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Old 01-03-2006, 18:17   #1
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Question L. E. D. Running Lights...worth the big bucks?

Greetings, All;

At the Chicago Sail Show this last month, I was impressed by the LED running lights made by a Danish company called "Lopolight". They seem a good bit brighter and more ruggedly built than others I have seen, and the low power draw promised is very attractive. The only two downsides I can see to them is that they are very "modern" in design (aluminum, stainless or chrome housings, in a semicircular shape...a bit "space shippy" for my trad ketch perhaps) and of course, a price that brings tears to my eyes.

Still, I've got myself thinking about how nice it would be to hardly worry about maintenance/repair, and have reasonably guilt-free anchor lighting. I've even thought of carving teak coves to mount above and below the lamps to reduce the modern aesthetic. But sheesh: (1) port bow lamp, (1) starboard bow lamp, (1) stern lamp, and (1) masthead tricolor... all for the low, low Boat Show Discount Price of $1,100...youch.

Anybody familiar with this company (www.lopolight.dk), and what else is out there for LED? Am I nuts to consider dropping this much on nav lights?
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Old 01-03-2006, 20:23   #2
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I'm Sold. The tricolor/anchor was cheaper than the West Marine tricolor. Not sure about the other lights, but I like the tricolor.
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Old 02-03-2006, 00:55   #3
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that is a lot of bloody coin. That is a lot of beer or whatever you drink. It also buys a new sail or something else.

Mate down here in kiwi land I've installed this option:

http://www.bebi-electronics.com/masina.html

It works just fine and a LOT more reliable than my old bulb set up.
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Old 02-03-2006, 05:10   #4
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OK ... so here's the deal .... :-)
A fellow came into our store and sold them a brand new Aqua Signal tri-color for $20 ... I promptly bought it from the store for the same amount. We sell a USCG approved LED "white all around" light, marketed under the name "Seasense" ... retail them for $55 ... my cost $30 ... I bought 2 of those. Bet you can see where I'm going with this :-) So far, I have removed the incandescent bulbs & sockets (gave them to a cruiser who needed them) but as yet haven't gotten around to cutting the LED clusters out of thier mounts. The plan is to pot them in epoxy, into the Aqua Signal mounts. $80 & a couple of hours work and I should have my own LED tri-color. Will post photos as I get to this project.
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Old 02-03-2006, 12:16   #5
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LED lights, what to look for

It would be inefficient to place whith LEDs behind green and/or red lenses to get red and green running lights. Red and green LEDs are far less expensive and far more efficient in terms of output lumens per watt input power.

It appears that the Aquasignal LED tricolor fixture uses a linear regulator to deliver a controlled voltage to the internal LEDs. This is VERY inefficient. All of the good fixtures (including LED flashlights) use switch-mode regulators to deliver regulated voltage to the LEDs for maximum efficiency. Switch-mode regulators are only slightly more expensive to use. Those who go to the Radio Shack school of design just don't know how to design switch-mode regulators and, I suspect, that's what happened with the Aquasignal development of the LED tricolor.

Even 120VAC lamps that are of good quality use switch-mode regulators to make very efficient light delivery, for example see:
http://www.doctorled.com/ for such lamps. I use a few of them on the boat and never turn them off they draw so little current when shore power is available.
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Old 02-03-2006, 13:11   #6
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LEDs

Check out www.theledlight.com - they seem to offer some inexpensive options.
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Old 02-03-2006, 16:57   #7
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Rick,
I have no doubt that you are 100% correct when you say that what I'm planning to do is "inefficient" compared with what can be done. However ... how "inefficient" is it compared to having a 25W incandescent burning? My goals in doing this are as follows;
#1, no reduction in visibility (any improvement is gravy)
#2, Save as many amps as I can
#3, not spend a ton of money on this
#4, not spend a lot of time on this
I could be wrong, but I think my project achieves my goals ... effeciently

Bob & Lynn
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Old 02-03-2006, 18:35   #8
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FWIW, I can not remember the exact number, but I paid about $300 US for the Lopolight tricolor with anchor light. West Marine gets $209 for the incadescent tricolor with Anchor. There were several other tricolors at the Sail Expo that were the standard plastic housing with LED bulbs. THe "Hockey puck" was about $15 cheaper than the plastic ones. I think it is a deal.
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Old 02-03-2006, 19:21   #9
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Hi Bob & Lynn

