Dangers of LED navigation lights - SailNet Community

   Search Sailnet:

 forums  store  


Quick Menu
Forums           
Articles          
Galleries        
Boat Reviews  
Classifieds     
Search SailNet 
Boat Search (new)

Shop the
SailNet Store
Anchor Locker
Boatbuilding & Repair
Charts
Clothing
Electrical
Electronics
Engine
Hatches and Portlights
Interior And Galley
Maintenance
Marine Electronics
Navigation
Other Items
Plumbing and Pumps
Rigging
Safety
Sailing Hardware
Trailer & Watersports
Clearance Items

Advertise Here






Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
 Not a Member? 

Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


Like Tree14Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 01-24-2011
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 43
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
HVVega is on a distinguished road
Dangers of LED navigation lights

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.
zeehag likes this.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #2  
Old 01-25-2011
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 28
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Freddyman is on a distinguished road
I can't see any reason why someone would choose LED for a steaming light. Since you are running the engine anyway, what's the advantage?

I do have an LED tri color and I doubt that it would be mistaken for a star. A ufo maybe, but not a star.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #3  
Old 01-25-2011
Maine Sail's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Maine Coast
Posts: 5,351
Thanks: 11
Thanked 121 Times in 89 Posts
Rep Power: 15
Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice
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.
One reason why you should not buy non USCG/ABYC A-16 certified nav lights. Certified nav lights MUST meet certain color spectrum standards or they don't get an approval.

That being said no real reason for an LED masthead/steaming light on many boats unless you want the longevity.....
lillia28 likes this.
__________________
______
-Maine Sail / CS-36T


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.




© Images In Posts Property of Compass Marine Inc.



Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-25-2011 at 08:47 AM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #4  
Old 01-25-2011
BubbleheadMd's Avatar
Chastened
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Edgewater/Annapolis
Posts: 2,873
Thanks: 1
Thanked 56 Times in 52 Posts
Rep Power: 5
BubbleheadMd will become famous soon enough
Send a message via Yahoo to BubbleheadMd
Actually, I can see the use of an LED steaming light. Not all smaller sailboats are equipped for engine charging, mine isn't and others who have older outboard without alternators may not be.

My outboard actually does have a 6 amp alternator, but I have to custom fabricate a longer charging cable because the one that came with the engine doesn't reach the battery bank. Right now, shorepower is my only charging method.

I understand that the USCG will certify a light based on it's brightness, arc of visibility, and color spectrum, but NOWHERE in the COLREGS can I find a reference to color spectrum beyond the words "white, yellow, red, green" etc. All it says, is that on a vessel of 12m or 29ft in length, you must display a white light, visible for 2 nm, in an arc of 22.5 degrees. It doesn't state an exact wavelength, nor does it even say that "only USCG approved lighting fixtures and lighting elements may be used". If it does, someone please provide a cite. Obviously, in a maritime law situation having all USCG approved lighting fixtures and elements provides an extra layer of legal protections, but I'm not seeing where it's mandated by law.

Further, the only time an anchor light or a steaming light should "look like a star" to a helmsman, is during a zero bearing rate (head-on) collision situation, where the light presents the illusion of not moving. In any other crossing scenario, the light will be moving across the helmsman's field of view rapidly enough to differentiate it from a star.

Look, this argument is as old as the hills. People have complained for years about how anchor and steaming lights look like streetlights and automobile lights when compared against the shoreline. There's always going to be an excuse as to why a skipper didn't see someone or suffered a collision.

Even if you legislate the exact frequency of light, lumens, fixture type and replacement elements, and certifying agency, for every class of vessel afloat, people are going complain that they "can't see" and use that as an excuse in a collision.
__________________
S/V Old Shoes
1973 Pearson 30 #255
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #5  
Old 01-25-2011
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 526
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 9
CapnBilll is on a distinguished road
An LED IS a point light source. Using an array of multiple LED's would prevent mistaking, and provide redundancy in case of failure.
__________________
The Sun has Risen on a New Day filled with the Promise of Adventure.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #6  
Old 01-25-2011
BubbleheadMd's Avatar
Chastened
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Edgewater/Annapolis
Posts: 2,873
Thanks: 1
Thanked 56 Times in 52 Posts
Rep Power: 5
BubbleheadMd will become famous soon enough
Send a message via Yahoo to BubbleheadMd
Agreed. The best ones (newer ones) come as an array inside of a single bulb or fixture with a heatsink built in.
__________________
S/V Old Shoes
1973 Pearson 30 #255
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #7  
Old 01-25-2011
Argyle38's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 209
Thanks: 9
Thanked 8 Times in 8 Posts
Rep Power: 4
Argyle38 is on a distinguished road
This is the write up from Bebi Electronics on the subject. They reference Annex I Paragraph 9 of the COLREG's.

