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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know there are threads about this already but from my snooping on Google most are either from before 2009 or the ones that are more recent are of little value.

I'm looking to change out my navigation lights on my newly purchased Kaufman 47. I have the mast down still from shipping and will be down till it goes in the water at our boatyard. I want to replace the mast lights and wiring now while it's easy. That said, I don't want to have to go up there to change a blown bulb so I'm going with LED.
As a working merchant marine I understand the importance of well lit nav lights on vessels so I am going with the red over green lights as opposed to the tricolor light. I know it needs separation and I'll need a anchor and steaming light, I'll be using the boat for cruising so I want good lights.

So I am having trouble finding information or reviews or some kind of first hand experience with the nice LED nav light brands. I'm looking at OGM, Signal Mate, and Aqua Signal. OGM has some bad credit from their stuff but most of the threads and articles were from 2005 to 2009. Couldn't find much on the new Signal Mate stuff either. I'm looking at these mast head lights right now(I'll link just the red lights for simplicity)

OGM http://www.miseagroup.com/solutions/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_5_10&products_id=6

Signal Mate http://www.miseagroup.com/solutions/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_5_10&products_id=163

Aqua Signal http://www.aquasignal.info/ecat/ht...subcategory_id=1&product_id=110&item_id=1417

Has anyone had any experience or have these on their boat, or maybe know someone who does have them? Im looking for quality of them and if they have/are lasting lights without any issues..

Ronnie

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The trouble is, LED nav lights, specifically certified versions, just haven't been around long enough for any real comprehensive data, so we're left with anecdotal opinions.

I can tell you this however, in the "cost is no object" world of refits, I see Hella Marine fixtures used quite often (again, anecdotal). Myself? I cheaped-out and refitted my existing Aqua Signal Fixtures with Dr. LED's certified bulbs at one tenth the cost (more $$ stays in the cruising kitty).
 

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Two years ago I got two sets of a new series from Aquasignal. Byt they havent reappeared in the shops. They were very inexpensive, about $70 instead of $300

I think its this one aqua signal - Recreational boats - Navigation lights - Series 34 - LED navigation lights (Bicolor) - Article number 3863101000

I put a bi colour on the mast head and replaced my bow too.

Work great and extremely bright but the mast head one cuts down the transmitting and receiving range of the AIS. Maybe thats,why mast head lights can be expensive, or why i cant find them in the chandlery.
 

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I have had several very bad experiences, including almost running down a sailboat in the Anegada Passage (I was on a freighter) with vessels with tricolor masthead lights, so I applaud your decision to go with the much more intelligent, vertical set up. I think, more than going by manufacturer, you should go with completely sealed lights with good heat sinks. Do some looking around on the web and see who makes a light that has these features.
I've said it before, but perhaps I can save a life or two by saying it again, masthead tricolors are nothing more than a faint disembodied light when one is standing 50 to 80 feet above the water on the bridge of a ship. There is no depth perception and absolutely no way to judge the distance off. If you are sailing with one you are not well lit, quite the opposite. Stick with the traditional on deck running lights and you will be safer.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The trouble is, LED nav lights, specifically certified versions, just haven't been around long enough for any real comprehensive data, so we're left with anecdotal opinions.

I can tell you this however, in the "cost is no object" world of refits, I see Hella Marine fixtures used quite often (again, anecdotal). Myself? I cheaped-out and refitted my existing Aqua Signal Fixtures with Dr. LED's certified bulbs at one tenth the cost (more $$ stays in the cruising kitty).
Haha yea I know! I just figured since they have been out at least 10 years or close to it, more people may have adopted them.. I think I checked out Hella before, I'll look into them again.






Two years ago I got two sets of a new series from Aquasignal. Byt they havent reappeared in the shops. They were very inexpensive, about $70 instead of $300

I think its this one aqua signal - Recreational boats - Navigation lights - Series 34 - LED navigation lights (Bicolor) - Article number 3863101000

I put a bi colour on the mast head and replaced my bow too.

Work great and extremely bright but the mast head one cuts down the transmitting and receiving range of the AIS. Maybe thats,why mast head lights can be expensive, or why i cant find them in the chandlery.
Hmm, Yea not sure about the interference with the vhf/AIS, maybe using shielded wire may help?






Best quality Led nav lights I have seen are Lopolight. Haven't found a brand
that comes close to these.
LOPOLIGHT Navigation lights
Thanks, I'll look into those for sure.






