Dangers of LED navigation lights - Page 4 - SailNet Community

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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #31  
Old 01-07-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

tj, if you see a blue solid light, you call the USCG and ask them if there are any military vessels on manuevers in the vicinity. When they say no, you just say thank you, we saw a vessel with a solid blue light and just wanted to make sure.

They should dispatch a response immediately, as blue lights are highly restricted in use. Odds are what you have seen is a green glass nav light that should have had a tungsten bulb in it, but some joker stuck a "white" LED behind it. Bad idea, the LED has to match the color of the lens in order to stand any chance of not being filtered or changed by it.

Considering that an LED steaming light should outlast a conventional one by at least 10x, using an LED steaming light will save you ten inconvenient trips aloft. Worthless? Maybe for some.

And the old post form the OP, that his friend does not use ANY LED nav lights because the white ones might be mistaken for stars? That's just illogical, why should the color of the white ones have anything to do with using the red and green ones? What, he's seen lots of red and green stars too? Again, there will be at least TEN TIMES that you don't have to change that bulb once you've replaced it with LED.

Ten times when you'd have to put down your beer and make a trip to the bulb locker. Hmmmm....
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  #32  
Old 01-07-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

In general I don't like Aqua Signal lights- my impression of them has always been that they feel flimsy and don't belong on a boat, but 2 years ago I replaced my incandescent running lights with Aqua Signal 43 LEDs. They are truly amazing. The colors are good and they are embarrassingly bright- I think they're the brightest running lights in the marina. I made my own mounts out of 1/4" aluminum angle as the factory mounts were worthless.
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  #33  
Old 01-09-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

I replaced my masthead with an l.e.d. last year. Did not even think about the fact that if in use, the engine is running/charging. Think I'll put the old, approved incandescent festoon bulb back in. Having an anchor light mounted lower than up at the top of the mast also sounds like a very good idea. In some spots, that high anchor light could certainly be missed.
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  #34  
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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  #35  
Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Welcome to SailNet Alan33412.

What LED Lighting manufacturer do you work for?

Also - I suggest that to stay on the good side of the moderators, that you add that affiliation to your signature line.
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  #36  
Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by HVVega View Post
I just wrote this in response to another thread but it struck me as so important I thought a new thread was called for.

I was having a beer with my friend who skippers about 50,000 tons of bulk carrier and he made a very interesting observation. Twice they have had to sheer off hard - not easy for a boat that size - because the color of "white" LED mast head & steaming lights is almost exactly the same as a star. He explained, those lights tend to be weak and look exactly like stars from a few miles away. They are so small you do not notice them getting closer on a moonless night until you are right on top of them. This from a very experienced and careful professional seaman who also owns a lovely sail boat. He uses loads of LED's on the boat but not for his navigation lights. Next time in a dark anchorage look at the other boats mast head lights and you will see what he's talking about right away. Meggi once mistook one for Venus and was waiting for it to get a bit higher so she could practice with the sextant.

This is exactly what happens when folks try to make "home baked bread", eg home made nav lights by slapping any old LED into an incandescent fixture.


It is why we have well defined COLREGS standards for navigation lights yet people insist on ignoring the law... USCG certified navigation lights do not pose these problems because they have been tested in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations/COLREGS for intensity, color, horizontal and vertical sector for legal navigation lights....

The problem is NOT LED nav lights, the problem is navigation lights that are cobbled together by owners wishing to save a buck..


EDIT: Doh' just realized this was a dredge thread and I responded already. Still relevant though...
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-23-2013 at 11:07 AM.
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  #37  
Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Alan-
"All manufacturers of LED running lights must have them tested to these standards, the same standards for ANY TYPE of bulb."
That's simply not true as written. I think you meant to say:
"All manufacturers of LED running lights sold for boat builders to use must have them tested to these standards, the same standards for ANY TYPE of bulb navigation light."

Folks who just sell to the public are not constrained by any requirement to conform to USCG certification. If I use a bass boat in some swamp lake inland, I'm not required to use conformal lighting at all, so there is a legitimate market for non-conformal lights. Or simply for cheaper lights, as getting certification is an expense. And of course, "bulbs" are never certified, it is the entire navigation light, bulb plus fixture, that are submitted and tested as one unit, and certified as one unit.
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Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Hi all

This is my first post and I think this is the most related topic I'd like to find out.
I'm intending to buy a tri color led navigation light for a 14 meters sailing vessel.
Can you please recommend one?

IŽd like to but it through ebay or westmarine, can you please send me some good ones on those web pages?
Any special recommendation?

Thanks a lot for your helps.

Regards,
Mariana
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  #39  
Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post

Folks who just sell to the public are not constrained by any requirement to conform to USCG certification. If I use a bass boat in some swamp lake inland, I'm not required to use conformal lighting at all, so there is a legitimate market for non-conformal lights. Or simply for cheaper lights, as getting certification is an expense. And of course, "bulbs" are never certified, it is the entire navigation light, bulb plus fixture, that are submitted and tested as one unit, and certified as one unit.
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.

How do you know you have navigation lights that meet the requirements if they have never been tested???
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  #40  
Old 09-23-2013
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Re: Dangers of LED navigation lights

Maine-
"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.
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