LED Lighting (part 2)

Part of replacing the galley was bring the lighting up to modern specs. The first part of this project, click here, details our work on the first Maringret.

As part of our galley overhaul we were determined to get improved lighting conditions and at the same time reduce our electrical consumption. As usual we checked with friends first, initially regarding LED lighting. We had been some of the earliest adopters of these while on the Maxi (click here) but time and technology had moved on. When we bought our first BA15D bulbs the predictions were that the prices would fall once the automotive industry adopted them. Well now, 10 years later, LEDs are standard on busses and cars and the prices have indeed fallen. Our decade old LED bulbs were still working but where the manufacturing process had joined the 6 LEDs to each other problems had developed and the connections were intermittent – this was not an LED problem but rather in the connecting circuitry. What we bought was the only option back then, this time around we hoped to have a choice of higher quality.

We wanted indirect lighting where possible and spot lights where we had to and, if possible, we wanted to hide the actual light sources. A new development over the last decade were light strips where multiple LEDs are mounted in a long moulded strip which encapsulates a lens mechanism. White LEDs are now available in different shades of white. The white LEDs from 10 years ago had an element of blue in the white which made the light appear very cold. By comparison incandescent bulbs have a proportion of yellow in the light which makes them appear warm. White LEDs are now listed by their Colour Temperature:

White LED Colour Temperature
Match flame 1,700K
Candle or sunset 1,850K
incandescent light bulb 2,700 – 3,300K
Warm White 2,700 – 3,500K
Moonlight 4,100K
Cold White 5,000 – 7,000°K
click here for more details

LEDs are very directional in their light propagation, various mounting systems and/or lenses are used to manipulate the light output with the result being that beam angles are available ranging from 20 degrees to 140. There are now 3 and 5 watt LED bulbs available with either single or multiple LEDs providing the light. The power consumption compared to incandescent or halogen bulbs is much less. Various tables exist on the internet giving conversions, the ones we found seemed to indicate that there is approximately a 8:1 power saving for the same amount of light – this means that a 5 watt LED bulb will roughly replace a 40 watt halogen bulb. It must be noted that present high efficiency LEDs run quite hot and need ventilation, apparently they will just burn out if they overheat. Some websites claim that the efficiency figures have been manipulated in favour of LEDs as LEDs project light in one direction only while incandescent and halogen bulbs give off light in all directions. The argument is that if you want spots (i.e. light cast in a tight pattern) then LEDs are indeed much more efficient while if you want flood lighting (i.e. light in broad or all-round patterns) then LEDs are still more efficient but the difference is not as great as in directional lighting.

With LED lighting being so directional the specification of lighting intensity is changing. Previously people could say a 40 watt bulb, for example, would be enough to light a specific area. This has now been re-quantified in “lux” and “lumens” where lumens is the “amount” of light and lux is the “density” of light on a specific surface. So 1,000 lumens cast onto a square meter gives 1,000 lux, but if the 1,000 lumens are cast onto 10 square meters then the result is 100 lux. When we were comparing LED bulbs we were suspicious that the certification was a little random, in the end we bought or borrowed a few bulbs and tried them out. Sometimes the rating numbers didn’t correspond to actual usage.

There are two styles of lighting: flood and spot. For our galley we needed some of both, where overhead valences existed (e.g. over the stove) we could use flood lighting while for areas without structure over them (such as the pony wall) we needed spot lighting which we would cast from a point where the bulb could be mounted discretely.

Flood Lighting – LED Light Strips

Friends had found a company called LabCraft who made a very nice LED light strip labeled Orion. These friends had purchased and installed the light strips so we were able to view them in situ. The warm white light strip came in both 1 meter and 1/2 meter lengths with the 1 meter length drawing about 1/3 amps for 60 LEDs. We bought one to try and were very pleased. Despite have the lumen ratings we needed to try out various mounting positions, angles, heights etc. Because the light strip is made up of discrete LEDs there are various patterns that show in shadows as there are actually 60 shadows being cast. This effect is accentuated on reflective metal surfaces (such as stove tops) but is really not noticeable on mat surfaces (such as the countertop).


ig41_galleyLighting became ig41_galleyInstallation7

The diagram and picture above show that there are 2 staggered 1-meter Orion light strips over the stove; there are 3 staggered 1/2 meter light strips over the fridge opening and then there are 2 side-by-side 1/2 meter lengths under the companionway. The picture was taken with only the lighting from the LED light strips (i.e. no day light through windows, no internal lighting other than the LED light strips, no camera flash). The Orion light strips have a 70 degree light angle.

Orion Light Strips Meters LEDs Lux Halogen Equivalency Amps
2 @ 1m 2.0 2 x 60 = 120 2 x 35 = 70 2 x 10 = 20 2 x 0.3 = 0.6
5 @ 1/2 m 2.5 5 x 30 = 150 5 x 17.5 = 98 5 x 5 = 25 5 x 0.15 = 0.75

4.5m 270 LEDs 168 lux 45 watts (4 amps) 1.35 amps

The first five columns in the table above are from Labcraft’s product data sheet for the Orion LED light Strip (in warm white), the last column is our measured power consumptions. Based on these figures of 1.35 amps for LED lighting and 4 amps for halogen lighting it would seem that we are providing the lighting for 1/3 of the power consumption – and the LEDs run cool which means no extra heat being created inside the boat when in hotter climates. The figure for Lux in the table is based on 1 meter distance where as our LEDs are about 1/2 meter from the work surface – presumably that would mean that we are casting 336 lux onto the work surface with the strip lighting.

Spot Lighting

We have two uses for spot lighting: lighting isolated areas on countertops (e.g. the pony wall) and for reading lights. We swapped the bulbs in our reading lights 10 years ago (click here) but technology has moved on and although the individual LEDs were fine the connections were getting intermittent. We found a BA15D to MR16 converter at Searolf – it worked perfectly but our lamp shades were not long/tall enough to cover the bulb combined with the adapter plug.

For spot lighting the galley we went with MR16 bulbs – this is the type of bub that prior to the advent of LED lighting was known as the halogen bulb. By using the same plug mechanism low power LED bulbs may be directly substituted for power hungry halogen bulbs.

  • Technology had moved a lot in 10 years and we had to bring ourselves up to speed on LED lighting
  • There are now quality lighting options (such as Labcraft who offer a 2 year guarantee)
  • There are now various additional parameters (e.g. beam angle, colour temperature, lux rating) to be dealt with when selecting LED lighting
  • The housing standards of most countries are phasing out incandescent light bulbs, replacing them with compact fluorescents, and it is expected that eventually those will be replaced with low power LED bulbs. This has immense implications for the variety and quality of LED lighting.

The LED light strips have worked very well.

After 10 years the LED strips over the stove are about 60% dead – the other strips are still working perfectly.

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