Sorry for the length of this post. I have so many lights and studied this for so long its hard to hold back. I think I could write a very boring book on the topic.
The common error most make is shopping
for LED replacements
alone. I suggest you read and understand the primers offered at:
Bebi Electronics-What Our Marine RV & Off Grid LED Specifications Mean
Bebi Ultrabright White LED Marine, RV, and Off-Grid Light Bulb Assemblies
Marinebeam Idiots Guide to Marine LEDs
- Output in Lumens
The important fact to take away from these is that LED's absolutely need current
regulation. They are quite intollerant of excessive current
and will burn up. These are about the best beginner's guides. Most cheap
bulbs use a choke resistor to limit the current through the diodes such as those sold for vehicles. These expect constant voltage in order to get constant current and also assume massive power availability. The choke & LED uses nearly as much TOTAL power as the IC bulb you replaced. On a sail boat, your voltage will vary with battery
discharge and the reason you bought the darn things is negated by the cheap
current limiter you bought with it. This is drastically worse if, like us, you run 24 volts. In our system the volts may be as high as 29 and low - well, could be bad. In order to not exceed the maximum current capability of the LED the choke needs to be set for the highest voltage so with the charging
sysem off, the Lumins goes down.
Also, surface mounts and the 'next generation' LEDs are brighter. The old tiny eye-ball types are replaced by surface mounts. I can't look directly at mine. Power LEDs are monsters nearly as big as a dime (see the single
SO, as one might expect, you pay for quality. The better the current regulator
, the greater the cost. One of the best regulators is Pulse Width Modulated (PWM). This system switches the LED on and off at very high frequency to control the averave current. The most efficient PWM bulbs for our use will operate from as low as 9 volts up to 50 or even 90 volts for some. The lumins and kevin rating do not vary but the percentage ON/OFF time will. These do not waste energy over resistors. Really good ones switch at 20,000 to over 30,000 Hz and have design accomodations so that your radios are not interfered with.
I have all PWM bulbs except for my BIBI lights. I run 60 IMTRA surface mount LEDs in the cabin
and am very satisfied with them. They collectively pull 0.2 amps at 24 VDC according to my Xantrex battery monitor
when all are on. I compared about 10 different replacements
for these at the boat show
befor selecting. Definitely picked the birightest 'soft' lights
There are two IMTRA surface mounts with 10 LEDs per light in each down fixture. The PWM circuitry is on the back of each 'bulb'. The AquSignal Tricolor has a Marine
Beam PWM replacement. Note the reflective tape I used to enhance the fixture output. BIBI also has an excellent sysem for this fixture. I bought one of these as spare in case the radio
was botherd by the PWM. BTW, the modified AQuaSignal has taken one direct lightnig hit that destroyed my Raymarine wind
Next, I show the 4-1/2 inch 50 watt 200 lumen spreader lights I replaced with a Marine beam LED Spreader Lights and LED Deck Lights
light 10 watts; 800 lumins. THese use single
monster LEDs each. I love these things! With total 6 on the mizzen and main, you can read on deck like under mercury
vapor lights. I built one into the forward canted AquaSignal steaming light. They now offer a plug
in replacement that fits the fixture.
The little LED cluster set in the yellow cup is a custom BIBI light they kindly made for us for the WINDEX. It has a central hole for mounting on the Windex stalk. I added the yellow shade to prevent the LEDs from appearing as an anchor
light. It is powered from the nearest mast
light fixture. One is on each mast
. Talk to Michael at BIBI and ask to have one made for you. They have not added them to their standard listing yet.
We also added backup navigation
lights at deck level from Signalmate. These are not replacement bulbs but whole PWM fixtures. They are quite pricey but we got a great deal at the Strictly Sail Chicago show. MISEA Group!, Marine Safety Energy Affiliates
LED Fluorescent Tubes
These guys offer replacement florescent bulbs. They are fantasticly brilliant. I installed them over my vanity mirrors. I hate shaving in the dark.
A word about household LEDs. I installed these in all of my 110 fixtures so to reduce power drain on the inverter
. (Home Depot etc.) These ALL interfere with the VHF
I really like my lights. I was cautioned to keep and store the IC bulbs in case a lightning
strike wiped out the LEDs. Marine beam has some of the widest selection of really nice replecements. BIBI also has great stuff but may require a bit of ingenuity to apply.