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LEDs the story so far

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rothwell_neil says:

LED lighting

I first got into LEDs through mountain biking and the fact that a crowd of us do more at night than during the day. Lights are an issue as it is good to see where the trail goes and batteries are a pain as they are bulky and go flat. The old halogens were good but this new generation of LEDs are fantastic and the energy burn is minimal.

This is a summary of the various things that I have tried and the success or problems encountered. As far as problems, there are very few with LEDS other than the fact that they all lie about the power output and that they tend to be harsh blue white light rather than soft yellow. Not an issue but you have to get used to it. Some are yellower than others. As far as light output the ideal light is 100 lumens plus for general lighting and less for spot/reading, however never believe the Chinese/HK literature as they lie!
Head torch/torch

If you can buy ones with a Luxeon bulbs these are amongst the best ever (Cree are good too). Not sure if they are the best but won’t be beaten by much. Phillips make these beauties and can get 100+ lumens from a 1W bulb, slightly lower power ones still give out 50+. Tend to be one bulb rather than lots of transmitters. My 1Watt luxeon from gooutdoors cost me £6 and is incredible. The 3 Watt hand torch that I got is amazing. Aldi/Lidl do them every so often but this company Alpkit do a good one at a fair price. www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?target=product&product_i...
The Luxeon items from china and HK tend not to be true Luxeons, having said that I have some good 1W and 3W torches from HK that cost a couple of quid and whilst may not be Luxeon standard are good with good battery life.


LED Boat/Caravan Light - 6" Rail Light


I came to this one late in ‘the project’ and they are fantastic, 120mA so about 1.4 watts and quite soft light, ideal for above the quarter berth for reading and general light. Initially I was after these for general lighting but they tend to produce a focussed beam. Very well made in aluminium and a quality product at a fantatic price of about £8 inc delivery from e-bay. Search on the title, they also do 12” and 12” combined red/white lights. I now have one of these each side above the quarter berths replacing the eyeball as they are lower profile and I tended to catch the eyeball. The titles for all the pictures come from ebay items.


Light Panel 24 SMD LED
The search for a general light to fit on the mast support bulkhead was tricky as the 10W fluorescent was good. However I finally got to a good solution for general lighting and it employs 4 of the above panels mounted on a 100mm*50mm*21mm plastic box to hold the connector and a switch. These together take 200mA and at 2.4W give plenty of light. As they cost £1.30 each inc p&p a good deal.


Eyeball lamp 1W LED MR11 bulb


MR11 bulb for eyeball lamp

The Eyeball lamps are good and the 1W bulb gives plenty of light, you can also get soft lights. I prefer the type of bulb shown above as they cast general light rather than the ones that have little bead tops. Directional and very good, also reasonable, about £12 inc bulb but you do need to have a spacer behind them and that can be bought or made out of 1” ply.


G4 light using 1W g4 LED



This is a flush version of the eyeball and it is ideal for the forepeak as it gives a nice dispersed light for the whole area, not as good for reading but again good general light. I had this fitting and the eyeball already and the nice thing is that you can get direct replacements for the old fittings.

Anchor cockpit light.

This company in Macclesfield Ultraleds supply quality bulbs and you can believe all they say about wattage and lumens.

This one below is the 15W equivalent and I use it as an anchor light. It can be seen from 2 miles as I have checked and can be used as a tricolor but washes out the green. At £12 a good deal and claimed to be marinised.



For the tricolor they do a 25W equivalent and this is 3W drain but also yellow light so doesn’t need compensation. I have one to fit when the mast comes down this year. As my existing masthead tricolor is 20W this is a big saving on power. However £20 and you can get a new Nasa for £45 although not rated when healed apparently. On the plus side a straight swap in the existing fitting which also allows me to fit my wind indicator on the whip aerial. The Nasa requires a bracket to offset it to clear the aerial.



36 LED Bay15d

I have bought a few of these as they are car replacements and as such cheap. They provide good light for the cockpit and at about £3 a pair worth a try. I have the 68 LED versions in the push and pull pit nav lights. Just need to leave them all on and see if they can be seen at 2 miles. Seem very bright so far when viewed in the marina. At 1W they are attractive propositions and the ones I got at £4 each seem quite nice and yellow so the green is green.

68 SMD LED Bay 15d

LED strings

Finally I bought a string of bulbs to play with. They provide a nice background light and would be good under the cupboards along the side above the quarter berths. They provide nice soft light and quite a bit at that. However other than providing romantic lighting for an A24 I can’t see much use. As my wife doesn’t go near the boat these will be staying in the garage looking for an application! Cost a few quid with P&P.

24cm White LED Flexible Strip
Originally posted at 4:48AM, 30 November 2010 PDT (permalink)
rothwell_neil edited this topic 107 months ago.

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NormanKlipspringer is a group administrator NormanKlipspringer says:

Thank you for such a comprehensive breakdown of your experiences. I shall be coming back to this article when I am considering the lights for Klipspringer.
107 months ago (permalink)

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jendave1 says:

Excellent information, very helpful - thanks Neil!
107 months ago (permalink)

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pjbharrison says:

Brilliant, Neil.
You've put a lot of time and effort into this subject. Thanks for passing on the benefit of your experience, research and engineering knowledge.
Just to pick your brain a little further...
How would you recommend connecting them to the fuse board? Would you use more than one circuit for the lights, ie one for Nav light and one for interior etc? What fuses would be required for the lighting? Would the existing fuse do or should it be replaced with a "lighter" fuse?
107 months ago (permalink)

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rothwell_neil says:

The great thing about LEDs is that the low current means that you really can just daisy chain them in parallel without worrying about the power. 10 1 watt LED all strung out on the same daisy chain will draw less than 1 Amp so there is no issue. I just ran one twin core 5A cable round the side and dropped off a positive and negative off to each light. I fused the 'cabin light' circuit back at the main switch with a 5A fuse just in case of a short not because of the draw. Could use a smaller fuse but a short is about the only issue and 5A is fine. Also everything else is 5A so makes life easy.

I also run the nav lights off a separate switch panel as they are best kept separate. If the nav lights blow then want to be able to see to fix them!
107 months ago (permalink)

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rothwell_neil says:

Should also state that you have to modify the cheap 15d bulbs if you buy these as nav lights use double contacts and the ones shown are dual output for stop/indicators with the case as negative. I insulate the low power terminal with epoxy and then solder a wire from case over this contact. A fiddle but I was experimenting, probably best buying from Ultraleds!
107 months ago (permalink)

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pjbharrison says:

Hi Neil
Got some interior led lights and now want to get a masthead replacement bulb. I'm impressed with the light from them.
Does the 25W bulb mentioned above require modification?
68 SMD LED Bay 15d - source?
Originally posted 105 months ago. (permalink)
pjbharrison edited this topic 105 months ago.

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rothwell_neil says:


If you buy the LED replacements from Ultraled they have a circuit in the body so that doesn't matter which is positive and which is negative. Thus no matter how the original wiring is they will work out of the box. The other advantage is that the tricolour is colour balanced so yellow light and the green is green. So the 25W replacement from ultraled is out of the box and the wiring will work if it works now. I also have steaming lights and for these I have used the 68 SMD LED 15d as shown in the stream. With these I ground off the low power (they are turn and brake lights) moded them with the copper and then as they are polarity sensitive made sure the wiring to the lights was correct to turn them on. Simple really if they don't work reverse polarity as you won't damage them. If I had gone this route first then I would also use one of these for the main interior light in the appropriate fitting, I wouldn't replace the interior strips as these are great for reading.. The amount of light you get for the amps is fantastic and also 360 degree.
105 months ago (permalink)

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