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Old 05-03-2010, 15:58   #1
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LED Nav Light Conversion

Has anyone ever tried these LED lights? They supposedly can be installed right into a pre-existing socket. Do they match up with COLREGS requirements? I know they will go into the socket but will they fit into my bronze fixtures which only give about about two inches of overhead clearance on my 1152 incandescents that are currently in there. I am specifically looking at A14 and A13 tower models to swap out port, stbd, aft and anchor lights on my boat. Any thoughts or concerns or reviews would be appreciated.

http://www.sailorsams.com/led-lights...0Light%20Bulbs

So embarrassing, I forgot the link. Thanks Christian
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Old 05-03-2010, 17:22   #2
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I had a discussion with a LED vendor at the boat show">Miami Boat Show about nav lights. I understand he was a vendor trying to sell me his product, but what he said made sense.

Replacing an incandescent bulb with a LED bulb changes the design of a light. The design of the lens on an incandescent light is based on the placement of the filament in that particular bulb (center of the bulb). If you change that bulb to an LED, you move the 'filament', hence you change the coverage of the light from something different than the 112.5 degrees it's suppose to cover (assuming it's a port or starboard light). Also, never put a white LED bulb behind a colored lens, put a green LED behind a green lens, red behind red as maintaining proper color is required. If there is an accident at night, your insurance company is going to be looking for proper USCG approved lighting.

Again, he was trying to sell me new lights vs. LED replacement bulbs, but he got my attention.
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Old 05-03-2010, 17:57   #3
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That's weird the customer service lady said we could put this white LED behind the green lens and it would work fine. Has anyone replaced their regular bulbs with any kind of LED not just the ones I have listed?
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Old 05-03-2010, 18:38   #4
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This is ...

The stuff below is straught from AquaSignal one of the largest nav light makers in the world.


LED replacement bulbs not manufactured by aqua signal
Aqua Signal is receiving more and more questions about LED replacement bulbs for Aqua Signal fixtures. We would like to take this opportunity to explain our position on LED bulb replacements.

Aqua Signal does not manufacture LED replacement bulbs for our incandescent fixtures. There are several manufacturers in the marketplace that do, however to date; none of them are able to meet USCG requirements. Here are the reasons why:

The bulbs that are being offered as direct replacements for OEM Aqua Signal incandescent bulbs are not and cannot be USCG approved. The USCG only approves, through third party testing, entire fixtures including the bulb. Aqua Signal manufacturers the fixtures, but the bulbs are placed in the aftermarket by another company.

Because the USCG only approves light fixtures for OEM markets where the fixtures are being sold to and installed directly by the OEM, aftermarket bulb manufacturers and fixture manufacturers are not able to attain USCG approval for their offerings.

While we agree that LED lighting is the wave of the future, consumers should be aware of the wide range of these offerings and quality. Aqua Signal has been in the marine lighting business since 1868, and through rigorous testing and research, we decided not to offer replacement LED "bulbs" for our incandescent lights.


It would be a perfect market for us since we have a very large customer base already using our fixtures. However, through our extensive testing we could not attain consistent results with a LED bulb replacement. One of the reasons why is that LED lights are extremely sensitive to onboard system voltage spikes and drops. If you do not manage this voltage properly within the fixture, a voltage spike or drop (dead battery) may result in a catastrophic failure.

To meet the demands of the marine industry, Aqua Signal has developed a full line of dedicated, patented LED fixtures. These fixtures incorporate a single very high quality diode, a patented prism to distribute the light exactly through the arcs of visibility required for each application. We do not utilize lesser quality multiple diodes to distribute the light output. In addition, our entire housing is cast aluminum which is used as a large heat sink. While diodes do not emit a great deal of heat like their incandescent counterparts, they do generate heat behind the diode. This is another significant failure point for a diode. A ten degree temperature rise behind the diode will result in a 50% decrease in the life expectancy of that diode. While this may not be much, a 20 degree temperature change will cause catastrophic failure. Aqua Signal also incorporates computer chip management into our fixtures to resolve the voltage spike and drop issues. The chip will allow for our fixtures to run on both 12 volt and 24 volt systems interchangeably. This completely eliminates LED failures for voltage spikes and drops that can occur on board a boat when using our LED fixtures.

