Thursday, October 31, 2013

New LED Fixtures And Lights Installed

Over at s/v Cay of Sea, Rick has renewed his light fixtures with new LED-based ones, and gained a significant improvement in power consumption...
It was a tremendous relief to get the old, mismatched fixtures off the boat.  They’ve bothered me for years, but I wasn’t going to pay the very high price for new fixtures and LED bulbs.  I knew if I waited long enough, LED technology would become more reasonably priced.

Four different light fixture styles on the boat.  Now we're down to two.
Four different light fixture styles on the boat. Now we’re down to two.

I will install a couple of the old fixtures in the engine compartment for convenience.

After some slight hesitation, I removed the round fixture in the head.  It is a festoon bulb, and gives off a lot of light.  And heat.  Meaning, of course, that it burns through electricity at a tremendous rate.  The new bulbs are rated at 3.12 watts (each).   That’s .26 amps. Not much, and not much heat either.  And for 3.12 watts per lamp, I get this kind of light output:

It's too bright to look at.
It’s too bright to look at.

It's going to take some getting used to not seeing that big round fixture in the head.
It’s going to take some getting used to not seeing that big round fixture in the head.  Looks like I’ve got some cleaning and touch-up to do on the paint where it was mounted.

The light quality tends to be a bit harsh, especially if there are two or three lamps lit at once.  However, there is no lack of bright.  I think that’s good – far better than dim.  So with four of these lit at once, I’m using 1 amp.  That’s a phenomenal amount of light for that little power.

I made the electrical connections with butt connectors, as you can see in the above photo, except for the first lamp, which unaccountably was wired with spade connectors.  I saved my self a couple of crimps, and used the existing female connectors, installing spades and then shrink tubing on the lamp wires.

Just this one lamp had spade connectors.  Can't figure out why, and I don't remember doing it.  Maybe a previous owner.
Just this one lamp had spade connectors. Can’t figure out why, and I don’t remember doing it. Maybe a previous owner did it.

Now I have a confession to make.  I’ve never told this to anyone. . .   I make my crimp connections with vice grips.  I know, I know.  I’m supposed to use ratcheting crimpers (the more expensive, the better).  But I discovered a few years ago that vice grips do this really well.  I mean, really well.  The crimps don’t pull out.  You can get the crimp almost completely flat with successive adjustments of the locking mechanism.  So, I already have vice grips, but I don’t have the expensive ratchet crimpers.

Oh, one cool thing I discovered about this brand of light fixture, is that it is not polarity sensitive.  The bulbs work regardless, which surprises me.  LEDs are typically polarity sensitive, so I guess there is circuitry either in the bulb or fixture that accommodates reversed polarity and allows them to light up anyway.

1 comment:

  1. The lack of "polarity sensitivity" can in some cases be a bad thing. The "magic" that facilitates that feature can at times be a problem as the circuitry may, especially in the cheaper units, be a RF (Radio Frequency) noise generator that may interfere with your VHF or especially your HF SSB radio.

    Also, please note regarding your comment about the "harsh" light that the better quality LED bulbs feature a warmer i.e., less harsh light. Do a search with your favorite search engine and you will find numerous articles defining the color spectrum of lights including LED's. In some sensitive locations you may find replacing the stock bulbs that came with your fixtures with replacement bulbs that better match the activities performed under them makes sense. Keeping the stock bulbs as backups/spares works just fine. For example, we selected warmer bulbs for our general lighting and above the head mirror but choose cooler (harsher) bulbs over the Galley sink and counter spaces. That's the beauty of LED's one can match the color to the function the light serves which while making the best use of the Amps from the battery bank also addresses the aesthetic issues that are Oh so important when living in a ver small space for a longtime.

    Be well.

    S/V Silhouette
    Currently anchored Christmas Island, Kiribati


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