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Lighting options

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rothwell_neil says:

It is true that I am a sad engineer, however hopefully you may find some of my sad meanderings of use. My friends and I mountain bike through the winter months and probably go out more in winter than in summer. This means night time biking and as we like to do the forests trails of Wales and bridleways on the moors of northern England this means we need good lights. You can use Halogens but they burn battery power so recently we have been using LED lights. There are many useless ones but Phillips have developed some under the name of Luxeon that are quite incredible. Rather than pay the £200 that some companies want for these we have been playing and you can get incredible performance. We use the head torch in the photo strapped to a helmet and the pencil torch strapped on the handlebar stem. We also use standard halogen and NiMh batteries for road cycling. These LED lights transform cycling as they are so good and don’t burn batteries. So thought that I would have a play to see if they could be used for the boat making the most of such low current draw. The usual figures for lumens per watt are incandescent 10-14, halogen 14-20 and fluorescent 40-50. Luxeon LEDs give between 70 and 120 lumens per watt depending on the generation of bulb and thus cost. They claim they will be up above 180 lumens per watt by the middle of 2009.
www.flickr.com/photos/14026017@N04/3175299454/in/pool-ach...
The lights in the photo are from left to right a Luxeon 2W at 3V, a standard 10W halogen, a nominally 0.5W LED and a 1W Luxeon, I also include the 10W fluorescent on Emily in the figures. The actual measured values are as follow:
Light, Volts, Amps, Watts, Quoted Lumens
Luxeon LED 2W @ 3V, 3, 0.7, 2.1, 120,
Halogen 10W @ 12V, 12, 1.3, 15.6, 140
MR11 LED 1 W @ 12V, 12, 0.03, 0.36, 27
Luxeon LED 1W @ 4.5V, 4.5, 0.22, 1, 75
Flourescent 10W @ 12V, 12, 1, 12, 480
This isn’t quite the full story as whilst the fluorescent looks the best the real light is not as bright as it suggests and whilst gives a good general light is not ‘bright’. The best lights of all are the 1W and 2W luxeon bulbs as this is a focused beam, not ideal for general lighting but ideal as a spot. The 10W halogen is poor in terms of light for amps and the MR11 off the shelf LED looks bad but in fact gives out enough focussed light to cook or read by and at this current can run for ever. So what will I do?
I will be installing some of the MR11 LEDs in standard fittings as at that current draw can leave on all the time to stop fallen over things.
I will continue to use Luxeon head torches as you can get these for as little as £6 from Gooutdoors and they use standard AA cells and are as powerful as a search light.
I will keep the fluorescent for general lighting.
I will now be looking for luxeon MR11 bulbs at reasonable cost to fit standard boat fittings as they use virtually no current and provide incredible light.
I will be looking for some of the new generation for anchor lights as they burn no amps for lots of light.
3:30PM, 6 January 2009 PDT (permalink)

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Skykomish E29 says:

Thank you for that Neil, unfortunately you have lost me a bit, from what i can gather you are saying that MR11 bulbs are the best?
Ok, can I get replacenment MR11 bulbs for my light fitting which is a cheap halogen switch unit like the one that you llustrate?
I was thinking of buying conversion leds for these as advertised on e bay but have held off due in part to their costs and the limited light emission. We have these LEDs in the cab of our ambulances as interior lighting and quite frankly I struggle to read a book at night due to the limited range of light cast from the ceiling of the cab.
From what you say here MR11 LEDs will solve this problem.
ages ago (permalink)

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rothwell_neil says:

Malcolm

I went to a specialist today to talk through bulbs and came away with two really good bulbs. The first is a replacement MR11 bulb that runs at 150mA and gives at least the same light as the old 10W halogen for 10% of the power. This is the 4 led in the lamp picture. the other bulb is a 6 LED that fits a standard BAY15D fitting that anchor lights and nav lights use. This is also very bright and runs at 160mA or 0.16Amps compared to the 1A that normal bulbs run at. This is the 10W equivalent and they also do a 20W equivalent that runs at 300mA or 0.3 Amps. The MR11 and equivalent G4 bulbs cost about £7 and the anchor light BAY15D £12. As they use about 10-15% of the current that they are replacing with at least the same light I think it is a no brainer. www.flickr.com/photos/14026017@N04/3176283811
Bulb supplier www.ultraleds.co.uk
G4http://www.ultraleds.co.uk/ultimate-with-leds-back-pins-cool-white-p-1673.html
MR11http://www.ultraleds.co.uk/ultimate-mr11-acdc-cool-white-bulb-p-1764.html
Anchor www.ultraleds.co.uk/1142ba15d-white-wide-angle-double-bul...
ages ago (permalink)

