings, cords and lens) or tearing should be addressed.