Here is an ideal first project for your boat; especailly if your spouse doesn't quite yet trust you with a drill near your boat. I am installing rope lighting over the countertop in the galley as the existing 12V flourescent fixtures are not adequate. However can use this lighting literally anywhere you wish on your boat for mood or accent lighting. Depending on the source you use, you can buy LED lighting in several different colors. I chose Cool White for my project.
While LED rope lighting can be purchased from many sources, I purchased it from NoveltyLights.Com as you can buy thr rope by the foot, and you can buy it with 12V pigtails for direct wiring into the boat. They also sell an inexpensive plastic track which is used to mount the lighting. Some LED rope lighting, typically available from Lowe's and similar stores is 120VAC lighting with a transformer, and while the LEDs themselves are low voltage, the wiring configuration within the rope itself may not lend itself to easy conversion to 12VDC operation, or even cutting. In contrast, the 12VDC lighting I purchased has a "pigtail" for connection to a 12VDC source, and even has marks every few inches where you can cut the rope to shorten it.
The total cost for these items was under $50, so this is also an inexpensive project.
The existing under the cabinetry above the counter top consisted of a 12VDC powered flourescant fixture. The fixture includes circuitry to increase the voltage to light the 120V flourescant tubes. This is a rather inefficient process, and the light provided was not adequate. As well, we were replacing the flourescant tubes all the time as they tended to go bad. This is going to be an easy project as the 12V wiring is already there, so all I have to do is remove the fixtures and wire in the LED rope.
You have to figure out some method of mounting the LED rope, as it is fairly flexible. Options are cable-ties with mounting hole, or this inexpensive track the I purchased along with the rope light. For some incredible reason, the track itself did not include any method of mounting, so I drilled a hole in the track every few inches. I also had to cut the track to 3" as that was the length of the LED lighting.
While not mandatory, a right-angle drill makes this next step very easy. Simply drill and screw the track into the area you wish. This project is going to come out nice as the track is recessed under the cabinetry and will not be seen.
When wiring the lighting, you need to pay some attention to polarity. The two rope lights I ordered came already assembled with the end connectors, but oddly enough, one was installed backwards. Which one was correct is impossible to tell as there are no visible markings of + and - on the rope. But a short conversation with the dealer and I was able to determine which one was correct. Fortunately, the connectors can be disassembled and reinstalled.
The rope lighting simply snaps into the track and wired into the wiring left over from the old light fixture. Since the rope lighting connection is at the end, you may have to route the pigtail to the location of the old fixture. Simply secure any lose wiring with cable-ties having screw mounts or your favorite method.
We were pleasantly suprised with the outcome of this project The lighting at the galley was vastly improved, much brighter, and since they are LEDs, this is now a no-maintenance area. The existing wiring went through a wall switch, so rope lighting is also controlled by this switch. The galley is actually L-shaped, and the other LED rope (not shown) is on the "L".