LED Lighting (part 1)

After analysing our projected energy consumption, light for reading made up a large portion of the total need. LED cluster lights are a good component in the constant battle to reduce electrical energy consumption. There is a second part to this, click here, of what we did on our second Maringret.

The light below is actually a red LED Cluster bulb, there really isn’t much indication of the colour until they’re switched on. They run absolutely cold (they aren’t even warm to touch) and supposedly are immune to vibration and heat. About the only trick with them is because they are a polarized device (being based on diodes) you can insert them into the socket “backwards” – if this happens they won’t light up so you rotate them 180 degrees and re-insert them.


View of the ‘Double Bayonet” base on our bulbs

As the saying goes, “there is no free lunch”. Some caveats are:

  • they are only available in what the manufacturer calls “single bayonet” or “double bayonet” socket models; this implies that you may have to buy a lamp shade to match the bulb. We did this and it was far less expensive than if we had bought the same lamp shade in Europe (with a European screw fitting);
  • the light is very directional, almost like a miniature spotlight, this can be good as one berth can be reading without the light flooding across the cabin to other crew members who might be sleeping;
  • the white LED Cluster puts out a very white-blue light which some people may find not to their taste, also it is glares a lot off of glossy magazine pages;
  • they aren’t cheap (especially the white models), this price will come down and we felt that in our case the increased purchase price balanced not having to upgrade our battery banks.

Two years after installing the LED cluster light they are still going strong. In fact we thought so much of our first one that we now have 4: two white ones to read by and one red and one yellow for night time navigation work.

They have lived up to all the claims made for them. The white light actually have a touch of blue in its light and thus makes it harder to see anything in blue ink (but most type is in black ink which isn’t affected). Also the strength of one light is slightly less than one might like for reading by. Perhaps it’s more a fact of how directional the light is – there’s really very little scatter. Certainly if there were two lights in an area then it would be more than ample to read by. And the red and yellow bulbs on flexible leads are invaluable for night time navigation. We keep one on the chart table and one in the cockpit – both are more than strong enough to read charts by, preserve night vision and draw virtually no current.

Rumours are that the car manufacturers are starting to investigate using LED lights for uses such as brake and turn signals, if this does happen then the prices will presumably plummet.


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