Aqua Signal would like to caution that navigation lights are one of the most critical safety systems on a boat. Awareness of the potential dangers that exist by replacing OEM parts with unproven aftermarket offerings, especially for important safety equipment is very important. Aqua Signal is proud of our history and has developed a reputation in the industry as a provider of the highest quality navigation lights in the industry. If aftermarket bulbs are used in our fixtures, we will not be able to offer warranty coverage for these fixtures.

We hope this clarifies some questions. There are huge advantages of going to LED fixtures onboard a boat. However, if you are going to switch, do it right and switch the whole fixture so you can enjoy knowing that your navigation lights have been specifically designed and tested for that application. Aqua Signal AG was the first company in the industry to receive worldwide approvals on all of their LED lights, so you can also have piece of mind that whatever continent you travel to with your boat, the lights will be legal.


S-40 and LED bulb inserts
We know that there are LED replacement bulbs out there, but their claims that they meet USCG requirements are not accurate. First, you must certify the lights as the manufacturer of the light. They cannot do that since they do not manufacture our lights. They have significant problems with the port and starboard lights meeting any requirement. But the biggest problem is the RFI interference issue. This is not mentioned but can be an issue with your VHF radio when the lights are on.
Aqua Signal Series 40 lights are not designed for use with LED bulbs. We have tested LED bulbs in our fixtures and the bulbs do not meet USCG compliance. In addition, there are other problems with LED bulbs in incandescent fixtures. The life expectancy of the bulbs is in question even though they are rated for 50,000 hours. LED diodes are very susceptible to voltage spikes and drops. If you do not have any type of voltage or amperage regulators, they may fail prematurely. Our LED specific fixtures incorporate all of the latest technology not found in LED bulbs.
The use of these bulbs would also void any warranty with the fixtures. It is our recommendation not to use these LED bulbs.
Aqua Signal developed these lights to meet the requirements using an incandescent bulb. We have been testing and working on an LED insert for our Series 40 product and have yet to build one that is satisfactory to our engineers in Germany.
We do realize the benefits of significantly reduced amp hours with LED lights. However, other than in full sail mode, if you are running your engine, the benefits of LED technology are completely eliminated.
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Old 05-03-2010, 18:46   #5
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Again, he was trying to sell me new lights vs. LED replacement bulbs, but he got my attention.
As best I can tell the entire light fixture is USCG approved or it is not. That would include the bulb type inside the fixture. Changing the bulb to something not actually approved for the fixture does void USCG approval. That does not mean it couldn't pass requirements but unless the actual bulb in the exact fixture was USCG approved it would be deemed unapproved. It follows that you can't make your own lights and be approved either.

Could they actually tell if you were inspected? Only if the issue of the light were to become the issue of an official investigation due to some incident. At that moment it would be the issue. Altering an approved device would void the USCG approval.

I really believe LED lights can be appropriate and meet the requirements but they are required to be USCG approved. Bulbs alone are not approved or disapproved. Were the fixture re certified using the replacement bulb then it clearly could be. Saying they meet the requirements is not the same as being USCG approved even if the claims are true.
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Old 05-03-2010, 19:07   #6
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Some LED replacements have approvals others not. I bet the approved ones will relevant place info on the package.

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Old 06-03-2010, 12:09   #7
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I installed some Aqua Signal LED nav lights on my boat. I should have thought about this beforehand, but you cannot replace the bulbs in the model I have. So if they go dark, you need to replace the whole casing, not just a bulb. They are supposed to last 10 years or so, but I feel like it would be much easier to change a lightbulb at sea then to try to replace a whole unit along with the connecting wiring.
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:25   #8
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My own view is that LED navigation lights are 'not fit for purpose'. let me clarify that statement. At some expense we replaced our perfectly adequate lights with LED's, a power saving move. They are fine. Great visibility, good color etc. then came the lightning season. Wham no more lights as we were hit, ok replace the bulbs...no way they were sealed units, no replacement bulbs available. What a bummer, $120 down the drain. Had we kept the original fittings it would have been a simple issue to replace the bulb.

On further reading I found that LED's simply don't cope at all well with fluctuations in power so even without a direct hit they can be damaged by nearby lightning.

Sorry but there is no place on my boat for kit that I cannot repair myself!
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:49   #9
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first of all let me clarify a little. I am talking about replacing standard bulbs in a standard housing with LED bulbs, not replacing the fixture as posts number 7 and 8 seem to vaguely suggest.

The CG vs non CG argument seems a little weird to me. Let me draw the parallel of a boat that has either been inspected by the CG or not. If you are in a boating accident in a boat that hasn't passed a USCG safety test and you have been following the rules to the T you are not more likely to run into trouble than if you had been in a CG inspected boat that had not been following the rules.

