Bulb or LED Navigation Lights - Which Does It Better?

Posted by Apex Lighting on 27th Mar 2018

Bulb or LED Navigation Lights - Which Does It Better?

Bulb or LED Navigation Lights - Which Does It Better?

When it comes to finding your way in the dark you have two choices. LED or bulb navigation lights. Keep reading to learn which one is the best choice.

Navigating the choices available when it comes to lighting for your boat can be harder than getting in and out of a busy harbor. There are a few of key things you need to consider when replacing those critical navigation lights.

Is the extra cost of the LED bulb really going to save me enough to warrant the expense? Are LED lights approved by the USCG and safe for my boat?

Keep reading to find out the answers to those questions! We'll start with how much LED can save you in terms of efficiency.

Efficiency is King

If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of LED lights vs the traditional incandescent bulbs, here are a few of the facts as provided by

  • LED lights use 72-80% less energy
  • Life of the bulb is increased almost exponentially. 1,000 hours for traditional incandescent and 25,000 hrs for LED

Obviously, being more energy efficient can save money. When you're thinking about the bulbs in your home it's a little bit easier to calculate the impact.

So is there a financial pickup when switching to LED for your navigation lights? You bet!

Marine batteries are expensive! Many captains consider converting to solar energy. But in either scenario, there are ways to save.

Working the battery less will help it last longer. Considering a conversion to solar? That's fine, but if you convert your lights to LED, the size panels you need will shrink in proportion to the wattage you've trimmed.

LED Navigation Lights

Whether you're looking to just replace a few at a time or considering a bow to stern overhaul there is a wide range of options available. Here are a few areas of lights to consider overhauling:

  • Standard navigation lights
  • Anchor lamps
  • Deck mounts
  • Stern lights

In most of the instances above, the conversion to LED will require buying more than just the bulb. Older nav light housings were not designed to house LED lights so bolting on a new unit with housing and bulb combined is your best option.

The LED Fun Continues

Once you have those all important lights converted to LED, you don't need to stop there. Here are a few other categories to consider:

  • Floor and deck lights
  • Recessed lights
  • Chart lights
  • Engine room light
  • Cable lights

Your list of options continues from there and even includes houseboat lights!

Rules of the Road

Every captain is familiar with the USCG rules of the road. They have two full sections (spanning more than 80 pages) that deal with lights and/or light signals. There is no way to summarize all of that here.

But is a good reminder to make sure you know the rules that govern your boat.

One thing to keep in mind when researching replacements: Not everything that is available for sale online (or elsewhere for that matter) is a viable legal option for your boat.

Especially when considering replacement of your lights, it is about more than just peace of mind if you do your research. It can make a big difference in your safety on the water.

Make Bright Choices

When considering your best option, being efficient is great. Making sure you are compliant with USCG rules is even better. Being safe and avoiding accidents is really the most important of all.

Turn to a knowledgeable source that can help you make great choices for all of your navigation lights, deck lights, and more.