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rothwell_neil says:

In an independent test with the lads round in a totally dark garage the verdict is that the LED MR11 bulb is not quite as powerful as the 10W halogen but is almost there and as the light is slightly more focussed will be more than adequate. The light is very white compared to the slightly warmer halogen. The anchor light is really impressive and will be featuring as a cockpit lantern as well as anchor light.
ages ago (permalink)

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Mike A1 says:

I replaced my bow and stern navigation lights last year and fitted LED bulbs.

I decided I needed to do something after reading the report into the Ouzo (www.maib.gov.uk/publications/investigation_reports/2007/o...) which concluded that one possible factor was the "crazing" of the navigation light lenses and reduction in visibility. The lights on Amare were probably original and badly crazed.

I did consider various "purpose built" LED lights but in the end bought a replacement Aquasignal 40 bi-colour and Aquasignal 25 stern. The bulbs were purchased from "Dr LED" (www.doctorled.com/) - a bi-color light for the bow and a white for the stern. The bulbs cost $105 including postage from the USA - this was a lot better value last year!

Overall I am very pleased with them. They are very bright and the current drain is minimal (about 1w each according to the manufacturer) which means I can now sail at night without having to worry about draining the battery.

The only other nav light I have is an all round white at the top of the mast. This is used with the bow light when motoring. One day I plan to fit this with an LED bulb too.

I've also got an LED anchor light. This was bought from Aldi as a camping lantern for about £2.50. It will run for several nights on 4 AA batteries. Much brighter than the paraffin lamp it replaced, and it doesn't blow out at 3am.
ages ago (permalink)

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Skykomish E29 says:

I think that somebody had better mention that most LED nav lights aren't officially approved so it may be worth having a chat with your insurance company if you do change to them, after a collision would not be the best of times for them to find out that you had fitted unapproved lights as we all know it doesn't take much for companies to try and wriggle out of a payout.

Just thought that this had bettter be mentioned , personally I think that they are a great idea and can't understand why approval is taking so long.
ages ago (permalink)

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Mike A1 says:

I don't think that there is any requirement to have approved lights, just to have lights that conform to the requirements of the colregs.

I'm not an expert so if you are worried about this by all means check first.
ages ago (permalink)

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rothwell_neil says:

The company that supplied mine claim that their anchor light is visible from 3 nm which exceeds the 2nm as the stated requirement. Don't know what the answer is but as they claim them to be anchor lights and to have a 3nm range I will go with it. Makes a great cockpit light by the way if you hang it upside down.
ages ago (permalink)

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Skykomish E29 says:

There is a company selling a mast head Tricolour LED set for £45 on EBAY buy it now Nasa Supernova make
Looks good value

The reason as i understand it that LEDs have not been approved by the DOT is that the colour does not comply to Colregs requirements (?) I would have thought that red was red and green was green but there you go. They have been approved elsewhere in the world so perhaps as usual Britain will be last to formally sign up for these.

www.afloat.com.au/afloat-magazine/2008/may-2008/Boat_Elec...

There was an article in the yachting press recently that commented on the quality of a lot of the cheaper LEDs is a bit suspect and that they are prone to failure, I could never understand where LOPO lights get their ridiculous prices from....

I am in a quandery as I really need to replace mine all the lens' are crazed, I was contemplating LEDs for the tricolour mast head, and cheaper conventional for the bow and stern lights as these are only used when running on engine and so battery drain is not a problem. Even then it works out to a tidy sum to replace all lights
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
Skykomish E29 edited this topic ages ago.

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Skykomish E29 says:

I have just checked my bow light having replaced the bulb with an LED upgrade and note that the red sector is fine but the green sector shows as BLUE!!! or rather a deep tuquoise. I am going to experiment with some yellow plastic in an effort to colour correct the light. I can only assume that the original bulb burns Yellower than the new LED which is rated as soft white. Just thought that others who have done the same and not checked should do so as this is not something that I had thought of.
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
Skykomish E29 edited this topic ages ago.

