Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Conversion to LED

On a boat there is a finite amount of power available to use. We've never exceeded our limits on the boat but we barely have anything on there that sucks down the juice. We'll be adding things like a fridge (big energy sucker), a chartplotter, (possibly) a windlass and probably multiple other little items that will contribute to power consumption and, while the addition of solar panels to the boat will help replenish what we use, using less from the start can only help the (potential) issue.

I've been reading a lot about people switching from the old incandescent lights to LED lights, which use something like 90% less power. Less power is good, but these bulbs are also suposed to put out the same if not more light...and at 90% less power draw I don't have to feel like I'm in a cave, afraid to use more than one light at a time. Then there's the heat that the incadescents put out, not good in tropical heat. Another point for LEDs.
The ever popular 1141 bulbs we replaced

The one drawback of LED lights is that they can be expensive! As in, like $30-$40 a bulb depending on where you look. That won't work. But fortunately, prices have been coming down and there are a lot of manufacturers to choose from. Plus, they're suposed to work for somewhere around 50,000 hours or something rediculous like that, so the cost doesn't sting quite so much. All you have to do is find the right size LED bulb and plug it into your existing fixture and voila! You've converted!

The only pic in the cabin when the lights were on. Not very useful, oh, well.

After checking reviews online I ordered 10 bulbs for the interior light fixtures from M4. They made it easy to figure out which bulbs we needed and had several different colors, 'classes' and prices. They offered free shipping and an automatic 10% off orders of 10 or more bulbs. Why, 10 is exactly how many I need, how handy! I got 10 warm white bulbs for a whopping $89.90. Not too bad if you ask me.
Our new, fancy LEDs
We put them in a few weeks back but weren't able to try them out until this past weekend...and I love them! I opted for the 'warm' white color as oposed to the 'cool' or 'natural' because I've read that the cooler the color the more harsh and unforgiving (eek!) the light can be. If memory serves me right, the new bulbs are almost the exact same warmness as the previous incandescent bulbs, which is exactly what I was going for. Although I don't think the 'natural' white would have been too bad either.
Sorry for the blurriness, had to turn the flash off which apparently also turns off the stabilizer function
Bright, but nice and cozy at the same time!

When we initially put in the LEDs we noticed that about 7 of the 10 lights caused interference with the radio/vhf. This could be bad. Very bad. Ron read that a lot of people had experienced this issue and our friend Matt said they had to just keep trying different bulbs until there was no more interference. Sounds expensive! But if that's our only option...
I emailed M4 to see what they had to say about it and they said that they haven't had many complaints of such interference and that the bulbs are identical to one another so any interference between fixtures is probably related to our electrical system somehow. He recommended that we try something called a snap choke core on the problem fixtures, which could help.
I have no idea what that interference was from because when we tried all the lights this weekend there was no interference from any of them. The only difference was that we were now in the water and not in the cradle in the boatyard. Whatever the cause, I hope we don't have to deal with it in the future. The mystery remains... 
Otherwise, we're completely happy with the switch! Next up, we need to get LEDs for our anchor light, spreader lights and nav lights and we'll have more power than we know what to do with ! ;)


  1. Here's another good source for LED lighting. The product ships from Singapore. I have used them and found the quality of product and pricing to be excellent. It take about 2 weeks for the registered free shipping by air mail Singapore Post :

    Best Wishes,


    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

  2. Great info! Thanks, this is coming up on our project list. This will help cut down the research quite a bit.

    Fair winds,