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  #11  
Old 12-31-2009
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I understand the CG is not in the business of certifying anything. They do not have a testing facility for light bulbs. Vendors may claim their products meets CG requirements. Some may even claim "certification". I had some long discussions with various fixture and replacement bulb makers by E-mail and at the boat show in Chicago and this is what they told me.
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Old 12-31-2009
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According to OGM, "[Our LED] navigation lights are tested by an independent USCG approved testing laboratory. The lights are engraved with the USCG specification that it meets. For example, our 2 Nautical Mile visible lights are marked with USCG 2NM."

So, while the USCG does NOT do the testing, there is a USCG Approved lab that does.

If the responsibility for an incident were being assessed and you were using a NAV LED, properly installed, in an application for which it was approved and bore the USCG specification for that application, it seems that the manufacturer would have some skin in the game, and probably have their lawyer involved defending YOU.
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Old 01-25-2010
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I have added a gallery of our LED replacements. I will keep this updated as we go. http://www.sailnet.com/photogallery/showgallery.php?cat=657 The photos show some of the fixtures and special modifications along with brief descriptions.

We have concentrated on the aloft lights for now and will move on into the cabin lights later. In short, I replaced AQUASIGNAL 10 and 20 watt IC bulbs with MARINE BEAM. I added SIGNAL MATE sealed NAV fixtures on the pulpits as installed back-ups. I replaced the 4-1/2 inch diameter sealed beam deck spots (200 lumen; two per mast at the lower spreaders) with MARINE BEAM high intensity 800 lumen single LED spots and floods. There are three per mast at the lower spreaders.

I worked with Michael at BIBI to develope a new fixture for the WINDEX. I was unable to find a proper LED light for this function and so worked with BIBI to invent one. Phots show the first one built. I now have a Beta unit (generation 2). The first emitted too much side light so I added a perforated PVC inverted cap to shieled the sides. The new unit uses an LED with less side emission. I have not installed it yet.
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Old 02-24-2011
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A word of caution when replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs. I converted most of my interior lighting to LEDs last year, using the packaged LEDs, like SensiBulb, from Defender. These were not cheap, but the power efficiency was compelling.

Well, last year my boat took a direct lightning hit. There was a long list of electronic and electrical things that didn't work after the strike. That list included every LED that I had installed. The least of my worries was the LEDs, but there is a lesson to be learned here. If you are replacing incandescents with LEDs, save the old bulbs! If you should have a lightning event away from your home dock, at least you'll be able to restore your lighting.
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Old 02-25-2011
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Interesting point. I wonder if anyone else has had this experience. I also wonder about the LED nav lights. Is this a characteristic of LEDs or do standard IC lights also blow? I too just replaced all interior ICs with mostly IMTRA - boat show special. There were abut 60 lights.
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Old 03-10-2011
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LEDS and their associated controller circuits will be damaged by voltage spikes in a much shorter time than the comparatively robust incandescent bulbs. Which still can be blown by a surge, but not by the short spikes that will kill electronics.
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Old 03-15-2011
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Semiconductors have a relatively low breakdown voltage. A lighting strike--even if it is not a direct hit--can electrify your wiring (electromagnetic pulse effect) with a short, high voltage spike. Once you exceed the semiconductor breakdown voltage your electronics are toast.

The only good news in a lightning strike is that it is a very brief electrical event. If you have a direct hit, you will have some serious problems, but in a near hit, you may get a weaker side discharge or radiative coupling that is too brief to heat things to the melting point, including wiring and tungsten filaments, but brings a high voltage surge that is fatal to semiconductors.
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Old 05-08-2012
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Re: LEDs afloat

I run LED lights that are sensor and battery operated. It's great for the head where switches are a pain. Mounted in storage areas where it lights up automatic. They are cheap at cosco and last a long time on one set of batts. I store plenty of batteries for them though just in case. I leave the old lights in place but rarely use without timed switch. For the intense searches I use my St. Minimus head lamp which does not go out when bumped on the head and has no batt pack on the back of the head. Since it's not water proof I keep a flash light that is. The LED is best going on and off so it does not heat and the new generation exhibits better durability so don't go by the old ones. When dealing with nav lights / lawyers and courtrooms it's better to go by the CG book. If you can't, get out the red, white or green back ups that take far less juice.
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Old 05-30-2012
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Re: LEDs afloat

First, the USCG does not "certify" bulbs. They certify boat manufactures assemblys and bulbs are only rated by the manufacturer. It is pretty much your responsibility. I doubt they will check if your anchor light is viewable from 2 miles, UNLESS....you are involved in a collision while at anchor. Unlikely still that if you have a light burning that is adequate, it would be an issue. Also consider the lens, if it is clouded or yellowed, you won't get the lumens regardless. Second, when soldering tight connections I use alligator clips as heat sinks. You can squeeze the ends to make them narrower. It also helps when soldering or tinning the end of a wire to prevent melting the insulation. Pre tin as much as possible then make the connection. Bebi Electronics is a small Fiji based company that makes some good and cheap LED units. If you don't feel comfortable making your own and don't want to fork over next weeks food allowance you might check them out. The products are, how to say this.....rustic, but work great and are really reasonable, read the whole website and you will learn a lot!
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Old 06-01-2012
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Re: LEDs afloat

On the subject of soldering heat sensitive components. I believe most soldering damage is done by using a soldering iron that is too SMALL, not too big! When you put a small iron against the joint, the joint sucks the heat out of the iron instantly. The iron must then supply more heat until the temperature comes back up and in the meantime heat is flowing into the device and the wire. Your insulation burns back and your device may be damaged. Use a larger iron and it holds enough heat to do the entire job. So when you touch the iron to the joint, the joint heats to the proper temperature instantly the solder melts, and you are done in an instant so the heat doesn't have time to flow. Try it, you won't believe how much better your solder joints will be!

Gary H. Lucas
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