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neptunesnephew says:

I have done some research on the use of LED nav. lights and have come up with the following results:-

Last March, the MCA published Marine Guidance Note MGN 393 (M+F) regarding these lights. These notes give guidance and strong recommendations about best practice and general safety advice. They state that new technology light sources ensuring long life and low power consumption are HIGHLY DESIRABLE. However, recreational and small craft owners should satisfy themselves that these lights fully comply with App. 1 of the Colregs. and that any replacement light sources perform in accordance with these regulations.

It appears that there are 2 problems in retro-fitting LED's to existing lanterns:-
1/. The existing lens may not diffuse the light properly in accordance with the Regs, and
2/. Over a period of time, LED's lose their power, so that even though their consumption remains the same, they eventually fail the regulations.

To deal with problem 1, Owners are recommended to contact the manufacturer of the original light, (not the LED) to ascertain whether the unit will still comply,
Problem 2 is dealt with by replacing the LED when the use by date expires.

I note that Aqua Signal have brought out a new range of LED lights The main difference I have seen from the adverts, is that the gap separating the green and red lenses is considerable, so there must be some difficulty in establishing the cut off point when looking from ahead. Hella don't seem to be making bicolour/tricolour lights just yet, only single lights.

In summary therefore, LED nav lights are legal provided they conform to the Regs. Retro-fitting of LED's to old units should only be done if the units manufacturer certifies that the unit will still comply. Responsibility lies with the individual owner to ensure that his lights are legal.

I will try to put a copy of MGN 393 on my photostream.
ages ago (permalink)

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rothwell_neil says:

Just as a note this is equally applicable to the lens as the bulb. There is no way any of the lenses on Emily would allow as much light through as they used to as they were crazed and hardly see through. Indeed the reason why I first played with an LED was that the old 10W anchor light was useless. The new LED one with new lens is infinitely brighter than the old 10W with old lens. The decay on the LEDs is a fact but as we rarely use these lights and they are rated for 100,000 hours I think they will see me through a few years of infrequent use. The anchor light will be used more than the nav lights. The second fact is that I also went for a 20W equivalent as this still only burns 20% of the energy and is supposed to be the equivalent of 20W rather than the 10W it replaced. They always over egg the claims but if I accept that it may be a real 15W then I still have a long decay curve before I have to worry.

To also get back to the bulbs I replaced, all had an internal layer of carbon on the bulb and this must also result in a loss of light through the life of an incandescent bulb? I think that we might find that our old lights would fail the col regs in terms of visibility at distance. Having said that who has ever been tested in as much as an inspector picking a clear night and checking from 2 miles away. I work on the basis that they are there to help stop people running into me and they certainly look bright enough. Do we run the same regs being under 8 metres?
ages ago (permalink)

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Skykomish E29 says:

To resolve the "Blue" light issue I have bought a sheet of yellow Acetate which having cut out a section to fit behind the "green" section of my bi bow light seems on initial tests to produce a beautiful emerald green light ( this was done on my old lens at home and comparison made holding uncorrected lens up to sun light, then correcting it with the acetate to get the correct colour) it remains to be seen if it will work on the real light, but i can't see why it shouldn't and would mean I can use the LED to save power. not bad for 99p with enough left over to make a couple more if I need to strengthen the yellow
Originally posted ages ago. (permalink)
Skykomish E29 edited this topic ages ago.

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websoldtoys says:

Do you still have enough light with yellow and green filters now 'stacked' atop a white LED lamp?

Dedicated tri-color LED lamps have an advantage there - they don't need phosphor (= a part of any commercial white LED, used to convert the initial blue light to white) or filters (lenses) to produce red or green light - they use unfiltered high intensity LEDs that emit nothing but the desired color. One could perhaps emulate that by building one of those "christmas tree" style multi-LED bulbs to match the original fixture, only composed of three different LED types, each pointing at the corresponding lens. Using their narrow beams as an advantage.
ages ago (permalink)

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Skykomish E29 says:

We used our LEDs on our trip to Harwich leaving at 0300 am and were impressed at how bright they were even with the Acetate in place which after all is very thin and only acts to colour correct.
We have a purpose built Tricolour LED unit but as yet haven't fitted it, and you can't use it whilst motoring anyway.
ages ago (permalink)

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