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Old 13-12-2008, 06:01   #1
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LED Bulb Review / Comparison !

There is another active post regarding LED's so I figured I'd post my review of a few LED bulbs. The Sensibulb is the clear winner but there are some good value bulbs too...

I went ahead a acquired five different high output SMD style interior 12v LED bulbs for comparison.

I wanted to capture the actual beam width and the light color as best I could. I brought the bulbs home and set them up in my garage to shine on the back of the white garage door. I placed the test fixture 25" from the door and used a Trojan deep cycle battery at a 13.2V float stage charge to power them.

In order to capture every bulb with everything being equal I used a Nikon D-200 DSLR with a 24-70 f 2.8 lens. It was mounted on a tripod with no flash and the garage was pitch black except for the one bulb being photographed. I even re-shot each and every bulb as new ones came in the mail so they were always shot within minutes of each other and at the same level of darkness in the garage. In between shoots I also moved the fixture and camera so I wanted every bulb to be in the exact same position to be fair. The camera was set to manual mode and every picture was taken remotely and on the same exact setting, so all could be as equal as possible. The camera settings were: 1s f/10.0 at 24.0mm iso200

Please note that a camera sees color temperatures differently than the naked eye and tends to skew everything to a warmer glow. The yellow/orangy tints are actually nice and warm and the whitest bulb, the Dr. LED, is almost blue in the real world.

None of the photos, where light was captured, was post processed or run through any photo editing software. This is how they came out of the camera.

I chose these manual camera settings because it gave a clearer delineation of where the effective light spread stopped and petered into darkness.

Current Draw is as follows:

20W Halogen = 1.745 amps
10W Halogen =.87 amps
Sensibulb = .194 amps
MarineBeam 6 bulb = .158 amps
MarineBeam 10 bulb = .188 amps
Dr. LED = .138 amps
Superbrite LED = .141 amps

To put it in perspective one 10W Halogen bulb uses 4.48 times (448% more) electricity than does one Sensibulb and one 20W halogen uses 8.9 times (899% more) electricity than the Sensibulb which was the highest drawing of the LED's tested.

This is the Dr. LED G4 / MR-11 it had the narrowest beam width and the coldest bluish color. It was also the least bright with the lowest current draw at .138 amps. At $28.99 I think the MarineBeam bulb is a significantly better value and if you compare price, with beam width and light output, it can't even touch the Sensibulb:


This is the SuperBrite LED's
MR-11 WHP6. It's a six SMD bulb and a decent knock off to the Marinebeam MR-11-6 below. To the naked eye looks virtually identical but the lighting & current draw tell a different story. It has a cold blueish tint and is slightly less bright than the MarineBeam MR-11-6. At $14.95 it is a decent value but certainly not the best color representation. Another clue that it is not the same exact bulb as the Marinebeam is the current draw. This bulb drew .141 amps and the Marinebeam drew .158 amps.

This is the MarineBeam G4 / MR-11-6 it uses 6 SMD LED's and had a much wider beam width than the Dr. LED and about the same as the Superbrite LED bulb but was noticeably warmer in color output. Though the Sensibulb was considerably warmer and more natural looking this was the second most natural looking and fairly close to an incandescent bulbs color. It was brighter and warmer than the Dr. LED bulb and the Superbrite LED and at $24.99 it is a lot cheaper than the Sensibulb. It's a good choice for a price conscious user & it consumes .158 amps :


This is the MarineBeam G4/MR-11-10. Like the G4/MR-11-6 it uses SMD LED's but instead of six it uses ten. It was brighter but notably colder than it's smaller sibling bulb. At $27.99 it is a lot cheaper than the Sensibulb and a good choice for a price conscious user who needs more light output than the G4/MR-11-6 type bulbs can give.. I was not impressed with the color rendering of this bulb and it is tending towards colder rather than warmer especially when compared to the other MarineBeam bulb. It consumes .188 amps :



This is the Sensibulb and it fits both horizontal and vertical fixtures it had the widest beam width, even hitting & wrapping up onto the ceiling. It also had the warmest most incandescent like light output and was definitely the brightest of the LED bulbs but also the most expensive at $39.95 ea ($35.95 with 10% discount). It was significantly brighter than the Dr. LED bulb but also drew the most current of the three LED's at .194 amps (note the reflection off the ceiling and keep in mind this bulb was only 25" from the door!!!!):



I have also included this G4 10W Halogen bulb photo for comparison. It draws .88 amps or 448% more than the Sensibulb:


Here's a G4 20W Halogen bulb it draws 1.745 amps per hour or 899% more than the Sensibulb. In terms of light output the Sensibulb falls in between the 20 watt and the 10 watt halogens..



