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Old 20-04-2018, 10:38   #1
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Which LED bulb for nav lights?

My nav light bulbs seem to be BAY15d socket which I am looking to replace with LED. Local chandlery sells 1.6W bulbs for 30£(!!), former (power) seems too little latter (price) extreme.

Fleabay on the other hand provides a wealth of BAY15d units, since this socket is also used in cars.

Any idea which design should be ideal for nav lights? I like this 68 SMD design, because relatively little (8 smd's out of 68) is wasted on the top of the bulb - where they are of no use in a nav light:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2x-1157-B...v/123020030450

5 Watts and ~4£/unit incl. shipping, both parameters are much more friendly...

A side question: I have some BA15d units already at home. Any chance to fit these in the offset socket?
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Old 20-04-2018, 13:16   #2
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

Tom-
Ignoring the pesky issue of "your nav lights are not certified to conform with COLREGS once you stick in some random bulb"...there's also a matter than you shouldn't be sticking white LEDs into anything besides white nav lights. White LEDs are often nowhere near full-spectrum bulbs and you may get odd colors at dim intensities if you are using them in red/green nav lights. You may luck it--just be warned this is experimental lighting.

There's a fellow on Youtube with a channel called "bigclivedotcom" who often does tear-downs of electronics, including LED spotlights and such from ebay and China. He's demonstrated with test equipment that "30W" and "10W" spotlights, for instance, are actually both the same barely 10W unit, simply mislabeled and sold different ways. So again, caveat emptor.

If the bulbs you have and the sockets are both BAY15d, or whatever same socket, by all means you can try them. If the polarity is reverse (normally the center pin is positive, but in boat wiring that's not necessarily true) the bulb won't explode, it just won't light up. If it fits, and it looks perfectly good, you may luck out.

(Ignoring of course, the inevitable argument about meeting regulations without having a certified unit.)
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Old 20-04-2018, 13:37   #3
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

I purchased a handful of lower cost LED bulbs for my nav lights but they were not bright enough. I quickly replaced them with Doctor LED bulbs which were expensive but excellent. However I ended up replacing everything with new Hella LED fixtures.

Hella LED nav lights are top notch. They are fully sealed, last a long time, and are incredibly bright. Mine have been in use full time for 3 years now and I have no complaints. They still look new and are as bright as can be.
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Old 20-04-2018, 16:30   #4
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

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Originally Posted by KeelMe View Post
I purchased a handful of lower cost LED bulbs for my nav lights but they were not bright enough. I quickly replaced them with Doctor LED bulbs which were expensive but excellent. However I ended up replacing everything with new Hella LED fixtures.

Hella LED nav lights are top notch. They are fully sealed, last a long time, and are incredibly bright. Mine have been in use full time for 3 years now and I have no complaints. They still look new and are as bright as can be.


From where where you did order them ? My 1979 Sailboat needs to lower itís battery consumption. If you remember right away great not to worry it will pop into your mind before I actually get around to
re-doing all of these nav lights.
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Old 20-04-2018, 17:51   #5
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

I replaced my incandescent red/green and white navigation bulbs from marinebeam.com. When I purchased their LEDs, they recommended their navigation LEDs in cool-white for stern and warm-white for the bow. From my experience, the lights are much brighter than before (stern reflects off BBQ and is too bright ), and the red/green seems normal color. Their prices have dropped since I purchased 3 1/2 years ago.

One thing I do is coat the festoon tips with dielectric grease. This seems to keep the moisture and corrosion down, especially on the bow light. That might be an argument to replace the fixture.

Good luck,
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Old 20-04-2018, 23:26   #6
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

Thanks for all the replies, indeed, power is important, as well as spectrum in case I'd use the bulb in my bi-color light. For the masthead, I already got an Aqua Signal 34 LED tri-light, just the "less important" lights (bi-color, stern, steaming, deck) need replacing.

I see warm white units, marketed for nav lights - however, still wasting some smd-s on the top of the light.

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Originally Posted by Capt.Don View Post
I replaced my incandescent red/green and white navigation bulbs from marinebeam.com. When I purchased their LEDs, they recommended their navigation LEDs in cool-white for stern and warm-white for the bow. From my experience, the lights are much brighter than before (stern reflects off BBQ and is too bright ), and the red/green seems normal color. Their prices have dropped since I purchased 3 1/2 years ago.

One thing I do is coat the festoon tips with dielectric grease. This seems to keep the moisture and corrosion down, especially on the bow light. That might be an argument to replace the fixture.

Good luck,
Don
Thanks Don! This one seems to be the ideal pick for the bi-color, no more worries about the spectrum! Their "photocell controlled anchor light" is also a bright idea.
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Old 21-04-2018, 00:36   #7
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

Another interesting question: warm or cool white for all-white lights?
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Old 21-04-2018, 03:50   #8
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

As others have said -- NEVER put white LED bulbs in colored nav lights, period. If you insist on using LED bulbs in fixtures, use GOOD MARINE ones (which are encapsulated) and use the right colors. I think they make bicolor ones for bicolor fixtures.

