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post #34 of Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Here's an interesting bit about USCG certification and testing. We've been fabricating purpose-built molded in, flush mount USCG certified navigation lamps for over 8 years, for powered yachts up to 50 meters. The lamps are 2NM for vessels to that length. I started making these lights when it was mandated that all vessels after 2004 had to have certified lamps installed. I compare the law to seat belts in cars; accidents occurred because there was no mandatory safety standards in place.

Imanna tests for the color chromaticity, beam angles and beam cut-off, in addition to other testing procedures. The angles are critical because the beams of the port and stbd must meet dead-ahead, parallel to the centerline, have sharp cut-off and can't overlap. The stern must also meet the beams of the port and stbd and can't overlap. This assures no doubt of which direction the approaching or receding vessel is headed in pitch dark.

The color coordinates of the red and green LED's are given in wavelength and use the 1972 COLREG chart for color specifications for land and sea. Traffic lights and navigation lights have the same coordinate standards; deep red and blue-green. White was a bit tricky for LED's, as none existed in 1972 when the COLREGS standards were adopted by the Coast Guard. White LED's did not exist, so the warm white as from a filament bulb was the rule. Most white LED's that were available were too white. Warm white LED's were scarce and very expensive. White LED's color coordinates are listed as x,y coordinates and must fall into the area specified by the COLREG 1972 standards.

The reason I went through all this is to try to settle any misconceptions or doubts about LED's for navigation. All manufacturers of LED running lights must have them tested to these standards, the same standards for ANY TYPE of bulb. The ONLY difference with the LED testing is that the lab takes into account the decay of LED output over it's life and averages that into the intensity results.

Imanna tests more lamps to the required standards than any other lab in the US, as far as I know. Since the standards (color, intensity, beam angles) are the same, regardless of bulb, you can be assured that LED lamps are as safe. In addition, they last many times longer and are immune to vibration. Our lamps, through failure analysis and R&D, have about a 0.3 percent failure rate. They are also fully potted and have a 5 year warranty, the longest in the industry.
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