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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Replacement LED Light Bulb
|Author||Topic: Replacement LED Light Bulb|
posted 07-08-2015 04:34 PM ET (US)
Is there an LED replacement for a GE 1152 that is suitable for navigation lighting?
posted 07-09-2015 02:26 AM ET (US)
There are many LED assemblies sold as replacements for a 1152 miniature incandescent electric lightbulb. Whether they are suitable for use as replacements in navigation lighting depends on the light output from the LED, both in its intensity and its spectra, and the orientation of the light output relative to the mounting base. I cannot offer a first-hand recommendation.
posted 07-09-2015 02:31 AM ET (US)
[Moved to SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL for discussion.]
posted 07-09-2015 02:35 AM ET (US)
I am curious about the motivation to change the navigation lamps to use LED lightbulbs. Can you explain why you see the LED as an advantage?
How many hours per year are your navigation lights showing?
posted 07-09-2015 11:07 AM ET (US)
I just want the additional brightness.
posted 07-09-2015 11:55 AM ET (US)
* Low current draw won't kill your battery
I'm planning to change mine over at some point. The anchor light should be trivial. My main concern for the nav light is the spectra; white LEDs typically put out mostly blue and yellow light; they might not be very bright through red/green filters. Or it might be fine. CG rules say "visible at 2 miles" I think which leaves lots of leeway. Please let us know what you come up with.
posted 07-09-2015 12:45 PM ET (US)
I made the switch to LED for my 1995 OUTRAGE 21. One of the original lights stopped working. I doubt if it had burned out because I rarely used the nav lights. I figure it was the saltwater environment causing something to malfunction. When considering fixing/replacing, the factors "szan" and "n1ywb" noted were exactly my motivations for going LED. The red and green lights have a 2nm range and the white light has a 3nm range. Very bright. The chrome housings looked almost identical to the originals. Maybe a little more contemporary in style but not significantly different. I believe these are Perko brand. Sorry for not remembering the brand/part number exactly, it has been a long time since I did the switch. I remember it being in the $100 ballpark for the separate red/green and another $125 for the 3nm white. Been happy ever since.
posted 07-09-2015 02:15 PM ET (US)
Yeah if you change the fixture to an LED fixture then no problems. I want to preserve my 1975 [navigation lamp] fixture. My plan is to test with a white LED bulb. If that fails due to [light] spectrum then I'll fabricate a custom lamp out of red and green LED's. I used to do LED product engineering so I can whip something like that up in an hour.
posted 07-09-2015 04:15 PM ET (US)
On my 1990 boat the incandescent miniature lightbulbs are all still original. I do not do much boating after dark, so the navigation lighting does not get many hours. I can see an interest in going to an LED if a boat was operating for hundred of hours per year at night. But I don't see much of an advantage to the LED lamp instead of incandescent on the notion of greater reliability. Actually, from various anecdotal reports and from my own experience with LED lamps, they can burn out rather unexpectedly. Unless the LED replacement is carefully designed and made from quality components, there is no guarantee it will have a longer service life than a good-quality incandescent lightbulb.
I just replaced the rear left-turn signal bulb in my 1995 truck. It was the first tail light or running light lamp to go; it took 20 years to burn out, That bulb was illuminated a lot more often than my boat's navigation lamps. A replacement was readily available for about $1.75. I did not feel like there was any particular compelling reason that I would begin a project to design my own replacement just to convert it to LED illumination.
The light spectra is a further problem. You can't be certain the LED is emitting light that will pass through the color filter of the lamp's lens with the proper intensity.
As for the power savings, that is really not a consideration at all. You might save about 5-Watts of power. It might take years to add up the power savings to one kilowatt hour. You can buy a kilowatt-hour of electricity for pennies.
The lower power of an LED might also remove heat. Loss of heat may not always be a great benefit, and it could be harmful. Generating some heat inside the lamp may keep it dry and free from fogging.
The orientation of the light beam coming from the bulb is also a concern. Some of the LED replacement bulbs make assumptions about where the light should be directed.
Then there is the legality of the navigation lights themselves. They were made for a particular incandescent lightbulb to illuminate them. If you change to an LED bulb the lamp loses its certification.
posted 07-09-2015 04:54 PM ET (US)
It's a dirty little secret of the LED industry that LEDs hate heat and it accelerates their failure. And it's hard to get the heat out, you need a big heatsink which eliminates the small-size advantage of LEDs. That's why high power LED bulbs don't really last 50,000 hours as is often claimed. But this is primarily an issue in high power fixtures like household illumination bulbs. It's also related to poor quality control and cheap Chinese manufacturing but that affects just about everything you buy today. You don't see it happen as much with lower power bulbs like the kind you would use in a boat. Not to say it never happens; LEDs are not immune to the power of Murphy.
