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Old 21-08-2010, 20:07   #1
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Solar LED Rail Light

Can anyone recommend a good one?

I had one from West and the damn thing died. Just a little over a year old.

Saw one on another boat that appeared to be a lot brighter than the West one.
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Old 21-08-2010, 21:01   #2
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The $4 model from Home Depot last through the night but are only visible from 1-200 yards.
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Old 21-08-2010, 21:04   #3
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Yah, those are junk... I had two fail in one season with intermittencies, rust, cracked lens out-of-the-box, and other unforgivable manifestations of cheesy design. Might as well get the Big-box store cheapies and just assume they are disposable.

The problem is not intrinsically difficult, but offshoring production and aiming for a both a low price point and high profit makes it almost impossible to do the job well. If you're handy with packaging and electronics, you can get white LEDs of the desired brightness cheap from Sparkfun.com (1-watt Luxeons are just about ideal for the application), add a BuckToot inverter, stick it in a plastic bottle with a bit of aluminum hanging out for heat sinking, and run a wire to the nearest source of boat power. But that's way more hassle than just clamping something on the rail, and it gets to be a bit of a project by the time you make it pretty, come up with a mounting scheme, and seal it well.

The other problem with the solar design is power budget... the packaging constraints of that size pretty well limit you to little LEDs, and also presume a pretty good ratio of sunny days to dark periods.

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Old 21-08-2010, 21:14   #4
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All of them possibly just being junk had crossed my mind.

May as well just hang one my led dive lights outside. Or maybe just install a dome light with an LED bulb that runs off the 12 volt. Seal it really good and reposition the switch to somewhere inside the cabin?

On second thought, the led dome light right above my fridge seems to do a well enough job to light the cockpit. Probably even better than that rail light. Although may not be work for seeing the grill, since it will be behind you. Oh yeah, that's what the dive light is for.
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Old 22-08-2010, 01:04   #5
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We use solar garden lightys and they are just wonderful. Stick 'em on a rail, back stay, or sitting on the cockpit table.
Last for years, waterprooft and turn themselves on and off all by a tiny little guy istting inside with an even more tiny little switch....
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Old 22-08-2010, 01:33   #6
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I grabbed some of these. They're stainless, but if they last more than a couple years I'll be really impressed. For ~$5 a piece it's hard to beat though. Just zipped tied them to the stanchions.

Amazon.com: Solar Power, Outdoor Solar Garden Lights, Stainless Steel Pack of 6:: Patio, Lawn & Garden
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Old 22-08-2010, 02:16   #7
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We use solar garden lightys and they are just wonderful. Stick 'em on a rail, back stay, or sitting on the cockpit table.
Last for years, waterprooft and turn themselves on and off all by a tiny little guy istting inside with an even more tiny little switch....
I wonder if the little guys who live in your lights are any relation to the little guys who live in traffic lights and turn them red as soon as they see you coming
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Old 22-08-2010, 05:45   #8
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We use solar garden lightys and they are just wonderful. Stick 'em on a rail, back stay, or sitting on the cockpit table.
Last for years, waterprooft and turn themselves on and off all by a tiny little guy istting inside with an even more tiny little switch....
there is a little man in there??????? I only paid three dollars for ours, so I guess a litttle switch is all they could afford
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Old 22-08-2010, 06:31   #9
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Yah, those are junk... I had two fail in one season .... Might as well get the Big-box store cheapies and just assume they are disposable.
The first one I bought was one of those junk plastic ones. Many years ago...
it lasted and lasted. Survived a swim in the brine that took me 20 minutes of running from slip to slip with my boat hook. Still last years beyond that. It was still going when I knocked it in the water again years later.

I agree. Assume they are disposable. If you loose, you don't loose much. If you win you get to chuckle.

I have several now. I also have a pair of LED flickering flame, simulated bamboo torches on the boat that are unigue enough to help me find my boat in the dark anchorage.
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Old 22-08-2010, 06:37   #10
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these people have all sorts of led hard wired lights maybe one of their spreader lights will do the job
Nice powerfull but $$$$$$$
LED Spreader Lights - led boat lights - led marine lights - www.MagnaLight.com Spotlights and Flashlights
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Old 22-08-2010, 08:16   #11
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On our CSY we installed LED driving lights on the spreaders, bought them from advance auto for 21$. very bright. as for the cabin lights we went with high powered motorcycle led's, they come in a pod of 6 singles epoxied into a great little package 1/4'' X 1 1/4'' for 12$. they fit into most existing fixtures nicely. and draw about 500mA each. we also have the solar garden lights on the stanchions...walmart for 1.50$ each...great little lights
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Old 22-08-2010, 08:32   #12
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We bought a whole mess of the cheap ones from walmart and OSH for under 5$US. When they fail, it's fine at that price. We velcro them to the stanchions when at anchor/dock. At night when anchored we bring a few inside (pulled off their bases and turned upside down) as they make nice "candles".

I'm also a huge fan of LED headlamps for task lighting - ours have both white and red LEDs so we use them for night watch as well.
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Old 22-08-2010, 08:54   #13
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Got a box of 8 from K-Mart on St. Thomas 9+ months ago and the two I installed on the back rail are still going. On a reasonably sunny day they will turn on at sunset and hang in until about 4:30 in the AM. I did have to take one apart and clean the little battery contact on one but that was no problem. Gave a couple away and I know they are still working. One of the boats use it as their interior light at night after allowing it to charge during the day.

For the price, it meets my needs.

When I'm in a heavy traffic area with boats moving around in the late night I turn on the Anchor light. Since most of the areas I anchor or take a mooring are considered Designated they do not "require" anchor lights. Just be careful and don't put too much dependence on them for full night and early AM operation or in low visibility weather.

Mine are stainless steel but do try to rust a bit if you don't keep salt water off them. I use a SS hose clamp to hold them on. I can unscrew the top part with the lamp from the post and use it as a table light. They are great for nice cockpit dinners and along with a bug candle provide all the light most would need.
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Old 22-08-2010, 09:07   #14
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hang in until about 4:30 in the AM. .

We pop the battery out and replace it with 2000mAh rechargable.

They come with only 800mAh whihc only lasts till..... ummmmm about 4.30am!
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Old 22-08-2010, 09:12   #15
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These are on the second boat and going on four years old now. $20.00 for a set of four,
http://tinyurl.com/33pe4d8
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