These are the bulbs tested:

From L to R: Sensibulb, Marinebeam G4/MR-11-10, Marinebeam G4/MR-11-6, SuperBrite LED MR-11 WHP6, Doctor LED Mr-11

Front Row: 10 Watt G4 Halogen, 20 Watt G4 Halogen


Test Fixture:



P.S. If you mention to the folks at Sailors Solutions that you read about the Sensibulb here, Nick, one of the owners, has agreed to give 10% off..

P.S. I own all these bulbs and did this comparison for myself. My choice, and clear winner, is the Sensibulb. If you want incandescent like light and high output from a low draw device, as of right now, I have not found an LED at any price that beats it. This technology is constantly changing so the future, I'm sure, holds many great products..
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Old 13-12-2008, 06:27   #2
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Very nice test, thanks!
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Old 13-12-2008, 06:35   #3
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Acoustic, that is awesome! Practical Sailor would be proud. To look at those bulbs, you would swear that the Sensibulb would be near the bottom in output. Could you please do mast and running lights now? :-)
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Old 13-12-2008, 07:40   #4
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Excellent work! I guess that winter storm you guys have been having is fortunate for us in that it gave you the time to rig that test up. The SensiBulb guys always have a booth set up at the St. Pete Strictly Sail, and seem like very good guys to do business with. You seem very well informed. I read that Cree Industries had recently had some big advancement in LED tech that was going to result in brighter lighting with more natural color, but I don't know how long that might take to get to the market. Have you heard anything about a "new generation?"
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Old 13-12-2008, 07:45   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Van H View Post
Acoustic, that is awesome! Practical Sailor would be proud. To look at those bulbs, you would swear that the Sensibulb would be near the bottom in output.
As I mentioned the color temps are skewed by the camera compared to what the human eye sees. The whitest looking bulb was actually an obnoxious blueish color and the Sensibulb was the most incandescant and warmest looking. Look closely at the width of the Sensibulbs reach. If you look carefully you can see light on the ceiling at the very top of the photo. This bulb was a mere 25" from the wall and still hit the ceiling (widest beam). It was the brightest but the camera makes it look more orangy than it really is so it appears in the photo to be somewhat less bright..


Quote:
Originally Posted by Christian Van H View Post
Could you please do mast and running lights now? :-)
Currently for aftermarket bulbs in existing fixtures there are only a few that have been certified. The Dr. LED bulbs can legally be use in AquaSignal Series 25 & 40. No other aftermarket bulbs that I have found have been tested and USCG certified in another brands fixtures.

There are plenty of certified LED running lights but they are quite expensive. Hella, BEBI, LopoLight and OGM are a few that come to mind...

Installing after market bulbs into your existing fixtures could cause problems if there was an accident at night. You would have to spend considerable funds to A) prove the light was bright enough to meet the USCG criteria B) Have lots of money to pay the lawyers to defend you for having lights that are not technically certified..
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Old 13-12-2008, 08:35   #6
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Great review! However, looking at the sensibulb info on sailorsolutions, I can't figure out how it's supposed to mount. Does it fit the standard bayonet style sockets?
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Old 13-12-2008, 08:44   #7
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Great review! However, looking at the sensibulb info on sailorsolutions, I can't figure out how it's supposed to mount. Does it fit the standard bayonet style sockets?
Fits G4 type sockets both horizontal and vertical but you can buy adapters for other sockets..


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Old 13-12-2008, 09:01   #8
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I may be the dumbest guy here but I don't get it!

Assuming I run interior lights a few hours per day for a few days, (based on your current draw specs quoted below) the aggregate difference between the largest draw and smallest is equivalent to approx. 1.5 amp/light/day or maybe 5 -10 amps total per few days assuming a few lights are used.
Measured as a function of a bank of a few hundred amps, the net effect on a decent sized battery bank is negligible (1-2%).

Other than the academic exercise, the value added to saving a few amps seems questionable