The same could be said for the light issue. Just because the CG doesn't validify a unit doesn't mean it doesn't comply with COLREGS and at the end of the day that is what you have to worry about: COLREGS not the Coast Guard. So my question is the same as it was before. Can these lights (link in the OP) comply with COLREGS?

As for the argument that in order to switch to LEDs I should by new fixtures, I have beautiful brass lighting fixtures that I wouldn't do away with for anything so unfortunatly that is ou of th question.

Rule 21
(a) "Masthead light" means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 12 meters in length the masthead light shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel. [Inld]
(b) "Sidelights" means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on its respective side. In a vessel of less than 20 meters in length the sidelights may be combined in one lantern carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 12 meters in length the sidelights when combined in one lantern shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel. [Inld]
(c) "Sternlight" means a white light placed as nearly as practicable at the stern showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 135 degrees and so fixed as to show the light 67.5 degrees from right aft on each side of the vessel.

also from rule 22:
(c) In vessels of less than 12 meters in length:
  • a masthead light, 2 miles;
  • a sidelight, 1 miles;
  • a towing light, 2 miles;
  • a white red, green or yellow all-round light, 2 miles.
  • a special flashing light, 2 miles. [Inld]
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Old 06-03-2010, 13:24   #10
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So my question is the same as it was before. Can these lights (link in the OP) comply with COLREGS?
The LED units by Plastimo do.

Plastimo - Boat equipment : Our products -

They were approved by Veritas and comply with IMO COLREGS. As such they can be used by manufacturers of CE marked boats (all mass production EU stuff), also IN STANDARD (non LED-purpose-built) fixtures.

Now I run to the shop to get one. STOP! Why? Because I do not really like their open construction - why not put some glass / acrylic just to keep the moisture out ??? Maybe it is related to keeping the thing cool, but I bet sea moist air WILL play havoc with these bulbs.

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Old 06-03-2010, 15:10   #11
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I have had multiple failures with the OGM LED lights, and they have been due to water intrusion. Replacing the bulb does nothing to help corrosion, which can also greatly affect the actual voltage seen by the LED. I guess you can try to seal up the lens, wiring inputs, and weep hole, and just live with the fog that occurs. Currently using Lopolights, which were very highly rated by Practical Sailor, including no RFI and nearly perfect cutoffs and color purity. But they are potted in epoxy. And expensive-they had better last for a lifetime.
If a bulb manufacturer wants to make replacements for Aqua Signal, then, in spite of some of their comments, any of the third party certification organizations should be happy to take their money and look at whether the bulb-fixture combination meets the colregs. Whether the USCG would approve that, beats me, but having lights that are independently certified to meet the ColRegs is certainly good enough for me. If you have unique brass fixtures, seems like you just take your chances unless you have very deep pockets.
In the few incidents I have seen, though, the issue has been whether the lights were actually on, not whether they met ColRegs. Has anyone seen a case where fault was placed for having 1 mile lights instead of 2 mile lights?
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Old 06-03-2010, 15:37   #12
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I've replaced a bunch of my interior cabin lights with LED bulbs and love them. So I started looking into replacing Nav lights. If you buy really good bulbs they have internal voltage/current regulation and should be OK for "normal" voltage fluctuations. Nothing said about lightning strikes!! I think that the biggest problem is the port nav light. LEDs have poor red output. So even though you might get enough lumens out of the LEDs it may not be at the right wavelength and the red lens will cut enough out that you probably won't meet COLREGS. And you should use red and green LEDs also. So, for the time being I've decided to stick with my incandescents, as unhappy as that makes me. However I've got an LED anchor light and am thinking seriously of changing my steaming light and maybe even my rear (white) nav light.

Marinebeam has several very useful pages on LEDs for idiots, comparing lumen outputs, etc.

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Old 06-03-2010, 16:47   #13
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Old 06-03-2010, 18:20   #14
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... LEDs have poor red output. So even though you might get enough lumens out of the LEDs it may not be at the right wavelength and the red lens will cut enough out that you probably won't meet COLREGS...
Those with approvals of e.g. Veritas do.

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Old 07-03-2010, 04:02   #15
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" Trust everyone but brand your calves "... Isn't that painfull?

Yeah, and those bowlegged calves get really bent out of shape!!

Funny, I'd never thought of that interpretation before. After years and years of hearing that adage.
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