Today I got this request from R, a boater:
I have been looking at your website a good deal lately. I am in the process of a total refit of an old sailboat I have in Southern California. One of the things I will be doing soon is adding LED lighting as the main interior source of light. I am bouncing between the strip LEDs and converting a typical RV fixture to LED. The real issue boils down to locating a good fixture to convert at a reasonable price or simply using a strip. Based on what I see on your website, the angle of illumination is 150 degrees in both cases. Do I have that right? Your recommendation or advice would be very much appreciated. In most cases, the lighting will be overhead (in the galley, over the dinette area, in the head/shower compartment, etc.) with a low headroom of around 6' 2-4". Wide angle lighting is needed. I would also like to have some red night lighting for night sailing in order not to impact night vision for the crew coming below for a snack or a look at the chart before returning to the cockpit.
If you know of a good source for RV/boat fixtures that would take the appropriate LEDs you sell, please advise and I will take a look at the units online or in some RV supply houses.
Your website is a good source of information. Thanks for being there.
[Smile] It is always nice to have someone compliment your website. Glad it is helpful.
My response to R:
Congrats on your going to LEDs. Let's see how well I cover your questions.
First I will discuss the angle of illumination. We use SMD chips in which the LED emitter is embedded a small distance behind a phosphor coating that covers the surface of the chip. The LED light comes out smoothly in a cone that is about 150 degrees wide, sort of like a flood lamp. It is not a de-focused beam but rather a spread of light. The reason light does not come out the side is that the side-edge of the SMD chip gets in the way. Overhead lighting in your boat would not shine into the upper corners of the ceiling, but put most of the light within eye level across the room. It does work well for us in an RV since most of what we want to see is on the surface of the table or the book we are reading.
That said, we are experimenting with a new fixture called a DL100 (DownLight - 1000 lumens/ft). It is a linear light using our TL2R strips inside a special diffuser (Take a look at the MyT.fLED-C product for some comparisons). It looks sort of like half a fluorescent tube, with a metal plate that attaches to the ceiling (I used velcro). The diffuser spreads the light some more, and therefore the side light is brighter than if you were viewing the LED chips directly. Of course, this is at the expense of some of the light that would have gone down if it had not been redirected. I expect to have the product up on the website in the next couple of weeks, and its cost will be $4.25/inch. So a 10" DL100 offering 800 lumens would retail at $42.50. This is less than some 12-inch ThinLites fixtures. Of course, the ThinLite has a switch - the DL100 does also, but it is a special ON/OFF/dimmer switch at a $35 premium.
You can also attach a plain old lightstrip to the ceiling, either bare or in a plastic, waterproof tube. You still have the need for a switch somewhere. Without a diffuser, you will have points of light that bothers some people.
For the head/shower compartment, you might want to consider putting tubed lightstrips running vertically on the walls, like next to the mirror. This will get the light both up and down where you need it. I would not put a fluorescent type fixture there -- it is a waste of space.
For red light, I propose you determine how much light you want then purchase segments of the ThinLUX.TL0 in the native red color. For comparison, a single 1141 type bulb will provide an effective 140 lumens in a ceiling fixture. The TL0 is 10 lumens/inch, but you can run two or three strips side by side to get a concentration of light. The length would depend on the cockpit configuration. TL0 can be encased in waterproof tubing which is probably a requirement in the cockpit area.
As far as suggesting fixtures, I really don't have a good suggestion. Most of the ceiling down lights for RVs and boats are cans that you embed in the ceiling, and these all produce points of light. I like linear lighting, either with a diffuser like in the DL100 or as LightStrips like our SL1 or TL2R.
Thanks for the good words on the use of the website. Always feels good to be of use to someone. If you have more questions, please send email to email@example.com or call me at 512-632-4626.
the Prudent RVer