"20W Halogen = 1.745 amps
10W Halogen =.87 amps
Sensibulb = .194 amps
MarineBeam 6 bulb = .158 amps
MarineBeam 10 bulb = .188 amps
Dr. LED = .138 amps
Superbrite LED = .141 amps
"
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Old 13-12-2008, 09:18   #9
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Other than the academic exercise, the value added to saving a few amps seems questionable
1.5 amps x 4 lights x 2 hours/day = 12 amp-hours/day. My house battery capacity is about 80 amp-hours. I normally try to avoid going below 50% depth of discharge, so I have about 40 amp-hours power budget. So the potential savings are ~ 1/3 of my power budget -- seems of considerable value to me.
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Old 13-12-2008, 09:28   #10
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1.5 amps x 4 lights x 2 hours/day = 12 amp-hours/day. My house battery capacity is about 80 amp-hours. I normally try to avoid going below 50% depth of discharge, so I have about 40 amp-hours power budget. So the potential savings are ~ 1/3 of my power budget -- seems of considerable value to me.
Not sure an 80 amp house bank is typical. Regardless, the point to be made here, if there is one, is that if the avg cruiser wants to conserve power, he would be better served ensuring maximizing the insulation around his refrigerator which can consume considerably more power than a few lights.
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Old 13-12-2008, 09:58   #11
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I disagree:

The power savings using LED lights are huge:

The biggest draw is the anchor light, the old fashioned one will typically set me back 20-30 amp hours overnight.
My new LED anchor light does not even register on the meter and if ya forget to turn it off, no big deal.

Same with the cabin lights, we like to keep lights on down below when we cook and eat, etc. 6 of the old lights @ 1.2 amp hours x 3 or 4 hours per day comes to say 30 amp hours, the new ones @ 0.1 comes to 2,5 or so.

Based on the above example, going to LEDs is like adding 2 solar panels.
Also keep in mind that if you takes an X number of amp-hours out of the hose bank, you have to put 20% more back in due to various losses, etc.

My house bank is 440 amp-hours total, I don't go below 75% capacity, which gives me about 110 ah to play with. The fridge/freezer takes about half of that, the rest goes to lights. (Yes the fridge/freezer has extra insulation added)

So, LEDs are worth their weight in golden amps...
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Old 13-12-2008, 10:02   #12
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Don..

A house bank upgrade would cost more than the bulbs I bought.. We were burning more than 4.3 amps per hour on lighting plus 16+ amps for an anchor light over night. We now burn less than 1 amp per hour for lighting and 1.5 amp hours for the entire nights worth of anchor light..

It's nice to be able to not shut lights off so my daughter can explore the cabin and not be in the dark when she's doing so..


Our bank is 240 amp hours at a max 50% draw that leaves us about 120 amp hours now figure that with an alternator you barely ever get back beyond 90% and we are down to a usable 108 amp hours. Twenty nine amp hours give or take a day when on the hook puts a significant dent in our bank.

We have gone from 29+/- amps per day for lighting to about 4.4 amps per day. If my math has not failed me 29 amps per day is 659% more than 4.4 amps per day. I don't consider that insignificant. If you don't need to upgrade to LED's then don't but for many of us it means the difference between a bank, alternator or solar/wind upgrade....

Before LED (average daily consumption)

Anchor Light 1 @ (20w) 1.8 amps X 9 hours = 16.2
Cabin Lights 5 @ (10W) .87 amps X 3 hours = 13.05

After LED
Cabin Lights 5 @ .194 amps X 3 hours = 2.91 amps consumed
Anchor Light 1 @ .17 amps X 9 hours = 1.53 amps consumed
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Old 13-12-2008, 10:48   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
Not sure an 80 amp house bank is typical.
Well, a typical 30-34 footer comes with two 70 Ah batteries, one serving as a house bank, one as a starting battery. So thatt's really inadequate and the house bank should be upgraded to 240 Ah , you might say. The reality is that in a small boat space for 2-3 additional batteries is not easy to find.

Quote:
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Regardless, the point to be made here, if there is one, is that if the avg cruiser wants to conserve power, he would be better served ensuring maximizing the insulation around his refrigerator which can consume considerably more power than a few lights.
Refrigerator? What's that? Do you perhaps mean "icebox"? (As in "a box that is kept cool by putting blocks of ice in it"?) Perhaps the average cruiser could save even more by insulating the hull so they don't have to run your AC as much and replacing their big screen plasma TVs with an LCD.
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Old 13-12-2008, 12:02   #14
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Some cruisers will snicker at saving 20 amps a nite. THIS cruiser wants to save as many amps as possible, so that I might eventually keep my total amperage down to the point that I NEVER need to run the motor or generator to charge my banks. Solar and wind for me. LEDs are frugal on power consumption, generate less heat, and last a LONG time. We should all be insulating our fridges, using less juice, and generating more ourselves. If its possible to stop burning fossil fuels, we all should. THIS IS NOT POLITICAL, its just reality. IMHO,Chris
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Old 13-12-2008, 12:04   #15
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Acoustic,

I understand that LED bulbs shed light in a very narrow range of the spectrum. For example, placing a red filter in front of white LED will substantially reduce the light output as there is very little red in the output spectrum.

Any chance you can test this theory for us?

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