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Old 18-04-2015, 20:52   #1
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LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

I have after-market led anchor/nav light lamps, but they don't work correctly. The fittings are Aqua Signal series 40 and I swapped out the bulbs for led bulbs I bought from boatlamps.co.uk. I thought they worked fine, but I have recently noticed the lamps behave pretty oddly.

There are three wires leading from the control panel to the masthead. Two live wires for the +ve from the nav light and from the anchor light. The third wire is a -ve shared by both lights.

This is the odd thing: If I turn on the nav light, the anchor light turns on also. This happens even if I break the +ve wire to it. Somehow it is powered up. With a disconnected wire to the anchor light I get a 24v reading between the nav light and neg and 14v between the disconnected anchor light and neg. There should be zero. The nav light works fine, but the anchor light is also working (dimly) although it is connected with only the neg wire and no +ve wire. I don't get it.

I did a few more tests. There is complete isolation (no shorts) in the system. There is also a strange 2 to 400hz reading on both +ve wires, but nearly no AC voltage.

Can anyone explain what is happening and how to fix it?
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Old 18-04-2015, 22:58   #2
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

Are you running a 24V or 12V system or perhaps both?
The answer to this will help us point you in the right direction.
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Old 19-04-2015, 05:38   #3
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

The boat is 24v. There are a few isolated 12v supplies off the 24v supply for the VHF and other equipment, but they are all powered down.
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Old 19-04-2015, 06:01   #4
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

Wired thus?
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Old 19-04-2015, 06:20   #5
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Wired thus?
No, but yes in so far as the effect is the same. Instead of the changeover switch there are two feeds, each with its own switch from the + supply and the problem I have described occurs when one lamp is disconnected completely from the + supply and the other is connected, so the application of power is exactly the same as in your picture.
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Old 19-04-2015, 07:12   #6
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

When you say nav light do you mean tricolor light? Nav lights are usually mounted at the bow.

I suspect you have corrosion at a terminal block somewhere or at the masthead. There are a couple of ways the anchor +ve wire can be 14V. One way is there may be corrosion forming a resistive connection between the 2 +ve wires. Another is that corrosion is creating a high resistance in the ground wire. So at the mast head your ground wire is at 14V and this is what you measure on the +ve for the anchor.

LED lights draw less current so they expose leakage due to corrosion more than incandescent bulbs that draw higher current.
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Old 19-04-2015, 07:19   #7
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
I have after-market led anchor/nav light lamps, but they don't work correctly. The fittings are Aqua Signal series 40 and I swapped out the bulbs for led bulbs I bought from boatlamps.co.uk. I thought they worked fine, but I have recently noticed the lamps behave pretty oddly.

There are three wires leading from the control panel to the masthead. Two live wires for the +ve from the nav light and from the anchor light. The third wire is a -ve shared by both lights.

This is the odd thing: If I turn on the nav light, the anchor light turns on also. This happens even if I break the +ve wire to it. Somehow it is powered up. With a disconnected wire to the anchor light I get a 24v reading between the nav light and neg and 14v between the disconnected anchor light and neg. There should be zero. The nav light works fine, but the anchor light is also working (dimly) although it is connected with only the neg wire and no +ve wire. I don't get it.

I did a few more tests. There is complete isolation (no shorts) in the system. There is also a strange 2 to 400hz reading on both +ve wires, but nearly no AC voltage.

Can anyone explain what is happening and how to fix it?
Seems there can only be 4 causes: bad switch, bad wiring, bad fixture or bad bulbs.

So...

Did the fixture work correctly with the incandescent bulbs?

Have you disconnected all wires from the fixture and tested the individual outputs from the switch (switches?) in both nav and anchor modes?

Are the new bulbs polarity sensitive? An incandescent bulb works either way, could the original setup have mixed the ground and hot wires? Incandescents would work either way, not so sure about DC LEDs.

From you description it sounds like a problem with the bulbs or the wiring, but with limited information, we're just shooting in the dark...


(or as Dan says maybe corrosion induced problems)
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Old 19-04-2015, 08:21   #8
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
When you say nav light do you mean tricolor light? Nav lights are usually mounted at the bow.

