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Breaking down or getting stuck out to sea can be scary and it’s vital that you get the attention of anyone nearby.
For this, you will need SOS distress lights or flares that can be visible for many miles and will give you the best opportunity of being found.
The best distress flare light is the Sirius Signal SOS LED Electronic Visual Distress Signal, which is not your traditional flare but a more improved electronic version that is visible up to 10 miles.
The traditional flare has been used in SOS circumstances for many years but the more modern LED light is becoming popular and is the only alternative to the flare.
Table of Contents
Best Marine Electronic Flare Lights
|SOS Flare Light||Preview||Visibility|
|Sirius Signal SOS LED||10 Miles|
|Orion Safety Products|
|Orion Safety Combo||N/A|
|UST See-Me||3.4 Miles|
|Orion Locate||5 Miles|
Distress flares have been used for many years and are still popular today but the modern era of LED lights is slowly taking over.
The main drawback of the traditional flare is that they have an expiration date and once they have been used, they cannot be used again unlike a flare light.
The more modern LED light, on the other hand, will simply run from batteries and can be reused multiple times along with other features.
Of course, it is a personal preference and both do the exact same thing, which is to grab the attention of others.
Safety on the waters is paramount and you should always be prepared for the worst because trouble is never far around the corner.
Below is a list of the best distress flare lights that will get you noticed on your boat by others.
Sirius Signal SOS LED Electronic Visual Distress Signal
While it is a smart idea to have a distress signal, it is even smarter to have one that is not a pyrotechnic flare, as a flare can sometimes add to the problem as they are hot and can drip.
As an alternative to pyrotechnic flares, the Sirius Distress Signal is powered by a high-performance, programable microprocessor that controls an SOS flash pattern.
This signal is flashed through a bright and potent LED, making the Siris both family-friendly, safe, and easy to use.
At night, the Siris is visible up to 10 nautical miles, and SOS C-1003’s beam lasts for hours. The optical design provides an omnidirectional light display for surface rescue craft and a vertical beam visible to aircraft flying overhead.
The Sirius fulfills all of the Coast Guard Compliant Visual Distress Signal (VDS) requirements for recreational marine vessels 16 feet and longer signals when combined with the included distress flag. Also included is a marine whistle to provide an audible signal.
Orion Safety Products Skyblazer II
Saftey signals are a must, and these Orion Skyblazer flares will be a valuable addition to the safety equipment you keep on board your boat.
Designed for inland coastal boaters who seldom travel far offshore, the Orion Skyblazer II Aerial Signal Flare Kit includes four self-contained Skyblazer II alert signals.
These signals are bright, safe, waterproof and they float.
The Signal will reach an altitude of up to 450 feet. Each signal has a seven-second burn time and 16,000 candelas of brightness.
The kit is packaged in a resealable bag and is United States Coast Guard approved for a day or nighttime signal.
Orion Safety Combo Alerter Coastal Signalling Kit
Designed for lake and coastal boating use, this Orion flare gun is easy and safe to use. Just load a flare, point the flare gun skyward and pull the trigger.
The included bandolier will hold up to six (the kit includes four) high-performance aerial flares that will burn at 16,000 candlepower for seven seconds.
Capable of reaching 500 feet in height, this flare will help to signal that you need assistance.
The Orion flare gun is made of plastic to render it corrosion-resistant. The flares are the United States Coast Guard approved as a day or nighttime signal.
The UST See-Me LED light is waterproof and provides 20 Lumens of all-round light that is visible up to 3.4 miles at night and is USCG approved.
It is capable of providing light for up to 17 hours via 2 AAA batteries and the bulb inside this device will never need replacing.
The LED flare light has a waterproofing rating of IPX7 and can withstand being submerged in water for up to 30 minutes at 1 meter.
For those on a budget that want a durable and reliable LED flare torch, the UST See-Me will do exactly that and it is very reasonably priced.
Orion Locate Handheld Signal Pack
The traditional Orion flares provide a 3 minute burn time, which can be visible from up to 5 miles.
It is USCG (US Coast Guard) approved for both day and night usage where it outputs a bright red locator flame from the flare.
The traditional flare is a preferred option compared to the electronic modern alternative by many older boat owners.
Ensuring you keep track of the expiration date (usually 3 to 4 years), they are still just as good as the more expensive electronic flare and provide a solid locator flame in order to get noticed.
Orion provides a range of marine safety products and you can rest assure these flares will not let you down.
They are the best distress flare lights of the traditional style and will be an excellent addition to your boat safety gear.
Distress Flare Buying Guide
In the unfortunate event that you would need to use a distress flare, it is crucial that it functions correctly when you need it most.
This is the issue with the traditional flare because many come with an expiration date, which means it may not work as it is designed to do.
Many people only know of flares as the older traditional ones that have been around for many years.
However, the modern era is taking over with the improved LED technology that could see the end of the traditional flare.
Traditional v LED
The traditional flare has and will still be used by boat owners. But as with everything, as the years go by, something better will be produced.
This is where LED flare lights come in and the benefits include:
- No expiration date of the light (only batteries)
- Stronger and more visible light
- Safer to operate
- Easier to store
Many of the older generation boat owners will continue to use the traditional flares and there is nothing wrong with that.
Electronic flares using strong LED bulbs will see big growth in the next few years.
Visibility of the Flare Lights
If you are using a distress flare, you will want to be seen by anyone day or night.
Both electric and traditional flares come with two visibility rating for day and night, with the latter having a further distance of visible light.
A distance of over 5 miles is deemed as a highly rated flare and many of the electronic flares exceed this by a large margin.
Conclusion on Flare Lights
When setting off for a trip along the river or out to sea, the last thing you probably think of is whether your flare is working or not.
The majority of boat owners will check that their marine VHF radio is working and begin their trip.
Upgrading to an electronic flare is highly beneficial and will be more reliable than the traditional flare.
The Weems & Plath SOS Distress LED is leading the way in terms of the electronic flare light and is USCG approved as well as performing with top marks across the board.