If I correctly understand what you are planning to do then you ARE going to loose the original so-called rated visibility. The light spectrum of white LEDs simulates daylight yet does not necessarily have sufficient liminosity at the specific green and red spectra required to pass through any red or green plastic filters. Even if the white LEDs HAD sufficient yet marginal luminosity (which they do not) by inserting the red/green filters will negate any rating that might exist.
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Old 03-03-2006, 05:26   #10
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Rick,
Sounds like I will need to do a simple test ... put the thing together, fire it up & look at it from a distance compared to my existing incandescent unit ... then decide from there whether to install it or not. FWIW Practical Sailor did a test of nav lights not long ago (all incandescent) and only ONE of the tested units could be seen from 2 miles ... Hella. Most that were rated visible at 2 miles ... couldn't be seen from one!

Bob & Lynn
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Old 03-03-2006, 16:58   #11
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I'm sure at some point PS will include LEDs in a side-by-side test; perhaps there aren't enough players yet.

I'm encouraged by others' confirmation of my suspicions that, at least in the case of the tri-color, the delta compared to a quality incadescent unit isn't too huge. The individual lamps are certainly more, but they really do appear to be bullet-proof.

The LEDs available as bayonet-mount retrofits for existing fixtures are intriguing, but I'm replacing all my nav lights entirely (the old ones were cheap pieces of toast). And I'm not confident enough (yet) with DIY electronics to rig my own.

I'm leaning toward bending over and going for the Lopolights. I'll hold off a bit and see if there's any more commentary...thanks to those so far!
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Old 03-03-2006, 17:48   #12
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FWIW, as far as I know, the Lopolights have yet not be certified by the USCG. They are certified by the Danish Maritime Authority as meeting some IMO standard, but I don't know what if any reciprocity there is with USCG certification.

As an alternative, the LED running lights made by Orca Green Marine DO have USCG certification.

Regards,

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Old 03-03-2006, 17:53   #13
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Re: L. E. D. Running Lights...worth the big bucks?

Quote:
Geoff S. once whispered in the wind:
(1) port bow lamp, (1) starboard bow lamp, (1) stern lamp, and (1) masthead tricolor
Presumably you would use the Masthead Tricolor when sailing, and the bow and stern lights (along with a steaming light) when under power? In that case, you don't necessarily need low-amperage lights for the bow and stern lamps, because with then engine running you'll be generating all the electricity you need.

Just get the masthead light in expensive low-energy-draw LED, and less expensive incandescant lights at deck level.

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Old 03-03-2006, 18:46   #14
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Tim, very good point. In fact, the only time a tricolor is legal is on a sailing vessel underway, undersail.
As for being Coast Guard approved, I asked this question of all the vendors if LED nav lights, and was told that this was only an issue on inspected vessels. I am not advising anyone to do anything, but I am going with that advice on my boat.
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Old 03-03-2006, 19:00   #15
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I saw the OGM site, and they're a fair bit cheaper than Lopolight, but I wonder about the relative brightness of a single LED vs. an array....damn, now I really wish PS could get cracking at an empirical test!

I also wonder if viewing angle is a factor with the OGM, with respect to the two bow lights; if mounted flat on the bow, would both red and green be clearly visible to a vessel dead-on? There would be some angle given by the wedge of the bow, I suppose. Their "side mounting bracket" seems to indicate that they do indeed need to be mounted at a 90 degree angle to the hull; but then are they visible from abeam?

And, while it's tantamount to the old stereotype of people shopping for a car by color, I can't help but find OGM's look even more ultramodern than Lopo. And unlike the Lopo, I'm not sure I could "salt 'em up" much, as any thickness of say, teak case would only worsen the angle question. Of course, I don't care as much about how the masthead light looks, and I do like the strobe option....hmmmm.

Tim, you bring up a good point about the USCG approval; how much is this a factor for me, with Caribbean and European intentions for the next 10-20 years?
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