LED underwater lighting first came to the marine market back in 2005. As the technology has evolved, we spoke with Giles Truscott, Sales Manager for the Super Yacht Division at OceanLED to see what has changed, pros and cons when selecting and installing underwater lights and what the future holds.
Q: Why should I buy LED lights?
A: Simply LEDs have proven to be more environmentally beneficial than HID/Halogen lights in there significant reduction in power consumption, reliability, durability and longevity while offering the same (if not more) level of brightness. In addition LED underwater lights have proven to be safer as they do not run as hot . They can also be switched on/off without waiting for the light to cool down.
Q: How has LED technology moved on?
A: In marine terms, a huge amount. The LEDs themselves have become far more reliable both in longevity and colour. However there still is a small amount of scepticism which was borne out of the early days, but relationships with LED manufacturers are now much better and controls on LED selection much tighter.
Q: Who buys underwater lights, surely it is just for the super wealthy.
A: Underwater lighting is not just about the “bling” effect; if done right it can significantly enhance what is already a beautiful yacht during the day and give it a whole new appearance during the night no matter what the size of vessel or client’s budget.
Q: What should I look for when purchasing LED underwater lighting?
A: Clearly company and product reputation are most likely the first considerations, however knowing what you want (or at least an outline) is important as there should be the right light for you out there. Some of the initial requests are for lights which can be serviced/inspected while the yacht is in the water and offer single colours or colour change functions.
Some clients think that Colour Change is too “blingy” where in fact it can offer two major benefits. If a client wants a Single White, this will not be the case if the yacht goes into murky waters, often turning the light green in appearance. By having RGBW, you should be able to change the colour of your lights so you can have white no matter what the water quality.
Type Approval or approval by DAD is vital for nearly all superyachts with some lights offering Ice Class approval ratings. Please make sure the TA is relevant to the whole light and not some component housed within.
There is also a fixation on the brightness of the light which is important but is hard to prove unless you have a integrating sphere to test flux luminosity which OceanLED does. It is important that a client looks at the “Fixture Lumens” for a light as this figure is a true reading of how bright the light will be once all the housings and lenses are in place.
The quality of the LEDs (as well as the housing) is vital and while this information may not be readily available, it is one that should be asked. LED underwater lights at the cheaper end of the spectrum are offered usually because the LEDs are of a poor quality (amongst other factors). This will result in poor colour quality, reliability and durability.
Other considerations when looking at the right product are:
- Can the light be angled and to what degrees to compensate for the hull angle? Vital to get the optimum effect.
- How is the light projected into the water? A lot of lights will offer a “cone” beam which will result in a lot of light being lost and an average effect.
- Compatibility with third party controllers
- Other functions such as strobing (security) and integration with music.
Q: Can I still have LED underwater lighting if I have Halogen/HID lights already installed?
A: A few companies offer refit solutions to older HID/Halogen lights. However as there are a number of different designs of these type of lights, you need to make sure the lighting company can provide the right solution for you. The refit should be quick, simple and require no need for the cofferdam to be removed*, therefore no costly hauling fees. Along with upgrading your lights, you should also look at options to relocate the drivers into more convenient, accessible locations as traditionally HID/Halogen lights were installed with Single Drivers and the option to change to a Cabinet, which can house up to 6 drivers, can be not only a simpler solution and more cost effective.
*If the cofferdam is intact.
Q: How long should I expect my lights to last?
A: This will vary depending on the quality of the light design and the LEDs themselves. OceanLED has an excellent relationship with its LED supplier, Cree, and we are usually guilty of over engineering our lights, which surely is not a bad thing when you are putting holes in your yacht! As a result we offer 40,000 hours on our lights which is when we state the LED colour will start to fade. The reality is that the human eye will not notice this colour change and therefore last considerably longer. Either way that is a long time when you consider how often the lights are switched on. We also offer to do a commissioning of the lighting system which gives the lights an extra year’s warranty (3 years in total).
Q: So what does the future hold for LED underwater lighting?
A: It is already great to see new ideas coming onto the market, however it is a fiercely competitive sector of the marine industry and obviously I would not like to give our plans away, but needless to say we have a number of exciting, innovative products coming to the fore very soon and not all for the Superyacht sector. OceanLED, was the first company to bring you LED technology in underwater lighting and have continued to stay at the forefront of this sector with their innovative products designed to adapt to the changing marine environment, yacht designs and client’s unique requirements.
Giles Truscott Superyacht Sales Manager
Tel: +44 1455 637505