Join Date: Apr 2006
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights
"All boats that require navigation lights need to have navigation lights that meet the COLREGS definition & specifications of a navigation light. It is the law. "
Yes. Except, not all boats are required to have navigation lights. The USCG only has jurisdiction over "navigable waters". There's plenty of water and plenty of boats that are not required to meet USCG regulations. And even in USCG jurisdiction, not all boats are required to have full nav lights.
So as I've said, there ARE legitimate markets for nav lights, for the boat owner who "wants" lights but is not required to have them. Some of those markets--like some of the Finger Lakes in upstate NY--are large bodies of water. There's no way to drive a boat from (at least some) of them to the sea, so no USCG jurisdiction, but a boater might simply want lights, on a budget.
"How do you know you have navigation lights that meet the requirements if they have never been tested??? "
You don't, if you are just staring at the box on the shelf. And, even if the lights have been tested and exceed the regulation, they still may not have been submitted for CERTIFICATION, which is something else again.
I can take a handful of parts and build a light that exceeds all USCG certification requirements, and I can have confidence in that by simply going three or four miles away and using my Mark-I Eyeball (yeah, they're the original series) to confirm the light is visible. Now, exact colors, you can quibble about. Pittsburgh Paint used to say they had 4000 shades of "red" and staff who could indeed tell them apart. I can judge "red green and white" well enough by eye. Exact beam spread, that's a bit harder, but still possible to do.
What it all comes down to is whether someone is concerned with "certification" versus proper function/performance. If you want to submit a cheap wallwart, one of those power transformers for a phone or radio, for UL/CE testing and certification, I'm told it can cost $50,000 a shot. (I haven't checked.) If I want to sell 10,000 pieces, that's an extra $5 added to the net cost of each, and probably $20 added to the retail cost of each.
So a lot of vendors will skip expensive "certification" routines, regardless of whether they have faith in the design and construction of their product.
There are indeed legitimate markets for uncertified products, that can be bought and sold at significantly lower prices. Personally, I'd say that the USCG/Colregs requirements for nav light brightness are substantially lower than they can or should be, for small craft. Easily exceeded in every way--including redundant bulbs so no one has to worry about "it just burned out", too. Certification is just one criteria for the buyer.