LED Bulbs Good, LED Fixtures Better

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Man with a Mission (How to Make a Boat Greener and Energy Efficient), by Ben Ellison (continued)

Blue Sky Energy solar panel

LED Bulbs Good, LED Fixtures Better

LED lighting offers major reductions in the typical power needs of a cruising boat, but I fear that many boaters retrofitting older vessels are oblivious to how much LED technology can improve their lighting. Simple bulb replacement is relatively inexpensive and easy, but the results of squeezing complex LED electronics into a fixture designed for an entirely different form of light are often compromised, and I report this after lots of experimentation. I do like the Dr. LED sourced Edison 3X bulbs that screwed neatly into several of Gizmo’s reading lights, but mostly I tolerate dim, flickery, or overly white LED bulbs in fixtures that don’t get used much. 

By contrast, several LED lighting fixtures have made Gizmo a more pleasant place to live. The Lumitec TouchDomes were a particularly good find as they completely covered the overhead areas already marred by conventional 6.75-inch domes while offering red or warm-white dimming using only the existing two-wire power feeds. Similarly, a teak-trimmed AlpenGlow galley fixture got us brighter and more color-balanced illumination than we’d had before, plus underway lighting when desired, all at much less power expense.

If Gizmo had come with dimming circuits, I’d certainly be looking at Imtra’s new Sigma fixture line, which works with many existing dimmers, and I’m glad I already replaced the navigation lights with well-built and economical fixtures from MarineBeam. While I don’t need to worry about power draws when underway, good quality LED lighting has such a long life that Gizmo now shows her lights whenever she’s moving, and is likely a bit safer for it.

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