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Old 20-05-2016, 14:08   #1
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LED replacement principles

Hi!

I am currently replacing all incandescent light bulbs with LED equivalents. When doing so, especially when swapping eterior lights, it is easy to buy a slightly lighter LED bulb - what the heck, I am saving lots of Amps here, why not get some more light from the sail lanterns etc.

I bought some LED bulbs on ebay.com and bought slightly lighter than before (more lumen) for all exterior lights. Am I doing something wrong here? It is good to be visible, but there might be international and national regulations to consider?

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Old 20-05-2016, 14:24   #2
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Re: LED replacement principles

Current draws with LEDs are significantly lower so no need to replace wiring.

For interior choice:

1) 1W is sufficient for area lighting. 3W for anywhere you need to read detail.
2) choose cool white (bright white hue) for the 3W detail areas. Choose warm white (yellow hue) for area or mood lighting.

Choosing exterior lighting is more difficult because nav light requirements are also impacted by light loss through lenses.

LEDs sold specifically as nav light replacements will often state a range, distance or compliance with specific tests.

We are still using colored LED nav globes from the PO. We have had great results with Lunasea LED globes. We have also fitted their tricolor.

We dont buy cheap no name LEDs as many of them are electricall noisy. We dont use dimmers for the same reason. They cause comms interference problems.

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Old 20-05-2016, 14:26   #3
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Re: LED replacement principles

White LED bulbs behind colored lenses will generally not meet nav light specs.

Also, be careful about the amount of RF noise that these cheap LEDs throw off.
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Old 20-05-2016, 16:14   #4
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Re: LED replacement principles

For navigation lights, it's best to buy the whole fixture. As mentioned above, the fixtures made for incandescent bulbs are designed to have one small filament in a precise location. Anything else, no matter how bright, probably won't meet specs, and LEDs might not work with a colored lens.

But the real reason in my experience is that the most common failure mode for nav lights is corrosion of the terminals. LED replacement bulbs are just as prone to this. LED fixtures have no terminals. Everything is bedded in a waterproof material. Anyone who's changed out a nav light bulb on a rough passage at night will probably agree with me.

Try both warm and cool LEDs to see which you prefer. Cool seems brighter, but also harsher. And for me, it somehow makes things harder to see, even if it's bright enough.
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Old 20-05-2016, 16:40   #5
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Re: LED replacement principles

If you are upgrading color nav lights, you can buy color led bulbs. We use a 3-color led in a plain 3-color fixture.

Nav lights should be neither too weak nor too strong as per boat size. Look up colregs for that.

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Old 20-05-2016, 17:20   #6
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Re: LED replacement principles

I know it's more expensive, but I really prefer to replace the fixture not just the bulbs where possible. The advantage is that LED fixtures can be completely sealed and permanently attached, so there is no chance of corrosion on the contacts.
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Old 21-05-2016, 07:57   #7
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Re: LED replacement principles

Yep.

A 3 colour LED bulb is 25 to 50 tokens and a 3 color LED fixture is 250 to 500 tokens.

If you are in the position where money no object, you can have either.

I think you may find more approved fixtures than bulbs (not sure ANY bulbs are specifically approved, but some plain fixtures may specify the bulb that matches, e.g. Hellas).

If legalities count, some buyers will prefer fixtures.

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Old 21-05-2016, 09:37   #8
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Re: LED replacement principles

Thanks. I was thinking to keep the current exterior lights and put slightly more powerful LEDs inside the lanterns. Keep costs down a bit.

As for interference, hard to shop online then I suppose. More expensive in the marina shops but they will support me to get noise free LEDs I suppose, and I can just show the old incandescent ones to them.

We don't have a SSB radio but got VHF and FM radio aboard.

Plan to get an Iridium sat phone.

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Old 21-05-2016, 12:43   #9
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Re: LED replacement principles

I can hear only some minor interference and only on the ssb bands. Surprisingly enough, it comes from the LED that was sold to us in a chandlery as a 'noise-free' unit.

There are also other, possibly less obvious, sources of interference, e.g. our PWM solar kit triggers noise when in the PWM mode. Then, of course, the small inverter.

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Old 21-05-2016, 13:25   #10
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Re: LED replacement principles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob666 View Post
Thanks. I was thinking to keep the current exterior lights and put slightly more powerful LEDs inside the lanterns. Keep costs down a bit.
It's not the power, it's the location of the filament that makes them comply with the regulations. It has to be at the focal point of the Fresnel lens. You can't accomplish that with an array of LEDs.

I know some people just don't care whether they meet the letter of the law or not. But I guarantee you, if there's a problem out there, the lawyers will make a HUGE deal out of non-compliant lights.

I'm as cheap as the next guy. But one thing I won't do to "keep costs down" is install non-conforming bulbs in a nav light lantern.

Besides, the contacts will corrode and need to be cleaned or replaced just as often as incandescent bulbs.
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Old 21-05-2016, 13:29   #11
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Re: LED replacement principles

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Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
It's not the power, it's the location of the filament that makes them comply with the regulations. It has to be at the focal point of the Fresnel lens. You can't accomplish that with an array of LEDs.

I know some people just don't care whether they meet the letter of the law or not. But I guarantee you, if there's a problem out there, the lawyers will make a HUGE deal out of non-compliant lights.

I'm as cheap as the next guy. But one thing I won't do to "keep costs down" is install non-conforming bulbs in a nav light lantern.

Besides, the contacts will corrode and need to be cleaned or replaced just as often as incandescent bulbs.
Indeed. I got a full set of spares if original incandescents aboard.

What I need to adhere to mainly, rather than law, is my energy budget. I can't have incandescents of 25 Watt on in the night during passage.

Cheers
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