I suspect you have corrosion at a terminal block somewhere or at the masthead. There are a couple of ways the anchor +ve wire can be 14V. One way is there may be corrosion forming a resistive connection between the 2 +ve wires. Another is that corrosion is creating a high resistance in the ground wire. So at the mast head your ground wire is at 14V and this is what you measure on the +ve for the anchor.

LED lights draw less current so they expose leakage due to corrosion more than incandescent bulbs that draw higher current.
Yes, I meant tricolor.

I would agree with you on corrosion if I was measuring the on light at 14v, but I am measuring the disconnected light at 14v. That is the bizare thing here.
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Old 19-04-2015, 08:42   #9
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

Let me get this straight, with the light fixture disconnected so you're testing voltage at the wires, you get 14 volts at the anchor light wire when the nav(tri light) switch light is on. But no voltage when the Tri light switch is off? Edit I just reread the question and it seems you're testing it with the light connected, if so disconnect the light test the wires and if you don't get voltage you know its corrosion (Or short with resistance) in the fixture
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Old 19-04-2015, 08:43   #10
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbunyard View Post
Seems there can only be 4 causes: bad switch, bad wiring, bad fixture or bad bulbs.

So...

Did the fixture work correctly with the incandescent bulbs?

Have you disconnected all wires from the fixture and tested the individual outputs from the switch (switches?) in both nav and anchor modes?

Are the new bulbs polarity sensitive? An incandescent bulb works either way, could the original setup have mixed the ground and hot wires? Incandescents would work either way, not so sure about DC LEDs.

From you description it sounds like a problem with the bulbs or the wiring, but with limited information, we're just shooting in the dark...


(or as Dan says maybe corrosion induced problems)
Yes, the fixture did work with regular bulbs, but that was years ago. I have been using the lights and not noticed the problem until recently. What made me aware of it is I noticed the second light dimly on.

I have tested the wiring as you suggest and even ran a clean wire from the battery bus to exclude wiring issues at the boat end. It makes no difference and the problem is the same.

The bulbs are according to the supplier not polarity sensitive and they do light up. They are the standard fixed polarity BAY15D. I haven't tried reversing the wires to see what happens. You never know... I will do that tonight.
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Old 19-04-2015, 08:46   #11
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

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Originally Posted by sparrowhawk1 View Post
Let me get this straight, with the light fixture disconnected so you're testing voltage at the wires, you get 14 volts at the anchor light wire when the nav(tri light) switch light is on. But no voltage when the Tri light switch is off?
Yes. Just that.
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Old 19-04-2015, 08:52   #12
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

I added an edit to my last post. So the light fixture is completely disconnected when you're testing the voltage correct?
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Old 19-04-2015, 09:23   #13
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

Quote:
Originally Posted by sparrowhawk1 View Post
I added an edit to my last post. So the light fixture is completely disconnected when you're testing the voltage correct?
I haven't been up the mast yet. What I have done is remove wires and measure things from the mast foot connector block. With the anchor light + removed there is a 14v reading on its corresponding wire coming down from the masthead when the tri light is on (and reading 24v).

I should also have said that this same problem swaps over to the anchor light and so the anchor light will read 24v when it is on and the tri supply disconnected. The tri light will then read 14v.
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Old 19-04-2015, 09:27   #14
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

I just tried reversing the wires. I put the + nav light wire to the neg masthead connection and wired the masthead + wire to ground. The problem is identical. I have both lights on (presumably - too bright outside to see) with the second light reading 14v again.
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Old 19-04-2015, 09:47   #15
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Re: LED Anchor/nav light puzzle

I ran into the same problem installing an Aqua Signal masthead/anchor light. It turned out to be a wiring assumption (error) on my part. Have a very close look at the wiring pin assignment in the Mfg's datasheet for your specific lamp model. It is not a simple 1,2,3,4 layout. The common ground must have the DC negatives together and each positive lead has to go to the correct light. If you mess this up, you get feedback paths back through the fuse panel. The lights will do weird things and the panel indicators may be lighted even when the breakers are open (off).

I assume that your LED's are not polarity sensitive and can handle 24 volts. If the LED' are polarity sensitive, triple check the plus and minus at the masthead. The continuity of colors in the boat wiring may have been ignored somewhere during installation.

Good luck!
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