LED Lighting

Written by Jon:

It’s quite amazing how much of my day is now consumed by managing our consumption of amps and volts. As we’ve yet to invest in extensive solar (or wind) powered energy generation it all has to come out of either the engine or generator. The amount of electricity we use directly impacts how often, and for how long, we need to run our somewhat noisy generator – something we’d like to keep to a minimum.

So where are we using all our energy? Well, when we’re sitting on anchor, it’s mostly going to two places: the refrigerator and the interior lighting. The refrigerator is very nice to have and allows us to keep a more varied diet with some cold drinks – it’s a bit none negotiable on our boat. The interior lighting however has room for improvement.

Here is a common evening ‘configuration’ – not all of these are on at the sometime, but if gives you an example of what we’re using:


So if I run the above for three hours, from 8 until 11pm, then I’ll have consumed 3×13 Amps or around 40 Amps. This is more or less what it costs to keep our refrigerator cold for 24 hours.

What can we do about it?  Switch to LED lighting.

After a bit of research and asking the opinion of others in a similar situation I settled on buying LED replacement bulbs from a Swedish company called Bat System http://www.batsystem.se/. Thanks to the Hallberg Rassy group on Yahoo and Leon from Regina sailing.

So how much improvement did it make to our power consumption? See the table below for details but the short version is that I can now completely ignore how many lights we have on in the evening. Following the same configuration as above, my total 3 hour consumption would be about 2 Amps.


What are the downsides? Mostly that there is a higher initial cost, replacing all regularly used bulbs on our boat (internal not navigation) cost about 200 euros in total. The second compromise is on the quality or colour of the light these bulbs produce. To give you an example of what that means in real terms see the photos below.

NB: I set the white balance on my camera to a fixed value to shoot all of these.


Halogen – a nice warm colour of light.

50/50 Halogen/LED

50/50 Halogen/LED – Switched out half of the bulbs.


LED – not a cold colour, as they are good LED light but they have a slightly green hue due to not producing all wave lengths of light.

Skin tones under Halogen

Skin tones under Halogen (a little pink)

Skin tones under LED

Skin tones under LED (a little green)

The short version is that after a few days of getting used to the slightly green hue we’ve completely forgotten about it and are now used to the colour, Mia actually prefers the new colour lights in the bathroom.

One thing to consider if you really can’t cope going full LED is to switch out some of your bulbs, in the middle photo above I tried 50/50 LED and Halogen behind the sofa. The halogen did an excellent job filling in the missing spectrum of light which the LED lights simply don’t produce. You won’t save as much power, but it will basically halve what you currently use.

Next step for us? LED Anchor light and other navigation lights.

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