I have had several very bad experiences, including almost running down a sailboat in the Anegada Passage (I was on a freighter) with vessels with tricolor masthead lights, so I applaud your decision to go with the much more intelligent, vertical set up. I think, more than going by manufacturer, you should go with completely sealed lights with good heat sinks. Do some looking around on the web and see who makes a light that has these features.
I've said it before, but perhaps I can save a life or two by saying it again, masthead tricolors are nothing more than a faint disembodied light when one is standing 50 to 80 feet above the water on the bridge of a ship. There is no depth perception and absolutely no way to judge the distance off. If you are sailing with one you are not well lit, quite the opposite. Stick with the traditional on deck running lights and you will be safer.
Yea I completely agree, the all in one's are pretty much useless at night from the bridge. I'm pretty sure the Signal Mate lights are sealed, but the OGM are definitely sealed units. I wish I could see them in person but I'm pretty sure West Marine doesn't stock or sell them in stores. I may have to look for a boat show or Expo to see them...


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As a working merchant marine I understand the importance of well lit nav lights on vessels so I am going with the red over green lights as opposed to the tricolor light. I know it needs separation and I'll need a anchor and steaming light, I'll be using the boat for cruising so I want good lights.
I agree with red over green combined with deck level navlights make the boat more visible under changing conditions.
Tricolor light was invented long before LED lights where commonly used in nav lights.

The only company I have found with a red over green solution for smaller boats is lopolight with this product Product details

I asked Lopolight about the experience with two 180° green one meter from the top and a 360° at the masthead on a sailboat with masthead rig.

The answer was that the interference from the sail was not any big concern.

Lopolight is rather expensive, so have been looking for other makes that can be installed the same way.

If anyone have found other products that can be installed like this I'm interested.

I have found that an anchor light at the masthead is not a good solution.
So my anchor light is hoisted on a halyard when I need it.

When it's hoisted to about 5 meters above deck level I feel that I'm more visible that if it was 17 m above deck.

Where I anchor I'm most concerned about other small boats running into us in the rather narrow anchorages we normally use.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree with red over green combined with deck level navlights make the boat more visible under changing conditions.
Tricolor light was invented long before LED lights where commonly used in nav lights.

The only company I have found with a red over green solution for smaller boats is lopolight with this product Product details

I asked Lopolight about the experience with two 180° green one meter from the top and a 360° at the masthead on a sailboat with masthead rig.

The answer was that the interference from the sail was not any big concern.

Lopolight is rather expensive, so have been looking for other makes that can be installed the same way.

If anyone have found other products that can be installed like this I'm interested.

I have found that an anchor light at the masthead is not a good solution.
So my anchor light is hoisted on a halyard when I need it.

When it's hoisted to about 5 meters above deck level I feel that I'm more visible that if it was 17 m above deck.

Where I anchor I'm most concerned about other small boats running into us in the rather narrow anchorages we normally use.
I am going to get lopolight, I have looked more at the OGM and Signal Mate Lights, but the thing that irks me is the single LED in their units. I feel that is silly, I know they are pricey and I'm sure the diode is high quality but one? I mean two or three would be nice just for some redundancy.

As for the two mast head lights I was going to put two all-around lights up top. Have an aluminum pole for them both to sit on and being a meter apart. That way I don't have to wire up two greens and won't have to buy three fixtures instead of two.

I haven't really thought about the anchor light not being low, I guess I figured something else would be on while at anchor, say a deck light or some sort. I'll have to sit on a hoisted on for a bit, the lopolight anchor light isn't one of their cheapest lights..

So far west marine has the best prices, that is if they have them in stock. I'm going to see if my port supply account will be any cheaper.

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Interesting thread. I've been thinking (and semi-shopping) for new nav lights ever since I saw the Hella Pro series on a boat we chartered. We currently have fixtures similar to Aqua Signal Series 40, which I've retrofitted with Dr.Led replacement bulbs - not for amperage but simply longevity - the long vertical filament bulbs were failing due to vibration even when rarely ever used (one lasted under 3 seconds - at $15+ a pop (literally)). I'm aware that the relative thickness of the LED array creates some overlap of of the red/green bow lights, which I'm not thrilled about in principle, legal issues aside. I seldom navigate after dark, and figure that a working light, albeit slightly non-conforming, is better than a failed one (and I do carry spare, but still).

I had considered a tricolour, along the thinking that "higher is better", but now see the logic in keeping the deck lights (thanks to all the experienced posters).

This discussion has me wondering about putting an all-round-red at the masthead, probably stacked sandwiched with the all-round white anchor light, and a pair of 180-degree green on each side of the mast about 1m down. At that height shadowing from the sails would be minimal if at all, and the mechanical aspects would be easier and more robust than adding a post above (and interfering with the VHF antenna).

... or am I just looking for an excuse to use that spare 3-conductor cable that runs up the mast?

