LED there be light, but ‘Boater Beware!’
AMSTERDAM _ The International Boating Industry speaks of the biggest revolution in boating since “electronics transformed navigation.” Light Emitting Diodes have become the prime source of illumination in most cruising craft built today.” Industry insiders see demand for bulb and tube LEDs rise by 80% worldwide this year. They put the global LED market at $17.8 billion. Retrofit bulbs and tubes now occupy 38% and 25% of the global LED market.
Driving the unstoppable LED march into homes, cars, boats and what not is the rapid phasing out of incandescent lights in the EU and the US. This has triggered fierce price drops as manufacturers churn out cheap LEDs. In fact, the market is awash in it. In the US a LED bulb retails for under $10. And therein lies a lesson. Mienco Dijkstra lives close to the heart of the LED revolution. “The cost of LED will stabilize due the up scaling effect of the component production,” he says. “Better components will increase” LEDs’ durability. His NauticSupport BV markets the NauticLED brand that’s exported to over 25 nations.
Dijkstra cautions against the mantra that LEDs live for 100,000 hours. LEDs’ lifespan hinges on a steady electric input and high quality electronic components. Cheap LEDs can be tinged pink or green, make wood and skin look pale and perform poorly. LED color temperature and color rendering are most important. “A cheap LED with cheap electronics will have a shorter life and yield a poor light quality,” says Dijkstra. “We work durably. We choose our components in a way that grants LEDS a long lifespan.”
“On yachts, the voltage can vary from 11 to 14.4V,” says Dijkstra. “LEDs are very sensitive to voltage fluctuations. These can shorten a LED’s lifetime by a factor of 20! Voltage stabilization in LEDs is a must. This can be done with a constant voltage LED driver.” Dijkstra began developing of plug-and-play retrofit bulbs with internal LED drivers in 2009, initially for use in 12VDC and 24VDC onboard systems. A driver delivers the exact current and voltage to a LED light guaranteeing it a longer life.
“LED retrofits render an instant energy saving of 80-90%,” says Dijkstra who has optimized nearly all his products to a ‘color temperature’ of 2700K and uses Grade A quality smd chips. “Anything over 3000K is ‘too white’ for most boat owners!”
Last year, Dijkstra premiered 100% no-buzz, dimmable LEDs with shadow-free wide-angle light. He makes a 500 Hz PWM dimmer for use on 12 to 32VDC, no-buzz, dimmable wide voltage LED drivers and _ for indirect LEDs _ water and bending-proof strips that are fully protected against water, acid and alkali.
In the years ahead “high-quality LED will replace old, low-energy efficient halogen and CFL lights,” says Dijkstra. He predicts quality LED prices and efficiency will become more attractive for boat owners and builders. “Our goal is to make all our LED solutions as durable as possible. Our new G4 premium LED bulbs show the way. They produce up to 50% more light output with the same power consumption.”