On the power it's not about saving money; that's obviously irrelevant. It's about saving your battery power. The stock bulbs are pretty low power but they still draw enough to deplete a battery if left on for long enough. Perko uses a 10w bulb in their stern lights; that draws about 0.8 amps. Leave it on for 24 hours and that's about 20 amp hours depleted from you battery. Now it's half dead. Granted that's probably not enough to kill it unless it's pretty worn out. Now maybe add some electronics and a livewell and a lot of night fishing to the equation. Or some young assistants that like to play in the boat. It gives you a slightly better margin of safety.
You are correct in that there is no COMPELLING reason to go LED.
posted 07-09-2015 07:19 PM ET (US)
This may be a wee bit off the point, but, when a group of us were on a cruise to Isle Royale in western Lake Superior, we all hit a pea soup fog bank about 30 miles out. Nobody could see the other boats' nav lights at 100 feet, let alone 2 miles. What we found was one boat, Outlier, had LED work/flood lights that lit the rear cockpit. We could see them twice as far, in the fog, as the other boats' incandescent flood lights. It may have to do with the color spectrum of the lights but I'm changing to LEDs for the increased visibility. Even through a Red/Green lens they are brighter.
posted 07-09-2015 07:54 PM ET (US)
I expect it won't be long before LED lights are standard equipment on new boats.
There are too many advantages to be ignored. The automobile industry is rapidly making LEDs more affordable.
Aside: This is from a new computer. I hope cookies or whatever will be set.
posted 07-09-2015 11:25 PM ET (US)
If I were making a long ocean passage on a sailboat and was concerned about battery capacity, then switching to LED lighting would make sense. But my boat is an outboard. Even when underway at idle speed I have 10-Amperes of excess charging current available to run my navigation lighting.
If I spent a lot of time at anchor where I needed to have an ANCHOR LIGHT showing all night, the power savings of an LED might be attractive.
Re the cost--the LED replacements tend to be more than the incandescent bulbs by a factor of at least five. You are talking about a $10 LED instead of a $2 incandescent.
LED lighting makes sense if you own a warehouse with a zillion square feet of floor space and you need to illuminate it 24/7/365. You can save a lot of electrical power and utility bills by investing in LED lighting.
I don't have any problem with buying NEW navigation lamps that use LED's for illumination and were designed for them from the start. But I am not jumping for the chance to replace an 1152 with an LED cobbled-up by some low-priced China manufacturer, imported by some guy in Timbuktu, and sold on the internet with slow-boat delivery. No thanks.
posted 07-09-2015 11:51 PM ET (US)
Another place I'd go for LED lighting is in the cabin reading lamps above the berths. We often turn in early and read in bed for an hour when cruising. If we are not at the dock, the reading lights are quite a load on the HOUSE battery.
posted 07-10-2015 11:38 AM ET (US)
If you anchor out overnight, you need to keep your anchor light illuminated. An incandescent bulb illuminated overnight can deplete your battery. An LED of the same brightness will deplete it much less. Incandescent lamps make sense for the red and green nav lights, since these are only used when underway.
I agree with Jim's remark about the cabin lights. They will put a significant drain on the house battery as well. When we overnight in our Outrage cuddy, we light the cabin with a couple of cheap LED "puck" lights from Harbor Freight. They are battery powered, and we've run them for many hours without any noticeable drain to the original batteries. They came with the hook side of a Velcro strip on the back, and they stick nicely to the cabin headliner. You can position them anyplace you like, which is nice when using them as a reading lamp. I have one inside the center console as well. The ones I have are similar to this:
posted 07-13-2015 02:29 PM ET (US)
Ok, here is another perspective. LED's are far more reliable than incandescent lamps. The incandescent system's primary weakness is the lamp/socket connection. Anyone that boats in salt water knows the difficulty of keeping any unsealed electrical connection in tact due to the corrosive atmosphere. LED's can be potted so that they are water proof--no connections to the lamp are exposed. (The power lead connections are the same in both systems.) Another advantage is useful light out of the system. An incandescent lamp produces mostly Infra-red light (heat) followed by red, orange, and yellow wavelengths. The distribution of light from an incandescent bulb is almost 360 degrees in all directions. This light has to pass through a colored lens that filters out all but the red or green light needed for navigation. So by the time you lose the light going the wrong way and the light that is the wrong color, incandescent lamps are very dim. In comparison, LED's can be formulated to produce either red or green light. The transmission of light is in a 120 degree cone, so can be aimed in the direction needed for a navigation lamp. So LED's are the right color light going in the right direction.
Jim's question basically is "At what cost?" and he is correct. I guess I would contend that the cost of the lamp should be measured in the cost of a failure. If having a NAV light go out cuts a trip short, leads to an accident, or something else, this is worth far more than a simple replacement bulb. One obvious answer is to keep a spare on board along with the tools to replace it. My experience with electrical stuff in a salt water environment is that when it fails, repair requires many more parts than just a replacement lamp.
posted 07-14-2015 04:02 PM ET (US)
If the lightbulb socket is the weak link, a replacement LED lamp that uses the same socket won't increase the reliability of that socket.
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