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Old 23-09-2017, 05:33   #1
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Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

I am thinking of using some cheap LEDs on my boat. I noticed these at Northern Tool. My thinking is to remove them from the fixture and put them in a nice hidden location or another nicer fixture.

1) There is no amp usage listed on the box. Is there a way to measure this?
2) Because of their cost (quality), will they use lots of amps?

Rectangular white (5 13/16 x 2 13/16) $11.99 400 lumens:
Blazer LED Rectangle Dome Light — White, Model# C397S | Special Purpose Lights| Northern Tool + Equipment


Dome light white (4") $11.99 300 Lumens:
Blazer LED 4in. Round Dome Light — White, Model# C394S | Special Purpose Lights| Northern Tool + Equipment



Small white (3/4") $12.79:
Blazer LED 3/4in. Round Clearance and Side Marker — 6-Pk., Clear | Clearance Side Markers| Northern Tool + Equipment
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Old 23-09-2017, 06:47   #2
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

As none of the specs list color temperature, they are probably standard 4000K or so, which is rather cold. Might not be ideal.
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Old 23-09-2017, 07:06   #3
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Of course there is a way to measure the current draw of the lights. Use a DVOM.

Set the meter to measure current and connect it between the source and the light.
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Old 23-09-2017, 07:06   #4
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

As far as I know the only way to determine power usage is to get the specs or to test the light. Seems quite variable from one brand or type to another.

I used these in the 19" lengths that are ready to go. https://www.superbrightleds.com/more...s-per-ft/1465/.

Very easy installation, no need to take anything apart, just remove the backing and stick up and connect the leads. I put mine under cabinets and they work quite well for indirect lighting.

I tried the cool white and warm white and wasn't happy with either. Have read that LEDs make light differently from incandescent bulbs in an important way. LEDs produce light that is concentrated at one wavelength (color) where sun light and incandescent lights produce light that a broad spectrum of wavelengths. So LED light, even if the color is right still has an unnatural look.

I ended up installing in pairs, one warm white, one cool white and found that to be perfect. Not only a good color but very bright but dimmable. At full brightness each pair uses about 0.8-0.9 amps. A lot more than I expected but again, very bright and I hate dim interiors when trying to cook, read or work on anything.
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Old 23-09-2017, 08:42   #5
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

I used those dome style, inexpensive LED fixtures on 3 of my boats. The exact same item seemed to be available under several different names and prices. I purchased most of mine at Canadian tire for around $10 each. Some had 8 leds and some had 12. I preferred the 12, brighter.

I sailed with my kids aboard. Kids love lights. The original 12v incandescent bulbs had a draw of about 1amp each. With a few of these on, I could watch the volts dropping quickly on the house battery. Then I switched to the LED fixtures. With ALL the lights ON, there was no change to the house battery voltage (measured to 3 significant digits). Or maybe it would go down by 0.1volts. The current draw is very small. VERY small. My kids would leave their bunk lights ON all night...not a problem.

There is no correlation between price and current draw. LED lights are awesome. I used the cheap ones and loved them. Easy to install in place of old fixtures. Two thumbs up!
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Old 23-09-2017, 08:44   #6
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Skipmac, this is probably a dumb question, but how do you connect the strips to power? It looks like they connect to each other to make a series if desired, but then are there matching plugs to connect to the power source?
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Old 23-09-2017, 09:18   #7
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

I was wondering the same thing about connecting the strips to the power.
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Old 23-09-2017, 09:21   #8
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I used these in the 19" lengths that are ready to go. https://www.superbrightleds.com/more...s-per-ft/1465/.
Thanks! These just went on the buy list for my boat and cabin.
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Old 23-09-2017, 09:24   #9
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
I used those dome style, inexpensive LED fixtures on 3 of my boats. The exact same item seemed to be available under several different names and prices. I purchased most of mine at Canadian tire for around $10 each. Some had 8 leds and some had 12. I preferred the 12, brighter.

I sailed with my kids aboard. Kids love lights. The original 12v incandescent bulbs had a draw of about 1amp each. With a few of these on, I could watch the volts dropping quickly on the house battery. Then I switched to the LED fixtures. With ALL the lights ON, there was no change to the house battery voltage (measured to 3 significant digits). Or maybe it would go down by 0.1volts. The current draw is very small. VERY small. My kids would leave their bunk lights ON all night...not a problem.

There is no correlation between price and current draw. LED lights are awesome. I used the cheap ones and loved them. Easy to install in place of old fixtures. Two thumbs up!
Perfect. Thanks!

I also noticed your ultimate fan in the pictures. I was miserable with some 5" and 10" battery powered O2 cool fans and sprung for two ultimates. That is one of the best boat items I have ever bought.
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Old 23-09-2017, 09:26   #10
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
Of course there is a way to measure the current draw of the lights. Use a DVOM.

Set the meter to measure current and connect it between the source and the light.
Thanks! I actually have a digital one that I bought last year.
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Old 23-09-2017, 09:37   #11
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

There are several other considerations to bring into the equation.
How will you switch the lights on and off ? I too use LED lights on my boat but had to spend a little time finding a unit that had a built in switch.
Second consideration; High Frequency Radio Interference.
If you are a cruiser and have a high frequency radio aboard (i.e. SSB) -
lower cost LED's will usually generate a broad band of High Frequency energy which can cause significant interference to radio and television operation aboard.
Folks have previously mentioned the color temperature of the lights. Be sure to try before making a heavy investment.
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Old 23-09-2017, 09:49   #12
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Those strips running off of 12VDC will not generate any noise.

Well that not all together true, the LED headlight i have in my bike has ballast that runs at about 2Khz.

Only problem i had with noise comes from the CFL lamps on house voltage.
They generated a lot of noise on my radio. Replaced those with house voltage LED bulbs and no noise now.

If there is anything in those strips it will be a linear VR that generates no noise.
Might just be some current limiting resistors.

I know of very few LEDs like those that draw more than 20ma each.
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Old 23-09-2017, 10:23   #13
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicor View Post

I know of very few LEDs like those that draw more than 20ma each.
My old incandescent bulb pulled about 1amp (each bulb). That 1000ma vs 20ma. So roughly 50 leds equals 1 incandescent. Thats a big improvement! Oh yea, and they never burn out.
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Old 23-09-2017, 10:42   #14
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

The following website offers a rule-of-thumb for energy consumption of LED lighting based on the specified light output (lumens) of the fixture: https://www.thelightbulb.co.uk/resources/lumens_watts/

Your Blazer rectangular dome light specifies 400 lumens of output; accordingly, it may be expected to consume 6 watts of power. Since watts = volts x amps, at 12 VDC the fixture should draw 6 watts/12volts = 0.5 Amps or 500 mA.

This estimate may not include losses in a power supply, but should be close enough for a comparison of different fixtures. You may reduce the power consumption by using a fixture with less light output, or you may dim the output by using an LED dimmer in the circuit (note-not all LED fixtures are dimmable; check the specs).

I use several "cheap" LEDs on my boat, and tend to use dimmers: when you need a lot of light, you can turn 'em up, or turn 'em down to match your "mood".

LED dimmers actually switch the light on and off at a very high, imperceptible rate. As a result, they consume little power on their own--unlike old incandescent dimmers which simply add a variable resistance to the circuit and divert a portion of the power to be "spilled" as heat.
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Old 23-09-2017, 11:00   #15
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Re: Cheap LEDs: amp usage? quality?

Cheap LEDs are notioriously noisy RF generators which can interfere with radio communications. Many have been taken off the market by the FCC but still widely available worldwide. LED dimmers moreso. Some people are simply unaware of the problem.
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