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LED Update

Just back in the studio after a whirlwind 4-day visit to England... dropped in to the yard to see the new 49 then to the Southampton Boatshow... I’ll cover this all in chapters...

LED Lighting Update

Finally it looks like interior lighting can reasonably be done by LEDs! For a couple of years now there have been workable LED Navigation lights, but we had not found a true interior “down light”. Every time I had tested a replacement bulb for the interior it came with glowing and completely unrealistic claims. “50,000 hours”, “no heat”, “saves power” and “replaces a 20 watt halogen bulb”. We have a large bag full of all the rubbish bulbs I have bought and found to be lacking.

50,000 hours - this claim is merely stating the LED manufacturer’s claim that LEDs themselves can last that long before losing too much brightness. It is rarely based on testing by a reputable light manufacturer. The LED light itself consists of more than the LED - there is a circuit called a driver that supplies the LED with the correct voltage and current. Then there is the connection of however many LEDs are used in the light. These have often been quite amateurish looking like someone soldered it all together in the garage. hardly fit for the marine environment and certainly not tested for 50,000 hours. We have had bulbs fail in less than 200 hours.

No Heat! - Another silly claim. In our experience LEDs that produce no heat also produce almost no light. The old LEDs that had 30 small LEDs clustered together didn’t create heat but were so dim we found them unusable. The fact is that LEDs radiate very little other than visible light so don’t feel hot like a halogen bulb. But the driver circuits produce heat.

“replaces a 20 watt halogen” - This seemed to mean they would fit the same fixture. Bulbs we tested before this year didn’t match a 10 watt halogen for output, let alone a 20 watt.

Specialised LED lights. I think part of the problem is that LEDs lights need to be made from the ground up to work with LED technology. Create a housing to marine standards that includes the LEDs, driver and reflector. Test them for light output and compare truthfully to a baseline halogen light.

IMTRA has made that commitment to LED lighting. Their stand at Southampton is outside in a bright environment - all the lights are installed and running and are designed from scratch to accommodate LED technology. They have advanced drivers and the lights really are bright.

Derek from Imtra in the US was at the show and demonstrated the latest from their extensive LED range. I am FINALLY happy that these lights can really replace the halogens and save power. The lights he showed me are proper replacements for the 20 watt halogens really creating that much light. They use more power than the LEDs I have previously tested since they REALLY DO produce the light. Yet still they use just 5.5 watts each (saving almost 75%). And they look well built with solid heat sinks on the back to absorb the heat from the driver circuit.

More from the show to follow...

- Raymarine Exciting new Radar and Plotters!
- Mastervolt system update
- Chat with Designer Rob Humphreys
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