Now if only Lopolight fixtures weren't as expensive as they are beautiful.
 

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"Dr. LED's certified bulbs"
Small but important point: The USCG does not certify bulbs. Never.

The bulbs may be certified as part of a specific installation, i.e. "certified compliant when installed according to directions in brand X, Model xxx lamps" but the bulbs themselves are not certified, nor certifiable.

COLREG compliance sets a terribly low bar for nav lights. Any light that isn't also certified (by the maker) to well exceed COLREG small craft specs, is a copout.
 

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Best quality Led nav lights I have seen are Lopolight. Haven't found a brand
that comes close to these.
LOPOLIGHT Navigation lights
Wait until you start having the failures.....:eek:

Very well constructed but unfortunately not the most reliable LED's I've installed.. The company does however stand behind the product, very well, but when the failed light is at the top of a spar the owner still pays the labor.........

I have a dead one sitting right in front of me as I type..... Our club launches went through six or seven.... Lopo replaced them all but we got sick of replacing them so we switched the launches over to AquaSignal. No failures as of yet...
 

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COLREG compliance sets a terribly low bar for nav lights. Any light that isn't also certified (by the maker) to well exceed COLREG small craft specs, is a copout.
Where do you come up with this stuff?:confused:

Imanna Labs, the largest tester of navigation lights in the US, fails navigation lights all the time due to not meeting the standards whether for burn-in, intensity, horizontal sectors, vertical sectors etc.... For example some of the Dr. LED bubs that have USCG certification in an AS Series 40 DO NOT have the same certification when used on a sailboat. Why? They don't meet the cut offs when heeled.

I know this because I was looking into developing a line of navigation lights and part of the process was speaking to Imanna to get all the ducks lined up.. I was surprised to find out that testing is not as expensive as manufacturers make it sound.

Even on a small production run it was around 25¢ added wholesale cost per fixture... As the production run goes up that can drop to 1¢ or less. If it was easy there would be a lot more navigation lights that say USCG or ABYC A-16 on it. There is a reason so many "navigation" lights out there are not certified and this is usually because they don't pass testing. After they fail many a sleazy manufacturer decide to sell them anyway, because they can.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wait until you start having the failures.....:eek:

Very well constructed but unfortunately not the most reliable LED's I've installed.. The company does however stand behind the product, very well, but when the failed light is at the top of a spar the owner still pays the labor.........

I have a dead one sitting right in front of me as I type..... Our club launches went through six or seven.... Lopo replaced them all but we got sick of replacing them so we switched the launches over to AquaSignal. No failures as of yet...
Interesting, when we're these lights purchased or when we're they manufactured? They did have issues with their lights in the early years but that was almost 10 years ago. They are putting them on mega yacht and military vessels, I can't imagine them being so unreliable.

From what I was told by the US distributer today, they have fixed the potting issue with the wiring and now each light comes with its own sealed wire lead that is about a meter long. Then they have put in new circuitry to prevent electrical mishaps and dirty current that would otherwise harm the lights. Plus, I think they have fixed the problem with a ssb interference causing the lights to fail.

Also, not to offend, but were the lights installed per manufacturer instructions? I have read that if not followed correctly they can cause issues.

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Interesting, when we're these lights purchased or when we're they manufactured? They did have issues with their lights in the early years but that was almost 10 years ago. They are putting them on mega yacht and military vessels, I can't imagine them being so unreliable.

From what I was told by the US distributer today, they have fixed the potting issue with the wiring and now each light comes with its own sealed wire lead that is about a meter long. Then they have put in new circuitry to prevent electrical mishaps and dirty current that would otherwise harm the lights. Plus, I think they have fixed the problem with a ssb interference causing the lights to fail.
As I understand it Lopolights have been improved and they say the problems are behind them. I guess time will tell.

An alternative is possibly DHR but I don't believe that they have yet produced Led lights in the category you are looking for. I have seen their new commercial Led nav lights and they are impressive - but the pricing makes Lopolights look pretty inexpensive.

Here is a link to DHR: http://www.dhr.nl/index.php
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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I have had several very bad experiences, including almost running down a sailboat in the Anegada Passage (I was on a freighter) with vessels with tricolor masthead lights, so I applaud your decision to go with the much more intelligent, vertical set up.
Having almost been run down by a MSC cargo ship in broad daylight with the sails up and the AIS transmitter blipping away I would caution that lights are not enough. IMHO a red/green on the mast and deck lights isn't going to make a lot of difference compared to a tricolor. In chatting with several ships in the open ocean I was told that they could not see my deck lights due to wave action until they were very close.