But I really don't recommend that. White LED bulbs are ok in white nav light fixtures -- I have a couple of these myself. But it's not worth messing with them in colored ones. I would either use incandescent bulbs or change out the whole fixture for a real sealed LED fixture, which is worlds better than the old unsealed nav lights. The optics are different, besides being permanently sealed and impervious to sea water. It's really really worth it.

I've had excellent luck with the Aqua Signal LED fixtures. I'm sure there are other good ones, but these have been dead reliable for five years, and give a really intense focused light which must be visible for miles.

In short, my advice:

1. Use marine encapsulated white bulbs in white fixtures if you don't want to spend money on real LED fixtures. COLD WHITE, not warm.

2. Don't use LED's in colored fixtures -- better just keep using the incandescent bulbs which they were designed for.

3. Best of all, replace all with real LED fixtures.
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Old 21-04-2018, 04:04   #9
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

This is alternating green and white cree C503 LEDs behind a green lens. Was actually more pronounce blue with the white LED than shows up on the gif


Really not that hard to make your own superior to anything available commercially below substantial bucks. Cree c503 LEDs, piece plumbing pipe & constant current driver based on tlv431, like this but beefed up a bit - then fill up with epoxy.

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Old 21-04-2018, 04:21   #10
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

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This is alternating green and white cree C503 LEDs behind a green lens. Was actually more pronounce blue with the white LED than shows up on the gif


Really not that hard to make your own superior to anything available commercially below substantial bucks. Cree c503 LEDs, piece plumbing pipe & constant current driver based on tlv431, like this but beefed up a bit - then fill up with epoxy.


I have no doubt that one (at least an electronics whizz like Conachair) can make a far superior ELECTRONIC part, of an LED nav light, at home.

But what about the optics? This is at least half, and probably far more than that, of what makes a good nav light. I don't think you can realistically produce the optics at home.

Optics of something like a nav light, which should send out a somewhat focused beam of light in order to be seen at a distance, are designed for a specific geometry of the emitter. An incandescent light has a filament at the center of the bulb; LED bulbs have emitters spread out around the perimeter of the bulb unit. The lenses of fixtures are designed for a certain focus point, and this is why they don't work quite right with a type different from what they were designed for. This varies according to the exact fixtures; I actually have an LED bulb in a steaming light designed for incandescent and it works ok. But I've never seen sidelights designed for incandescent which worked at all acceptably with LED bulbs, even colored ones.

And this is just one more reason why real LED fixtures are better. And some of them are much better than others because of the optics. The Aqua Signal ones I bought -- the big ones (forgot the number) -- have really good optics and are visible from great distances.
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Old 21-04-2018, 04:44   #11
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

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I have no doubt that one (at least an electronics whizz like Conachair) can make a far superior ELECTRONIC part, of an LED nav light, at home.

But what about the optics? This is at least half, and probably far more than that, of what makes a good nav light. I don't think you can realistically produce the optics at home..
Anchor lights no optics required, otherwise either don't bother with any (likes of lopo & nasa have just clear epoxy) or replace the light source on your existing. Might need to get a little clever with the housing to the LEDs with something to get the red/green separation. But not really rocket science. This is Mk1 anchor light, Mk2 on the way with more LEDs - not satisfied with being at least as bright as any other light in the anchorage - want to be the brightest!

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Old 21-04-2018, 04:50   #12
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

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Anchor lights no optics required, otherwise either don't bother with any (likes of lopo & nasa have just clear epoxy) or replace the light source on your existing. Might need to get a little clever with the housing to the LEDs with something to get the red/green separation. But not really rocket science. This is Mk1 anchor light, Mk2 on the way with more LEDs - not satisfied with being at least as bright as any other light in the anchorage - want to be the brightest!

Yes, the white all around ones seem to be OK. Much less so the sidelights.
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Old 21-04-2018, 04:52   #13
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

I have been using these guys in the UK for bulbs rather than the cheap ones off e bay.

https://boatlamps.co.uk/collections/led-lamps

I have a trip up the mast to do replacing the anchor light, but the combined tri-colour light is staying as an ordinary bulb. Wasn't there a problem with LEDs affecting VHF?

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Old 21-04-2018, 05:08   #14
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

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I have been using these guys in the UK for bulbs rather than the cheap ones off e bay.

https://boatlamps.co.uk/collections/led-lamps

I have a trip up the mast to do replacing the anchor light, but the combined tri-colour light is staying as an ordinary bulb. Wasn't there a problem with LEDs affecting VHF?

Pete
For the masthead I am going to install an Aqua signal 34. It's quite a common nav light and haven't seen any complaints regarding VHF jamming.

Thanks for the link, this one seems to be worthy upgrade for my bow light:

https://boatlamps.co.uk/collections/...up-to-20m-65ft
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Old 21-04-2018, 05:16   #15
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Re: Which LED bulb for nav lights?

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For the masthead I am going to install an Aqua signal 34. It's quite a common nav light and haven't seen any complaints regarding VHF jamming.

Thanks for the link, this one seems to be worthy upgrade for my bow light:

https://boatlamps.co.uk/collections/...up-to-20m-65ft
If you insist on doing it this way, that would be the best unit to use. Is it critical that it be LED? For power reasons? If not, and you don't want to replace the fixture, I would recommend staying with incandescent.
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