Skip to main content

Putting LEDs to the Test Page 2

In recent years, LED lighting has gone from the fringe to mainstream in terms of marine applications. Today LEDs are replacing halogen and other incandescent bulbs both on deck and below, in uses ranging from masthead running lights to reading lights in the saloon.Despite their higher costs—about three times that of their halogen counterparts— LEDs have gained ground thanks to their
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

When running off the battery, the LEDs required a little under 30 percent of the current required by their halogen counterparts. When hooked up to our constant power supply, they drew about a quarter of the current. In either case, we’re talking about a substantial increase in efficiency and savings.

Running the entire halogen lighting plan for just two hours, for example, would discharge 37.26 AH (2 hours X 18.63 amps) from the boat’s house bank. Those same two hours would discharge just 11.90 AH when using LEDs. With the 25.36AH you save, you could run a refrigerator for half a day. And remember, this is for a conservative lighting plan. It also doesn’t include any other light usage after the sun goes down.

Let’s say some of the crew stays up late on a rainy night swapping yarns in the saloon. Two additional hours of one-upping each other over rum drinks will add another 30.98AH to the daily load with a set of halogen bulbs in the saloon, while LEDs will consume just 9.58AH. Now the total lighting difference for the evening is 46.76AH—and we still haven’t included things like courtesy lights, cabin lights or reading lights after the crew’s less garrulous members retire to their quarters.

In terms of dollars and cents, it’s next to impossible to quantify the differences given all the variables involved. These include everything from battery cost to fuel cost, alternator efficiency, the cost differential of the lights themselves and the difference in ownership costs of the lights given the longevity of LEDs.

Nonetheless, the switch to LEDs might easily allow you to get by with a slightly smaller house bank. You might also be able to add an additional piece of equipment without upping your total power usage or putting more strain on your house bank, thereby prolonging its life.

Never forget that a battery’s rated amp-hour capacity is far greater than the number of amp hours it can actually provide. Because of the inefficiencies inherent in traditional battery technology (modern lithium-ion batteries behave considerably differently) a 50AH difference in energy usage is roughly equivalent to 100AH or more in battery capacity.

Equally important, if not more so, is the impact this savings will have on generator or alternator running time. Again, lots of variables are involved, but aboard a typical 35-footer, like the one in this test, the difference could be an hour of engine running time per day on passage or at anchor. Now the decision to switch to LEDs becomes a quality-of-life issue. No matter what the cost of fuel, nobody likes running their auxiliary for the purpose of topping off the batteries. In terms of peace and quiet alone, this simple study shows LEDs are worth the trouble and expense.

Related

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster-EP-2048

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more