New LED lights and lamp fixtures for boats have many advantages over traditional incandescent, fluorescent, and halogen lights. Here are the primary benefits of LED lights:
- For a given brightness level, LED lights use only about 10% of the power of a standard incandescent light. For cruisers, that may mean less having to run the motor or generator.
- LED bulbs last practically forever.
- LED lights are not susceptible to damage caused by movement or vibration.
- LED bulbs are not sensitive to temperature or humidity changes.
The one disadvantage of LED lights is that their initial cost is higher than traditional fixtures and bulbs. However, this extra cost is quickly outweighed by energy savings over time and the other practical benefits of LED lights on boats.
A second disadvantage, now mostly relegated to the past, is that some LEDs produced a cold, harsh light or a tightly focused beam instead of diffuse lighting when desired. Improvements over the years have now produced LEDs with a warmer, more diffuse light comparable to that from incandescent fixtures.
Shown here is an LED Dome Light from Aqua Signal, a leader in boat lighting. It produces a warm white light from 21 white LEDs or a red glow from 9 LEDs (to preserve night vision). This model 16602-7 fixture presently retails for about $45 online. The warm white LEDs produce 85 lumens of light, the equivalent of a standard 40-watt bulb (brighter than most cabin lights on boats) with 90% less power draw.
Go on to the next page to see how this LED lamp replaced a standard incandescent fixture in a sailboat's cabin.