How to Convert Your Boat to LED Lig...
How to Convert Your Boat to LED Lighting
You've considered running the genset (noisy) more, another solar panel (somewhat pricey), or are maybe even ponying up the benjamins for a wind generator (very pricey and somewhat noisy). It's not as though you need a lot of power you tell yourself. All you want to achieve is more time cruising and less time at the dock or running the genset. Before you jump in, I have a more cost effective solution for you. Enter the boat LED.
LED is an acronym for Led Spotlights Light Emitting Diode. They are an electronic device that generates light and the technology has finally matured enough to make them bright enough, the right color (early white ones were very bluish in their light emission), extremely energy efficient, and quite long lived.
The intensity of light from LEDs is now surpassing incandescent and halogen bulbs.
The colors available are varied but they can now be had in a color referred to as "warm white". This is a reference to the light color, which tends to be a warmer golden color, rather than the old blue white.
Energy consumption is frequently measured in milliamps. At 12 volts, a 1.3w LED cluster is drawing approximately 110ma. Figure Led Spotlights the average CFL bulb draws about ten times that amount but the LED is generally free of or contains very minimal amounts of mercury (look for an RoHS certification).
Expected service life is even more interesting. A decent LED should have a minimum service life of 50,000 hours. If you left the light on that translates to almost eight and a half years on constant duty. This means it will be ultra rare that they will need changing. This is especially nice if you have to climb to replace them.
So how do you replace the lighting on your boat with them? One way would be to replace all the fixtures on your boat with dedicated LED fixtures but Led Spotlights the price adds up very quickly and, contrary to what current marketing may like, you may actually like your current fixtures. The simple method is to simply replace the existing light bulbs with LED equivalents. If you have housings that use a G4 halogen bulb for instance, you have lots of options for G4 LED replacements. You'll only be limited by the space for the bulb and how bright you want it. Pull the halogen out, plug in the LED G4 marine led replacement, repeat as necessary with the other housings and you're done. It really is that simple. Sure beats wiring another solar panel or wind generator doesn't it?
Other bulb options exist, not just G4 LEDs. The 1156 LED, 1157 LED, and a number of others are available. The toughest part will be for those rare cases where a 32v electrical system exists (some of the larger early Chris Crafts are an example). 32v is too high for most the 8-30v LEDs and too low for the 120v LEDs. 24v systems can use the same LEDs that 12v systems do, in most cases.
Quality varies, but even most the stuff coming out of China now is ever of pretty decent quality. I'd just make sure they have the European CE and RoHS certifications.
Now, I have a point to be careful of. Be very careful with the navigation lights. There are VERY few bulbs out there that are actually approved by the USCG (United States Coast Guard) for use in navigation lights. There are some, but they are few and far between. Navigation lights are certrified as a combination of bulb and lens and consequently, some combos don't meet minimum Coast Guard requirements. Furthermore, if you were to be in a collision and the insurance company found out that it was a non-approved combination in your nav lights, you could face the possibility of having your claim denied. Not a good situation to be in. Dedicated LED navigation light fixtures are available as are a few approved LED nav light bulbs.