View Full Version : Interior LED's

03-15-2012, 06:48 PM
I have to replace all of my interior lighting. I was thinking of checking out LED lighting. The questions I have are: Are they bright enough to see, and read by? Are they worth the price? I don't know anyone that has them so I've neever seen them work. Any opinions?

George Ray
03-15-2012, 07:04 PM
I think the answer is ' YES BUT', the colors of LED lights are not everybody's cup of tea.
Try this link for some good reading about quality LED's on boats.
They sell both a 'warm' and a 'pure white' reading light and while they have the same intensity the color difference is a matter of taste box that is discussed in the context of live aboard boaters.


03-15-2012, 07:42 PM
I installed two different models in my boat last year.

Over the table, I installed a Maputo from Defender (http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|65136|739053|760445&id=1607497). It has a two-level switch and is suprisingly bright. It replaced a twin-bulb fluorescent and is much better all around than that fixture. But it is a very white light. I'm very pleased with it even although I prefer warmer tones.

Over the galley I installed two "John" (http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|65136|328876|1116026&id=1393763)units. They are also two-level lamps, the two together as not as bright as the Maputo on high - maybe about the same as the Maputo on the lower setting. They do give off an agreeably warm tone, however. The two combined are plenty strong enough for working in the small galley, and one lamp left on low makes for a good courtesy light by the companionway.

I also installed a couple of Hella halogen reading spots, thinking that the LED lighting would not be adequate for reading. I was wrong about that, and don't use the reading lights much at all.

On the previous boat, I replaced a recessed hockey-puck type halogen lamp with an LED and was disappointed. It was not nearly as bright as the older fixture.

Bottom line, these things vary a lot, as do the prices. But all in all, they can be a good choice, and more and better options are showing up all the time.

03-15-2012, 08:08 PM
I installed a 6-inch long 8-LED courtesy light above the helm. Bi-color. On red its bright. On white it lit up like the outfield lights in a ballpark. Too much. These things are bright. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I'd get dimmable ones or test some before I bought again.


03-15-2012, 09:33 PM
A friend of mine acquired a roll of LED strip lighting. Groups of 3 LED's about 1.5" long on a continuous roll. Between groups were soldering locations. Just cut off a length by cutting at the soldering points and hook up power.

He lined the deck/hull joint with them on both sides of his Catalina 22, and wired in a 5 position knob. Works like a charm. He installed a third strip in the V-berth.

Dan McCosh
03-15-2012, 09:40 PM
I've been installing LED lights. I replaced the innards of the overhead dome lights with under-counter LEDs, which just happen to work on 12 volts. Pretty cheap and they work quite well. To read, however, I would use some kind of spot light, as my eyes aren't all that good these days. The goal was to cut down the current load at anchor, so I started with the lights that tend to stay on for hours. Also, an LED anchor light. I find for short-term use, like in the head, they aren't worth it.

snow(Alan H)
03-15-2012, 09:52 PM
I have replaced all the lights in my boat with LED's & they are great & only use like 10% of the power of conventional lighting.

BUT - the market is flooded with product & for once in life price is not a good indicator i.e. you can pay a lot & get crap, & pay little & get good - & the reverse.
You need to stick with one of the better suppers. I have been importing off these guys for 3 years & their product / price is great.

I'm on my 3rd set as technology has advanced so much - the 1st ones were VERY bright white & made the boat look like a frig inside, set #2 were a warmer light, set #3 are warm in color & great light.
They are very cheap so thence the upgrades & I sell the used units to others.


snow(Alan H)
03-15-2012, 10:09 PM
I post below 2 flyers I did for a client, I post only for reference re LED's - given its a kiwi company I doubt anyone would be ordering off them.



Thad Van Gilder
03-16-2012, 04:55 AM
I replaced all interior bubs with led's that i bought direct from China on ebay. the wait was about 4 weeks, and every once in a while I get a bad one, but after searching a while, I found i was able to buy at $1 a bulb. I am happy with them, but yes, the color is a bit different.


03-16-2012, 09:13 AM
If you even have a rudimentary knowledge of electricity and circuit building you can easily make your own from constituent parts bought online.

Individual high intensity LEDs are relatively cheap. You can mix colours to get a more natural spectrum if you like. They have a minimal heat output so fire risk is minimal. Just be sure to parallel wire them and have a thick enough cable to cover the current they will all draw (which is very little). You can even run them on a couple of AA batteries at each lamp, and remove the need to have wires running through your boat ready to corrode and dump stray current into everything.

Exercise your creativity by making mahogany lamps, drill 3mm holes and fix the LEDs in flush with clear casting resin. With a little thought you can make really very pretty customised lamps.

Have a variety of colours for different night vision conditions on deck. Red for example, just dim so they don't constitute a navigational hazard. illuminate your helm compass with a dim green one. the possibilities are endless.

Daisy Grace
03-16-2012, 09:23 AM
I have fitted two little switchable LED spotlights over the forward berths. They are very bright, easy to read by. Quite a harsh light, but for general lighting I use an oil lamp, which is nicely warm and weak. These work very well for reading in bed and they claim to draw only 0.75W each. So far very pleased with them as I only have a 20Ahr battery with a 10W solar panel to recharge it.

03-16-2012, 10:08 AM
I second www.superbrightleds.com

I replaced almost all of the incandescent bulbs on my boat with LED's from them probably a total of 10-15 bulbs, and my battery load dropped about 7 amps with them all on. from 9 or 10 amps to 2 or 3, (actual measurement at the battery)

They have warmer color temp led's if you look around so you don't get that refrigerator look of the cooler led color temps.

I think all of the bulbs I replaced gave off more light than the bulb I pulled out.

Just keep in mind when you are shopping on your own, that LED's are directional and have a viewing angle. Some act more like a spotlight than an area light, and most don't take full advantage of any sort of reflector in the fixture, I did not replace fixtures.

In adjustable fixtures like above I used a more tightly focused beam, and in fixed fixtures a wider angle beam.

03-16-2012, 11:19 AM
If you want to try LED's on the cheap, I had a few of those battery-powered pucks in handy places around my Tangeroa. Got at Harbor Freight, but I'm sure others carry them. Self-stick with velcro makes them portable as well. Find a nice battery charger with a 12v adapter.

03-16-2012, 06:52 PM
I was thinking of using a couple of pucks in some remote areas, but for my main lighting (domes, galley. reading. I'd like something permanent. And brighter. I have looked at the superbright site. They have a dome light that has white and blue LED's. Got me thinking...
Their prices seem fairly reasonable too. I can't do just the bulbs. All of the fixture corroded when the boat went down (haven,t told that story yet. but we did raise her.)

snow(Alan H)
03-16-2012, 07:00 PM
These are perfect in the 'traditional dome fittings


snow(Alan H)
03-17-2012, 06:11 AM
This is how you fit them (the light panel is just held with Velcro as they produce almost no heat) & the light they throw out - daylight photo


The latest bulbs I fitted to my spot lights throw out an amazing 'warm' light (again photographed in daylight)


03-17-2012, 07:07 AM
Some of the wall lamps may be ok if I change the switches and that would work, but the dome is cooked.
Alan, are you pleased with the amount and tone of the lighting?