LED Lights

At the start we did not imagine that we needed to change the lights, because all of the original lights had been changed into LED. However, compared to newer boats Iris seemed a little dark. We needed an extra light at the navigation seat, and that prompted a mayor refit of LED-lights throughout the boat.


By Kaare   |   2022-10-11

LED is King

It is common knowledge, that the old halogen lights are too power consuming, and that they need to changed to LED-lights. Electricity is a very scarce resource on a boat, and have to be carefully managed. The easiest way to do that is simply to replace the lightbulbs to LED, and this has also been done on Iris. In total there is 52 light-bulbs which needs to be replaced. That is not cheap, but you need to balance the energy usage with the capacity of energy farming using solar panels or hydrogenerator, and in that context LED-lights are a low hanging fruit.


However using spotlights and many white LED- bulbs part of the coziness of the interior of the boat goes away. We decided to do something about that, and the solution turned out to be LED-strips.


In the aft and the fore cabin we added 1.5m of warm white LED-strips on either side of the bunks, and fastened them under the cabinets. In the fore cabin we further added an electronic dimmer so to be able to turn on the lights, and control to output. In the main cabin we replaced a total of 5 lamps with LED-strips, and further added 4 strips in strategic places. All strips where mounted underneath cabinets or almost hidden from plain sight.


By selecting a warm color of the lights we have now gotten a much more indirect light in all the rooms, resulting in a much more cozy feeling in the evening.


On the technical note we have added a little to the total potential energy-usage. We chose a LED-strip with an consumption of 3.6 W/m. In the places where we added lights, we potentially increased the total consumption, however in reality it will be about the same, because we will not turn on the original lights, using the LED-strips instead.


The circuit breakers in Iris are laid out for halogen lights which was the best 20 years ago. Because of this the entire electrical layout (lights) of the boat is based upon a much higher consumption. Changing to LED is therefore not a problem because the consumption now will be less than 10-20% of the rating of the individual circuit breakers. This also means that it is safe to add a little more light in places as well as adding the odd fan. The total potential load on the circuit breaker will not exceed its capacity and the max load on the electrical wires will neither go beyond the safe load.


Red light district

We are going to be sailing throughout the night on many of our passages - that’s the cruising life. In order to be able to navigate through the cabin at night we therefore have added a number of red lights - again in the form on red LED-strips.


In the galley as well as in the navigational space is was a simple exercise to just add a red strip, and power it up from the existing circuit. In order to be able to turn it on and off at will we added an electronic dimmer/switch. At night we are now able to turn on the red light exclusively, and also control the brightness of the light.


Finally we needed to do something about the stairs from the cabin to the cockpit. Again this is a safety issue, because you need to be able to see where you are going when it is dark outside, and let me tell you it is dark at night on the ocean when the moon is not out !!!


The solution was to embed small red LED-strips in the underside of the steps of the stair. In order to make them waterproof they were sealed with a clear silicone mastic. Powering the lights in the stairs proved to be a little troublesome, but the solution was to add a new circuit breaker in the electrical panel and let that be the on/off button - perhaps not the most elegant solution, but it definitely works.


Both the red and the white LED-strips are very common, and not in any way special. They are mounted in the cabin were they are very well protected from any moisture. This makes the application of the lights affordable, and easy. All strips are the 12V variety enabling easy and direct connecting to the 12V system on Iris without the need of transformers.