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Ask SAIL: Are LED Lights Safe?

Friends have suggested that I change over to LED lights down below. I was told that the LED lights are brighter and require less electricity. However, when I went to purchase LED lights a sales associate told me...

ANDREW MARVIN, BOOTHBAY HARBOR, MAINE

Q: Friends have suggested that I change over to LED lights down below. I was told that the LED lights are brighter and require less electricity. However, when I went to purchase LED lights a sales associate told me that they could damage the fixture they were installed in. Is this true? Could this happen?

Nigel Calder Replies

A: What normally damages lighting fixtures is heat, of which LEDs produce very little, so the fixture should be fine.

However, if what little heat the LEDs do produce is not adequately dissipated, the new LED bulbs themselves can be damaged, depending on the sophistication of the control circuit.

The key things with LEDs, especially for area lighting, are a “warm” color temperature (as opposed to a “cold” color, like that provided by cheap fluorescent lights); a wide enough beam angle to cover all of the area to be lit (or enough LEDs to do this); and buying from a reputable supplier to ensure the quality of the product. It’s important to be aware that LEDs are incredibly sophisticated. If not properly built, they will not provide good service.

However, given quality lights appropriate for the task, you will see a radical reduction in energy consumption. On any kind of an energy-conscious boat, LEDs are a worthwhile investment.

Nigel Calder is an author and expert on boat systems and diesel engines

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