Most big ships at night are easy to spot because they are lit up like Christmas. The exception is ships carrying hazardous cargo. They seem to fall into the "only the required lights, mate" I presume as a hedge against an electrical failure that results in a fire/explosion.

My solution is to light up "big time" if I am concerned that a ship can not see me. I have halogen lights at deck level that light up the sails. If they can't figure out from 1,000 sq ft of sail that I am a sailboat we are beyond hope. I have also added a long strip of reflective tape (the same stuff that is on your life jacket) down the side of the mast to reflect any light aimed in my general direction.

In traveling the Delaware Bay one night - an area with a lot of ship traffic - I overheard a conversation between several of the commercial ships. We were chatting about where I would duck at out the way as 8 ships - 5 in one direction - 3 in the other - were going to pass each other. Of course that was exactly where I was. At the time I only had deck mounted navigation lights and the AIS. There was a second sailboat in the mix but the commercial ships were not concerned about her. They said: "she is easy to see." The reason was that she had white lights on both her top and bottom spreaders. This has led me to the conclusion that adding additional "working" lights is a far better idea than being concerned about the specific characteristics of my navigation lights. With LEDs this has become more feasible as one can add a number of lights and still keep the amperage draw low. In the old days such a solution would most likely drain the batteries before dawn.

The trade off of course is visibility. The darker your ship the better your night vision so the better you can see. The brighter the ship the easier it is for others to see you. I admit that I have not come to a personal conclusion as to what is the right balance.

As I prattle on let me shift the scenario. Another big concern for me is seeing and being seen in a crowed anchorage at night. When approaching an anchorage most people are not looking 65 feet in the air for your anchor light. Even if they are looking up anchor lights from the deck of a sailboat look a lot like stars. Then of course there are the idiots who don't bother to turn on their anchor lights (not to be confused with those that turn on their strobes "to be seen" not realizing that in the US this is a mayday call. :)) The solution for many of us is to purchase solar powered walkway lights from the local hardware store and mount them at deck level at night. At least that way there are lights on your boat at the altitude that correlates to where people are actually looking.

Fair winds and following seas
 

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As I understand it Lopolights have been improved and they say the problems are behind them. I guess time will tell.

An alternative is possibly DHR but I don't believe that they have yet produced Led lights in the category you are looking for. I have seen their new commercial Led nav lights and they are impressive - but the pricing makes Lopolights look pretty inexpensive.

Here is a link to DHR: DHR, Navigation lights, Searchlights; Air horns; Nautical lamps
Yes they told me they had been improved multiple times and I still had failures on the replacements. Our club launches see more use than most boat and they use running lights for lots of hours per season as they are often on all day long from 7:30am to 9:30PM......

The replacement I have in my office right now is a replacement of a replacement from two years ago. The most chronic failures I see are a loss of some or all LED emitters. I had some early ones where the epoxy had so much cracking that the lights became a tad occluded.

As I said they have excellent customer service, no complaints at all on that front. It just becomes a PITA to replace so many. I do hope they get the bugs worked out, and they may have by now, I'll let you know in a few years after I replace this latest one. The lights are beautifully crafted I have just become a tad gun shy...

BTW the Landing School, one of the best boat building schools in the country, did the original Lopo install on our club launches and they were done by the book. Subsequent installs were also done by the book.
 

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"Dr. LED's certified bulbs"
Small but important point: The USCG does not certify bulbs. Never.

The bulbs may be certified as part of a specific installation, i.e. "certified compliant when installed according to directions in brand X, Model xxx lamps" but the bulbs themselves are not certified, nor certifiable...
Semantics, but thanks for the clarification to the masses.

This certification thang is really all about liability in the event of an accident, and probably only one of a great loss in property, or even more so in life. There is a plethora of uncertified (COLREG, USCG, NMSC, etc.) replacement bulbs (incandescent and LED) that you can buy for your certified fixtures, but this will render them non-compliant in the eyes of the court, especially if the altercation goes nuclear.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Maine Sail, I hear ya.. I guess I'll give them a shot, I know LED tech has come a long way in 2 years. I guess I'll be the guinea pig and let yall know how it goes.

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Barquito
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This discussion has me wondering about putting an all-round-red at the masthead, probably stacked sandwiched with the all-round white anchor light, and a pair of 180-degree green on each side of the mast about 1m down. At that height shadowing from the sails would be minimal if at all, and the mechanical aspects would be easier and more robust than adding a post above (and interfering with the VHF antenna).
Should probably stick with the regulations on the arc each light should go through.
 

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Barquito
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Zeph - That sounds like a good idea: Have lights mounted on the spreaders, or pointing up from the deck that will light up your sails. You could normally leave them off. When a ship approaches, you could light them up. I don't think I would regularly sail with them on.
 
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