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rtblock1 01-09-2009 04:07 PM

LED Bulb Experience
I recently spoke with Aqua Signal, the manufacturer of my mast head tri-color, about using an LED bulb as a replacement bulb for the traditional incandescent bulb. They recommended against doing this, saying that a great amount of heat is produced behind the diode. The amount of heat was described as "being able to fry an egg." Although the worst physical damage might be some potential warming/melting of plastic the heat would definitely diminish the life of the more expensive bulb. On their new LED navigational lights they have a large aluminium heat sink to dissipate the heat.

I see more and more masthead LED lighting and thought that the conversion only required a different albeit more expensive bulb. I hadn't heard of this heat issue before. Any experience out there??

Roger Block
Shango PS40
Newburyport, MA

Maine Sail 01-09-2009 04:30 PM

Is it a series 40 or series 25 light? Dr. LED makes the only USCG legal and tested bulbs for AquaSignal fixtures.

theartfuldodger 01-09-2009 05:37 PM

I have switched every bulb on my boat inside and out to LED and really question the heat issue, as found that there to be an absences of heat, one of the things I like about my switch besides the energy savings. As a matter of fact it was told to me that there was next to no heat at a boat show display. As how to switch them you need only to switch the plugs the bulbs plug into, and you can buy them real cheap at any truck parts store for trailer tail lights.

Mark1948 01-09-2009 05:54 PM

I don't buy the heat issue either. It would be inconsistent with the efficiency of the bulb. As significant heat in a bulb is a byproduct of inefficiency. Check the truck LEDs for heat sinks to verify.

stevemac00 01-10-2009 08:24 AM

Fry an egg - that's hilarious. There is no heat issue. However, there is an RFI issue with some LED voltage regulators that could cause a problem with a mast mount VHF antenna.

SEMIJim 01-10-2009 11:22 AM

There can be heat issues with LEDs, depending on how hard they're driven. I don't know how hard the different designs are driving their LEDs, so I couldn't way as to whether any of them generate more or less heat than the incandescent bulbs they replace. And yes: It it quite possible to drive an LED so hard its heat sink gets hot enough to fry an egg, and even hotter. It is the heat generated and heat sink design limitations that prevent its dissipation that shortens the life of LEDs used for illumination.


SEMIJim 01-10-2009 11:39 AM


Originally Posted by Maine Sail (Post 429682)
Is it a series 40 or series 25 light? Dr. LED makes the only USCG legal and tested bulbs for AquaSignal fixtures.

I'm wondering: I haven't had any of mine open, yet (if it ain't broke: don't fix it), but I had assumed the bulbs inside the fixtures on our 1976 Pearson P30 were pretty much standard 12V incandescent bulbs one could purchase at most any auto parts store, a K-Mart, Meijer Thrifty Acres, Wal*Mart, what-have-you. If my assumption is correct, then my question is: Have every one of those indandescent bulb manufaturers submitted their bulbs for testing with each and every marine navigation fixture into which they might be installed? And if not: How does one know which are "legal" and which are not? And if they weren't required to do so: Why must LED "bulb" manufacturers do it?

US$40 or US$50 for a bulb is ridiculous, esp. considering what you can get in an LED-powered flashlight for that kind of money, these days.


mike knorr 01-14-2009 01:09 AM

RFI issue

Originally Posted by stevemac00 (Post 429934)
Fry an egg - that's hilarious. There is no heat issue. However, there is an RFI issue with some LED voltage regulators that could cause a problem with a mast mount VHF antenna.

I installed an LED Masthead light a couple years ago and have VHF disturbance when it's turned on. Is there a way of dealing with this RFI problem?

tager 01-14-2009 02:00 AM

If your LEDs are even warm to the touch, you are overdriving them dangerously. When set up correctly, LEDs will dissipate very little energy as heat, most of the energy is dissipated as LIGHT.

I am impressed that the person you talked to on the phone was so utterly clueless! Just think of it conceptually:

LEDs use a quantum well that converts electrons (current) into visible photons (light).

Incandescents heat up a peice of metal until it glows.

What's the difference in performance between LEDs and traditional bulbs?

One is 98% efficient, as a heater.

Marine LED fixtures are a MAJOR ripoff. I am currently researching other sources for super bright LEDs with corrosion resistant leads, in order to make my own bulbs.

noelex77 01-14-2009 08:17 AM

LEDs produce heat and unfortunately the heat is produced at the back of the diode rather than projected out like incandescent s. Heat build up is one of the common causes of LED failure. Many LED light sources require heatsinking to work when the equivalent light output from a conventional globe would not require a heatsink.
The LED globes used as replacements in masthead lights take the heat generation of the LEDs into account and are safe for the masthead fitting, but if designing an LED light fitting from scratch heat dissipation is one of the problems the manufacturer has to overcome for long life and high output.

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