Bebi Electronics-What Our Marine RV & Off Grid LED Specifications Mean

I looked up the associated COLREG's and was suitably convinced in the safety and legality of the device so I went ahead and bought one of their sources for my anchor light and my stern light.

My steaming (masthead) light is incandescent since I'll always have the engine running, but when it blows, I very well may replace it with an LED for durability. I may consider a more "warm-white" type LED when that time comes, if I can get one that is bright enough.

I'm not at all worried about the color of the masthead or stern lights. If anyone mistakes my 30 LED anchor light with a star they have recently seen, they better be in the market for some frankincense.
davidpm likes this.
__________________
S/V Argyle
Downeaster 38 #40

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #8  
Old 01-25-2011
Maine Sail's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Maine Coast
Posts: 5,351
Thanks: 11
Thanked 121 Times in 89 Posts
Rep Power: 15
Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post

I understand that the USCG will certify a light based on it's brightness, arc of visibility, and color spectrum, but NOWHERE in the COLREGS can I find a reference to color spectrum beyond the words "white, yellow, red, green" etc.
The standards by which nav lights are built is published in the CFR (Code of Federal Regulations). You, as a used boat owner, are NOT required to have "certified" nav lights or install them UNLESS you are a boat builder or re-seller/broker/dealer. If you buy a new boat in the US it WILL have certified nav lights or the builder broke federal regulations.

If you are a builder you must use USCG/ABYC A-16 nav lights properly installed and placed for proper visibility. All USCG certified or ABYC A-16 lights will meet the minimum standards as set forth by the CFR. This is what labs like IMANNA use when testing nav lights to USCG/CFR nav light standards..
__________________
______
-Maine Sail / CS-36T


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.




© Images In Posts Property of Compass Marine Inc.



Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-25-2011 at 08:59 AM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #9  
Old 01-25-2011
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 571
Thanks: 5
Thanked 18 Times in 18 Posts
Rep Power: 5
capecodda is on a distinguished road
Interesting discussion.

The Color Spec in the rules is located in International: Annex I, Part 7.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
  #10  
Old 01-25-2011
Maine Sail's Avatar
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Maine Coast
Posts: 5,351
Thanks: 11
Thanked 121 Times in 89 Posts
Rep Power: 15
Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice Maine Sail is just really nice
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyle38 View Post
This is the write up from Bebi Electronics on the subject. They reference Annex I Paragraph 9 of the COLREG's.

Bebi Electronics-What Our Marine RV & Off Grid LED Specifications Mean
An Bebi also says this:

"If you have insurance and you are involved in a collision at night, your claim may be dis-allowed if you have a non-OEM light bulb, whether it is an LED, incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent, in the fixture, regardless of the real reason for the collision."


With the cost of pre-made USCG certified fixtures coming way down in price I find it to be a false economy to use lights that are unknown as to whether they really meet the standards or not. The only way to know for sure is to have them tested by a lab like Imanna. If a manufacturer is not willing to put their money where their mouth is why should I pony up? By the way Bebi's statement that no aftermarket buls carry a USCG certification is a flat out mis-truth. There are four DR. LED bulbs that are USCG certified for use in certain Aquasignal Series 40 housings. I have the certification reports from Imanna stored on my hard drive. I still prefer a purpose built LED nav light as opposed to aftermarket bulbs, and I own two Dr. LED certified nav light combos. The Dr. LED bulbs have not proven to be very reliable and my Hella Series 32 LED's have been very reliable. When the next Dr. LED bulb fails the entire fixture will get replaced with a purpose built unit.

Having been involved in a night time death that involved a solid week of forensic navlight & navlight testimony, well before LED's, I am fairly confident that if my friends father had been using aftermarket LED's the drunk that killed him, by running him over, would have walked..

The defense lawyers left no stone unturned in their nav light investigation from voltage, to possible wiring faults to the flag possibly obstructing the stern light.... An LED that did not meet color, axis or otehr requirements would have made their job a slam dunk..
__________________
______
-Maine Sail / CS-36T


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.




© Images In Posts Property of Compass Marine Inc.



Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-25-2011 at 09:05 AM.
Reply With Quote Share with Facebook
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

 
Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may post attachments
You may edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
LED Navigation Lights solman55 Gear & Maintenance 14 10-29-2010 09:06 PM
Navigation Lights tager Electronics 42 11-07-2009 08:35 AM
Navigation Lights sailaway21 Seamanship & Navigation 44 06-04-2007 12:46 AM
Navigation Lights 1970Columbia34 Gear & Maintenance 9 02-28-2007 10:29 PM
Navigation lights mfeene01 Gear & Maintenance 2 05-14-2006 05:06 PM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:22 AM.

Add to My Yahoo!         
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1
(c) Marine.com LLC 2000-2012

The SailNet.com store is owned and operated by a company independent of the SailNet.com forum. You are now leaving the SailNet forum. Click OK to continue or Cancel to return to the SailNet forum.