I have been gradually replacing the halogen lighting
in my boat with LEDs.
The boat came with 28 (!) 20 watt G4 down lights, 7 reading lights with 10 watt G4 bulbs, and four fixtures behind portlight curtains with 3 festoon bulbs each. There are also a number of 1 watt pea type bulbs illuminating steps and so forth. A lot of lighting
and a lot of power consumption
I have bought a variety of LED bulbs from different sources, trying to find the best results at the best price
. I have paid from $5 to $36 each for them.
I have had good results from all in terms of reliability
; the only problems I have had were two 1 watt units from Superbright LEDs which burned up (literally) upon first being switched on.
Quality of light
Quantity of light
None of the LED units which I bought nearly equal the 350 lumens of output of the original 20 watt halogen bulbs. The boat has become gradually dimmer and dimmer as I kept putting in more LEDs. I have pretty much decided to leave on halogen bulb above my saloon
table and another above the nav table -- where the light quality and brightness are most important.
The very expensive Sensibulbs don't fit in most of my fixtures. They have a bulky heat sink. The quality of light from them is somewhat more pleasant than the other LED units, but still nowhere near as pleasant as a regular halogen. And they are less than half as bright. They appear to be somewhat crudely made, and they will not work if the polarity is wrong (which you can check only by trial and error). But I have had no trouble with them so far.
I have been using el-cheapo Imtra LEDs for more than two years now without a single
failure. The light output is similar to the Sensibulbs. But the light has a sickly greenish tinge which I find unpleasant, even worse than the pinkish tinge which the Sensibulbs have.
I have two kinds of LED units from Superbright LEDS. They appear to be very high quality units -- with a more polished, "German" look to them than the Sensibulbs. But two of them literally burned up on me, so I don't know whether the appearance of quality corresponds to any kind of reality.
One kind of Superbright LED has a single
LED, and very pleasing quality of light, compared to other LEDs -- I would say equal to or possibly better than the Sensibulbs. They are extremely efficient, consuming only 1 watt, half of what the Sensibulbs use, but they are noticeably dimmer. They manufacturer claims 80 lumens. The Sensibulbs are probably 130 lumens - the only figure I could find (the manufacturer does not quote a lumen value).
The other kind of Superbright LED has multiple LEDs and is brighter -- claimed 98 lumens. It really does not appear to produce less light than the Sensibulbs -- possibly the manufacturer claim is conservative. It appears to be of very high quality and the light is not too hideous -- pinkish colored and not quite as nice as either the Sensibulb or the single LED unit from Superbright.
Superbright sells a lot of other LED units to replace G4 halogens, but these two are the only kind which can be used with a 24 volt electrical system
such as mine.
Next I am going to try some LED units from Bedazzled in the UK. They offer some units which appear to be brighter than any others -- claimed 200 lumens from 3 watts of power consumption.
I have nearly finished replacing festoon bulbs with LED units from Superbright and from Imtra. Nothing much to report. These fixtures are supposed to produce some mood lighting by illuminating curtains on in-hull portlights
. The original festoon bulbs were dim and very warm, producing a really pretty effect. The LEDs considerably spoil this effect, but they are brighter and I am glad for the extra light. When sailing at night this is the only cabin
lighting I use.
I am skeptical about reading by LED light. There just seems to be something missing from the light LEDs produce. But I am experimenting with an LED tower bulb from Imtra in one of my bunk lights. We'll see.
So all in all, I think the huge beneficial effect on our power budgets makes LED lighting practically imperative on a cruising sailboat. But I am not very pleased by either the quality or the quantity of the light. There seems to be something missing from LED light -- like drinking instant coffee.
The only other thing I would say is that I can't see why the Sensibulbs should be worth $36 or $40 or whatever they cost nowadays. The cheapest LED units (Imtra and some no-names) have worked for years without a failure in my installation
. The Superbrights at least appear to be superior workmanship (we shall see about the quality in the long run), and they are 1/3 the cost at $13 to $15.
I am interested to see what the Bedazzled LED units are like. They are even cheaper than Superbright and seem to be sophisticated (buck regulated) and high quality. I will update this thread after I have tried them.